Bathroom - 2/14 - Bob Vila

Category: Bathroom


Buyer’s Guide: Bathroom Fans

Save your bathroom from excess moisture and the problems that come with it—from cracked paint to mildew growth—with this shopping guide and our top picks.

Best Bathroom Fan - Buyer's Guide

Photo: istockphoto.com

Nothing beats a hot shower at the end of a long day. But while the steamy water works wonders on your nerves, it has the opposite effect on your bathroom—especially if the enclosed space isn’t properly ventilated. Excess humidity settles on every available surface in a bathroom, causing damage in the form of cracked paint, peeling wallpaper, and warped cabinetry. What’s more, the buildup of moisture also encourages mold growth in drywall and caulking, which threatens indoor air quality. Some homeowners can ventilate their bathroom by opening a window after every bath or shower. Those without windows, however, should consider installing a bathroom exhaust fan. The best bathroom fan removes excess moisture to save your bathroom from damage, eliminate mirror fog, remove odors, and—most importantly—protect your family from mold-related health problems.

When shopping for a bathroom fan, you’ll find options available in a wide range of prices, from around $50 for a bare-bones model to a couple hundred dollars for high-end models that include lighting, heaters, and motion sensors. Add to the cost of the unit a professional installation for another $200 to $400, and it turns into quite an investment. Given the sum of expenses, homeowners must understand the ins and outs of bathroom fans before pulling out their credit cards. Here’s our guide to the best bathroom fan on the market today.

DETERMINING FAN SIZE AND POWER

Bathroom exhaust fans are measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), which gives the amount of air moved by the fan each minute. The product’s box will list the CFM number, and it will typically give a suggested room size as well. As a general rule of thumb, homeowners should buy a fan with a minimum CFM rating that equates to your bathroom’s square footage. For example, you’ll want a 50 CFM rated fan for a 50-square-foot bathroom and a 100 CFM rated fan for a 100-square-foot bathroom.

For even more accuracy, measure your bathroom and use the following mathematical formula from Home Depot:

Length X Width X Height X 0.13 = Suggested CFM

Suppose your bathroom is 8 feet wide, 10 feet long, and 8 feet high. Then you’d multiply 8 by 10 by 8 by 0.13 for a total of 83.2. In this case, a fan with a CFM rating of 80 would probably be sufficient for your bathroom.

 

Buyer's Guide - Best Bathroom Fan

Photo: istockphoto.com

THE NOISE FACTOR

In addition to CFM measurement, consumers should consider a fan’s noise level. The noise emitted by an exhaust fan is rated in “sones,” and most fans have a sones rating between the range of 0.5 to 6.0. The lower the sones number (which is typically printed on the fan box), the quieter the fan will be when operating. Since a sones ratings of 1.0 compares to the sound of a quiet refrigerator, any fan with a sones rating of 1.0 or less is considered very quiet. On the other end of the scale, a sones rating greater than 4.0 might be loud enough to drown out your shower singing. Nowadays, many manufacturers produce bathroom fans that operate quietly. If you’re very worried about sound, consider installing a 6-inch ducting attachment for your fan rather than the standard 4-inch attachment. Air can move easier in a wider duct, so 6-inch duct puts less strain on the fan and allows for quieter operation.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Many homeowners opt for a bathroom fan with an integrated light. These fan/light combinations allow the buyer to remove their current light and install the new fixture with the existing wires, making installation easy. Some of these models also have motion sensors that automatically turn on the light when someone walks into the bathroom. Other optional features in bathroom fans include humidity sensors that activate the exhaust fan when the moisture levels reach a specific level, nightlights that offer a comforting glow for midnight bathroom visitors, and built-in heaters that warm the bathroom quickly on chilly winter mornings.  Keep in mind that some features can add anywhere from $50 to $200 to the fan’s price.

INSTALLMENT AND DUCTING

When you draw moisture-filled air out of the bathroom, it needs somewhere to go. Some bathroom vents release exhaust into a home’s attic; however, this setup isn’t ideal, since excess moisture in the attic can lead to mold-related issues. Therefore homeowners should opt to vent their bathroom fans to the outdoors.

If the bathroom is located on the first level of a multi-story home, you’ll want to vent the air through the side of your house. A standard ceiling-mounted fan is suitable for this type of venting, as long as you can run the ducting through the ceiling joists to an exterior wall. If you can’t run ducting between the joists, and if your bathroom has at least one exterior wall, you can install a wall-mounted fan that vents the exhaust directly out the side of the house. For any bathroom located on the floor directly below the attic, your best bet is to direct the vented air to the attic and then, via ducting, either to a soffit under the roof’s eave or out through a vent pipe in the roof.

Homeowners should install a new bathroom fan between the shower and toilet, in an area of the ceiling without any obstructing joists or pipes. Replacement fans should be installed in the same location as the existing fan. Keep in mind that larger bathrooms may require multiple fans to effectively ventilate the space. Fans with added features—such as lights, heaters, and nightlights—may require additional wires or a designated circuit to operate. Follow manufacturer guidelines for specific directions, and consult an electrician if you’d like.

TOP THREE PICKS

Using the criteria outlined above, expert opinions, and consumer reviews, we’ve rounded up three choices for the best bathroom fan on the market today. Having a properly ventilated bathroom has never been so easy!

