Monthly Archives: September 2016

How to Choose Small Tubs

If you crave a luxurious soaking tub but are cursed with a tiny bathroom, here’s some good news: There’s a wide assortment of scaled-down tubs that deliver maximum comfort in a minimal footprint. I recently posted some tips for choosing a bubble bath-worthy tub that will fit within a small space. Here’s a sampling of reasonably-priced small tubs that meet the necessary criteria: no more than 5 ft. long, deep enough that water won’t slosh over the sides during an extended soak, well-constructed, widely available and priced under $900:

With its beveled edges and gently curved base, this narrow soaking tub from Kohler takes its design cues from Craftsman furniture. The Archer 5′ x 30″ model features an accessible 19-inch step-over height, and, with the required slotted overflow attachment ($106 – $190) a very comfortable soaking depth. The Archer is manufactured of lighter weight ExoCrylic™, which makes for easier installation and a 90 percent reduction in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), an eco-friendly plus.

Kohler’s 5′ x 30″ ‘Expanse’ model may be compact, but its clever, space-saving design allows plenty of extra room to stretch out and soak. The tub’s graceful, curved lines coordinate with both modern and traditional decor.

The ‘Evolution’ is a bather’s delight, thanks to its comfortable back support and dual molded armrests. However, the real “ahhh” factor is the required Deep Soak® Max Drain (about $150), which allows an extra 3 inches of water.

Bathroom Wall Surfaces Tips

Bathroom remodeling: after doing the shower/tub, counter, cabinetry, and floors, now you have to think about wall covering, too?  Why not just good old paint?

Paint is fine, but moisture should be your main concern when choosing a covering. Unchecked moisture, both from tub/shower overspray as well as moisture-laden air, is devastating for bathrooms. Even well-vented bathrooms have moisture issues.

Here are five options for bathroom walls.

Peelable Vinyl Wallpaper

It Is 100% waterproof wallpaper
Pro Easy to install because it can be unpeeled and reapplied more than once
Con Some types are not good for direct moisture

Vinyl-coated wallpaper is best for bathrooms. All-paper coverings will degrade in the moist environment.

But if vinyl wallpaper makes you think of a downmarket Days Inn, think again. Vinyl wallpaper has grown up and become sophisticated. Purveyors like Tempaper and Timothy Sue offer gorgeous wallpapers that have graced style and shelter magazines.

Just be sure that your present wall surface can accept peelable wallpaper. It will not stick to matte, flat, or rough surfaces. Also, it works best for indirect, ambient moisture. So use in conjunction with a lower wall cover listed below, such as beadboard or tile.

Unlike paint, you can actually try out wallpaper before applying it. Buy a roll or cadge a sample, stick it up in the room.

Large patterns will visually reduce the size of your bathroom. Verticals draw your eye upward and make the room feel taller. Horizontals seem to widen it.

“Bathroom Paint” vs. Regular Interior Paint

It Is Paint that has properties that make it better-suited for bathrooms
Pro Mold- and mildew-inhibiting additives
Con Costs up to twice as much as regular interior paint

How can you go wrong with bathroom paint?  After all, the paint is designed just for that room.

There is no true “bathroom paint.” As Steve Revnew, VP of Product Innovation at Sherwin-Williams told us, paint sold under the “bathroom paint” imprimatur is paint that can be used anywhere in the house. It simply has anti-microbal properties that allow you to choose flatter sheens than you normally would in a bathroom.

With regular interior paint, the main thing to avoid is getting a flat or matte surface paint because their pores trap water. A classic way to avoid this is to use semi-glossy or glossy sheen; water beads up on these surfaces. But these premium paints with mold-killing additives let you have those desirable flatter sheens in the bathroom.

Install a Prefabricated Unit

You are remodeling your bathroom and you need a new shower/tub. Should you install a prefabricated (prefab) shower stall or construct a tiled shower stall?


Two Types of Shower Stalls

Pre-fabricated shower stall units are formed in a factory, shipped to your home in one or several pieces, and are then installed in your bathroom.

By contrast, the tiled shower is site-built, constructed from scratch by carpenters and tilers.

Carpenters construct the frame, walling it in with a cement-based board such as Wonderboard. Tilers step in and finish the tilework.

Types of Pre-fabricated Units

They are composed of a shower pan and solid side panels. One deciding factor between one-piece or multi-piece units is whether you can get the one-piece unit through the doors of older homes. Homeowners often choose multi-piece units for this very reason.

Multi-Piece Best Pick: Buy on Amazon – American Standard Acrylux 60″ x 32″ Shower Kit

If you are looking for a sleeker, better-styled shower unit, American Standard has a shower stall unit made of Acrylic capped ABS, reinforced by fiberglass. This kit is everything you need: all wall panels, glass door, and shower pan.


Consider a Wall Kit if Your Tub is in Good Condition

An alternative to full kits like the American Standard are wall kits.

Wall kits are for bathtub-only or tub-shower combinations.

The tub stays in place but you cover everything above the tub with wall panels.

Wall Kit Best Pick: Buy on Amazon – Swanstone Veritek Tub Wall Kit

Swanstone’s Veritek Tub Wall Kit is a good, reasonably priced way to refurbish your icky tub/shower combination.

This is a five-panel wall kit that effectively obliterates nasty shower walls, covering them with white, bone, or bisque-tinted Veritek panels.

For a faux-tile look, the panels have simulated grout lines. Best thing: all of the soap dishes and convenience shelves that come pre-molded into the panels.

Home Refinishing and Replacement

When your bathtub or shower surfaces go bad, all-out replacement appears to be your only hope.  And while nothing can compare to the quality of full replacement, there are intermediate solutions that are less expensive, faster, and cleaner that may satisfy your needs.

Acrylic liners for bathtubs and showers promise just such a solution to a decrepit tub or shower.  However, as with any other cover-up, this fix comes at a price.

What Are Liners?

Bathtub liners and bathtub refinishing are two methods of covering up your bathtub, shower pan, and walls.

Liners are solid pieces that are installed over your existing tub or shower; nothing is removed.  By contrast, refinishing is sprayed on epoxy paint.


Liner Construction

Liners are made of acrylic, the same material that composes new, pre-fabricated bath and shower stalls.  While the acrylic is heavy gauge, it is not as thick as acrylic used for bathtubs and shower stalls.


Separate Sections:  Base and Walls

Liners come in two sections:  bottom and top.

  • Bottom:  For bathtubs, a unit that looks exactly like your original tub forms the bottom.  For showers, this bottom unit looks like your shower pan.  In each case, these units are single, unified, seamless pieces, which makes them waterproof.  The only entry points for water, then, would be around the drain and at the top of the liner.
  • Top:  For both tubs and showers, a second section of wall panels called the surround extends above the level of the tub liner or shower pan.

Because of this dual-piece method, you can conceivably install only the bottom section, leaving your walls untouched.  However, some liner installers say that they will only install bases in concert with walls.

The stated reason is that the junction between the top of the liner and your existing wall is a prime area for water infiltration.  By including wall panels, the installer can ensure a watertight fit.



Tub and shower liners may cost more than you imagine.  If you are not vigilant about finding competitive prices, you may end up paying as much for a liner as you would for full-out replacement.