Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bath Counters


There are several choices when choosing a bath counter.  While cost may vary considerably, the typical bath counter does not have a lot of square footage so the cost of something unique may be affordable.  Of course one choice is to not have a counter at all – that is using a pedestal sink.  Pedestals work especially well in small baths and powder rooms, taking up less space, making the room seem larger by being more open, and usually costing less than the vanity/counter/sink combined costs.  Below is a review of some bath counter options.

§         Solid Surface:  Solid surface products such as Corian are a popular choice for bath remodeling.  The surface is durable, easy to clean and maintain, comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and can be shaped easily.  Plus they are often combined with an integral bowl of the same pattern creating a seamless finish without difficult to clean edges. 
§         Stone:  Granite is the most popular stone surface for bath counters.  Easy to clean, durable, a natural product, and readily available in a wide variety of colors and natural stone or vein patterns.  More porous stones such as marble or limestone while initially attractive stain easily, require regularly sealing, and scratch more easily than granite.
§         Tile:  Ceramic tile is typically inexpensive, available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, finishes, and colors, and is a durable surface.  The largest drawback is the grout joints between the tiles that may be difficult to maintain and keep clean.
§         Man-made Synthetics:  Today there are a wide variety of manufactured stone products imitating the look of granite or marble.  A more traditional, and very inexpensive, product is cultured marble.  Including an integral bowl cultured marble is probably the least expensive option.  It is available in a variety and colors, is very durable, easy to clean, and is readily and quickly available for standard size vanities.
§         Other:  Laminate is another very inexpensive choice that is easy to clean and available in a variety of colors and designs.  Wood counters are also sometimes used in a bath, especially for a more decorative function like a powder room that will not receive heavy day-to-day use.  For both of these products water exposure may cause long-term issues.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Remodeling the Kids’ Bath

Many homes today have a master bath and a hall bath or a shared bath for the other bedrooms.  The second bath often functions as the children’s bath.  Remodeling a kids’ bath or second bath involves some different design and product decisions than for the master bath.  Following are some ideas to consider.

§         Size:  The typical 2nd bath is smaller than the master bath and the number of fixtures are more limited.  There is often room for only one sink although in some situations two are possible.  Typically there is a tub/shower and a toilet.  Especially for small children a tub is important, showers are difficult to use when bathing infants.  And if resale is a consideration, having a tub/shower combo in the 2nd bath is a good choice.
§         Design:  One popular option, if space permits, is a two-room bath.  The front room has the vanity or vanities and storage; the second room has the toilet and tub/shower.  This often allows more than one child to use the bath at a time.  Another design consideration is storage space.  If multiple kids are using the room, adequate storage for towels, toiletries, hair dryers, medicine, etc should be taken into consideration.
§         Product Selection:  Some bath products work better for small children than for teenagers.  Keep in mind if you have small children that they will grow.  A standard height vanity with stools for small children may be a better long-term solution.  Shower curtains are much easier to work with for bathing small children and can be easily and inexpensively changed in the future.  Decorative selections for small children are better used in towels, shower curtains, and accessories than for permanent items such as tile and plumbing fixtures that will be expensive and difficult to change.
§         Safety:  Many of the same safety rules apply for any bath.  Non-slip floor tiles, pressure balanced and scald guard faucets, and GFI protected electrical outlets are all especially important for small children and good ideas for any bath.