Home Improvement Part 9

Home Improvements, Part 9

This is part 9 in a sequence. If you want to begin at the beginning, you can go to Part 1. The following shows the contents for this and adjacent parts.

Part 8 (separate page)
  • Closet Repairs
  • House Painting, etc.
  • New Fence
Part 9 (this page)

(initial section posted 5/21/20)

Guest Bathroom Refresh

I'd been wanting to do some fixing up on the guest bathroom for quite a while. Some time back I was thinking I'd like to go for a pretty major remodel, replacing the cabinets and all, but by this time I'd decided to just do what I felt was the minimum necessary: removing the wallpaper and painting, replacing the shower door, and fixing the toilet paper holder.

Wallpaper Removal and Painting

Like most of the other rooms, the guest bath had been wallpapered when the house was built, and that wallpaper was showing its age. It needed to come down, so I hired Chaz the painter again. Pic at left is a "before" pic, showing the old wallpaper and the brackets of some shelves that I was getting rid of. (I'd taken the shelves off before I took the pic so you could see the wallpaper better. I had removed the whole thing as part of the prep work before Chaz arrived.)

As usual, once he was scheduled he was quite efficient. It took 3 half-days. At the end of day 1 he'd removed all the wallpaper, which had covered the ceiling as well as the walls. The first pic below shows the same basic area as the "before" pic at left. The second shows the area near the tub, along with his equipment. In that one, you can see (kinda-sorta) that the old glass shower doors and the top rail that held them have been removed. I figured that would be helpful for Chaz to be able to access the ceiling in the tub area, plus it was something that was going to have to be done as part of replacing the shower door anyway. I did it myself, after checking some Youtube "how-to" videos on the subject. The doors themselves lift out pretty easily, and once the doors are out, the top rail pops off the sides pretty easily too. (The side and bottom rails were still there at this time).


After that he painted the ceiling and walls. For the walls, I chose a color called "Tame Teal" that was a light-ish teal, about the same value as the green I used in the master bath but the color is more saturated besides being, well, teal. Hard to explain, and alas I have yet to get a picture that I think shows the color decently. In any case, it looks good, and very different from what it looked like before. The painting was completed, actually, just before the new fence got put in, in mid-February 2020. Following are some "after" pics. The first one is, again, basically the same area as the "before" pic above. I included the stuff on the counter in the hopes it would help the camera to get the wall the right color, but no such luck. The second pic has the wall color maybe closer, but still wrong, and the tile looks wrong too-- although it looks pink, the tile is actually more like almond, and looks more accurate in most of the other pics that show it. (When this pic was taken, I'd also removed the side and bottom rails from the tub.)


Shower Door Replacement

I wanted to get rid of the old shower door because of a couple of issues. The doors were originally clear glass, which I don't like because you really need to keep them perfectly clean and that's way too much work, plus I prefer more privacy when I'm taking a shower. So, shortly after we moved in, I had "frosted" them with (Contact-type) adhesive plastic made for that purpose. We liked that much better. But that was over 30 years ago, and the adhesive was getting a bit messy, mostly around the bottom edges, and there didn't seem to be any way to just clean it up. Also, the track was a bit wonky as well because the hubby had messed about with it a lot. It was functional, but not quite right, and again, there didn't seem to be any good way to correct it.

So it seemed the best thing to do was to replace the whole old sliding glass shower door assembly with a new one, and that was my plan. But as I was poking around Youtube looking for tips on how to do remove the old door, I found that I might have another option. Some of those door-removal projects were to convert to a curtain rod and shower curtain, because some people prefer that (because they have little kids they bathe in the tub, for example). I was excited by that idea because it would be so much easier than installing a whole new glass door; in fact, I could use a compression-type shower rod and not have to do any actual new "installation" at all. All I needed to do first was clean up the caulk and stuff that was left in the tub after I'd removed the rails.

I started with the sides (pic at left), where there was some caulk, and the expected screwholes with anchors. It took a little elbow grease, but the caulk came off nice and clean with no damage to the tile. I was able to pull out the anchors nice and clean also (after a Youtube check for more "how to" advice). So, now just a matter of filling them to look OK (got Youtube tips on that, and even another tip on how to hide them if it doesn't work out).