 

Best Bathroom Fan - Buyer's Guide

Photo: amazon.com

 

Broan QTXE080 Ceiling Exhaust Bath Fan ($98.20)
For its affordability and nearly silent operation, The Spruce speaks highly of the Broan QTXE080 Ultra Silent Bath Fan, calling it “a great deal from a solid manufacturer.” The fan receives an admirable 4.5 stars from Amazon buyers, who rave about its quiet 0.3 sones rating. With 80 CFM ability, this Broan model is designed for small- to medium-sized bathrooms up to 75 square feet in size. The Energy Star qualified unit has top-notch moisture-reducing performance and a large 6-inch ducting attachment. Homeowners needing a basic fan without added features or lighting can consider the Broan QTXE080 a safe bet. Available on Amazon.

 

Best Bathroom Fan - Buyer's Guide

Photo: amazon.com

Panasonic WhisperGreen ($149.99)
Panasonic, a leading bathroom ventilation fan manufacturer, produces some of the most popular exhaust fans on the market. Consumer Reports recommends the Panasonic WhisperGreen fan for a “fog-free bathroom without the racket” of a traditional noisy fan. Amazon buyers agree, awarding the WhisperGreen a resounding 4.3 out of 5 stars. With three operating speeds that correlate with 50, 80, and 110 CFM ratings, the WhisperGreen is suitable for small, medium, and large bathrooms. A sones level of less than 0.3 ensures an extremely quiet operation. The model comes with two additional ports for adding customized features, such as a condensation sensor, an LED nightlight, or a motion sensor (each sold separately). The dual duct adapter allows the fan to work with either 4” or 6” ducting. Available on Amazon.

 

Best Bathroom Fan - Buyer's Guide

Photo: istockphoto.com

NuTone QTXN110HL Ultra Silent Bath Fan ($303.28)
Best Consumer Reviews gives the NuTone QTXN110HL Ultra Silent Bath Fan its highest approval rating. Although the fan has a steep $300 price tag, it includes several impressive features, such as an overhead light, a 1,500-watt heater, and a soft-glow nightlight. Some Home Depot customers rave about the fan’s fast-working heater and ventilator. Since the fan has ratings of 110 CFM and 0.9 sones, homeowners will hear a low gentle hum when the fan is operating. The NuTone QTXN110HL comes with a 6” ducting attachment for optimal performance, and it works best for bathrooms smaller than 100 square feet. Keep in mind that the fan needs a dedicated 20 Amp circuit in order to provide sufficient electricity to power the heater. Available from Home Depot.


So, You Want to… Install a Shower Pan

Whether you're planning on adding a shower, replacing a bathtub with a shower, or just fixing up an existing shower, you'll need a new shower pan. Here, learn the basics of selecting and installing a new pan, whether prefab or custom.

How to Install a Shower Pan - Kaldewei From Wayfair

Photo: wayfair.com

The shower pan is an unsung hero in cramped bathing quarters that rely on a walk-in shower instead of a full-size bathtub. Its role? Protecting your subfloor from water damage by aiding drainage. This waterproof floor covering—often made of fiberglass, acrylic, or tile—slopes just enough to direct water toward the drain in the floor, thus eliminating most problems caused by lingering water, from mold and mildew growth to structural issues like wood rot. Whether you’re remodeling a bathroom to include a shower pan where none existed before or replacing one that’s seen its day, basic plumbing skills and a free weekend are all you need when learning how to install a shower pan.

Why Switch to a Shower?

Many homeowners choose a shower (and thus a shower pan, because you can’t have one without the other) over a bathtub when renovating in order to increase the available floor space and make the bathroom feel larger. Walk-in showers tend to be sleeker in style than boxy or bulky bathtubs, and the glass walls that often enclose them contribute to an airier, less crowded aesthetic. And when it comes to actual dimensions, a shower pan can be as narrow as 27 inches, making it much easier to squeeze into a floor plan than a 60″ x 30″ tub. Even those few inches regained by switching out a standard tub for a shower can go a long way toward making a claustrophobic bathroom feel roomier.

In addition, the range of shower pan sizes and shapes allows great flexibility in placement. Awkward corners and walls that are too short to fit the average length tub can often accommodate a shower pan, be it prefabricated or custom-made. Because of this variety, homeowners are more likely to achieve an optimal layout that makes the most of limited space in a bathroom.

Last but certainly not least, the accessibility a shower affords makes it an attractive remodeling choice. The low, three- to four-inch threshold of a shower pan as well as helpful features like shower rails make bathing simpler for homeowners who are aging in place or who have to contend with limited mobility. Plus, if down the line a shower seat or bench becomes necessary, the relatively flat surface of a shower pan is more conducive to sitting than the curved bottom of a tub.

 

How to Install a Shower Pan - Aquatic from Home Depot

Photo: homedepot.com

Size, Space, and Style

Are you wondering how to install a shower pan where there was none before? Prefab options certainly simplify the process. These models, available online as well as at your local big-box hardware store, range from 27 to 66 inches in width, so you’re almost sure to find one that fits the configuration of your bathroom. Should that turn out not to be the case, you can get just what you need with a custom shower pan made from concrete, stone, or tile. When selecting an appropriate pan, whether prefab or custom, it’s critical to consider the following:

Decide on a door first. A shower pan can’t necessarily take up all the available space in a bathroom corner. When determining the right pan size, you also need to account for the space required by whatever door you select for the shower enclosure. Consider the variety of doors and stalls available: sliding versus swinging, corner door versus side door, or perhaps no door at all! In Europe and Mexico, it’s popular to skip the door altogether, either hanging a curtain to contain splashes or leaving the shower area open and placing a drainage hole in the bathroom floor to draw away overspray. Each style has its pros and cons. A swinging door requires enough clearance outside the shower for it to open without hitting a toilet or other fixture—and this may mean that there will be a little less square footage available for the shower stall and pan. A sliding door, on the other hand, requires enough space to retract, so one side of the pan needs to be double the width of the door. The third option, eliminating the door completely, offers the most flexibility in cramped spaces, but at the price of having to deal with overspray every time you take a shower. Either way, you have to nail down the door style before you can be certain how much floor space is available for the shower pan.

