Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Bathroom Spit Polish

I hate my bathroom.  While we have worked hard to improve our house’s function and energy efficiency, there are some spaces we are not ready to delve into. We made the house feel more like our own by repainting rooms and refinishing floors, but we have yet to deal with this bathroom.  I hate the peeling linoleum floor, the drab colored tile, the rusting baseboard heater, broken light cover, worn cabinet finishes, and the various wall patches.  It’s an old house, so many rooms retain their character and with a bit of love they can look great.  Remodeled bathrooms and kitchens often die hard, so we are left with a choice of making it pretty or tearing it out.  For now, we will choose a spit polish.


It’s true that most anything can be painted, but as I have preached in the past, it’s all about the prep.  Painting over natural finishes, bare wood, or bare plaster needs thorough sanding and priming, then paint.  Tile, fiberglass, and porcelain can be painted, but a typical brush on finish may not bond well and will look like you brushed it on.  So I avoid painting anything but wood and walls.  There are do-it-yourself and professionally applied epoxy paints, but I would only paint them over tubs or sinks I use every day if I expected to throw it away in a few years.

Call me old fashioned, but I don’t trust or like an all in one primer and finish coat for a bathroom.  Use the same brand of a good quality latex primer and finish coat designed for bathrooms, not a sealer.  Manufacturers design their paint to work with their own formulations and if you follow directions you should never have a problem.  Be sure to clean any mold or mildew off all surfaces.  Avoid using toxins like bleach and ammonia, and consider using borax, vinegar or other non-toxic cleaning agents.  There is good advice on http://blackmold.awardspace.com.


This floor happens to be what I despise the most, linoleum.  I do like traditional linoleums, but the modern stuff is yucky.  The seams and edges peel and they wear and look horrible.  There are easy methods and products to help restore it. To restore linoleum, first remove all loose dirt and dust.  There are toxic cleaning solutions, but I would mix 1 gallon of warm water, 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of cream of tartar.  Apply with a mop and let it to sit for a few minutes until the wax softens.  Use a scrub brush or fine steel wool, dipping periodically, in a circular motion to clean.  Rinse floor with clean water.  Apply a linoleum floor wax.

As for the peeling edges and seams, you can clean re-glue them with a linoleum adhesive.  It has to be really clean, so follow the directions, or it will peel again.  The moisture is the real killer here.  You can also do the quick and dirty method of a transition tack strip.  It may not look great, but it is better than a peeling floor.

The edges are a different problem, especially next to a tub or shower.  Typically the bond between subfloor and linoleum has tons of crud in it, so cleaning may be difficult.  You can nail a base molding down, like a pre-painted wood quarter round.  Nailing to the floor is best, but you may need to nail to the trim, since the floor could be rotted.  Caulking is not a good solution since the transition will move and make it look terrible real fast.  You can caulk the quarter round after you are done, just use some tape to control the mess.

Plumbing Fixtures

A new toilet seat can change your attitude real fast.  Swapping out the toilet is pretty easy, just be sure you get the right style and size to fit the space and replace the wax ring and bolts.  A bigger base can fix a curling floor.

Replacing a shower head is the easiest thing you can do.  There are many varieties of shower heads out there.  Be careful if you have low pressure since you may not get optimal performance.  You can also clean your shower head.  Soak it in white vinegar overnight, or in warmed vinegar, or even let it simmer in a pot.  Be sure it is submerged.

Faucets are harder to replace.  You may need a special tool to unscrew the faucet, so be prepared for several visits to the plumbing supply store.  Watch some how-to videos before you start, it may change your mind.


You can easily change drapes, towel bars, toilet paper holders, and shower curtains.

Don’t let an ugly bathroom ruin your day.  All you need is 3 or 4 days and about $300 to change your attitude.


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