My Broken Ice Cream Cone Master Bath :(

xand83March 1, 2012

Hi all! I posted a few weeks back about some weird mirrored shelves we have in our master. Well, that was really just the first issue on a looooong list!

It's time to re-do this bad boy. It's the only full bath in our DC condo, it is 17 years old, and it is *not* in good shape.

The bathroom has weird mirrored shelves, a useless toilet, a sad-sad vanity, and a marble shower that is in disrepair. We are a corner building so the unit is shaped like an ice-cream cone. The living room, at the front, is the rounded ice cream, and this sad bathroom is the bottom of the cone.

Here are a few pics and the floor plan:

We can figure out the mirrored shelves (with your previous help!), and the vanity & toilet can be easily replaced, but we are really stumped on the shower. It is HUGE. Really, it feels like it could easily shower 6-10 people at once. Not only is it big, but we have some tiles that are popping along the bottom and some tiles in disrepair. We got an estimate to re-do the entire shower, for $6k-$9k, but that is extremely expensive for us.

Can anyone suggest a simple solution that does not involve a complete shower gut and re-do? And even if we wanted the shower re-tiled, should it really cost that much? We are pretty avid DIYers, but I was going to draw the line at this project, given the complexities of a shower. But a $9k estimate can make your head spin! Thank you in advance!

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Wow, that is the strangest shower I have ever seen!

Sorting through your want-list, you don't like the vastness of the shower and its broken tiles, but you don't want to re-do it. Sorry to say, you've only got 2 choices: repair the tile and live with it, or gut it.

I wouldn't pay someone $9K to re-do it, but I'd definitely consider DIY-ing it. Start by just walling off that pointy thing and making it more of a trapezoid shaped shower. This is one case where I wouldn't worry about lost space. Replace the wall at the end of the sink with a glass wall to widen the look of the shower, then replace the existing door with a lovely frameless one.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:10PM
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Your post title made me look!! Wow, it really is an ice cream cone--craziest shower EVER!

When I saw the rusty stains on your marble, I felt the need to tell you about something that recently worked on our very old Carrera marble slab shower. It really freshened it up when I thought it looked hopelessly tired and ugly.

I spread a layer of liquid Barkeeper's Friend over the stains for several hours. As it dried out, I would wet it and work it in a bit more with a rough cloth. After about 5 hours, I got out my Magic Eraser. They make an extra-strength bathroom scum version. With some elbow grease, the stains I had tried EVERYTHING on came out. I feel like I can live with the bathroom as-is, now.

Those mirrored shelves? I missed the previous thread! Sounds like you found a solution for that area-- WOWZA.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 11:53PM
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@weedyacres: Good point. I probably do sound a little indecisive. We would love to re-do it if possible, but we wanted to spend $2-3k max on the entire bathroom. That's going to be tough if we rip out all that marble and replace it with something else (the main floor too). I would like to throw caution to the wind and take a sledgehammer to the shower, but it is the only one we have. I have a feeling it wouldn't turn out well and we would soon start to smell.

Also, the plumbing runs through that awful soffit and down that one wall to the right of the sink, so I don't think that one can come down. A frameless door would be great, and it might be required since that opening is 23.5", which is below standard. A DIY repair job might be in our future. Can one patch in new marble tile that will somewhat match marble that is 17 years old?

@shanghaimon: You should see the living/dining room. It's in a round turret. Have you ever tried to furnish a circle? It hurts me to think about it again.

Thanks for the tip. We bought the powder Barkeeper's Friend, but it didn't help. We will have to give the liquid a go. And, for now, we are going with a narrow storage unit in that corner (or a small row of Elfa).

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:01AM
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Wow, it really is the craziest shaped bathroom ever! It's too bad some of the tile is in bad shape, otherwise the bathroom looks quite pretty. How is the bathroom floor? It looks in pretty good shape. If the tiles are in good shape but the grout isn't, you can always replace the grout (time consuming but not impossible). The soffit really isn't too bad. The weird mirror corner obviously has to go, but otherwise it doesn't look terrible to me.

I'm not a tiling/shower/waterproofing expert, but perhaps the bottom row of shower tiles and the floor could be replaced with something (maybe a different/contrasting tile) and leaving the rest of the shower wall tile in place? Everything but the bottom section of tiles looks in decent shape from your pictures.

If you decide to completely redo the shower and want to save money, perhaps you can do some of the work yourselves. One draw back will be that sometimes DIY work takes longer than professional work. It should save you money, but you may be without a shower for a longer period of time. If you do rip out the shower completely, I think walling off the pointy portion of the shower would be ok, but I would also try to find a way to use more of that excess space for shower niches for storage. Looks like that may have been the intention of the ledge, but you don't seem to be using it that way.

