Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Bathroom Makeover on a Budget

By: Danny Lipford
Bathroom after budget makeover.

Bathroom after budget makeover.

Watch as we give a 40-year-old bathroom a whole new look on a limited budget.

Bathroom Renovation Projects:

  • Remove Wallpaper: Use wallpaper remover in a pump sprayer to strip wallpaper, then repair and paint the walls.
  • Replace Vent Fan: Remove the old, noisy bathroom exhaust fan, and replace it with a new fan with light from NuTone.
  • Install Crown Molding: Dress up the bathroom by installing crown molding around the ceiling.
  • Frame Mirror: Add a premade frame from MirrorMate around the plain bathroom mirror.
  • Replace Light Fixture: Update the light fixture by replacing it with one from Hampton Bay.
  • Stain Grout: Apply grout stain to the grout lines to improve the look of the existing tile floor.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re transforming a 40-year-old bathroom with a tiny budget and hoping to make big changes.

Allen Lyle: All right. What else do you need in a throne room but crown?

Danny Lipford: Bathrooms come in all shapes and sizes, which means bathroom makeovers do as well. It all depends on what you like and the budget you have to work with.

Of course if you do some of the work yourself, that really opens up your options. And Brian and Jackie Cruthirds are the kind of homeowners who don’t mind getting their hands a little dirty.

Jackie Cruthirds: We’ve been here 21 years. We’ve raised three boys here, and they didn’t really much care what the bathroom looked like. It was functional and that’s all that mattered.

This bathroom was mostly used by the kids as they were growing up and with four guys in the house and just me, it just was disgusting all the time. I could clean it and it never stayed clean, and it was just a guy’s bathroom.

Danny Lipford: So that’s our challenge. Update this tired, tiny bathroom. Besides cosmetic issues there’s also a vent fan that belongs in a museum, outdated lighting, and some missing trim around the tub enclosure.

So, Jackie, you said you wanted to get rid of the wallpaper. I don’t understand. Sea shells are really in these days.

Jackie Cruthirds: Well, I’m not a big fan but it’s been up there for, gosh, 20 years.

Danny Lipford: We can get this done in just a couple of days. Now I understand your husband Brian is going to be the night shift here, huh?

Jackie Cruthirds: He is. After work he gets to come home and paint. That’ll be his second job today.

Danny Lipford: Perfect. Perfect. Let’s get started on this thing. The first step is clearing the work space, so none of Jackie’s stuff gets damaged.

I hope I don’t break anything, I’m pretty good at that.

This old light fixture is heavy, but not as heavy as the mirror Allen and I are hauling out.

Danny Lipford: All right, we got this far. Let’s don’t break it now. You good?

Allen Lyle: I’m good.

Danny Lipford: Follow me.

Allen Lyle: I have no choice!

Jackie Cruthirds: Oh, wow, I have never ever seen this wallpaper before. Oh my God, I’ve got to take a picture of that. And I thought my wallpaper was bad.

Danny Lipford: Look at this. Jackie couldn’t resist pulling a little paper down.

Jackie Cruthirds: Check it out—the original.

Danny Lipford: So you found a second layer under there.

Jackie Cruthirds: Why don’t we cut more rolls of this and just…

Danny Lipford: Yeah, right! Right.

Allen Lyle: Tell you what, Jackie. Since you like pulling paper so much, I’m going to go and get the solution started to remove this wallpaper. Can you help me with that?

Jackie Cruthirds: Absolutely. Let’s get started.

Danny Lipford: And I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’m going to go ahead and get in the attic while you guys are doing that, and see what’s going to be involved in removing this old exhaust fan, see if I can’t position it a little bit better there.

Allen Lyle: All right.

Danny Lipford: While I’m getting into the attic, Jackie is using a scoring tool to cut thousands of tiny holes in the surface of the wallpaper so that the solution Allen’s mixing up can get behind the paper.

Jackie Cruthirds: All right. So what do you have in there?

Allen Lyle: Just some concentrated wallpaper remover, you usually have a little bottle that’ll make about eight gallons worth, and I always put in about a quarter cup of fabric softener.