Then to the tub itself, where the bottom rail had been. This was a lot messier with caulk (pic at right), and required a lot more elbow grease, but was still coming clean OK. At least at first it was. But when I got close to thinking I was going to be done, I reached an area where the tub surface seemed to be damaged. I was quite certain it wasn't something I had just done with my elbow grease. But it did not look good. I'd have to fix this somehow in order to proceed with the curtain rod fix. I had a couple of ideas about what to try next, but I got really discouraged. I lost my momentum.

So, as of this writing (mid-May 2020), I have made no further progress on this particular project. But I do figure, worse comes to worse, I can always put in new glass doors, as I'd originally planned.

Toilet Paper Holder Repair

This issue happened so long ago that I had mostly forgotten about it. Many, many years ago, not too long after we'd moved in, the hubby dropped something heavy against this TP holder and it broke. And because it's the ceramic type that's basically built-in to the wall, it's not that simple to replace. So we had just glued the pieces back together best we could, and lived with it. Figured one day we'd paint it and it'd look like new again.

The thing is, under my normal use of this bathroom, I'd really only see the crack lines in the top, which do look pretty minor and fixable with a simple paint job. That's why I hadn't given it much thought until I was doing the prep/clean up from the painting and the hole in the side caught my attention. That was gonna need more than just paint.

Some Internet research on ceramic repair suggested epoxy putty for larger holes, so I got some from Home Depot, and made a first pass at filling the hole (pic at right). Better, but not ready for paint yet.

At the instant I write this, that's as far as I've gotten. I was thinking that whatever I use to fill the screw holes on the tub would probably be good for the last layer before paint on the TP holder. But I'm thinking I should do another layer of the putty first.

But as of the time I write this, I haven't progressed further on this either.

(following section added 11/23/23)

Well, it's been a while... over 3-1/2 years! (The pandemic did, of course, distort all sense of time.) Let's see if I can catch up a bit.

In between other activities, I continued to work on the TP holder, adding at least one more layer of putty, and a few of the plaster-like stuff that I'd gotten for the screw holes in the tile, shaping and sanding after each. It was October (back in 2020) before I thought it was ready for paint (pic at left). I had chosen a spray paint made for appliances in the color Almond, which seemed like it would be great for the job.

So first I masked off the area (pic at right) mostly using some old plastic tablecloths I'd picked up at the Dollar store years earlier. The painting itself took far less time then the masking, as you can probably guess. The result was pretty good, but the nice paint job revealed a few bumps/flaws in the patch work that were not apparent before. It bothered me enough that I had to go back and re-do it, making a few more passes with the plaster stuff and sanding and smoothing, and it was January 2021 before I was ready to try repainting.

As I said, the paint job itself had looked really good... Not only did it cover all the patching nicely, it also seemed to be a perfect match for the other pieces in the bathroom. I thought it might well work to hide the ugly marks on the top edge of the tub that were left after I'd removed the bottom rail from the shower door. So this second time when I was doing the masking and painting for the TP holder, I also did it for that top edge of the tub (pic at left). This time, when I removed the masking, the TP holder showed no bothersome flaws (pic at right). So that part was DONE.

Tub Refresh (for Shower Door Replacement)

There were 2 main things I needed to fix to get the tub area into decent shape so I could put in a shower rod: patch the screw holes in the tiles on the sides, and do something about the discoloration on the top edge of the tub. I had bought a patching kit for the screw holes, which included a plaster-like material to fill in the holes and some pigments so you could customize the color, along with a clear finishing coat. I'd been using the kit on the TP holder as well as the screw holes and found that customizing the color to get a precise match was a lot easier said than done. Meanwhile, I'd been able to get the edge of the tub cleaned off and smooth, but it still had some bad discoloration. I thought if I could get a decent color match in a good water-resistant paint, I could use it on just that top edge. No way did I want to attempt repainting the whole tub-- I knew that would require special paint and would be a lot harder.

So I had gotten excited when the TP holder turned out so well; I thought I had found the exact paint I needed to solve both problems. Alas, after trying it on the tub, it was clear that the color was not actually a very good match after all (pic at left). Apparently the TP holder was too far away for an accurate comparison.

