Trained Eye


Bathroom Renovations


Dear Ari,

I would like to update a 4'x8' bathroom. Floor to be tiled and the sink and toilet replaced. The walls are plaster but lower part is bumpy from removed tiles. I have looked at an acrylic bath and tub surround (Bath Fitters) and like the neat finish it gives. My problem is the rest of the bathroom. I like the effect of Venetian plaster. I want a pedestal sink and the floor tiled.

Should I have the remaining two walls, floor, sink & toilet looked after first and then the tub surround? One quote suggested removing tub walls, etc but I don't really want to go this route.

I also need some advice as to where I could buy a small toilet and pedestal sink in beige.

Please advise. Thank-you.


Updating bathrooms are often the second most costly renovations in homes, next to kitchens. This is largely due to the cost of the plumbing fixtures, faucets, vanities, medicine cabinets and other critical items. Also, many professional sub-trades are required including a plumber, electrician, painter, carpenter/drywaller, and often a tile installer. All of these may add up to significant costs in the thousands of dollars, even in a small bathroom such as yours, which I hope is at least 5’ x 8’ or you may have trouble installing a standard 5 foot bathtub. You are being very diligent in your pre-planning and inquiries before committing to this costly upgrade.

To answer your question about where to start, this depends on the extent of the renovations to be done. This will also largely depend on your budget, and whether you can afford to do all the renovations at once, or over a period of time. The ideal way to renovate an older bathroom is to do a complete renovation, although this will be the most costly of options. This will required smashing out the old plaster walls around the tub and shower area, removal of the old tub and faucet and the older toilet, sink and vanity. The remaining walls may be partially or completely removed depending on whether fixtures and drains are to be moved or new electrical wiring and water pipes are required. The benefit of this method is that it allows for older, often deteriorated, drains, faucets and water supply pipes to be removed and updated. If done properly, this will eliminate any possibility of leaks or deterioration for many years.

If the tub and shower faucet and drains are in good condition, a tub liner is a viable option. This will be a less costly option, but not as inexpensive as you might think. The real saving here is the lower cost in not having to buy a new tub, waste, overflow and tub/shower faucet as well as repair deteriorated walls around the shower. Also, a complete renovation may require several days to weeks to complete and the tub liner and surround is often installed in one or two days. This will prevent loss of use of the tub or the entire bathroom. This should be a major consideration if the home has only one bathroom.

Acrylic tub liners and shower surrounds are high quality products and may be form-fitted to adapt to the uneven walls in your older home. They will last for many years with minimal maintenance and have very few seams, which prevents the possibility of leakage. Care must be taken to prevent use of abrasive cleaners or scratching the acrylic surface, but this is not difficult with a little common sense. They are vastly superior to tub refinishing or reglazing that has very limited life expectancy and is a poor alternative to tub replacement.

If you chose the tub liner option, I would have the tub and shower area done first. This will likely be the mostly costly part of your improvements and will fix the most immediate concern, the tub and shower area. This way, if you have limited resources, you can do the walls in the remaining parts of the bathroom later by scraping, patching and painting without much plaster removal or new drywall installation. This may also allow you to use your existing sink and toilet until the floor tiles are to be installed, preventing loss of use of the bathroom.

Beige toilets and sinks may be difficult to find, but Ivory fixtures may be more readily available and can be an alternative to plain white. High end bathroom supply stores and wholesale suppliers will have catalogues with special order fixtures that may meet your colour requirements, but you will probably have to pay premium prices if you deviate from the standard white.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Holidays, a healthy and prosperous New Year and to thank all the readers that took the time to send in questions, this past year. Unfortunately, I can only answer so many, but I keep all inquiries on file and your questions may appear quite some time after original submission, so keep reading and keep writing!




P.O. Box 69021
#110-2025 Corydon Ave
Winnipeg, MB
R3P 2G9