Making over a tired bathroom without busting the bank.

moldy shower

A tired bathroom can bring down the whole tone of a property without even having to try too hard and yet by the same token just applying a little bit of elbow grease and some relatively inexpensive products and you can lift the ambience to another level. If you have old style patterns on your tiles then there are ways you can improve the look of them without having to got to all the trouble and expense of removing them.

Over time bathrooms take a bit of a battering. We take long hot showers and baths that submit the fabric of the room to heat and damp and invariably the amount of ventilation falls short of that which would be required to keep the walls mould free. Having the occurrence of mould is not ideal as at high enough concentrations it can be detrimental to health. Consider upgrading an existing extraction fan to a more powerful version if you are battling mould. There are number of different manufacturers who produce innovative designs which can help to remove steam from the room. Advances in technology mean that more power does not have to equal more noise as there are quiet versions available. Be careful to get the correct diameter aperture or be prepared to open up the existing hole in the ceiling to accept the new fan. Reducers can be used to connect the fan to the ducting if a step down in size is required. Also there are versions which can be set to activate when a certain level of humidity is detected or with PIR sensors to activate when someone enters the room.

Now we need to set about getting rid of the mould from the surface of the tiles and the grout. By it’s nature mould can be very difficult to get rid of. For tile grout try rubbing the grout vigorously with a neat solution of bleach. If the grout is very ingrained then try leaving the bleach on the surface over night before rubbing again the next day. Strip out any caulking using a sharp knife and clean the joints out with more bleach. For the surface of the tiles try a solution of white wine vinegar and lemon and rub them vigorously with a scouring pad.

Once the tiles are all cleaned up then rub them down with some 180 grit sand paper. You don’t have be too fastidious when doing this but just enough to make sure all the tiles have been sanded to some extent. Wash the tiles off with some sugar soap. Now the tiles are ready to be painted. Tile paints come in a variety of colours. Try to pick a manufacturer that produces a low VOC paint that does not give off high levels of toxic vapours while you are applying it. Keep as many windows open as possible while painting and wear a mask. Use a roller to apply the paint to give a smooth finish. You will probably need at least two coats maybe three depending on what sort of colour and patterns you are attempting to cover. Leave the paint to dry for at least 24 hours and then use a fine tipped grout pen to put the grout lines back. Apply 2 coats to the grout lines especially inside shower cubicles. You will probably use a multiple number of grout pens depending on tile size and area to be covered. Leave the grout lines to dry for 24 hours and then seal them in the wet areas with a clear grout sealer solution.

Make sure you get any mould off the ceiling by scrubbing well with an anti mould solution and allow to dry for a few hours. Then re-paint with an anti mould and a stain blocking paint. You will probably need to apply at least two coats and maybe three in problem areas.

Now you have your bright new painted tiles you want to make sure the rest pf the bathroom looks gleaming too. Shower screens in hard water areas usually become ingrained with mineral deposits like limescale that are really tough to get off. Try soaking the glass in a solution of white wine vinegar and lemon mixed with water. Be liberal with the white wine vinegar. Wear gloves and scrub well with a non scratch scouring sponge. This process will have to be repeated several times in order to achieve a gleaming finish. If the residue proves to be really tough then there are some chemical cleaners on the market that can tackle really bad limescale deposits but be careful when handling these and wear gloves, a mask and eye protection. If all else fails then you can sometimes source replacement parts for shower enclosures. Curved doors for quadrant shower enclosures can sometimes be interchanged but make sure the door height is correct and the side lengths match. Common heights are 1850mm, 1900mm, and 2000m with some common side depth sizes being 800mm, 900mm or 1000mm. You can also buy replacement shower door rollers. These usually become frozen up over time with limescale that stops the dolly wheels from turning. Some have needle roller bearings which seize up as well. You can replace a single wheel with a double wheel as long as the fixing holes that go through the glass are the right size and placement. Make sure the dolly wheel is the correct size for the track as well usually 20mm or 25mm diameter but other sizes are used as well. Normally the top set of wheels are fixed and the bottom set are spring loaded to allow the doors to be removed and replaced easily in the tracks.

The other area of the shower that discolours over time is the plastic seals on the doors and side glass. This can be purchased separately. Make sure you get the right profile for the seal being replaced and enough length to replace all the seals. Re-do any mastic seal caulking that has been removed and replace with an anti-mould caulk. Sometimes it can be useful to mask either side of the caulk line and use a smoothing tool to get a good finish. Remove the masking tape before the caulk has set.

Some of the the last areas to address are missing cover caps on screw fixings and making sure all chrome surfaces are limescale free and gleaming. Now you have achieved a bright and fresh bathroom on a relatively small budget.

Landscaping Case Study – Planting Trees in Back Garden

New trees two years on

Just finished a project to plant four Extra-Heavy Standard trees to act as a screen in a back garden.

The trees chosen to plant were 2 Red Rob (Photinia) and 2 Holme Oaks (Quercus Ilex). Both these types of trees are evergreen to give screening all year round. The trees were supplied in containers – the Oaks in 600mm diameter pots and the Red Robins in 900mm diameter pots.

Red Robin in containers on Patio

Quercus Ilex in containers on Patio

Trees on patio surounded by trugs of dug-out earth

The tree pit was dug to twice the diameter of the containers and the sides and bottom well worked with a fork. A small mound was made at the bottom sprinkled with Mycorrhizal Fungi.The mound was made up of 75% soil taken from the original spoil of the tree pit and 25% Levington Tree and Shrub compost.

First hole dug

Prepared tree pit with Mycorrhizal Fungi

The root ball of the tree was winched into position on the mound so the top of the root ball was level with the top of the tree pit. The hole was then back-filled with the rest of the 75% soil / 25% compost mixture with a small amount of Fish Blood and Bone.

Winching the containers up the garden into the tree pits

Winch used to drag trees up garden

Frst Red Robin planted

First Quercus Ilex planted into newly dug tree-pit

To finish, some bark chippings were sprinkled over the root ball and rest of the back filled tree pit. The tree was well watered in and then the root ball and surrounding area were moderately watered every few days since. The 2 Ilex have been lightly staked as very high winds have been experienced since the trees were planted.

Newly planted trees from dining room window

Newly planted trees from bedroom window

Two years later, the trees are doing well and have put on a couple of feet. The screen they provide is very effective and I’m sure you’ll agree they look as beautiful as they are practical.

Trees two years on