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Ask The Plumber - Bathroom Remodeling Frequently Asked Questions


Q.  What's the best surface for a bathroom vanity?

A.  Inevitably, any vanity top is going to get a lot of use and abuse over the years, so as well as looking good it needs to be resistant to stains and spills, durable and easy to clean.  For a luxurious finish, granite and marble make solid and elegant-looking surfaces.  However, they are quite expensive and it can be costly to repair them if they become scratched or get broken.  Granite and marble are also porous, so care should be taken to mop up spills to avoid them soaking in.  Ceramic tiles are another option and, provided they are properly grouted, tiles are waterproof, longlasting and easy to clean.  If you decide to tile your vanity surface yourself, a handy tip is to use a sealer on the grout to prevent it being stained by makeup etc.  A laminate surface is the cheapest option, and loads of finishes are available to help you get the look you want.  For instance, it’s possible to find faux marble or granite tops made from laminates, which look luxurious but cost a fraction of the real thing.  Laminate surfaces are easy to keep clean and will keep their looks for a reasonable length of time.

Q.  Should I install my new vanity before or after tiling the floor?

A.  It’s generally easier to tile the floor first, but it’s up to you.  If you install the vanity first it makes the tiling slightly trickier as it means you’ll have to tile around the base of the vanity.  This means having to cut the tiles to fit around the edges, which is time-consuming.  It’s much easier to tile an empty floor with no fixtures to work around.  Tiling first also means you don’t have to re-tile if you buy a new vanity unit in the future, and there won’t be any untidy gaps around the edges of your vanity cabinet.  If you want to save a few dollars by not tiling the space that will be hidden beneath the vanity, you could tile just a few inches under the vanity to give an even surface to mount it on, without tiling the whole floor.

Q.  What can I do about mold in my tiled shower stall?

A.  Mold is a common problem in showers due to their hot, steamy nature.  Mold starts to grow in areas where moisture droplets or condensation are a problem, as mold feeds on moisture.  The best treatment is to prevent mold from growing in the first place, by making sure your shower room or bathroom is well ventilated.  This can be as simple as opening a window after using the shower, or you could have an extractor fan installed.  However, if you already have a mold problem, there are a number of solutions you could try to combat it.  Cleaning moldy areas with bleach is a popular method for killing the mold.  Using ammonia is another chemical method that can be tried.  If you prefer not to use harsh chemicals, you could try cleaning your tiles with a mixture of lemon juice and warm water.  Or alternatively, try mixing two teaspoons of tea tree oil with two cups of water and use a spray bottle to spray it on to moldy spots.  Whichever method you try, remember to do your best to keep your shower stall ventilated and dry to prevent the mold from returning.