Allow enough room for you. It may seem obvious, but beyond the constraints of the room, a big factor in determining shower pan size is you. How wide are you? How much room do you need to comfortably lather up and rinse off? If you’re a former linebacker, you’ll need a much larger shower space than, say, a 5-foot-3 gymnast. To get an idea of how much room you need, try out your best “YCMA” moves in the potential space.

Choose between a ready-made shower pan and a custom creation. As mentioned, your space may dictate whether you can buy something prefabricated or whether you’ll need a custom shower base. For example, sometimes the perimeter of the bathroom juts in so that a standard shower pan won’t fit, or you just can’t find a suitable shower pan in the length you need. But this choice isn’t only about necessity; aesthetics also factor in. Most store-bought shower pans feature acrylic, fiberglass, or porcelain finishes in a neutral hue, while custom creations in such materials as concrete and tile encourage a little more creativity in execution and appearance. A custom shower—a renovation that can boost a home’s resale value—can certainly be left to the pros, but it could also be a DIY job for a homeowner who is comfortable working with concrete or mortar and tile.

How to Install a Shower Pan - Delta from Home Depot

Photo: homedepot.com

What to Expect During Installation

Even though custom shower pans vary widely from one bathroom to the next, they share many of the same installation considerations that apply to store-bought models. In general, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for a prefab pan to a T, keeping in mind these key steps.

Take extra precaution to waterproof. Lay out a plastic shower curtain liner over the subfloor before you place your shower pan. Should you make any mistakes during the installation process, this extra (and cheap!) layer of waterproofing between your subfloor and your shower pan will act as a saving grace. Apply a ring of caulk around the drain and then, once the shower pan is in place, seal along the perimeter where the pan meets the wall with a bead of caulk.

Ensure that the floor (and the shower pan) are both level. A slight slope built in to an acrylic or fiberglass shower pan allows water to drain properly, and the pan has to be completely level for it to do the job correctly. Before installation, use a four-foot level to check the bathroom floor; if it’s not level, you’ll have to compensate by shimming the shower pan until it’s level and then affixing it to the nearest wall studs using the fasteners included with the shower pan kit.

Pay attention to the location of the drain pipe. DIY-minded remodelers should select a shower pan that has a drain hole that will align with the drainpipe. This will save you a lot of effort (and headaches) when connecting the plumbing. Forcing or jerking the pipe into place is a big no-no, since it can lead to slow leaks over time and joint failure down the line. Fortunately, most kits specify left, right, or center drain. When you get started with the installation, the drainpipe should extend roughly 1/4 inch above your subfloor in order for it to attach properly.

Take it for a test run. Once you’ve successfully fit your pan, attached the drainpipe, secured the flange, and made all connections according to the manufacturer’s instructions, run the shower once to inspect for leaks. It’s also wise to plug the drain for a minute while the water is running, then stop the water and see if the water level holds to make sure the pan’s not leaking anywhere. If everything looks good, your shower should be set.

 

How to Install a Shower Pan - Maax from Home Depot

Photo: homedepot.com

Signs You Should Replace an Existing Shower Pan

Assuming proper installation, the average commercial shower pan should last a decade or more and often comes with a manufacturer’s warranty to guarantee the product itself. As it nears the end of its lifespan, though, a shower pan can break down. To prevent a compromised pan from letting water permeate and damage the subfloor of your bathroom, keep your eyes open to signs of old age:

Visible cracks in the shower pan itself.

• Water spilling out onto the bathroom floor, which may be a sign that the shower pan is on its way out. In some cases, if you can see the source of the leak, you may be able to repair it. For less than $10 and a hour spent caulking, you could get another few years from the pan.

Moisture stains in the walls or ceiling beneath the shower indicate a leak through the bottom of the pan or along the seams, completely out of sight. If the bathroom is on the first floor, you’ll see similar damage in the crawl space or basement.

• Movement in the pan—if you step from spot to spot and you notice it’s buckling or warping underfoot, it’s time to prioritize a replacement shower pan. Buckling or deflection can indicate that the subfloor under the shower pan has already suffered serious water damage due to a leak or crack that has so far gone unnoticed. Don’t delay on this repair!


Solved! What to Do About a Leaking Shower Head

Armed with these easy instructions, save yourself from the annoyance of a dripping shower head—and the shock of unexpectedly high utility bills—by dealing with a leak sooner rather than later.

Leaking Shower Head

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q. Lately, when I take a shower, more water drips and runs out from behind the shower head faceplate than comes out the spray holes. I’ve also noticed water leaking from the shower head when it’s not in use. What gives? Should I call a plumber?

