Category: Bathroom

2011 Bathroom Trends

Read for trends from the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.

2011 Bathroom Trends


Cleanliness, conservation, and comfort—welcome to the 21st-century bathroom, which was highlighted prominently by many new products at the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas.

For those seeking an enhanced shower experience, an array of new products were on display.  For instance, Jason International’s new Zero Threshold-TZ3260 shower base is designed for new and retro-fit installations, with easy, barrier-free entry, a seat where one can rest while showering, and a slip-resistant floor.  Another company, Jet Pro Shower Spas , offers a unit that replaces the existing shower valve with a unit that provides a rainfall-type shower experience. And Moen ’s Flushmount body sprays feature adjustable spray faces that can pivot the water up to 20 degrees in any direction, providing a multidirectional, full-body shower experience, with a design that fits against the shower walls to facilitate installation and servicing.  QuARTz by Aco is one of the shower manufacturers that aims to balance design and function considerations, with its linear drainage systems that allow level shower designs and, in some cases, provide water-activated lighting.

And when you think bath, think “micro bubble.”  Cashido Corporation ’s Cabozi system, which installs under your bathtub, provides a whirlpool function at the touch of a button.  The company describes the product as a body-friendly experience in which billions of micro bubbles cleanse, soften, and smooth your skin and aid relaxation.  Jason International , meanwhile, promises similar benefits for mind and body with its Microsilk™ system, offered on 53 of its bathtub models, promising the therapeutic effects of billions of micro bubbles.

The bath massage experience is also the focus of several manufacturers, including Kohler , CG Air Systems and Foshan Korra Bath Ware .  Kohler’s Elevance Rising Wall Bath, which comes with a Bubble Massage option to supplement its main features, including easy entry and chair-height seating.  CG’s installations allow the upgrading of an existing bathtub with its electronic Integrated Air Massage System, while Foshan offers a line of computer-controlled massage bathtubs, featuring a modern acrylic/fiberglass design and six or eight massage nozzles.

It would seem that efforts to build a better mousetrap have been overtaken by the attempt to build the ultimate toilet—a toilet that never overflows, conserves water, eliminates bathroom tissue, cleans easily, and, in some cases, offers entertainment.

Function figures most strongly in Penguin Toilets ’ Model 524, a Water Sense-rated unit that features built-in overflow protection and, in language that a plumber would love, “good bowl rinse.”  Inax USA offers eco-friendly toilets for a variety of budgets and design schemes, including its Eco-X series, with a powerful flushing system that minimizes water usage and has an easy-to-clean antibacterial finish.  The Regio integrated toilet takes toilet technology up several notches:  a sound system, heated seat, double power deodorizing, automatic flushing, and dual nozzle bidet, and antibacterial finish can be yours for $7,000 and above.

The universal presence of toilets is clearly an invitation for add-ons.  Brondell ’s Swash 1000 advanced bidet toilet seat, which fits an estimate 98% of toilets, offers varied nozzle positions, wide spray option, and nozzle oscillation for optimal cleansing and hygiene.  An adjustable heated seat, warm air dryer and automatic deodorizer complete this “ultimate bidet seat experience.” And  Jon-E-Vac offers its Toilet Ventilating System as an easy-to-install product that uses fans and antimicrobial agents to remove bacteria and odor directly from the toilet bowl.

The “Ultimate” Experience
For the “ultimate” bathroom experience, Electric Mirror offers its Visionary™ LED & TV Medicine Cabinet, which has LED lighting, an audio system, a 15-inch television, and a waterproof remote.  Anyone want to watch the news?

Low-Flow Toilets 101

Save money and conserve water with energy low-flow toilets.

Low-Flow Toilets


The EPA declares that an estimated 4.8 billion gallons of water are flushed down the toilet every day. According to the American Water Works Association, the average household uses 20 to 28 gallons per day just to flush the toilet. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 took a step in reducing water waste by mandating that all new toilets produced for residential conform to a 1.6-gallon-per-flush (gpf) standard, moving away from conventional 3.5-gpf to 5-gpf models.

