A glass of wine. A bubbly bath. A good book. That's all you need for a lovely evening soaking in your tab, watching all the woes of your day dissipate as if in thin air. Ah! The pleasure. But, when you dread entering your bathroom, can’t fit your essential, and that awful black mold at the corner makes you cringe, it’s time for a remodel. As exciting as it may be, you will make regrettable mistakes if you overlook these four areas.
1. Plumbing and Water Damage
An old and broken plumbing system makes you feel like a water pipe could break at any moment. You are on edge waiting for the worst to happen, and the moment you manage to relax, even a little bit, your whole bathroom floods. Imagine putting in time, effort, and money into a remodel, only to find you need to replace your entire plumbing system! Disastrous!
But, even when this happens, you must first take care of this, or your home's structure will suffer further damage. Copper pipes are the best alternative to other materials. They last a long time, connect well to valves, resists corrosion, great for hot and cold water, heat resistant, and have some level of natural anti-microbial properties.
Proper plumbing prevents water damage, which, when remodeling your bathroom, is non-ignorable. Note that water damage is also a result of high humidity and moisture, so ensure you factor in proper ventilation. Have a window to let in a cold freeze and circulate air in the bathroom, and ensure you do proper waterproofing to prevent serious issues. Silicon-based products are great at calking bathtubs, showers, and any area that needs a water barrier. It's always a good idea to check your bathroom foundation, just in case the water damage was too severe, and your foundation is slowly rotting away.
2. Moisture and Mold
Mold thrives when presented with three conditions—first, warmth, second, food, and lasting moisture. No room offers better conditions than your bathroom and kitchen, so don't be surprised if you find mold during remodeling. Black mold is particularly the most notorious, and it could mean having serious repairs. Known as Stachybotrys chartarum, it tends to look like any other type of dark mold, but it has a shiny-like appearance and may also have a dark-green or slight grey color in some instances.
Black mold contains neurotoxins called trichothecene mycotoxins, which cause hallucinations, numbness, dizziness, confusion, and other harmful side effects. Prolonged exposure may lead to serious respiratory infections such as asthma, swelling lungs, and bleeding in the nasal passage.
A bathroom remodel is the best time to get rid of this hazard, but if the damage is too extensive, you are better off trusting a mold remediation expert to help you. Most people rely on household bleach to get rid of mold, but it's not sufficient. Besides throwing away infected tiles, carpet, underpad, and ensure you correct any water damage. A mold remediation expert uses particle counter to determine the air quality, borescope to see the damage, air scrubber to remove particulates and gases, and negative air machine to purify the air. They will also have a HEPA vacuum and strong chemicals to ensure you don’t get another mold infestation.
3. Ventilation and Lighting
Every time you wash your hands, flush the toilet or shower, you add moisture into your bathroom. Having ample ventilation removes the trapped moisture, which minimizes bacteria growth and reduces condensation. Ventilation also keeps you comfortable, so you don't feel extra chilled or hotter during cold and high temperatures. Most importantly, it reduces the risk of mold growing in your bathroom. Now that the air is fresh, make sure the bathroom's lighting reflects the cool, calm environment you want every time you take a shower.
Each room, including your bathroom, needs task lighting, ambiance lighting, and accent lighting. Task lighting takes care of you when you need to shave or put on makeup while ambiance lighting can be used to reflect your mood or show off your style, whether bold and dramatic or soft and romantic. Accent lighting brightens, feature, or create a point of interest in your bathroom.
The proper layering of lights, including natural light, means you can change your bathrooms feel to match a moment or mood easily.
4. Bathroom Layout
Think of how well your bathroom functions. Do you have enough space to do your everyday tasks, or do you have to crumble for space? While we all want to have a fancy bathroom, the function should always come before style. Once you figure out the function, everything else will fall into place. Start by deciding what you need to have a functional bathroom. Do you need tons of storage or just a few cabinets? Would you like to display perfume bottles, so they look like counter top candy and are easy to reach? How about your makeup and shaving kits?
One great way to ensure you have things figured out is to go up. You can add cabinets, shelves, and swinging shelving units while adding a little style with the design. Also, think about adding baskets if you don't fancy cabinets. Strategically place your toilet paper holder, mirror, hand soap holder, and other accessories where you can easily reach them, but where they don't overcrowd the space or make it look untidy. Keep in mind your bathroom needs so your accessories can complement it and tie everything together.
If you have space, add a seating area where you can rest or have a guest chill with you as you finish preparing. Whether you pick a lounge, sofa, or small chair will depend on your space, comfort, and needs.
A bathroom remodeling project is your one chance to get everything right in a bathroom. You are starting on a clean slate, and you can almost get everything you've ever wished for. If you mess up any of these four things, however, you'll have a beautiful bathroom that will either need more money because of mold or one that doesn't function quite properly.
About the Author:
John Ward is an account executive at Mold Busters Ottawa, specializing in indoor air quality issues of the most delicate nature. Over the years, he has completed hundreds of mold remediation jobs and thousands of air quality tests for homeowners and businesses across Ontario and Quebec.