A. If a constant drip, drip, drip keeps you awake at night, or if you get startled by a spray of water from a leaking shower head every time you hop into the shower, it’s time for a little servicing. If left unattended, those droplets can really run up your water and energy bills and even stain the interior of the shower—especially if your water supply is high in iron. Fortunately, fixing a leak from behind a shower head faceplate will likely be a quick project that won’t require special tools or skills. Repairing a leaking shower head that drips when turned off is more complicated but, depending on the cause, may also be solved without a plumber.

Try soaking the shower head in vinegar. Over time, hard water deposits can build up in the holes of the shower head, restricting the spray of water and forcing the backed-up water out around the faceplate or out from the junction of the shower head and arm. To break up the hard water deposits, first remove the shower head by loosening the nut that secures it to the shower arm. Soak the shower head overnight in white vinegar to soften the mineral deposits, and scrub away any remaining residue with an old toothbrush before reinstalling.

How to Fix a Leaky Showerhead

Photo: istockphoto.com

Check for a worn seal. Washers and O-rings form watertight seals between connections on a shower head, but they can harden or split over time, which allows water to leak out. This type of leak is especially common in shower heads with swivel connections, which have a seal behind the swivel assembly. If you suspect a worn seal, remove and disassemble the shower head to replace the washer or O-ring. Tip: When purchasing a new plumbing seal, take the old one with you to the hardware store to ensure that you bring home an exact match.

Replace the washer in a compression faucet if the leaking persists. Compression faucets have two different handles: one hot and one cold. If you have a compression-style shower that leaks when turned off, the problem could be a worn washer in the assembly. First, determine which handle, hot or cold, is causing the leak by feeling the temperature of the dripping water. Then, turn off the water supply and give this fix a try: Remove the faulty faucet handle, which is held in place with a screw located below the handle or hidden under a pry-off cap. Slip off the cover trim to gain access to the faucet stem, which is secured with a hex nut. Use a deep socket wrench to remove the nut, and you should find a rubber washer. Replace it with a new rubber washer, and reassemble the faucet.

In rare cases, the small curved area behind the washer (called the “seat”) can become so corroded or damaged that even a new washer won’t seal tightly enough to prevent water from leaking out of the shower head. If this happens, you’ll probably need to call in a plumber to replace the entire assembly.

Replace a defective cartridge in the valve body. Many newer showers feature a single handle that controls both hot and cold water flow. In the wall behind the handle lies a valve body containing a cylindrical cartridge made of hard plastic. If the cartridge becomes worn or cracked, water can seep through—even when the handle is in the “off” position. This can cause water to drip or trickle from the shower head.

Here, too, replacing the worn cartridge requires turning off the water supply to the shower. Access the cartridge by removing the shower handle (which is held in place with a small screw) and taking off the decorative faceplate and the cap that covers the valve body stem (by twisting or by removing a screw, depending on the model). Slip off the stem cover, which should give way easily, to reveal the end of the plastic cartridge. Most cartridges are secured with either a twist-on nut or a clip. Remove the nut or clip, then use a pair of pliers to grasp the stem of the cartridge and pull the cartridge out. Take the worn cartridge to the hardware store to get an exact match, install the new cartridge, and reassemble the faucet. If replacing the cartridge doesn’t solve your leaking shower head, the valve body itself is likely damaged. Unfortunately, replacing a valve body is a job for a plumber.

All shower plumbing works in a similar manner, but faucets, shower heads, and valve body assemblies vary in the ways they connect. When in doubt, refer to the manufacturers’ manuals (often found on their websites) or leave it to the pros.


DIY Lite: An Easy Hiding Spot for Bathroom Cleaning Supplies

What bathroom couldn't benefit from a little extra storage, especially for the unsightly stash of cleaning supplies? Build this sleek cabinet, and you'll never have to stare at a toilet brush again.

DIY Bathroom Storage

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

When you’ve already filled your bathroom’s medicine cabinet and limited under-sink space with extra toiletries, a surplus of shampoo bottles, medicines, and makeup, you probably don’t want to squeeze a cleaner or toilet brush in the crowded space, too. Rather than leaving them out and uncovered next to the toilet, create a designated storage station that hides the ugly essentials and brings your bathroom one step closer to serene. We’ve got you—and your bathroom cleaning supplies—covered, both figuratively and literally, with this easy-to-build, cabinet-like DIY bathroom storage unit.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
1×8 lumber (10 feet)
Ruler
Pencil
Jigsaw
Palm sander
Sandpaper
Wood glue
1½inch nails (24)
Hammer
12mm plywood
1¼inch wooden dowel
1½inch screws (4)
Drill
1½inch × ¼inch wood lath (8 feet)
Wood stain
Paint
Varnish
Brush
Rope
Wooden curtain ring
Small hinges with screws (2)

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 1
Let’s first make the necessary cuts for building the structure of the cabinet. Cut the lumber into five pieces: two 16-inch pieces to make the top and the bottom, and four 19-inch pieces to make the sides and the inner division. Then, slice the four 4-inch pieces from the wooden dowel to make the cabinet’s legs.

Using these dimensions, your finished DIY bathroom storage cabinet will stand 25 inches tall, 16 inches wide, and 8 inches deep. Measure out where you want to place the cabinet now so that you can adapt those dimensions as necessary to fit your own space.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 2
Lay the 16-inch bottom piece in front of you, squeeze a line of wood glue at each short end, then stand and press two 19-inch side boards in the glue. Be careful to align the sides with the outermost edges of the bottom and the top boards in order to build a perfect box.

