The Little Bathroom

Brooke here.

As promised, here is the rant about Homax “Tub and Tile,” which seems to have been taken off of the market since the time I purchased it.  No surprise, really, considering that people actually want to use their bathrooms after they refinish them.

When the renovation was begun, the bathroom looked a little something like this:

Bathroom, minus sink, before cleaning and tile preparation.

Nasty, right?  It’s a tiny space, about 3 by 5 feet, but it hadn’t been maintained since the house was built.  We think there was a sink replacement at one time due to the date on the cabinetry, but the tile is definitely original to the house.  We would have gutted the tile and replaced every square inch of it had we the spare cash, but we didn’t.

As luck would have it, a few weeks before Brown ripped the sink out, we had been at a party where a woman told us she had recently painted her bathroom tiles with a really great Rustoleum product she got at the local hardware store.  She said it had patched the cracks in the grout and the tile, and was holding up great under regular use.  So when the sink was removed, I looked for this product but couldn’t find it, and grabbed the Homax substitute.

Rookie mistake, folks.  I didn’t read the reviews.

Required reading after proper tile preparation.

I busted out my steam cleaner and washed every square inch of tile three times, then prepared the surface for the paint.  The paint came with steel wool, a lengthy guide that read like stereo instructions, and a tidy packet of powdered acid.  I roughed up the surface of the tile with the steel wool, then steam-cleaned again to get the steel fibers off, then made a warm bucket full of freakin’ liquid acid to use for the final wipedown.

(The acid is only sort of a big deal.  It’s one of the stronger acids but it won’t eat through your gloves if you’re quick about it, and you’ve come across worse in some household cleaning products).

Shower stall with painted blue trim, pretending its heart out that it's actually a nice grouping of accent tiles.

The acid was required to remove all of the oils and other bio-organic crap that is shed from our bodies and forms deposits on various bathroom surfaces.  I was working to remove nearly sixty years of this accumulated bio-crap, so since I had bought two cartons of the product, I repeated the acid bath twice.  There was one final wipedown with an oil-free damp cloth, and the bathroom was allowed to air-dry for a day.

Then I broke out the paint.  I painted every exposed tile with the white epoxy, and tinted half of one 26oz container blue for accent decorations.  The accents would be on the sanitation wrap around the walls and the first row of tiles adjacent to these, as well as up the external border of the shower to create a door jam effect.

The outcome was a definite improvement over the original state of the tiles.

Before: cracks in sanitation wrap under door jam of shower.
After: Same cracks, but mostly filled in.

I was feeling pretty good about the project until I applied the second coat of white paint to the floors and the shower stall.  I had waited more than 72 hours for the paint to fully cure, but the second coat caused the lovey smooth, glossy original coat to wrinkle up like an alligator’s butt.

Okay, we thought.  So what if the paint isn’t absolutely perfect when you get right up close to it?  From normal standing height, it looks fine.  We’ll toss a couple of bath mats down there and all DIY-sins are hidden.

I was grumpy but not unmanageably so until I had to pick up a third container of paint to finish up the shower stall walls.  In the week’s time between when I had purchased the first two cartons and when I purchased the third, they had increased the cost of the product by $4 and reduced the amount of paint received by a fifth.

Top: Original label on first cans. Bottom: same size can, different label (21 fl oz), and a happy little note letting you know that it's your fault if you expected more paint than you received.

This really fluffed my pillows.  Not so much the overall cost increase but the blatant lie on the top of the can which saved them from having to shell out seven cents for different packaging.  This is Homax saying they just don’t think we’re smart enough to deserve a credible lie.

And then, two weeks after the shower and the floors were freshly painted and were all lovely and clean, we had the audacity to have house guests.

See, we have been using the hall shower since the little shower stall is very small.  Extremely small.  Brown-can’t-raise-his-arms-above-his-head-without-turning-on-an-angle small.  This is a shower that has killed many a sexy mood because participants need an advanced level of physics to manage the logistics.  But when we have house guests, we let them have the big shower and we retreat back to the tiny stall, and the moment the hot water hit that shower stall the paint started to peel off.

So now we have a shower that looks nice but falls apart like the Wicked Witch in a rain storm.  We’re using the large shower for the time being, but we’re going to start on that bathroom remodel soon and we’ll have to head back to the little shower in the meantime.  I’m absolutely furious that I wasted two weeks on prep work and paint, since the outcome is something that will be destroyed as soon as we use it.


6 thoughts on “The Little Bathroom

  1. Really sorry about that. Reminds me of the time I spent a month scrubbing and scraping every speck of paint off my pool deck. I resealed all the cracks, taped off everything, and put on three coats of fresh paint. Only the brand of paint lied and shriveled up in the sun like a turtle’s back. Now I’m stuck with it because I haven’t got the time, energy, or cash to do it over again. Blah.

    On the other hand, if you think about it, you got to sear off the worldly remains of a famous poet and his wife with heavy-duty acid. How sadistic/heavy metal is that? 🙂

  2. I can’t understand much Spanish, but doesn’t that warning label say something about vapors?

    Because, YES, I would love having extra vapors that may be flammable.

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