Last month we started work on renovating our main bathroom. The bathroom, with it’s chintzy cabinets, baby-warshing sink, coffee-colored shower surround, mildew-stained shower basin, drafty aluminum window, and brown/orange vinyl floor had been a bain on our household since the day we bought it.
Over the past year we’d played around with getting it remodeled. At first we thought about doing a few things piece-meal. We talked with a few contractors about the job. No one we talked to really fit the bill until we met and talked with Tim Stevens of Stevens Sustainable Homes.
One of the things that we REALLY wanted to focus on in the project was utilizing ecologically sustainable materials and processes in home repair. Materials sourcing and manufacturing have a huge impact on the environment. We wanted to make sure in taking on the project that:
- As many of the materials used were sustainably extracted
- The manufacturing process for the materials was as sustainable as possible
- The room would improve in energy efficiency and water conservation
- The materials would contribute as few toxins to the footprint of the house as possible
To these ends we added the following features:
- We hired our friend Jonathan who runs Bunchberry Woodworking to build our new vanity cabinet and trim out of FSC-certified cherry hardwood and veneer-core plywoods that contain no formaldehyde and use FSC veneers. The wood is finished with a traditional wax finish which has zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds)FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council and their mission is to certify that lumber is sustainably harvested in a way that encourages ecological stability and economic opportunity for the communities that supply that lumber. Given our personal believes and Chandra’s professional commitments this was a no-brainer decision.
- Our cabinet top is going to be Paperstone, which is a locally (PNW) produced solid surface countertop product. It’s made from 100% post-consumer paper products and natural resins. It can also be manufactured from virgin plant sources that are FSC-certified. It primarily comes in dark colors and feels like stone (hence the name).
- Our flooring is marmoleum, which is the original linoleum. It’s sustainably-harvested cork that is bound together with pine resin and linseed oil and uses non-toxic adhesives to bind to sub-flooring. It’s naturally resistant to bacterial growth, including salmonella and staph bacteria, which is one of the things that makes it great for kitchens and bathrooms. These are major benefits over traditional vinyl floors, which offgas quite a bit and have a fairly toxic manufacturing process.
- For the paint, we chose Benjamin Moore’s zero VOC line ‘Natura’. All of the gazillion colors of Benjamin Moore paint are available on the natura line. Some VOCs (volatile organic compounds), particularly those used in home construction and materials, have been shown to be carcinogenic, and contribute heavily to indoor air pollution.
- For our toilet we’re getting a dual flush toilet.
- We’re installing a steel-enameled tub and a ceramic tile surround, with a glass tile accent.
- We’re re-using our old bathroom mirror with new trim supplied by Bunchberry. That plus the light switch plate will probably be the one thing that we re-use from the old bathroom.
Now you have the thorough-view of some of the decisions we made and the reasoning behind them. Now it’s time to take a look at the photo documentation of the process that’s been occurring over the past month.
Goodbye old cabinet and countertop:
Goodbye old nasty shower:
Goodbye old toilet and nasty orange floor:
Hello framing I:
Hello framing II:
The original sub-floor. Old fir planking:
The insulation near the shower basin where mice were living at some point in time:
The tub gets installed:
The new sink plumbing:
Dry wall hung, taped, mudded and a new window:
More new dry wall:
New plywood sub-floor:
Cabinet installed I:
Cabinet installed II:
Tile surround I:
Tile Surround II:
Tile Surround III:
There it is! You’re all caught up on the bathroom. Tomorrow the tile and grout get sealed. Thursday the countertop goes in. Soon thereafter go the trim, fixtures, toilet and finishing touches.