Hammer four 1-½-inch nails through each end of the bottom piece to secure the sides. Then, glue and nail the top board in place.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 3
Measure 5 inches inside the left side of the box, and mark this both on the bottom and top boards. Apply a little wood glue to the short edges of the third 19-inch piece you’ve cut—a soon-to-be cabinet divider—and slide this board into place where you’ve marked it to go. Hammer in four more 1-½-inch nails both through the top and the bottom to hold the divider in place. The 5-inch space to the left of the divider will provide the perfect storage space for stacking toilet paper rolls.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 4
Since this DIY bathroom storage will stand next to the toilet, adding legs (those 4-inch dowel cuts) will make it easy to clean underneath it in the future. Flip the cabinet so that the bottom faces you, and measure 1-½ inches in from each corner; mark where you’ll place the leg.

Drill four small pilot holes, one at each mark, as well as holes into the center of each dowel piece.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 5
Drill a 1-½-inch screw through the floor of the cabinet and into a dowel at each corner to affix the legs.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 6
Add a little glue to the drilled end of a dowel piece, then twist it onto the bathroom storage unit. Repeat for each leg.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 7
Make the back of the cabinet using strips of wood lath to create good ventilation on a cabinet that will likely store store lightly damp toilet brushes and cleaning products. Cut three pieces of 1-½-inch × ¼-inch wood lath to be 19 inches each. Line the top and bottom ends of each with wood glue, and place them through the open cabinet at the back; the top and bottom should fit snugly with the wood structure you’ve made so far. Wait for the glue to dry before moving the unit.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 8
Now, it’s time to build the door from 12mm plywood: Draw and cut out with a jigsaw a rectangle of 19 by 21 inches.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 9
Sand the storage unit and the door with a 100-grit paper, with extra attention given to the cut edges.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 10
Stain or paint the cabinet’s frame and door with colors that complement your bathroom’s design. We used a combination of the two on the new DIY bathroom storage: an Early American stain on the structure itself and a contrasting white paint (a satin or semi-gloss paint is best for use on walls and fixtures in the bathroom, since it is often easier to clean) for the door. Since this finished piece will move to a high-moisture zone, it’s important to wait for the piece to dry completely and then finish with a coat of varnish over any wood stain as an extra layer of protection.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 11

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 11
Think about where you are going to place your cabinet and, as a result, which way the door will need to swing. For easy opening, add a handle to the door. You can choose a more traditional drawer knob, but we repurposed a wooden curtain ring for the job.

Drill a hole into the corner of the door opposite of where you’ll attach hinges. Take about 10 inches of rope, fold it in half, pass the folded end through the center of the ring, and pull the loose ends through the small loop that you’ve created until tightened; the ring should now have two ends of rope hanging loosely from it. Pass these through your door’s drilled hole and knot on the other side to securely attach it. You can cut any extra length just after the knot.

Door pull in place, you’re ready to attach it to the storage unit. Lay two hinges on the side of the open-face storage cabinet that is opposite where you’ll have the door pull (we mounted the the door pull in the upper left of the cabinet, so our hinges are located on the right side). Each hinge should be placed 1 to 2 inches from the top or bottom, with one plate screwed into the edge of the 19-inch side and the other screwed into the back of the door.

Thanks to your brand new bathroom cabinet, organizing your cleaning supplies and toilet paper rolls will soon be an open and shut case!

 

DIY Bathroom Storage Cabinet for Cleaning Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Bathroom Storage Cabinet for Hiding Cleaning Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.

 

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from BobVila.com
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on BobVila.com. Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.


How To: Unclog a Bathtub

Don’t let dirty water submerge your ankles for one more shower! Take these simple steps to a smooth drain

How to Unclog a Bathtub

Photo: istockphoto.com

Nothing interferes with a refreshing shower like a slow-draining bathtub. And that inch or two of water that sneaks up on you is also likely to leave a ring of soap scum and dirt that’s tough to clean. The cause of this scuzzy situation is commonly a clump of hair gathered in the drain pipe a few inches below the stopper. Fortunately, it’s quick and easy enough remove the stopper and banish that nasty bundle. So act on the guidance that follows to unclog the bathtub and enjoy a delightful shower experience again.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
12gauge wire or metal coat hanger
Wire cutters
Needlenose pliers
4in1 screwdriver
Rubber gloves
Trash bag
Utility knife
Liquid dish soap

STEP 1
Snip a straight, 6-inch section of 12-gauge wire or coat hanger with your wire cutters. Grab one end of the wire with your needle-nose pliers, about ½” in, and bend it up to make a small hook. You want about a ½”-wide U-shaped hook so hair won’t fall off as you extract it. Set the hook aside.

How to Unclog a Bathtub

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 2
If you stop your bathtub with a plug, move directly to Step 3. If your tub has a stopper, there are different methods to remove it, depending on type.

  • Removing a drop stopper that you twist half a turn to pop down and close, a screwdriver is required. Usually but not always, a Phillips head will do the job. To take out the stopper, raise it as high as you can. Inside, just under the stopper, you’ll find a small screw on the shaft. Loosen this screw a bit and the top slides off. Set it aside.
  • A push/lock stopper that you push down to lock shut, then push up to release, is easily removed by unscrewing the stopper. The shaft is removable by loosening the screw on the shaft so that the shaft slides up and out. Note: You may need to futz a bit with this screw to get a proper seal when you reinstall the shaft, so be prepared to test the seal and make adjustments.