To encourage homeowners to replace conventional toilets with low-flush models, some states and municipalities offer tax incentives, rebates, and vouchers.

San Diego’s Water Conservation Program, for example, offers vouchers for commercial and residential replacement of 3.5 gpf or higher toilets with water-conserving models. Residents can save as much as $165 by using a voucher when replacing an old water-hogging toilet with a water-conscious version. A $165 voucher used on a $250 water-efficient toilet can mean payback in as little as two years, depending on the region. A homeowner should check into local or state incentives for toilet replacement.

Improved Performance
The first low-flush (1.6 gpf) models had trouble clearing the bowl, often requiring more than one flush, which defeats the purpose of a low-flush toilet. To counter these complaints, ultra-low-flush toilets (ULFTs) soon appeared on the market with improved flushing-mechanisms and design improvements. Modified tanks, elongated bowls, and increased flushing velocity ensured improved performance using less water. “It was essentially a change in bowl shape, water flow, and trap design,” says Rob Zimmerman, Kohler’s Senior Staff Engineer of Water Conservation Initiatives.

Like conventional toilets, ULFTs come in gravity-fed and pressurized versions. Pressurized models are criticized for excessive flushing noise, prompting industry manufacturers to take notice. “Our Highline Pressure Lite model is a pressurized toilet that uses 1.1 gallons per flush,” says Zimmerman. “Improvements in the hydraulic system have resulted in a quieter flush. It’s still louder than a gravity-fed toilet, but it doesn’t sound like an airplane taking off.”

High-Efficiency and Dual-Flush Options
The toilet industry’s leaders in water conservation are the high-efficiency toilets (HET) and dual-flush toilets. The industry defines an HET as a toilet that uses 20 percent less than the 1.6-gpf low-flush or ultra-low-flush models, or 1.28 gallons of water per flush.

With the introduction of HETs, some municipal and community water-saving incentive programs have updated their incentive offers. In San Diego, an HET replacement can be worth up to $165 per toilet, while a 1.6-gpf ULFT earns $75 per fixture. HETs are one of the highlighted categories under the EPA’s new WaterSense program, which approves, promotes, and labels water-efficient products just as the Energy Star program certifies energy-efficient products.

Using Glass Tile for a Handcrafted Look

Epoxy grout ensures a durable installation of glass tile.

Glass Tile

Photo: Richard Bubnowski Design

Glass tile is gaining in popularity over ceramic tile as the surface of choice in home tiling projects. Although typically more expensive than ceramic tile, glass tile adds a handcrafted, artistic quality that is easily worth the cost.

Unique Appearance
Glass tile comes in a variety of forms and colors, which depend on the process used to create them. Some tiles are cut and cold-cooled while others are melted, cast, and cooled. “In cold-manufacturing, there is no heat, just cutting of the glass,” says Grace Kalina of Boyce & Bean, a glass and clay manufacturing company in California. “On the other hand, cast glass involves mixing sands and chemicals and melting them in a tank, which is then dropped into trays for cooling.”

The end result can vary by color, thickness, size, and shape. Some glass tiles contain tiny bubbles within each tile, which create a “still wet” look and makes for individual tiles that, like snowflakes, are one-of-a-kind. The varieties of glass tile allow for endless customization options, and its versatility opens the door to indoor and outdoor projects alike.

Glass is not always associated with durability, but in truth glass tile can be just as strong and long lasting as ceramic tile. By nature, glass tile retains certain properties that make it more resilient than ceramic tile. “Glass tile is not porous,” Kalina says, “so it does not absorb moisture.” Moisture penetration is the enemy of any tile project since it can spell mold and mildew. There is no such worry with glass tile as long as it is properly installed.

Glass Tile Installation
Most tile installers will tell you there’s not much difference between installing ceramic tile and installing glass tile. “Installing glass tile is pretty straightforward,” says Thomas Hubbard, a tile installer in Burlington, Vermont. “Some installers get hung-up on the cutting of the glass, but in all it’s not that difficult to install.” Hubbard typically sees glass tile used as an accent, but it can be used for larger projects, including entire walls, or shower ceilings.