Jackie Cruthirds: Really?

Allen Lyle: So just like for your clothes, it softens everything up, it’s going to do the same thing for the paper.

Jackie Cruthirds: Wow, I did not know that.

Allen Lyle: And help it to penetrate a little bit better.

Danny Lipford: While Jackie and Allen are soaking down the walls, I found the vent fan so I can start removing it. Of course, you always want to turn the power off at the breaker when you do this.

The NuTone unit that I’m using to replace it also includes a light, so I’m going to position it closer to the tub to increase the illumination on that side of this small bathroom. Plus that’s the source of humidity in the room.

Once I cut out the drywall and mount the housing to the ceiling joist, all I have to do is to connect the wiring.

I’ll tell you what, this is going to make such a difference in this bathroom because that other exhaust fan was 40-something years old, never been vented, so it’s been pushing all of that hot air up into this attic and moist air.

You’d see kind of gray areas, a lot of different other signs of mold and mildew, this will push it. I’m going to vent it here and it’s just going to be a short run going straight to the outside.

Back downstairs, Jackie and Allen finally have the paper coming off the walls, and it seems to be going fairly well. There are a few places that will still require a little drywall joint compound, but that’s always a possibility when you remove wallpaper. Even so, I’m still going to give Allen a hard time about it.

Gee, look what you did to my wall.

Allen Lyle: Well, I’m sorry about that. You start pulling off that wallpaper, you think it’s coming off nice but the glue layer just hung on a little tighter than I wanted.

Danny Lipford: What are you using there?

Allen Lyle: A scouring pad.

Danny Lipford: Really?

Allen Lyle: Yeah, just takes all that residue off.

Danny Lipford: Huh. It works pretty well, just a little bit of mudding here and there. It looks pretty bad, but that’ll take care of, you know I was noticing something when we took that shower curtain down earlier.

What in the world happened? This is really odd that you got the cultured marble and then the ceramic right there. What do you think?

Allen Lyle: Well, if you look, I have a feeling this was the culprit. This toilet paper holder that’s inside the wall. They didn’t want to try to cut into it.

Danny Lipford: Right.

Allen Lyle: So, they left it on out. Me, I would have taken all this off and at least cut it here but…

Danny Lipford: Sure.

Allen Lyle: I have an idea of how to, to make this look good.

Danny Lipford: Oh, do you?

Allen Lyle: It’s an idea. Well, it’s a theory.

Danny Lipford: Right, yeah, you think you’re going to go to the store and buy that, I doubt that. But, you know, these are some very common things that we’re doing with removing wallpaper, installing crown molding, improving the ventilation in the bathroom.

A lot of these things that I hope you’re able to pick up a few tips to help you around your bathroom. Right now we got a lot of drywall work to do.

Joe Truini: If your shower is not spraying as forcefully as it used to, it’s probably because it’s clogged up with hard water deposits—this is very common. Not all the holes will be clogged, but little by little they become clogged, and you won’t be getting much water out. Here’s the fix.

Rather than removing it and replacing it, try this first. Get a plastic, wrap it around the showerhead, and then pour in about a cup or so of white distilled vinegar. The idea is we’re going to soak the showerhead in the vinegar, which acts as an acid—a very mild acid, but a pretty effective acid.

So you want to hold it up there, and we’re going to hold it— the bag—in place with just a twist tie. You could probably duct tape it, but the twist tie works just as well. We’re going to twist that around there so it hold nice and tight.

And again, it’s important that the showerhead—just like that—is soaking in the vinegar. And leave that at least a day—maybe even two full days—take it down and run the water full blast. And you’ll see it’ll start coming out a lot cleaner.

You may have to repeat this once or twice, maybe even three times, but it’ll save you the cost of replacing the showerhead.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re helping Brian and Jackie Cruthirds update the hall bathroom in their 70’s era home.

Jackie Cruthirds: Gosh, it just needs so much work. The mirror has no frame, wallpaper’s been up for years that needs to be redone. The tile just looks awful, just desperately needs to be done.

