Third Bathroom Stopgap

House update! Behold the Third Bathroom Stopgap. This bathroom with jack and jill sinks is adjacent to the guestroom, across from my office. It was an eyesore and a little dangerous, but houseguests kept insisting on using it and I have family coming for Christmas, so I needed to get it to a better place until we can gut it in a few years. Budget: $300 and a month of my time. I blew the budget, despite already having the flooring (I had four boxes of good Shaw planks left over from the hallway) and ceiling paint. I made the deadline, though– I started October 31 and just finished, which frees me to scrub the remaining 2,420 square feet of the house with bleach and impunity for the next two weeks.

Sidenote: I tend to mentally associate each room with whichever album I was listening to on repeat. This one’s ‘Born To Laugh at Tornadoes’ by Was Not Was, which I’m having trouble describing here but can’t recommend highly enough.



– Ripped out the offending towel rack, hand towel bar, recessed toilet paper holder, baseboards and lighting fixture. Someone had painted over the bits, so I had to really bash the Hell out of them. Cheaper than therapy!

– Scrubbed the walls and ceiling with a TSP solution and rinsed. Mega-gross.

– Patched all the holes and retextured.

– Unspeakable horrors had transpired behind the 50-year-old lighting fixture, so I shut the power off and used the light of a flashlight on the counter to help me cut away the rotten sheetrock verrrrry carefully. I fixed it but should really invest in a cheap head-light…

– Primed walls and ceilings with two coats of Kilz anti-microbial bathroom & kitchen primer. I always re-mask between coats. Viva la Frog Tape!

– Painted the ceilings of the bathroom and shower with two coats of white semigloss. This is cabinet-grade Sherwin Williams, left over from the door jambs.

– Painted the walls with two coats of Behr Diamond semigloss the color of every Toyota made in 1992. They call it Thai Teal. I wanted something bold that matched the fake marbling on the shower tiles.

– Installed a hip new lighting fixture (thanks for lending me your muscle, Danny– this thing was unusually heavy!), toilet paper holder and hand towel bar. There was a funny little wooden bracket behind the TP holder– looks handmade. I reused it.

– Pulled out the toilet. It was only bolted down on one side. I never did figure out why; the flange was fine. Found old bone-dry water damage– someone replaced the toilet without fixing the damage. I didn’t fix it either, since we’re going to gut this whole mess in a few years and I’ll see about lowering the floor then. Added a new supply line, wax ring and two shiny new bolts. I TSPed, primed and painted behind the toilet. Most people wouldn’t bother, but it was bugging me.

– Ripped out the linoleum. I couldn’t go over it because it was peeling and the bathroom was already a quarter inch higher than the hallway outside. The glue between the underlayment and subfloor tested positive for less than one percent chrysotile asbestos (probably less than we breathe on any given freeway), but I was able to expose only the underlayment with minimal disturbance using a heat gun, my $29 Porter & Cable godsend.

– I said “minimal” disturbance, right? 😂 Well, I had to use a flexible floor leveling compound to fix the minimal disturbances. Really messy stuff. Can’t be sanded.

– Floored the bathroom. I wish I’d had the heat gun when I laid the other floors upstairs– it’s a big help when you need to carve shapes. I butted the planks up against the tub as instructed by Shaw but left expansion gaps on all other sides. I ran a big bead of caulk along that line thrice to create a moat that water can’t get through. Because it’s always great news when you need to use a ton of caulk.

– Put the toilet back. Thanks again for the biceps, Danny! The commode is cheap but heavy.

– There’s a square light on the ceiling of the shower. I replaced the yellowish bulb with a nice cool LED, cleaned, closed and recaulked the whole thing.

– Baseboard time. While flooring, I’d noticed that the walls weren’t 100% straight, but I had an idea that would also allow me to NOT rent a truck. At Lowes I had seen some PVC “boards” that almost passed for wood, so we ordered some that looked like the hallway baseboards. The guys at Lowes wouldn’t sully their blade with them, so I had to cut them right there with a backsaw while they stared. (♬ Don’t you wish your girlfriend hacked boards like me…) Turns out they cut & nail exactly like MDF; they take paint and caulk and 10-foot “boards” can flop around corners and into my Civic just fine. They’re completely waterproof and will exist for 1,000 years after I am dead. They were a little tough to nail in (I probably should have predrilled), but hey, I like bashing things. Caulked them; caulked the commode. Used a PVC quarter-round next to the tub, but since I couldn’t nail it in, I construction-glued it to the tub and caulked it.

– Installed a wooden T-moulding (reducer) to cover the gap between the two floors. Painted new wooden wallplates to match walls and vent to match ceiling.

– New hand towel, floor mat, trash can. Unscented hand soap for Oma.

Final verdict: looks fine. Much safer. The door drags a smidge (not enough to scratch) because it was custom cut for the old floor. I played with the idea of hanging art above the loo, but since it’s off-center, nothing would look correct. A friend suggested offset shelves and some succulents, but that just ain’t me.



Budget breakdown:
$29 – heat gun
$20 – Kilz Kitchen & Bath Primer – single can barely did it
$12.33 – black extra roll holder
$14.49 – black knobs for cabinets
$22 – black hand towel bar
$14 – black mat (not as nice as my Kohls ones)
$9.55 – unfinished wood wallplates for fan switch and GFCI
$17.97 – black simplehuman wastebasket and some liners
$68.95 – lighting fixture
$25 – nice new toilet seat
$50 – 2 gallons of teal paint
$34 – Two PVC boards for base (I had finishing nails & a nailset, which I’ve embarrassingly been calling a nailsink all this time)
$11 – Three good paint roller covers (Non-pro tip: stick a loaded roller, handle and all, into a gallon Ziploc bag and put that in the fridge if you want to use it for a second coat. Also works with primer.)
$5 – bucket of sheetrock (used existing fibertape)
$10 – bucket of floor leveler
$25 – two tubes of 100% silicone caulk plus half a tube of paintable
= way over $300, but I’ll comfort myself with the knowledge that flooring and ceiling paint might have brought it up to $1K.