Like ceramic tile, installing glass tile involves setting the glass onto the work surface. Since glass tile is translucent, the thin-set is usually white; so as to maintain a clear background that doesn’t affect the glass color. “With glass tile, which is see-through, the thin-set or subsurface must be perfect,” says Kalina. “If the tile is used in the bottom of a swimming pool, for example, the thin-set must be smoothed out or it will show.”

Grout for Long-Lasting Beauty
Grout will also impact the durability and look of the glass tile installation. Epoxy grouts are becoming popular for use with glass tile because of their longevity, strength, and relationship with the glass. Grouts like SpectraLOCK or Kerapoxy have a chemical composition that resists stains and breakdown. They are also non-porous and non-absorbent.

When mixed with antimicrobial products such as Microban, epoxy grouts also inhibit the growth of mold or mildew, a common occurrence with regular cement grout. “Cement-based grouts absorb moisture, so you have to seal the grout every two years,” Hubbard says.

Non-absorbent epoxy grouts require little maintenance, so while they may cost more than cement grout up front, they more than make up for it over time. The rubbery plastic-like characteristics of epoxy grouts make for a more challenging application, and a stronger finished product. “It takes a lot of elbow grease,” says Hubbard: “It also takes a lot of washing after. I’ll go over it several times with a light vinegar and water mix.”

Epoxy grouts come in a variety of colors, can be mixed with additives to adjust hue or create sparkles, and will not fade or change color over time. Set times for epoxy grouts are comparable to their cement counterparts.  “I usually recommend staying off it for 24 hours,” Hubbard advises.

Green Bathroom Makeover

Quick and easy "green" bathroom updates.

Green Bathroom

Photo: David Baker + Partners

From water conservation to efficient lighting and green cleaning, the bathroom is an ideal room to make eco-friendly. Major changes can be made in a remodel or new construction, but a quick green bathroom makeover is possible, too.

“Going green should not be an option, it should be the first thought,” says Jeff Smoler, ASID, ASFD, of J.E.S. Designs in Northbrook, IL. “Going green is almost a state of mind. Once you decide to do it, price seems to not be at the forefront.” However, essential to any bathroom design—green or not—is to keep with local building codes. They can guide you through any mandatory green bathroom improvements to be made, such as installing energy-efficient lighting, now required by many local electric utilities, Smoler says.

Quick Green Bathroom Makeover
ToiletsReplace an old toilet with one of today’s high-efficiency models. They offer several options to help you cut back on the nearly 30 percent of indoor water use that toilets represent. There are double-flushing toilets that have one button to eliminate liquid waste and a second button to deliver more water to clear solid waste. There are toilets that have air-assisted flushes, larger trapways, and wash-down rather than gravity-suction flushing.

Before you buy, check for a WaterSense label on any models you are considering. The label means that the toilet has met certain U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements for water efficiency and performance.

Cabinets. Consider green cabinets that will be produced using sustainable materials, such as bamboo, says Diana L. Patterson of Tucson, AZ, president-elect of the American Society of Interior Designers-Arizona South. “Avoid laminates as you are dealing here with glues and chemicals which are harmful and difficult to recycle. Solid wood cabinets are a better choice than laminate or plastic, but you want to choose easily replaceable, fast-growing woods such as willow, poplar, oak, eucalypts, since solid wood cabinets use many trees to produce.”

Moisture Control. With showering, bathing, and sink use, the bathroom is one room that could have a lot of moisture issues. Effective control is important to prevent respiratory and structural problems. Install a properly sized electric vent fan in the ceiling to remove moisture in the air and prevent mold or mildew from growing.

