When you watch remodeling shows on TV, you can get the impression that anything’s possible. A shower big enough for a farm animal, an increase in home value that’s higher than some lottery payouts, a window-facing jacuzzi tub with “Best House on the Block” printed on the side in diamonds. All of that is potentially achievable—and probably the reason you want to renovate your bathroom—but you should be aware that a gut renovation is a big, ugly job. The bathroom may take up the smallest footprint, but it’s the most complex room in your home, served by vents, water lines, waste lines, and electricity lines—most of which will try to kill you if you don’t know what you’re doing. (The vents are probably safe.)
If you want to tackle a bathroom reno, you’ve got two options. OK, three, if you’re a professional plumber, or a home flipper with a television show: Put a dumpster on the lawn and have at it. Otherwise, you can buy your new bathroom by hiring a contractor. Or, you can dramatically improve the appearance and function of your bathroom by cleaning, repainting, or focusing on key projects that require only basic plumbing and electrical skills. Here’s how.
1. Regrout and Recaulk
Tools and Materials
- Grout saw
- Carbide-tip scoring tool
- Grout Grout float
- Grout and tile sealer
- Plastic brush
- Tub and tile caulk
- Caulk gun
- Utility knife
If the grout in your bathroom is discolored but sound, you don’t need to replace it. It just needs a thorough cleaning with a pro-grade tile and grout cleaner, such as the Aqua Mix line by Custom Building Products. If it’s truly foul, the nuclear option would be to scrub dingy tile and grout with a white Scotch-Brite pad, and a mixture of two products from Custom Building Products: Aqua Mix NanoScrub and Aqua Mix Heavy-Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner. If this won’t clean it, nothing will. After cleaning, seal with Aqua Mix Grout Sealer.
(1) If grout is flaking out of the joints, rake them out with a carbide-grit grout saw or a carbide scraper. For a narrow joint, less than 1/8 inch, you can also use a carbide-tip scoring tool, a type of knife normally used to score cement board. In either case, sweep dust out of the joints with a clean plastic brush, then wipe the surface with a damp sponge or clean cloth and let dry. (2) Apply fresh grout over the whole area, moving your float over the joints at a 45-degree angle. Wipe off up any excess. (3) When the grout has dried, use a tile sponge and water to wipe any grout haze off the tile. When all is clean and dry, reseal the entire surface.
To replace a caulked joint, use a