If the bathroom floor is in good shape, you should be able to just replace the toilet if it doesn't work well. The cost of a new toilet isn't terribly high and the installation is fairly easy.

You could replace the vanity if you don't like it or it's not functional for you. A vanity replacement isn't too tricky and could be done DIY.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:40AM
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That's a good point, pricklypearcactus. Everything above the first row of the shower tile is in pretty good shape. Just needs some new grout in places. That might be a good idea, just to do the floor and bottom perimeter.

However, the bathroom floor marble is also a wreck. It is worn & stained where one walks and even where you feet go when using the toilet. And knowing how the tile was installed in the other bathroom & kitchen, they probably didn't tile under the vanity. We are planning to put in a more shallow vanity with legs, so I think the whole floor might have to go.

I know we can DIY the tile job on the floor and shower door area, I just worry about doing the shower pan. I feel like there is a whole lot of geometry there, and I was awful in geometry class.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 3:02PM
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Just thinking here...Since you feel confident about diy-ing the floor and the vanity, I would consider replacing the marble with a smaller format porcelain tile in a darker color, perhaps in a narrow plank tile that compliments the colors in the marble. (I was thinking of those porcelain textured tiles that look like wood flooring.)
For the shower area, maybe you could get an estimate for repairing the bottom portion instead of ripping it out. Could all the tile be honed, sealed then regrouted? Surely that wouldn't cost 9K? I think I would at least research the cost of repair before ripping it all out. Does it leak?
Please, please keep us posted on your progress! You have the most interesting layout I've ever seen!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 4:45AM
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@elle3: We really like the tile planks too. But I think whatever we go with (likely a plain gray porcelain) we want it on the bath floor and taken into the bottom of the shower, where I'm not sure those planks would work. Any other suggestions for tile size? I'm comfortable with 12x12, but open to other sizes too. The marble is 12x12.

The first choice would be to repair and seal that marble, but I think it might be too late. Some of that staining is too severe. The tile under the shower door is broken and it is leaking into the wall (you can see the separation of the floor trim a little in the picture). I am still trying to get some estimates to see what the damage will be for a non-rip-out job.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 7:52AM
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You are in a condo, are you on an upper floor? I would be really worried for you with regard to water infiltration/mold, and damaging property below your level. To me, getting that fixed properly so you don't do damage to your neighbors would be very important.

Have you considered a custom solid surface shower pan? (cultured marble/granite, etc?) If there is a good manufacturer in your area, they could custom fit it to the right shape. You could do the necessary water-proofing between marble walls and new pan, and be okay.

I'd check into that sort of thing. I understand you want to have the same floor from bathroom to shower, but I am not sure a tiled shower (esp DIY) is best in your situation where the potential to do damage to others' property is great.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 3:09PM
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@kirkhall: Our condo is on the bottom and on a slab, so we are not worried about damaging much. A custon pan would be great, but i assumed they were pretty pricey, especially given how big of one we would need. Any general guess as to how much we might be looking at?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 5:02PM
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Not sure. In our area it was about 1k... I think it is worth a bid.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:16PM
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Onyx makes custom shower bases and they've got distributors all over.

Here is a link that might be useful: Onyx

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 8:58AM
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Just wanted to suggest that maybe you could bite off the bottom of that cone and use the space there to create a raised display space for a huge plant? Don't know how much light you get, but many types of plants thrive in that kind of humidity, and you could wrestle your huge weird shower into a more manageable size and shape.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:39PM
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Thank you all for the suggestions so far! We are still kicking around ideas. We will look into the custom shower pan for sure. Right now our fuzzy plan to remove the marble tile below the shower bench, the shower floor, and the bathroom floor. We purchased a box of 12x24" Avila Gris porcelain tiles in a light gray to check them out. I think they would complement the rest of the marble in the shower. It also comes in a smaller mosaic for the shower floor.

I've been reading up, at the john bridge forum, on how showers should be constructed. I'm more than a little concerned that once we start breaking up the shower tile, it's going to be bad news. With that being our only shower, I am dreading this.

Pics below of the current marble floor and the proposed porcelain. We are about 95% sure that bathroom floor has to go. It's cracked in places and discolored in many spots.

Oh gosh, I can't wait until that yellow is gone. Talk about a desperate color decision!

The proposed porcelain tile:

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 11:31AM
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