Updating. If changing out trim, look for items such as tile with recycled content or for materials with non-toxic finishes. Consider salvaged hardware to give a new look. If refreshing walls, use paints with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Water Conservation
Add an easy-to-install low-flow aerator to your sink faucet. It will not only reduce water consumption by increasing the amount of air in the spray, but also help you save on the costs of heating water and on water and sewage bills.

Fit an aerator onto your showerhead or get a low-volume showerhead model with different spray patterns that will provide the sensation of higher-volume sprays. Some models come with features that let you temporarily shut off the water but keep the desired temperature while you are lathering up.

A leaky toilet can lose from several gallons to nearly 100 gallons a day. You may have already noticed a few of the clues: having to jiggle the handle to make it stop running, hearing toilet water sounds when it is not in use, or hearing the toilet water run for several seconds when no one has touched the handle. Replacing the toilet flush value is an easy, efficient way to stop leaking and save thousands of gallons of water per year.

Repair a dripping faucet so it stops wasting water and your money. Make this the time when you also green your behavior. Turn off the tap when you do not need running water.

Cleaning Products
Check your stock of bathroom cleaning supplies. Read the labels so you can be sure the ingredients are nontoxic and environmentally friendly. If they are not, dispose of them safely. Contact your local government office for information on disposal of residential toxics. Check the Greenguard Environmental Institute website for products such as toilet, glass and floor cleaners that it certifies as having met its eco-friendly criteria. Read up on options for green cleaning indoors.

Coming clean in the bathroom means more than just scrubbing up the room. Go for eco-friendly body products as well. If you need help in determining the safety of ingredients, check out the website of the Environmental Working Group. The nonprofit environmental research organization keeps an online database of products rated for safety.

Fluorescent lighting is by far the best choice for efficiency and low cost,” says Patterson. “Take care in disposing of these bulbs, but they will last for two to three years and manufacturers are producing fluorescent bulbs in all shapes and sizes now.”

And don’t forget the sun. Make the most of any natural lighting provided by bathroom skylights or windows.

Recycled and Organic
Take your eco-friendliness a few steps further. Consider towels and wash cloths colored with low-impact dyes and made with organic cotton that is grown without pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers.

For your facial tissues and toilet paper, consider switching to forest-friendly tissue products made of 100 percent post-consumer fiber. Greenpeace, an international environmental organization, provides an online guide to these sustainable products.

Want to make other rooms in your home greener? Check out The Green Kitchen, The Green Bedroom, and Design a Green Home Office.

Bathroom Trends

The 2011 Kitchen and Bath Show revealed several new bathroom trends.

Bathroom Trends

Photo: Flickr

Home spas, water conservation and ornamental accessories on a budget are some of the bathroom trends being spotted by experts today.

“People want to get that spa retreat feel out of their bathrooms,” says Mark Karas, president-elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, which owns the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show and Conference, the largest gathering of kitchen and bath suppliers, designers and ideas. “They’re looking for that soaking tub separate from a shower. That’s the ultimate.”

At the same time, Karas says, homeowners are very interested in saving water for financial and environmental benefits. And while they still want quality hardware and sophisticated styles, homeowners are being more selective with where they spend their money.

“Everybody is budget-conscious today,” says Karas. “But the number-one thing people want is good design.”

The In-Home Spa
Having a free-standing tub and a separate shower is the ultimate in bathroom luxury for many, says Karas. Bathtubs that are long and deep provide the greatest escape, and whirlpool jets can make bathing a transformative experience. The Aveo freestanding bathtub by Villeroy & Boch, for example, uses a simple, contoured design to evoke tranquility and comfort. The tub is thirty seven inches wide and seventy five inches (more than six feet) long, which means you don’t just soak, you lounge.

Multiple showerheads make a shower luxurious today. The Techno M3 series showerhead from Cifial USA comes with six individual body sprays, including a handheld shower spray. The ioDIGITAL Vertical Spa from Moen adds technology to the equation to enhance your shower experience. In addition to multiple showerheads, it allows you to set water pressure and temperature to your exact specifications. Once you find your favorite setting, it can be saved for future use. LED indicators on the LCD screen tell you when you have reached your perfect water temperature, which means the days of stepping into a shower that’s too cold or too hot are gone. And because you can program up to four presets, you and your loved ones can have an individualized shower experience.

