Bathrooms. Sigh.

Once upon a time, Wally had a nice bathroom.

In fact, Wally had a couple of bathrooms: like most modern houses, Wally has a BATHROOM, and an EN-SUITE. And, as Mr Hogan says, it is (was) “Kinda sweet”.

Anyhow, Wally also hates cleaning bathrooms so when the small wallies (aka, The Chaps, aka, the Walrii) grew out of having a bath, it became the family habit for all the Walrii to just use the en-suite, on the grounds that this makes for only one shower that needs to be cleaned.

Over the years this has worked reasonably well, except for increasingly older Walrii using the Mum and Dad Walrus’s bathroom… which sort of irritates everyone – as the young ones get older and as the old ones approach their dotage.

A little problem popped up though: the en-suite shower was getting fairly grotty. Various attempts at cleaninghad various successes and various failures. The biggest trouble though was GROUT.

Yep, the shower grout was gradually disappearing… getting more and more eaten away, and more and more grotty. Keeping the ever growing mould away was getting more and more difficult.

So… says Wally… easy peasy I go fixey. Clean it up and bit and shove some new grout in over the top. This has worked a couple of times before; never a complete solution, it seems to buy another 6-12 months before the new addition disappears as well.

This time around, the problems were far, far worse – the grout just washed out in the first oncoming shower. Time for a proper fix. A grout cutting tool seemed to help: Well, it sure made a big mess. But it looks like the secret for grout is you need a decent thickness – cutting back 1/2 or 1 mm really does not make for a good result.

The normal bathroom reno questions apply: rip it all out and start again? Or do a minimal makeover? The tiles, fortunately, are not the 1970’s floral or burnt orange disasters. While not modern and current, they are ok – after all, 1991 was not really that far away. The passage of time and the cheapness of original tradies have taken their toll, but it’s not an unrecoverable disaster.

So in the end, the bathroom is not getting a gutting, but it is getting a decent renovation, only 21 years after it was built. The rather horrible shower screen is gone, as is the awful and cheap shower curtain. The cracked taps are gone. All the tiles have had the grout completely cut out using a small rotary abrasive saw (imagine the dust this might make, then triple it). The painted finish shower head, complete with peeling paint and blocked jet holes, is gone.

The tiles around the taps had such large holes cut out that the new taps were never going to cover them, so with a vast effort Wally has been able to remove them, as well as the old soap dish, and some of the tiles where the old shower screen was. The carefully stored stash of spares from all those years ago is finally getting used: to carefully replace the tiles that needed to be removed, with original new ones. This appeals to my pale-green principles of not wasting things. If it can be repaired and improved without pulling everything out and starting again, then that has to be a good thing.

But the old basin needs to go. It was horrible cheap pressed enamelled steel, and the enamel seems to be worn through so that it constantly rusts – both around the taps and the waste exit. Likewise the toilet cistern does not shut off properly, it’s cheap plastic and has deformed so it is leaning off the wall, so it probably needs replacing as well.

Like many things, that quick fix job has turned into a major undertaking. In another couple of months it should be all nicely fixed. right now, its an unusable disaster zone. The cunning plan, my lord, should fix it all though. That and a couple of thousand dollars. Gutting the lot and starting again would be 10 times more expensive. Would it look 10 times better? Nah. Thought not.


We have just spent 4 weeks gutting our main bathroom and starting again. We won’t see any change out of $25k :(

Our ensuite is in a state like yours – needs some tiles replaced, lots of re-grouting. I am not sure if I have the energy to do another bathroom…

Comment by Darren | February 21st, 2012 8:02 am | Permalink

It always starts with grout, doesn’t it?

And does that mean you’re now using the Walrii’s bathroom and having baths during the renovations?

Now that we’re renting, we discover that the quick paint job on the bathroom ceiling started to peel the second after we paid the rent and now looks like my father’s sunburned back after a day at the beach. A bit rough when we have to ‘return’ the apartment in the same condition we found it, so we too will do the quick paintover job and hope that it lasts until the final inspection is completed.

As for grout, I find that our 1970 bathroom tiles have to be cleaned very, very carefully or I rub the stuff right off….

Comment by Kath Lockett | February 21st, 2012 11:29 pm | Permalink

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