Bathroom Renovation: Green paint–green job?

April 8, 2012

The bathroom renovation is done – nearly – as I type this the door is off and still not painted.  But I think doors on bathrooms are overrated.  Actually, I just think that given I have no time now but will have more in about a month that the door may have to wait a month.  Until then we’ll either all continue to use the downstairs bathroom as we have for the past two and a half months, or I’ll put up a curtain in the doorway. [I haven’t yet because I’m afraid that if I put up the curtain we might get used to it and I might end up with a bathroom with a curtained doorway forever.]

Meanwhile, I thought I’d consider the re-do with a critical eye toward its environmentally friendliness. In some ways we did great, in others, we missed the mark.DSCF0207

Reusing: On the plus side we found a medicine cabinet at an antique mall.  We also reused our bathtub and toilet. On the other hand, we took out the old sink, and while I had intended to donate it to our local education foundation to be sold at their auction (the faucet set was worth a few pennies at least), my husband told the plumbers to take it.  I don’t know if they trashed it, saved the faucet or what.  We did donate the hardware and sell that at the auction.  Someone bought it too.

Landfill fodder: Also on the negative side was all the wall, floor, and ceiling material that was sent to the landfill.  The room was gutted.  The floor truly did need to be replaced, and frankly the ceiling tiles were in pretty bad shape also, at least some of them were.  I think to be up to code the walls around the tub would have had to have been replaced also – and now that’s 75% of the room.  I think one wall did stay intact though.  The carpenters built a second wall out a few inches from the original to make room for the plumbing.  Which reminds me.  All the old plumbing and any other metal was recycled.

Insulation: The exterior walls needed to be insulated.  On one hand insulation is an eco-friendly plus.  On the other, I put absolutely no thought into insulation and so the typical bats of fiberglass were installed.  In hindsight I should have considered something along the lines of recycled denim or sheep’s wool

Flooring: A plus, however, was the flooring.  No way was I having DSCF0210a vinyl floor.  Eco-friendly alternatives included linoleum, wood, tile, and bamboo.  Linoleum turned out to be impossible to find in our neck of the woods.  Wood and bamboo would require vigilance and lots of polyurethane to keep it protected from moisture – no easy feat in a bathroom. So that left us with tile.  We ended up with tile that looks remarkably like hardwood.

The paint:  We lucked out there, which suggests that green consciousness is going mainstream.  I just went to Menards and bought paint, Dutchboy Platinum, semi-gloss.  I kicked myself for not going down the road to Sherwin Williams and buying their low or zero VOC paint, such as Harmony.  But, it turns out that Dutchboy Platinum is not so bad.  I noticed that it was not especially smelly, and a little research shows that it is designated a GreenCert product.  GreenCert products are “designed and manufactured taking steps to reduce environmental impact and to meet or exceed the most stringent regulatory requirements.”  Perhaps it is greenwashing, perhaps it is a truly eco-friendly step forward. It certainly makes me feel less guilty.

Painting Tools: I did pick up some green paintbrushes and roller covers called Earth Tones. They are made from recycled and renewable resources, such as recycled polyester fibers and bamboo.  We probably already had enough paintbrushes around the house, but I like to pretend that my purchase is a vote for green products.  The roller covers we needed and I’m tickled they were from recycled materials.

Now, according to Amazon, the painters tape I used, Painter’s Mate Green, (it is green colored) is actually environmentally friendly because of its water and rubber based adhesive.  Other companies use some percentage of recycled paper in their masking tape.  I don’t know that the definitive comparison has been done among masking tapes.  But once again I’m encouraged that anyone is paying attention to the environmental impact of painter’s tape.

Paint Stripper: As I mentioned, the door is not up yet.  It was in pretty bad shape, especially on the bathroom side, and so I’m stripping it of its many coats of paint and repainting it (with the probably relatively green Dutchboy Platinum paint).  Stripping could be truly environmentally evil, but strippers are going green also.  My husband was instructed to get as environmentally friendly a stripper as he could find and he found Ready Strip.  From all evidence it’s a non-toxic, environmentally friendly paint stripper.  Of course the paint and old finishes your remove with it aren’t environmentally friendly… Still, it’s better than buying a new door.

Miscellaneous Odds and Ends: It is nearly inhabitable.  It is kind of hard to put the old towels in the new cupboard – but I’ve been pricing new organic cotton towels and the old ones will have to due for awhile.  A shower curtain was a necessity.  The rod is metal and the curtain is cloth.  Not the organic linen I was considering, in fact, it’s polyester, but it is at least fabric and not stinky vinyl.DSCF0201DSCF0197DSCF0196[I love the handheld shower and glass block wall. I don’t know that they are especially eco-friendly, but I don’t think there is anything eco-unfriendly about them either, and I just wanted to show them off.  By the way, see the fancy strip of diagonal tiling – the carpenter and I came up with that, it actually serves a purpose.  The bullnose tiles were slightly narrower than the regular tiles so the joints weren’t going to match up in the corners, therefore, we needed a decorative strip to separate the two sections.  I like it.]

Overall, I’d give the bathroom a B on environmental friendliness.  Given the last time we redid a bathroom, 10 years ago, I didn’t give eco-friendliness a moment of consideration (i.e. vinyl floor, fiberglass shower, and your basic high VOC paint), it is a definite move in the right direction.  And now that I know you can buy environmentally friendly painter’s tape, well, my projects are bound to get greener and greener.


More pictures because people have been asking for pictures.  See the cabinet at the far end of the room – the carpenters made it for me.DSCF0195 It’s plenty roomy.


Even though the room is much bigger now, there isn’t much open wall space near the tub and it seemed silly to hang towels clear on the other end of the room.  So we hung one towel bar above the other.  My son and husband get the top bar; my daughter and I get the bottom (it’s a height thing).


My husband and I got this marble topped cabinet at an auction when we first moved to town.  It is perfect in the bathroom.

The only thing I haven’t taken a picture of is the toilet – in this picture of the table the toilet would be where I’m typing.  You’ve seen toilets.  It’s white. 

And a final p.s. – since I started this post I have put a coat of paint on the door and while the family was away I took shower.  Love It!


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