That warm shower feels so good it can be hard to step out of the stall. A towel warmer can make that transition less jarring. If price had held you off from this luxury, consider a Myson Pearl Tower Warmer. These units, which are plugged in the wall, start at $200. Not only will it warm your towel, it can quickly dry delicate clothing and reduce bathroom moisture, mildew and musty odors, as well as heat the room.

Water-Saving Solutions
While the multi-spray shower is the ultimate in shower luxury, it is not the best choice if water conservation is your goal. “More and more, the new shower products have low-flow heads on them, so you’re still getting what feels like a lot of water at fewer gallons per minute,” Karas says.

The Moen Nurture three-setting showerhead flows at 1.75 gallons per minute, which is less than the industry standard 2.5 gallons and with a thirty percent water savings. Its spiral-patterned spray face ensures full-body coverage.

Delta relies on H20kinetic technology to make a low-flow showerhead feel like much more. H20kinetic, found on many of its showerheads, uses larger droplets of water, which retain heat longer, and a dense spray pattern for “drenching coverage.” The technology is found on its six-spray shower system, meaning you can get the spa shower while using less water.

Toilet water conservation has come far from the days when homeowners were advised to put a brick in the reservoir to use less water with each flush. Dual flush, which has been used around the world for decades, is finally becoming mainstream in the United States. The Gerber Ultra Dual Flush gives users the options of two different kinds of flushes: the 1.1-gallon option is for light or liquid usage, and the 1.6-gallon flush is for solid waste. “When you consider that we’ve gone from three gallons, which used to be the standard, to 1.6, that’s a good savings,” Karas says.

Sustainability and green building, which was once touted as a “new” design choice, has thoroughly infiltrated bathroom trends. Dupont Zodiaq countertops, for example, are made from twenty-five percent recycled glass. The Wintergreen model features glass three-dimensionally suspended in light green quartz.

For combining eco-friendly solutions with outstanding design, consider a vanity made from Kirei Board. This conversation piece is made from a wood substitute of reclaimed sorghum straw and no-added-formaldehyde adhesive. It’s available for cabinetry and countertops. Kirei also manufactures a line of tile made from reclaimed coconut shells as well as bamboo light fixtures.

Metallic design schemes are also popular with bath designers today. Metallic tiles add high-end shine to a bathroom, but they can be pricey. To get the effect without breaking the bank, add a few signature pieces into your tile work, Karas says. Metaltec Innovations offers six-inch by six-inch 3D textured metal tiles featuring designs such as starfish and conch. If you have your own artistic vision, the company can turn your design into a custom tile. Newly popular metals have also found their way to the once-lowly bathroom sink. Linkasink’s Pantheon sink, made of bronze, is reminiscent of the geometric pattern found on the Pantheon in Rome. Other designs include botanical, wing, and brocade.

Using black and white as a color scheme is a popular trend in kitchens now being extended to the bath. The Kaldewei Luxxo Duo Oval bathtub is 75 inches long and 39 inches wide with a slick, shiny black surface. Dupont Zodiaq Terra Collection features “Licorice,” a black solid surface made from twenty-five percent recycled glass in a black quartz base, which is available in either a two- or three- centimeter thickness and it can be used for vanities, countertops or as a backsplash.

Childproofing the Bathroom

Eliminate the bathroom’s many dangers to keep the bathroom a fun place for children.


Bathroom Access
Childproofing a room begins with some common-sense approaches. “So much of it doesn’t cost a cent,” says Peter Kerin, owner of Foresight Childproofing Inc., in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area. “It just costs a little bit of effort, a little bit of awareness.”

Since the bathroom is a high-traffic area, your childproofing approach has to be functional. It needs to keep children safe but let other family members use the bathroom with ease.

