Complete Bathroom Renovation Home Improvement

This is a project that had been ongoing for more than a year. Having just finished it, I thought I would show some of the more unconventional methods I used to renovate this room.
Here’s how it looked shortly after I started:

the old wallpaper
the old tiles

I had just taken the 3′ x 4′ smoked mirror (yes, smoked) off the wall above the double vanity to expose the flower print wallpaper underneath. The vanity top was removed and sinks taken out.
The tub and tile surround were in rough shape – the tub
was chipped and scratched, the tiles were… well, they were ugly! I’m picturing the room in its earlier state, with those tiles and that wallpaper – wow.

When I opened the wall to reroute the plumbing, I found two Coke cans from the late 70’s, perfectly preserved:

coke cans in the wall

I changed the plumbing to a single sink. There’s no need to have two sinks in a washroom this small. I then stripped out the ceiling to frame in the skylight that I had installed in the roof earlier. This is the second location of the “tube light” that these skylights replaced. I covered this in the other skylight installation. A lot of the details are similar for both:


On this one, I did something that makes this skylight a lot harder to do: I flared it out on four sides. What this does is makes the sloped sides twisted slightly (the side with “Styrospan” clearly written) and makes them very difficult to finish the drywall on.

It took many pounds of mud and much sanding to get the sides looking good, but I think it was worth the extra work in the end:

finished skylight

Inspired by the concrete top on my table saw, I thought I’d do the vanity top for this washroom with concrete as well. The buck in the middle of the form is for the sink and the drill has a piece of bent threaded rod as a counterweight to use as a vibrator to work the concrete:

concrete form
concrete vanity top

With the form stripped off, it’s ready for some grinding to smooth the edge.

glass bowl for sink

Finished, with two coats of sealer and the glass bowl set in to check the fit. To block the view of the edge of the concrete top where the bowl goes through, I would have to paint the glass black up to the surface of the concrete top.

Although in rough shape, I decided to keep the original tub. There were several reasons for this, including the fact that it was a fairly high quality tub to start with. I repaired the chips and deep scratches with auto body filler, then used two part epoxy paint to paint it the original colour:

repainting the tub

The paint is specially made for painting tubs and extremely hard and durable after it has cured. When sprayed on, it comes out very smooth – virtually a brand new tub.


the tub reinstalled
prepping for tile

To prep the walls for tiles, I trowelled on a 1/8″ coat of thinset mortar and let this dry.

Since the washroom is small, I chose to stay with lighter colours as much as possible. Plain white 6″ x 6″ tile was used for the surround:

6x6 tile installed

I used thinset mortar to set the tiles. I prefer to use this over the premixed adhesive, since it is much stronger and has better water resistance.

The vanity and tall cabinet are made from 3/4″ and 1/2″ maple plywood:

cabinets installed

I wanted to get the cabinets in before I started the floor so that the tile base could be done around the cabinets as well.

To reinforce the floor and build it up slightly, mortar was troweled on using a 1/4″ notched spreader. This was left to set, then another coat was troweled on to fill in the grooves. When this second coat set, it became the base for the floor tile:

building up the floor
floor tile installed

To make it a bit more interesting, I cut the 12″ x 12″ tiles into two smaller sizes and mixed those in. The tile is a composite stone with a textured surface. After the room was finished, the tiles were thoroughly cleaned and sealed.

The room finished:

the finished look

The cabinet doors are simple frame and panel, made from solid maple stiles and rails with 1/2″ plywood panels.

the cabinet
the drawers
the shower doors

The tub, with the shower doors installed.

Here’s an interesting thing: One of the reasons to reuse the tub was to reuse the toilet that was a matching colour. Having reinstalled the toilet and outfitting it with new parts, I discovered that I could not find the tank lid. I looked high and low but still could not find it, so I did the next best thing – I made one:

the toilet

I used MDF to make the lid, using the tank as a pattern to mark it out. After it was finished and sanded smooth, I gave it three coats of solvent based polyurethane, inside and out to completely seal it. The finished colour is gloss alkyd paint, sprayed on. The paint store matched the colour very well.

It took less time than I thought it would, and definitely beats the $120 cost (plus shipping) for a replacement lid.

making a toilet tank lid
mdf tank lid

I’m hoping that the original eventually does turn up, but this is certainly a good replacement if it doesn’t.


A long, drawn out project that came together well in the end, I think. One of the most distinctive rooms in this house, there’s not much I would do differently if given the chance to do it over.