Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Before & After- "Green" bathroom remodeling

The first three photos show the tiny bathroom before construction began. The house was built in 1962 and the bathroom was leaking from every possible pipe. The 24" door blocked a small closet that took up room to the right of the sink cabinet. The closet was mostly obscured by an old accordian door. We believed that the space to the right of the sink cabinet, hidden by a wall, was an empty chase formerly used for the old furnace chimney flue. When the furnace was replaced last year with an ultra-high efficiency hydronic system (see previous posts) that vented to the side of the house, the old flue, which went through the room, was abandoned. We intended to pick up this space for use in the remodeled bathroom. As it happened, there was a return duct in the space, which had to be re-routed. Delayed progress, but was workable. When demolishing this bathroom, the contractors carefully removed anything we could reasonably donate as usable building materials or recycle. The vanity cabinet was donated to Habitat for Humanity ReStore, the sink & faucet and toilet went to the usable building materials section of the county recycling center, the medicine cabinet (minus the mirrored doors, which we are using elsewhere) was recycled, and excess aluminum from the re-routing of the ductwork was recycled.
The view from the pocket door to the shower. All of the tile is of recycled material. The red tile is from Sandhill Industries, Inc. and is made in the USA of 100% recycled glass. The shower walls (Terra Classic) and bathroom floor (Terra Traffic) tiles are from Terra Green Ceramics. From a supplier's website, "The body of the tile contains over 55 percent waste glass from windows, mirrors, and post-consumer glass like bottles and jars. The rest of the tile is made of nonmetallic minerals such as special clays, feldspar, sand, and silica." The shower floor is by Oceanside, a recycled glass mosaic blend called Disco Inferno. The manufacturer is in Mexico, a negative to the product, and the manufacturing process is not as energy-conscious as with Sandhill Industries or Terra Green Ceramics. All of the companies' tiles are handmade.
The toilet is a Toto dual flush, which, incidentally, performs like magic- a very efficient flush.
We purchased some of the items online, but much of the tile and the toilet were ordered through Amicus Green Building Center, a complete "green" supply company located on Howard Avenue in Kensington. The owner and staff are very knowledgable and prices are quite competitive.
This is the Oceanside tile.
The granite pieces used in this bathroom were scraps from a kitchen remodeler who polished these pieces for us instead of discarding them.
The 12" sun tube illuminates the room completely in the daytime, even though it was installed on a north-facing roof and it is winter. We anticipate that the summer light will be even brighter. This photo was taken without flash. The sun tube is Energy Star rated.
The light in the shower is part of an Energy Star exhaust fan using CFL lighting. Reflecting in the glass doors (standard construction, not "green") are two LED recessed light fixtures. They are 12 watts each, are dimmable (we installed a dimmer) and are expected to last 50,000 hours.
The other end of the small bathroom (only 48" wide) has the two vanities. The vanities and medicine cabinets are made of old rubber trees, but the sink bowls and faucets are standard. The counter bridging the cabinets is recycled plastic from 3-Form, Inc. The material comes in 4' x 8' sheets and is easily cut, but I found a scrap in their online "reclaim" page. It comes in a huge variety of thicknesses, textures, and colors. Amicus Green Building Center has a complete selection of samples and can order the material.
The pendant light between the mirrors (shown without the translucent white cylindrical globe, still on order) is a CFL fixture.
All in all, this was a really interesting project to see to completion. We are enjoying the new bathroom immensely. Our contractor was excellent. During the process of the job, he insulated wherever possible (and useful), and installed cellulose insulation in the attic to an R-38 rating.


  1. Congratulations on your bog! May you always use it in good health.

  2. Can you tell me the brand and type and cost of your shower stall? So nice! If possible, reply to idea at mchsi dot com. Thanks!

  3. The shower stall was created in place by the contractor, so there is no brand available or cost break-out that I could provide. I have provided the suppliers of the materials in the posting above; I ordered the tile and fixtures, and the contractor installed it. The shower is about 36" x 48". Wish I could be more specific, but it's a custom job.

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