The best way to protect small children is to make sure they can’t get in unattended. “Until children are starting to be potty trained, they should not have free access to the bathroom,” Kerin says. To limit access, put a hook and eye or sliding bolt on the outside of the door, high above your child’s reach. You can also use a doorknob cover, which is available for both round knobs and lever-style handles and prevents the child from opening the latch. Make sure your child can’t get trapped in the bathroom by installing locks that can be opened from the outside.

Tubs, Toilets, and Sinks
“Water is definitely the main concern in the bathroom,” says Kelly Smith, owner of Totsafe in Macomb, MI, and author of Mommy Can Do It: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Baby-Proofing. Children can be scalded by it, slip on it, or drown in it. The easiest way to prevent scald burns is to set the thermostat on your water heater between 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Test baby’s bathwater on your wrist or use a water thermometer.

To minimize injuries, use a soft spout cover over the faucets. If you have decorative shower curtains, make sure the tiebacks are shorter than 12 inches to prevent strangulation. Watch children closely if you have a walk-in shower with doors that can shatter. “Glass shower doors are an extreme hazard for little kids,” Smith says.

Thce toilet can pose an especially attractive danger to young children. Not only is it unhygienic, but kids can fall in headfirst, get stuck, and drown. Various types of toilet latches can keep baby from lifting the lid. You don’t want kids climbing onto the toilet to access the sink, so have a little stool they can stand on to wash hands and brush teeth. A stool is also important for a child who is potty training. Look for a lightweight stool with a slip-resistant bottom and a wide, stable base. Those plastic caps on the bolts that connect the toilet to the floor are a potential choking hazard. They can come off, so you may want to remove them.

Storage Areas
Keep all cleaning supplies and hazardous materials as well as toilet brushes and plungers out or reach or locked up. Several types of safety latches are sold for cabinets and drawers, but Kerin feels many are ineffective. “An 18-month-old will circumvent most of them,” he says. He prefers the magnetic type that only opens with a magnetic key.

Make sure all razors, nail clippers, and scissors are inaccessible. Alcohol-laden mouthwashes and perfume should be put away. Toothpaste, which contains fluoride, can be a hazard. Medications and vitamins should be out of reach, be properly labeled, and have child-resistant caps. The garbage can is also filled with potential threats; keep it locked in a cabinet or use one with a cover secured with an adhesive strap.

Electric Hazards
Keep all appliances like hairdryers, curling irons, and electric razors locked away or out of reach; when they’re out, leave them unplugged and away from water. Cover electrical outlets with safety plugs or install a safety plate that slides over the receptacles when they’re not in use. Make sure all bathroom outlets have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). It’s good to have nightlights, but avoid ones with glass bulbs that can get hot or be broken.

Other Considerations
When selecting flooring, pick something with a textured surface to prevent slipping. And if you have a metal door stop the rubber tip can be a choking hazard, so it’s best to get a solid-rubber stop. Children can fall out of windows, so make sure they don’t open more than four inches. If the window has blinds, eliminate any cords that could strangle a child. To prevent falls in the tub, use a non-slip mat in the bottom, non-slip decals, or a slip-resistant coating. Handholds can minimize the chance of falls as kids get in and out of the bath.

Weekend Projects: 5 Easy Style Makeovers for Your Bathroom

Even if you are saddled with a small bathroom, there's no reason it can't be stylish. Here are five easy ways to add character and pizzazz to your bath this weekend.

If the average person spends 30 minutes a day in the bathroom, and they live to age 75, they will spend 1.5 years in the bathroom during their lifetime. Even without that knowledge, doesn’t it seem worthwhile to do what you can to improve your bathroom’s look, feel, and practicality? Here are five easy DIY bathroom ideas to inspire you and get you started this weekend.



DIY Bathroom Ideas - Mirror Mosaic


There are innumerable ways to use tile in the bathroom—and this clever bath upgrade is one more to add to the list. As important as mirrors are in the bath, they are often flat, frameless and lacking decorative panache. With some basic tools, a box of mosaic tiles, thin set mortar, grout—and determination, you can give your bath a decorative lift this weekend by creating your own mosaic mirror frame.