STEP 3
Look inside the drain to see the hair clump. Don your rubber gloves and get a trash bag ready. Insert the hook you made to remove and discard the hair. Carefully cut any remaining hair wrapped around the crosshairs or bars with your utility knife and remove these last bits with your gloved fingers.

STEP 4
Remove all your tools and stopper parts from the bathtub and then run the water to see how free-flowing the drain is. Is it draining quickly? Move ahead to Step 6.

STEP 5
Still draining slow? Pour some liquid dish soap, up to ¼ cup, into the drain and follow that with a bucket of hot water, poured slowly to lubricate pipes and push through any residue. If you’ve got plastic pipes, use hot water from the tap only; anything hotter could loosen the pipes. For metal pipes, boiling water can be used. If your drain is still running slow, you might have to use a snake or call a plumber.

STEP 6
Replace the stopper and clean the bathtub. Clean and dry your hook, too, saving it for future clog-busting duties. To keep clogs at bay, use a drain cover and avoid emptying mop buckets and other liquids likely to contain dust, dirt, lint, and pet hair into your tub.


How To: Make Your Own Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Avoid the harmful chemicals in store-bought toilet cleaners by making your own DIY version.

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Photo: istockphoto.com

Everyone loves a clean home, but our obsession with sanitation may come at a cost to our health. Some people, especially those with allergies, develop sensitivities to the harsh chemicals in store-bought cleaning products. To escape from the toxic ingredients and irritating scents, a number of homeowners have started turning to homemade cleaning products—right down to their toilet bowl cleaners! Although DIY-ing your toilet bowl cleaner won’t put a surprising amount of money back in your pocket with every batch, it will provide a safe and natural solution for stains. Don’t be intimidated by the extra work it takes to make your own cleaning products: We’ve researched a recipe that’s simple and affordable, so you can whip up your own natural toilet cleaner quickly and without a lot of fuss.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
Glass bowl
Baking soda
Disinfecting essential oils
Wooden spoon
Glass jar (for storage)
20% white vinegar
Toilet brush

 

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner - from Baking Soda and Essential Oils

Photo: istockphoto.com

Making the Cleaner 

STEP 1
In a glass bowl, add two cups baking soda and 100 drops (roughly one teaspoon) of a disinfecting essential oil, such as tea tree oil, lavender, orange, pine, or a blend of oils, any of which are available for purchase in health food stores or online. Make sure your mixing bowl is glass, not any old stainless steel or Tupperware container; essential oil reacts with metal and can even deteriorate plastic.

STEP 2
Use a wooden spoon to mix the oil and baking soda together, breaking up clumps as you go. Hold off on the vinegar—as it reacts chemically with baking soda, the two should be mixed only in the toilet bowl during cleaning.

STEP 3
You should have enough powder for about 30 uses. To keep the homemade toilet bowl cleaner fresh as you work your way through the supply, transfer it to an airtight glass jar for long-term storage outside of the bathroom—otherwise, excess moisture from steamy showers and long baths may cause clumping and uneven distribution of ingredients.

 

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner - All Natural Cleanser

Photo: istockphoto.com

Using the Cleaner 

STEP 1
When you’re ready to clean your toilet, drop one tablespoon of the baking soda/essential oil mix into the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle additional mixture onto the walls of the bowl as well, and use your toilet brush to spread the powder around.

STEP 2
Next, pour ½ cup of 20% vinegar into the bowl. (Note: This product isn’t your standard white vinegar found at the supermarket; it’s generally used only to kill weeds or clean, and it can be bought online. If you can’t find it, normal 5% distilled vinegar from the grocery store will work, but you’ll need to increase the quantity to 2 cups for each cleaning.)

The contents of the bowl should start to fizz when the vinegar reacts with the baking soda. If no fizzing occurs, the toilet water may be diluting the mix, or your baking soda may be too old. Try adding another tablespoon of powder and spreading it around.

STEP 3
Once the homemade toilet bowl cleaner fizzes, use the brush to scrub away any stains or spots in the bowl.

STEP 4
Let the remaining mixture sit for about 15 minutes, then flush the toilet. Easy! Now you can ready to enjoy a spotless bathroom, free of gunk and harsh chemicals!

 

Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from BobVila.com
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.


Genius! Scrub the Tub with… Your Drill?

Cleaning the bathroom will always be a chore, but it doesn't have to slow you down. Here's how to power up your routine—and blast through stains and build-up faster—with your cordless drill!

how-to-clean-a-bathtub-2

Photo: themanlyhousekeeper.com

When his wife started her new job as an attorney, Mark Evitt took on a different role, too: househusband. Since he was still studying journalism in graduate school, Mark had flexible hours—and more time to tackle the household to-do list. As a homemaker, he learned that he loved organizing and baking bread from scratch. He didn’t even mind most of the housework, but cleaning the bathroom was especially tiring. Whether he used a sponge or a brush, wiping out old stains and grime on the tub was a tough job. To make it feel less like work, he got some how-to help from a friend and devised a homemade bathtub cleaner that hooks up to any cordless drill or driver.

For under $6, Mark collected everything he needed to convert the power tool into a power cleaner: a threaded lag bolt, small drill bit, and a cheap round scrub brush. After prying the bristled bottom apart from the handle, he drilled two centered pilot holes: one through the top piece, and another that stopped halfway through the scrubber’s base. With the halves snapped back together, he finished by screwing the bolt into the pilot hole and fastening the other end to the nut driver—now, when the driver rotates, the scrubber spins on its own! (If you have a newer cordless model, you might even try attaching the bolt directly to your chuck to save time so that you’re not switching between drill and driver for each use.)