I had thought the tile and tub were a pretty standard color. But Almond was clearly too dark; so what other color might it be? When I'd gotten the spray paint in Almond, I also got a small bottle of touch-up paint in the same color, because I figured would be easier to use a brush rather than have to spray paint the screw holes. The touch-up paint also came in a color called Biscuit, which is lighter than Almond, so I got some to try (the touch-up bottle was cheaper than the spray can). I tried it on an extra tile I had, but alas, it turned out to be a little TOO light. Then I tried some spray paint in a color called Ivory which seemed very plausible, but alas, it wasn't much better. I then tried a color called Navaho White (interestingly, the same color as most of the walls in the house), which was actually better... Still not perfect, but not too bad. But that was the last option I could find, and after all the running back and forth to the store, putting up and taking down the masking 3 times, and still not quite solving the problem, I got discouraged again and gave up on doing anything for a while. After all, it was during the pandemic and it's not like I was going to be having any guests any time in the foreseeable future :-(

Which brings us to the present, about 2-1/2 years later. Pandemic is no longer an excuse, and with the possibility of having guests needing to use the shower, I had to get myself moving on it again.

So a few weeks ago I started with the screw holes. I tried mixing the too-dark Almond touch-up paint with the too-light Biscuit, and it wasn't too bad. As before, trying to custom-match a color is tricky, but I managed to get something that worked acceptably-- you are unlikely to notice it unless you're actively looking for it.

For the tub, I couldn't mix colors so I was stuck with what I had, the Navaho White, and the difference was more noticeable. I'd already been using a masking technique that avoids really hard edges, but I thought I might be able to make them more subtle if I positioned those edges where they might seem as if they were some kind of artifact of the light (as much as possible), such as along the curved front edge of the tub. It took a couple more sanding/masking/painting/unmasking cycles (pic at right) to get it to a point I considered good enough.

Meanwhile I'd gotten confident enough that this was all going to work that I went ahead and bought a tension-type shower rod and a fun shower curtain. But before I could put them up, I needed to clean the tub and do some grout touch-up. (I'd post a pic but I doubt it would show much. I'll wait until I get the shower curtain up.)

(following section added 5/27/20)

Front Door Stain

After I first had the new front doors installed (back in 2008!), I'd been planning to stain them. But what with one thing and another, that didn't happen. But lately I've been trying to do things to prep the house for sale, and one of the things I've heard is that it's generally worth your while to spruce up the entrance to your house. The doors didn't really look too bad without the stain, but I figured they'd look a lot better with. So I decided to go ahead and do it.

One of the issues I'd had in the past with trying to do this was finding gel stain, which is the kind you need to use on a fiberglass door like mine. But nowadays you can go on the Home Depot web site and find out not only if the item is in stock at your local store, but exactly where it's located. Plus you can have that location texted to your phone so you have it with you while you're shopping. So, armed with that info, I was finally able to pick some up; I chose a color called Hickory.

Then, armed with tips from Youtube videos, I was finally able to get to work in early May 2020. It took a couple of weekends. The first weekend I did the stain on one door each day. (After doing a lot of masking and prep work the first day, I didn't have much energy left after doing the first door. But I did get an interim pic, at left.)

After the staining, I needed to clearcoat with spar urethane, but I had not had the foresight to get that at the time I'd gotten the stain. And when I checked Home Depot, they were out of stock (presumably because everyone was doing home projects during the pandemic shutdown). But I was able to order from Amazon and get it in a few days. Although that shipping time was longer than their usual, it was just as well since the stain takes 24 hours to cure.

Anyway, a couple more days to do the required 3 coats of clearcoat, let it cure, and re-install the doorknob hardware, which was a bit of an adventure but worked out ok. And I'm really happy with the result (pic at right).

(section added 11/23/23)

Front Pavers

Another thing I wanted to do to spruce up the entrance to the house, after I'd finished with the door staining, was to replace the front walkway with pavers. The original walkway looked kinda like brick, but was actually tile over concrete, apparently. Although it did show some wear, it didn't look really bad. I wanted to change it because there were a couple of spots, apparently where the concrete had cracked, where the surface was uneven and I was concerned that someone might trip on them.

This wasn't a job I was going to do myself, though! I used a recommendation for a paver company from a friend, picked out the paver style and color, and in short order (back in late 2020) it was done--see pics left and right.

Besides the pavers and the outside of the newly-stained door, the pic at right also shows a change to the front door area that was a byproduct of this work, which was the removal of the screen door. I think the only place where you can kinda-sorta see what it looked like before was with the hurricane doors (back in part 3), but it was located a few feet in front of the door, separating the sort of "porch" area (where the walkway covers the full width of the entry alcove) from the regular (narrower) walkway. The paver guys had to remove it to put the pavers in, and I was only too happy to have them do it because it was old and pretty close to needing replacement anyway. But I did the patching and painting to fix the resulting screw hole damage myself.


To be continued....


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