DIY Bathroom Ideas - Board And Batten


Here’s proof that even small rooms can benefit greatly from molding and decorative paneling. This board-and-batten wall treatment was installed using pre-primed MDF board, a saw, a tape measure, and some finishing nails. By aligning the horizontal rail to the top of the mirror and window, the bathroom takes on a more spacious appearance (and the look of custom woodworking). You can find a how-to tutorial here.



DIY Bathroom Ideas - Ladder Towel Rack


Bathroom storage does not have to be relegated to only over-the-toilet-étagères and medicine cabinets. You can easily repurpose a vintage ladder to hold towels and magazines, or accessorize a coat rack to hang robes and bath towels. And don’t overlook the benefit of tall ceilings; a shelf above the door is an ideal spot for storing toilet paper and other less frequently used bath supplies.



DIY Bathroom Ideas - Beadboard Ceiling


In a small room every surface can hold potential—even the ceiling. Draw inspiration from farmhouse and cottage-style designs by installing beadboard. Not only will it add character, it will give the entire room a more finished, professional look. While white is classic, there’s no reason not to consider a splash of color to give the breadboard some additional lift.



DIY Bathroom Ideas - Shower Curtain


Not all shower curtains are beautiful—and not all beautiful shower curtains are affordable. Sidestep both obstacles by purchasing an inexpensive white or transparent curtain and decorate it yourself. Consider something as simple as this polka dot-decorated curtain (which the duo at Chiche & Chouette were able to recreate with an old beer bottle cork stamp and some fabric paint), or dress it up with some painted stripes. Let your skill level and imagination be your guide.

Bob Vila Radio: Medicine Cabinet Options

If you’re in the market for a new medicine cabinet, consider your options.

Medicine cabinets provide efficient storage in a room where space tends to be at a premium. If you’re in the market for a new cabinet, consider your options.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON MEDICINE CABINET OPTIONS or read the text below:



Your first decision is surface-mounted or recessed. Wall-mounted cabinets are easier to install, but they take up precious inches and may be a problem with certain sinks, vanities, or room configurations. A recessed cabinet is a space-saver, but it’s tougher to install if there’s not an existing opening.

Then think about who will be using the cabinet and what will be kept in it. Do you need space for toothbrushes, hair dryers, or toilet paper? Do you need one shelf per person? If you have young kids, consider a cabinet that locks.

Determine what size cabinet you can accommodate. It should be in scale with the room and sink, and it can’t interfere with existing fixtures. Don’t forget to measure for depth: Recessed cabinets average about four inches deep, but you may be able to fit five or more inches.

Adjustable shelves and mirrored interiors are useful amenities. Some high-end models include lighting, toothbrush holders, electrical outlets—even refrigerated compartments for medications.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

How To: Fix a Running Toilet

No need to call the plumber! Since no special skills or tools are required, any homeowner can fix a running toilet.

How to Fix a Running Toilet


Nowadays, we don’t give much thought to our toilets, but there was a time when answering nature’s call involved such things as porcelain pots and crude outhouses. The modern flushing toilet actually didn’t become ubiquitous until the early 1900s. Since then, the technology has changed very little, and for the average do-it-yourself, it’s not challenging to fix a running toilet.

Related: Designers Tell All: Today’s Top 10 Bathroom Trends

How to Fix a Running Toilet - Flapper

Toilet Flapper. Photo:

Replacing the Flapper
A defective flapper is usually behind a running toilet problem. When you flush, the flapper is the rubber stopper within the tank that lifts to release water into the bowl. Over time, the flapper deteriorates, allowing water to trickle past its once-tight seal. Push down on the flapper to test its integrity; if the toilet immediately stops running, then you’ve identified the issue. The next step is to replace the flapper.

Start by turning the water off to the toilet (the shutoff valve should be directly beneath the tank). Flush the toilet to drain all remaining water from the tank and bowl. Now you can remove the flapper. As you do so, note the way in which it attaches to the bottom of the tank. There are several kinds of flappers, so when you visit the hardware store to buy a replacement, be sure you select one that is identical.