Since magnets bond the driver with your bolt, you’ll want to keep your brush perpendicular to the tub in order to blast away built-up soap scum and stains. The spinning scrubber will do the rest in record time, saving you the fatigue and soreness caused by scouring. And because you can swap out the versatile brush like a drill bit, you’ll always be ready for your next repair.

FOR MORE: The Manly Housekeeper

how-to-clean-a-bathtub-3

Photo: themanlyhousekeeper.com


Solved! What to Do When the Toilet Won’t Flush

If one of the most frequently-used fixtures in your home isn’t doing its job, don’t call the plumber just yet. Here's how to do your own toilet tune-up without flushing extra money down the drain.

toilet-won't-flush

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: Help! My toilet won’t flush. The handle moves freely, but nothing happens when I press down. Can I fix it without calling a plumber?

A: For what it’s worth, you’re experiencing an issue that happens at least once in almost every home. Luckily, it’s easy to narrow down the cause and find a fix that works for you! So, if your toilet won’t flush, just follow these steps to send your problem out to sea.

toilet-won't-flush-2

Photo: istockphoto.com

First, check to make sure the water shut-off valve is turned all the way on. Occasionally, friction from a nearby object or a deep-cleaning session can nudge it to the off position, preventing water flow to the tank. This leaves just one or two flushes before the water level gets too low for the toilet to work properly. To see for yourself, look just behind the base of the toilet, a few inches from the floor. The valve should jut out slightly from the wall and be turned all the way to the left; if it’s not, twist the head counterclockwise, and then give it a minute to reset before trying to flush. Once you’ve restored the flow, your issue should be water under the bridge.

If your valve has been wide open the whole time, it’s possible you’re dealing with a clogged pipe. Heavy paper products are usually the culprit here, and they can be dealt with easily. To clear things up, first make sure the water in the bowl isn’t high enough to overflow when you insert a plunger. (If it is, use a disposable plastic cup to ladle the contents into the bathtub. Follow up with 2 to 3 capfuls of bleach and a stream of hot water to wash everything down the tub drain.) Next, take a plunger and place its flange directly into the drain opening. Hold it in place to seal the drain while pumping up and down for 20 seconds. If the clog has cleared, you should be able to remove the plunger and flush right away. Prevent another problem by switching to a lower-ply toilet paper, and remember that flushing paper towels or other heavy products is pretty much asking for trouble.

Still nothing? No big deal. Carefully remove the top of the tank and set it aside for a moment so you can check if your flapper—which is shaped like an inflated balloon and often red—is causing the backup. One that looks warped or damaged likely needs replacing. Luckily, this part usually costs less than $10 at your local hardware store and isn’t hard to swap out yourself.

While the top of the tank is lifted, take a look at the lift chain that connects the flapper to the toilet handle. If your flapper shows no signs of a problem but there’s too much slack in the line, it won’t react when you try to flush. You can adjust the length easily for a better connection by slipping a different link over the hook at the lever end—leave just enough length so that the flapper can close completely, and nothing extra. Now, pushing the handle should cause the flapper to whisk water through the tank, into the toilet, and down the drain like it should.

If your toilet still won’t flush, it’s probably time to call in a pro. Even so, you’re not necessarily in hot water. There are plenty of small issues a plumber can solve without much fuss or financial strain. Good luck!


DIY Lite: Double Bathroom Storage with Easy-Build Box Shelves

An empty wall is one more opportunity to stash your spare toiletries. Build and mount this simple set of wooden shelves to easily double—if not triple—the existing storage in your bathroom.

DIY Wall Shelves - Hanging Storage for an Organized Bathroom

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

The bathroom can be a nightmare to organize, with all of its towels, soap bottles, grooming supplies, and other toiletries—and when you’re sharing the space, that’s double the stuff to store! To keep everything at arm’s reach while still clutter-free, try assembling an open storage system. Boxy wall shelves can be a good option, providing double the ledges for with each unit in case supplies start to overflow. The best part? Assembly is easy. Just follow those simple steps to set yours up ASAP.

 

DIY Wall Shelves - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
1×6 lumber, 8footlong (4)
Wood glue
Clamps
Drill
1½inch screws (36)
Sandpaper
Wood stain
Varnish
Brush
Level
Pencil
2½inch metal brackets (6)
½inch screws (24)
4inchwide tins (optional)

STEP 1

DIY Wall Shelves - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

The dimensions for these 6-inch-deep shelves are easily adaptable, so you can shorten the length if necessary. To make three, we cut our lumber into the following dimensions: six pieces at 4 feet each, and six more at 9 inches each. (You can get these right at your home improvement store where you pick up your wood, if you don’t want to handle a saw.)

Position a 9-inch piece perpendicular at each end of a 4-foot length plank, then join them with wood glue.

 

STEP 2

DIY Wall Shelves - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Apply glue to the exposed ends of each 9-inch plank, then lay a 4-foot board across. Maintain pressure at the glued joints of this box until the glue dries. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to construct two more boxes.

 

STEP 3

DIY Wall Shelves - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Glue alone will not be strong enough to support the weight of all items to be stored on your shelves: guest towels, toilet paper rolls, spare shampoo bottles, and more. Once the adhesive has cured, reinforce the shelves with three 1-½-inch screws at both ends of each 4-foot cut. Tip: Pre-drill small holes and then insert screws in order to prevent the wood from cracking.