Danny Lipford: Allen’s been helping Jackie remove old wallpaper while I was replacing a 40-year-old vent fan. We also installed a new faucet that Jackie had picked out, and then I completed running the vent for the new fan through the roof.

Then we patched the hole where the old vent fan was and covered the wallpaper removal scars with a light coat of drywall compound while Jackie cleaned and repainted the air conditioning register.

At the end of our first day, Allen removed a small piece of the cultured marble trim from the tub enclosure so he could explore his secret solution. We’ll just have to see how that pans out.

Well, Jackie, not bad for a one day’s work in the bathroom, huh?

Jackie Cruthirds: No, this is awesome. Y’all got a lot done. We got a lot done.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, exactly, yeah. You helped out a lot.

Jackie Cruthirds: I had no idea it’d be this extensive. I knew it would be a lot of work, but we couldn’t have done this by ourselves.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. So today, we’ll do a little sanding and finish up all of the drywall work so that that’s good. I talked to Allen, he’s picking up some crown molding for you.

Jackie Cruthirds: Okay.

Danny Lipford: So you’ll probably be installing some crown molding before the end of the day. And then he has some scheme about this cultured marble trim. I’m not sure what he is coming up with that. Hopefully, that’ll work out well. But by the end of the day, we’ll have this whole thing where you and Brian can get in here and do all the painting.

Jackie Cruthirds: I can’t wait.

Danny Lipford: All right. Let’s get some drywall here.

The first step is sanding down that drywall compound we applied yesterday. It’s a good idea to seal off the room with plastic because this is always a dusty job. And you see why we have the dust masks on, huh?

Jackie Cruthirds: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Hey, you’re pretty good at that.

Jackie Cruthirds: You better go behind me and check in case I missed any spots.

Danny Lipford: No, I’m going to go take a break.

As soon as the sanding is complete, we apply a second, thin coat of drywall compound. Meanwhile, Allen arrives with the crown molding and precuts it before dry fitting it in the room.

Allen Lyle: Well, let’s see. Jackie, I can’t see on that side. What have you got there?

Jackie Cruthirds: Will this hold it? I’m a little short, Allen. This’ll do the trick.

Allen Lyle: You know, I’ve had helpers before, but never, never had this…

Jackie Cruthirds: If it works, try it.

Allen Lyle: It works, I like it. Oh, yeah, it’s good.

Jackie Cruthirds: See, I taught you something, Allen.

Allen Lyle: You did.

Danny Lipford: In spite of the close quarters and a vertically challenged helper, Allen soon has the crown molding completed.

Allen Lyle: All right. What else do you need in a throne room but crown?

Danny Lipford: Looks great. But knowing that you you’re putting up a crown, I assume you’re definitely going to need a little of that.

Allen Lyle: Oh, ha-ha-ha.

Danny Lipford: Hey, you left yesterday saying that you had an idea on how to kind of trim all of this little awkward part.

Allen Lyle: Patience. Patience. The solution will be here in a moment.

Danny Lipford: All right. All right. Well, good luck on your caulking there.

Allen Lyle: All right. See, Danny? Nothing to worry about.

Danny Lipford: Wait a minute. These are our cultured marble guys. What’s up here?

Allen Lyle: Well, if you think about it, you know they had a piece of custom made cultured marble up there to begin with, so why not go back with another piece of custom made.

Danny Lipford: And so they made some to match the trim there.

Allen Lyle: Right. Same color that’s up there, and it’ll just go all the way down.

Danny Lipford: All right. Well, that’s better than whittling something out of a piece of plastic. That’s what I thought you were doing.

Allen Lyle: I could have done it.

Danny Lipford: That’s great, man. That’s going to look fantastic.

These trim pieces are a pretty standard item for cultured marble fabricators like Clay, but what makes this really custom is the fact that the backside has been cut out where it overlaps the tile. Once it’s glued in place and caulked, it looks like it’s always been there.

Well Jackie, the walls look pretty good. Pretty much ready for some painting around here.