Follow the installation instructions that come with your replacement flapper. Most important is adding or removing links to establish an appropriate length for the chain connecting the flapper to the flush arm. Leave the chain too long and you’ll get “jiggling handle syndrome.” (You know, when you have to fidget with the handle a bit before the tank begins to refill.) If you make the chain too short, the flapper won’t be able to rise fully away from the drain hole, leading to abbreviated flushes.

Check the Fill Tube
Let’s say that when diagnosing the trouble with your toilet, pressing down on the flapper did not stop the water from running. In your case, the cause might be the fill tube. That’s the small plastic tube going from the fill valve—the main assembly in the tank—to the overflow pipe, which drains excess water when the tank fills too high. If you see that the fill tube is under water, cut it back so that the tube clears the water level.

Check Your Float
There are two basic types of toilet floats: the ball float and the cup float (the former is more common with older toilets). Having the ball float set too high forces the water level to rise above the overflow pipe, and as a result, the tank never stops draining. Fixing a ball float is as simple bending its arm. To fix a cup float, locate the means by which it adjusts (often a pinching mechanism), then slide the float down the central tube that it sits around.

Replace the Fill Valve
If the neither the flapper nor the fill tube nor the ball float is at fault, then it’s probably time to replace your toilet’s fill valve. To accomplish this, first drain the tank (details above), then free the valve from its position by unscrewing the water supply line and lock nut from outside the tank. To make certain you purchase the right replacement, take the old valve with you when you go shopping. Once you’re back at home, secure the new valve, adjust the float to the desired water level, and you should be good to go!

How To: Replace a Crusty Old Tub Spout

Replacing a tub spout is a straightforward project whose necessity arrives sooner or later in the life of most bathrooms.

How to Replace a Tub Spout


A tub spout does two things: It provides a decorative cover for the pipe stub delivering water to the bathtub, and it directs the water away from the wall where it could cause damage.

Our spout was more or less failing at both functions. It was severely pitted and judging from the amount of caulk around its base, the spout had a long history of leaking.

Related: Soak Up the Luxury with a Free-Standing Tub

For ease of installation and a gap-free fit at the wall, we chose a slip-connection replacement spout. Several types and styles of spouts are available; be sure to select one that complements the design of your shower system.

For example, if you control the shower with a diverter knob, buy a spout with a diverter. If, on the other hand, the diverter is not part of your shower control, buy a spout without a diverter.

Bear in mind that if your replacement spout is one that threads into place, picking up some plumber’s tape is a good idea, since wrapping the old threads will ensure a watertight joint.

- Large screwdriver or wood hammer
- Razor scraper with new blade
- Mini tubing cutter
- Steel wool
- Plumbing grease
- Slip-connection tub spout (with or without diverter)


How to Replace a Tub Spout - Step 1

Photo: JProvey

1. Scrape off old caulk. If there was a gap between the old spout and the wall, the new spout will eliminate it.


How to Replace a Tub Spout - Step 2

Photo: JProvey

2. Insert a large screwdriver or the handle of a wood hammer into spout, using the tool as a lever to rotate the spout in a counterclockwise direction. Unthread and remove the spout.


How to Replace a Tub Spout - Step 3

Photo: JProvey

3. Use a tubing cutter to cut the pipe stub to a three- or four-inch length.


How to Replace a Tub Spout - Step 4

Photo: JProvey

4. Clean the stub with steel wool until it’s bright and smooth. Make sure no burrs or sharp edges remain.


How to Replace a Tub Spout - Step 5

Photo: JProvey

5. Apply a dab of silicone grease.


How to Replace a Tub Spout - Step 6

Photo: JProvey

6. Slide the new spout onto the stub.


How to Replace a Tub Spout - Step 7

Photo: JProvey

7. Lock the spout in place by tightening the set screw with the supplied Allen wrench.