 

STEP 4

DIY Wall Shelves - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sand all of the new boxy shelves, particularly along the edges, to remove splinters. Start with a coarse 100-grit sandpaper, and finish smoothing the surface with a finer 150-grit paper.

 

STEP 5

DIY Wall Shelves - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Color your assembled shelves with a wood stain of your choice, following the package’s instructions to a tee. After one or two coats have dried, seal with a coat of acrylic varnish. If you’d rather, you can paint the shelves a color that blends your shallow shelves in with your bathroom walls—just be careful to choose a satin or semi-gloss finish that resists water, as the bathroom will likely to be very damp after steamy showers.

 

STEP 6

DIY Wall Shelves - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Time to hang your new wall shelves! Determine where you’d like to position the set, exactly how high above the floor and how far apart from one another. (Our lowest shelf is 30 inches above the ground, and we left 4 inches of space between each level.) Hold the first shelf in place, checking that it is completely horizontal using a level. Mark the inside of the two top corners on the wall. After you set the shelf down, affix a 2-½-inch bracket to the wall at each mark using ½-inch screws. You will need one bracket at each corner of the box.

 

STEP 7

DIY Wall Shelves - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Lift the box shelf so that its top rests on the brackets. Pre-drill through the brackets’ holes into the wooden shelf, and secure with screws.

 

STEP 8

DIY Wall Shelves - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

When you go to hang the second shelf, try this trick: Place three emptied tins that are the same size as your desired distance between shelves (ours are 4 inches wide each) across the lowest shelf, then rest the next shelf atop of them. These helpers will keep your hands free!

Rest a level on the whole stack to ensure the second shelf is horizontal and also aligned with the one beneath. Mark the inside top corners, remove the second shelf, and screw the brackets into the wall at these marks. Hang the shelf over the two brackets, and screw it into place.

Repeat this step to hang the third shelf at the top, and you’re all set to fill the 6-inch-deep ledges with all of the toiletries that you can’t cram underneath your sink any longer.

DIY Wall Shelves - Bathroom Storage

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from BobVila.com
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on BobVila.com. Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.


Solved! What To Do About Black Mold in the Bathroom

Discolorations in your bathroom's tile and grout aren't just unsightly—sometimes they're downright dangerous. Once you determine which type of mold you're dealing with, you can wipe it out with the appropriate plan of attack.

Black Mold in Bathroom - Mold Around Tub

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: I just went to clean our rental property after the tenant moved out, and I found black mold in the bathroom. Yuck! How do I get rid of it?

A: Yuck, is right! Black mold is gross. And depending on which variety it is, it could be very dangerous. If the space has been flooded or a long-term leak only recently revealed itself, what you see might be the black mold: Stachybotrys chartarum. This highly toxic mold should only be removed by a professional. But, more than likely, an accumulation of grossness along your bathtub or shower tile indicates the presence of a more generic bathroom mold. The only way to tell for sure is to test it—either by asking professionals to collect samples or sending some away via a do-it-yourself kit—and wait for results. Once you can confirm that it’s the latter, garden variety grody bathroom type, you can get to work ridding it yourself.

In general, mold is a fungus that’s plentiful in the natural environment and, when conditions are right, indoors as well. Take the bathroom: Its damp, dark, and often warm interior makes growth a perennial problem there. Without adequate ventilation or routine towel-drying after each use, black mold can easily take up residence and thrive. Here’s how you can give it an eviction notice.

Black Mold in Bathroom - Cleaning Black Mold Between Tiles

Photo: istockphoto.com

Remove the mold. Use an antifungal surface cleaner and a sponge or cloth to wipe mold off of non-porous surfaces like tile and porcelain. Follow up with a scrub brush on any stubborn areas, and thoroughly rinse with water. This process should remove the mold, even if some dark coloring remains.

Clean up the stains. To remove the black stains that mold leaves on non-porous surfaces like grout, mix equal parts of bleach and water in a spray bottle and spray it over the stained area, allowing it to sit for several minutes. Return and spray the area again, and use a scrub brush to scrub out any remaining discoloration. (Tip: An old toothbrush aptly reaches rout’s narrow lines.)

Wipe out whatever mold remains. While bleach is superb at removing dark stains caused by mold, it’s not the most effective way to eliminate mold spores. Instead, spray straight vinegar onto the area and allow it to dry so that the cleanser can finish off any remaining mold spores.

Finally, prevent mold from growing in the bathroom by employing a few preventative measures.

• Keep vinegar on hand. Store a spray bottle of vinegar in the bathroom, and apply and air-dry after every shower or soak. (You might consider add several drops of your favorite essential oil—tea tree, peppermint, or lavender—to the bottle to make the vinegar’s smell less offensive.)

Reduce the humidity. If you don’t have one, install an exhaust fan. Running one every time you shower or bathe and several minutes following should remove any residual steam and dry the air out.

Wipe dry after every use. Squeegee and then towel down glass doors and tile to remove extra moisture from those surfaces. While you’re at it, wipe out sinks after each use, too, so that mold and mildew have nowhere to go (and grow).

Clean regularly. Be sure to do a thorough cleaning of the bathroom weekly; if all else fails, this consistent regimen should keep mold spores from taking hold and running amok. Rotate an anti-fungal cleaner into the routine at least once a month.

If it’s not black mold, but mildew, that’s infiltrated your bathroom, there’s an easy fix. Take a quick look at the video to learn how to combat this fungal growth.