Jackie Cruthirds: Yeah, they look really good, Danny. I just can’t believe how much work it was.

Danny Lipford: Don’t you think this was a good idea Allen had.

Jackie Cruthirds: Marble is fabulous. I love it. We didn’t know what to do with that.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, there was a lot of holes in there from the shower door coming down.

Jackie Cruthirds: Looks really good.

Danny Lipford: Well, you might have just have a little bit of sanding, and then of course a couple coats of paint and a little bit of trim paint on the crown, and I think it’ll look pretty good.

Jackie Cruthirds: I think so, too. I’m excited. Can’t wait.

Jodi Marks: Well, there’s a new game in town as far as DIY project is concerned, and you can actually get your kids in on it, right Shea?

Shea Pettaway: That’s right, Jodi.

Jodi Marks: And that is organizing your house.

Shea Pettaway: Yes. Rubbermaid has an all access storage system, you can’t beat it.

Jodi Marks: This is great for organizing, whether you’re going to be doing your garage, your storage unit, your kid’s room, the dorm room—you name it—even the laundry room.

But I think the problem with a lot of storage bins is that, you know, they’re great for storing things; but you really can’t remember, unless you write on it, what’s in there. And to access it has always been a little difficult if you need to get something on the bottom of the bin.

Shea Pettaway: And they solved that problem for just you and I.

Jodi Marks: OK.

Shea Pettaway: And look what they have done, they’ve made a door for it.

Jodi Marks: See, that is fantastic. And it’s a clear door, actually, so you can see not only what’s in there, but you can access it very easily.

So let’s just say I’ve got something down here on the bottom that I need to get out. Old time ways I’d have to remove everything. But look at this, with this new design I can just access it right there. And it comes in two different sizes, right?

Shea Pettaway: Yeah, you have a small and you have a large in these nice colors that you can use. Also, if you have sweaters, you can go in and pull them out, instead of going in the top of it and trying to pull everything out of there.

Jodi Marks: See now you have no excuse now. Now you have to be organized. Thanks, Shea.

Shea Pettaway: Thank you.

Danny Lipford: The renovation of Brian and Jackie Cruthirds’ 40-year-old bathroom is coming along great. We’ve removed the aging wallpaper and updated the ancient ventilation fan.

Another big complaint we often hear from homeowners is that they run out of hot water. The ideal solution is a tankless water heater, because it offers an endless supply of hot water.

But occasionally there are challenges to retrofitting a tankless water heater during a remodel. So the folks at Rinnai have created a great new water heating solution that combines the on-demand heating technology of a tankless water heater with an efficient and durable storage tank. It’s called the Hybrid Tank-Tankless.

It gives you 180 gallons of hot water in the first hour alone, more than twice the capacity of a standard 50-gallon tank. Plus, it’s ideal for quick installation because the hot and cold connections are the same as a traditional storage tank, so the plumber doesn’t have to reroute those lines. And it vents through the same four-inch vent pipe that many gas water heaters already use.

Now back at the Cruthirds’ house, all of the mechanical work is complete and Brian and Jackie are busy rolling a more contemporary color on to the walls.

Brian Cruthirds: I came in here and looked at the ceiling and crown molding, I said, “That was worth it,” it looked so good.

Danny Lipford: Once all the paint is dry we can install the trim for the NuTone vent light kit, and reinstall the register that Jackie updated. Then the mirror can go back in place.

All right, so left to right, how you doing off the wall?

Allen Lyle: I’ve got about five-eighths of an inch here.

Danny Lipford: When the mirror is perfectly positioned, we can re-secure it with the clips that hold it to the wall, and move on to installing the trim kit that Jackie ordered from MirrorMate.

Go up a little bit higher. Yeah, there you go. Okay, now slip it down and just let it sit right on top.

Jackie Cruthirds: Oh, that’s going to look so nice.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. It is pretty cool, isn’t it?

This kit is a great solution for this type of application, because you simply choose the style and finish you want for the frame and provide the dimensions of your mirror.

