60s bathroom refresh

13 Replies

I prefer older buildings when it comes with rental.   They tend to have better bones and better quality construction...but I hate the bathrooms that comes in teal, pink, yellow, green, blue...I have nine bathrooms in various properties covering the entire rainbow color spectrum.

I am seeking advice on two things.

First, most of these bathroom have the integrated ceramic soap dishes, tooth brush holders.  Tenants would crack them or break them...they are impossible to fix.  Here are a few pictures.  Note the two over the pedestal sinks.  There are also soap dishes next to the bath tubs.

Now here is a picture of a broken one.

These are not glued on or screwed on, there is a ceramic protrusion in the back about 3/4" thick, and it's set into the wall with thick set mortar.  The only way to remove this from the wall is to use a diamond blade grinder and cut into this and score horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines and slowly carefully pry or chisel it out piece by piece trying not to damage the adjacent tiles.  Very laborious and dusty.

This is what I did to fix the broken one.  I am not too happy with it but heck, it's a rental.

Now, I have another one in another property that cracked...and a third one that chipped.

So I am looking for ideas what I should do with these.  May be if one cracks or breaks, I would take out both the left and right sides and do something else instead - but what?  I was thinking some sort of a ledge or shelf across the width of the sink?  Ideas?

Second, anyone has done tile refinish/glazing?  I have done cast iron bathtub refinishing re-glazing, but not wall tiles.  Can these colored tiles be reglazed to white?  Would it last?  How often does it have to be redone?

I'd prolly just take out the 2nd one and do another accent tile to match the other one.

Quick and easy fix.

The tiles are ugly but they look like they are in great condition.

@Sam Leon , I have gotten many ugly pink and peach coloured tub tile surrounds to neutral colors for my clients. You would not believe what a difference such a small thing makes to make these old bathroom time-navigate to this era. The trick to keeping the coating intact is not to use ammonia, or bleach containing cleaners. How will you control your tenants not to do  that in a rental property? It is not the process but the maintenance that requires care.

To answer your question about breaking soap dishes and toothbrush holders, I would just take out the whole line of tiles above that area and use accent tiles so that it does not look like an "oops" correction to an accident or mistake. Turn it into a focal point. It is so easy to take out 4 or 5 tiles and replace it with something unique so it becomes part of the design. You can use remnant tiles, even glass mosaic ones for the accent line. Just my 2 cents. Try to work with something like this that is bound to happen and turn it into a positive thing. 

I agree with the above. I do know a @Michael Whitener that does tub and tile resurfacing that really helps update a room. From my few questions I've seen about it it sounds like a laborious project but worth it.

I like your repair with accent tile but I also like your idea of a small shelf.

Those colorful bathrooms are a dilemma, especially when they are well built/maintained and are in good shape! I have a nice baby blue one that I don't know what to do with.

Originally posted by @Max T. :

I I have a nice baby blue one that I don't know what to do with.

 Same here.

It was in such good shape I couldn't bear to tear it apart. Now after 7 years of college girl tenants, hair dye stains in the grout lines, bubble baths & the inevitable overflows its time to rehab & go with a shower base & surround.

The tile walls are rock solid.  The substrate was manually floated and over 2" thick.  Same thing with much of the interior walls on some of these older properties.  They put gypsum boards over real tough southern yellow pine studs, then manually put on a brown coat over an inch thick, then a thin layer of egg shell finish.  Makes very good insulation for sound between apartments, instead of two layers of 1/2" sheetrock you have 1.5" of wall on each side of the studs.

Even though I patched it with another tile, it looks patched.  If I remove both dishes, it would still look patched.  Now if I remove the entire row, it would still look patched because more often that not, the sink and the tiles are not centered to each other.  So if you replaced a row of tiles, from 1" left of the sink's left edge to 4" to the right of the sink's right edge, it still look patched.

It's also a lot of work to remove those.  The faucet is often in the way of grinding wheels and chisel, so in one case I had to remove the faucet, and really covered the sink so it doesn't get chipped and dented while I was cutting away.  That's why I am thinking may be the next time I had to do it, I would try to cut a piece of wood and lay it across the chipped out tiles.  If I put a piece of say 2X3 over the tiled wall, from one end of the sink to the other end, covering the damaged tiles, secured with perhaps recessed Tapcon screws.  Then another piece of 1X3 over the edge of the 2X3.  That would conceal much of the damaged area, and if I stain the wood dark it may look OK.  I don't know, just thinking out loud.

A couple of things,  you can still get these 4 x4s  not sure about your colors but you can get some colors.  you also can get these soap dishes online and at habitat but it would be hard to install without removing adjacent tiles. (used this solution mostly when the towel bar end broke.)

One bathroom we had like this we actually found some tiles with fish on them at home depot and added them. They were a nice small strip of a couple of tiles  above the toilet  and just right for our student/beach rental as an accent. We also did some white 4 x 4 tile borders when we made the vanity smaller. That works if the accent matches your base tile.

You could fill them in with tiles when they break and add a shelf that covers them but that is still something else for the tenant to break. If you do this shelf a single long stone tile might be a nice material in black or white and then some chunkier brackets. Or buy  a floating shelf  but they are only maybe two inches thick max.

I would be inclined to add a flat accent row. Not sure if you can overlay a tile feature .

@Aisha E.

Aisha. I have a similar looking pink bathroom I plan to update. Do you mind sharing the procedure you used to change the tile color on your projects?

@Andreas W. , I apologize for the late reply, but somehow I did not get any notice of being tagged in a post.

I have a guy who specializes in refinishing tubs, tub surround tiles, sinks, and counters. Professionals first prepare the surface by lightly sanding it, and making minor repairs, hen applying a primer, and a few coats of an acrylic-based paint. You can match it to any surrounding tiles, or surfaces you want. To do a tub, he charges $275, and to do tub surround tiles, and the tub, $475. The only downside to it, like I mentioned in a comment above, is that you cannot use bleach based cleaners on it. Also the surface it not completely smooth and you get water beading on the flat surfaces.

If you are only refinishing the wall tiles in the bathroom, go for it. For sinks, and tubs, I would think twice if it is for a rental property - you cannot control the cleaning agents the tenants use. Or just provide them with the non-ammonia based, non-bleach based cleaners on a monthly basis:-) If you are just doing it to sell the property, then go for it. I hope this helps.

Originally posted by @Aisha E. :

you cannot control the cleaning agents the tenants use.

Shouldn't be a concern as long as you first warn them, and have a proper security deposit. Destroy the bathroom finish, they buy a new one...