Sunday, October 12, 2008

Planning a bathroom rehab

The GreenUP Challenge Blogger has been very busy planning a bathroom rehab.

We have a small bathroom that has quite a few problems. The toilet uses a large amount of water and sometimes runs, the sink is damaged and rusty, and the shower surround leaks into the basement.

I hope to do a 'green' remodel job. The first component of this is trying to save and restore the vitrolite tile that makes up the original tub surround. Vitrolite is a semi-opaque glass tile that was popular before the Depression. It was used both inside homes and on the outsides of business. Our neighborhood here in St Louis is full of examples of both uses. Originally, the vitrolite above the tub was waterproof, however, without proper maintenance, it began to leak and was covered by a plastic surround many years ago. We are lucky to live in St Louis, as the man (who I believe) is the only one in the country who still works with vitrolite happens to live here. After we remove the surround and repair the sure-to-be-rotten boards behind the wall, he will come in and relay the vitrolite- waterproofed so that it can be exposed in the shower.

The 80-year-old tile floor needs scrubbed up while we have the vanity and toilet removed. The tub itself needs no repair, just new fiztures. Reusing old components in a rehab is an enivronmentally- friendly choice: reusing keeps the old materials out of the landfill and decreases the demand for new materials.

I am also busy shopping for a dual-flush toilet, a vanity made of renewable materials without organic adhesives, and a countertop with an integrated sink that is not made of plastic. I have found a few (very few) sources, and once I've decided I will write more detailed posts about these items.

Wish me luck in finding componenets and patience while our bathroom is all torn up!




Patchi said...

Hi Anita,
I saw this toilet/sink combo at a restaurant in town and thought of you:

I don't know if the water in St Louis would be too cold, but in Florida it works great!


Sarah said...

Hi Anita.

I am curious as to what you decide for counter/vanity tops. There are the paper ones: Paperstone, Richlite, but I don't know how they are manufactured. Have you found They have a great section on countertops.

We are doing a kitchen remodel now and after a lot of discussion decided on an acrylic (e.g. Corian knockoff). Too many broken dishes on our tile counters to consider tile/glass/granite/concrete or anything hard. A bathroom might not have that problem.

Good luck on the remodel!

Anita K said...

Thanks for the info. I don't think I have been to that website (although I may have...I have been everywhere!)

The countertop is a really tough one, especially here in the midwest. I found one concrete integrated sink, but it's quite a lot of $$ just to ship it here.

We just found out today that Kohler is selling a cast iron integrated sink. I would guess that the iron is at least partly recycled (perhaps an old car?) and when the sink is really really old, it can be recycled again. I plan to find out what the coating is. This maybe a good somewhat green compromise.

One countertop that *maybe* softer (for the sake of your dishes) is Cambria. This is one we are considering. It is 93% USA-mined quartz pieces (I am guessing it is pieces made from unusable quartz) held together by a resin. I am trying to find out what this resin is- I am guessing it is not 'green'. But, it is only 7% as opposed to 100%, like the corian type tops.

I am finding that doing a green remodel is not so easy as selecting everything off a shelf, and that not all of your goals can be achieved. We will definitely have to compromise on some aspects, but we will surely be greener than we would be if we had not made any efforts.