Now, all you have to do is to secure it to the mirror itself with the self-adhesive tape on the back of the frame.

Oh, you’ve about got it all. Look at that, we’re done. Okay. All right, now, the thing is, when we put it back in this time, don’t touch the mirror. Because once we stick it, we won’t be able to move it.

Jackie Cruthirds: Okay.

Danny Lipford: So, let’s just go up…

Jackie Cruthirds: Down at the bottom I’m actually touching, right here.

Danny Lipford: Okay, move it over a little bit. Okay. Okay. All right, I think we’re ready to push it. Make sure it doesn’t slip off the bottom and hold it there. And then go ahead and push in. There we go.

And don’t push hard hard, but let’s just try to seat it, and that is it. What do you think about that? It’s unbelievable.

Jackie Cruthirds: I think I love it.

Danny Lipford: All right.

Jackie Cruthirds: That’s awesome, love it. Yay!

Danny Lipford: We’ll get a light fixture up.

The fixture Jackie chose will go a long way towards updating this room. Once I have it in place, Allen can replace the custom medicine cabinet Brian built when he updated the vanity a few years ago.

We also cleaned the tile floor after the drywall and painting work was done, but it still needs some help.

Well, Jackie, with everything else looking pretty good here in the bathroom, it makes this floor look even worse.

Jackie Cruthirds: I know, Danny. I have fought with this floor for years. I’ve tried everything to get it just to look better, but nothing seems to work.

Danny Lipford: I know. It just seems like these things get stained and they stay stained, but I might have an option here with this grout stain that hopefully will make it a little more consistent.

I’ll just put on some here, a little bit. And then see how easy… I’m using way too much of it here. Okay, now I got the groove. Well, if it’s all the same color, that’s going to be a lot of help.

Jackie Cruthirds: Anything would help this floor, Danny. Anything. Now, is that expensive?

Danny Lipford: No, not at all. I forgot what this bottle costs but it was under $10.

Jackie Cruthirds: Oh, wow.

Danny Lipford: And the thing about it is it’ll go a long way. Okay. We’re going to have some good stuff here. Because look, I mean look at the comparison already.

Jackie Cruthirds: Yeah, it looks good.

Danny Lipford: So if we can get that consistency on it, we’ll just have to keep wiping this down so… I’ll tell you what, there’s not enough room for both of us in here with this small bathroom. I’ll start back there, come this way.

Jackie Cruthirds: Okay.

Danny Lipford: And I might get you to help me on some of the cleaning in a little bit.

Jackie Cruthirds: All right. Sounds good.

Danny Lipford: This is a tiny bathroom. But these little one-inch mosaic tiles have hundreds of feet of grout lines. So this job does take a little time.

Eventually, I discovered that applying the stain with an old toothbrush is a lot quicker and wastes a lot less stain. Needless to say, the transformation is worth it.

Bill wants to know, “If it’s not a good idea to vent my bath exhaust fan directly into my attic, what are my other options?”

No, it’s never a good idea to have any exhaust fan in your home dump all that hot, moist air in your attic. It can cause you a lot of problems with mold and mildew forming on the underside of your rafters and decking as well as getting into your insulation.

Several different ways you can move that hot air to the outside. One is to route it over to a soffit vent and attach it to the back of the soffit vent. But this can work against your exhaust fan because that’s actually an air intake, so not as good as other methods.

Another method, a little bit better, is if you have a gable-style roof and a gable vent on one end of the house, you can attach this to the back of a gable vent.

But the absolute best way to get that hot, moist air out of your house is to route it straight up through the roof and out a roof cap on it. Even better, instead of using this flexible type pipe, use a smooth metal pipe to route it through the roof.

Danny Lipford: Once we completed the work on Jackie Cruthirds’ bathroom, she went to work decorating it. And I think you’ll agree the change is remarkable.

The missing trim around the tub enclosure made the area look very unfinished, but the new trim blends right in with the surrounding materials as if it had always been there. The old vent fan was visibly tired and functionally useless while the new fan is sleek, attractive, and super-efficient.

Over the vanity, the old light fixture really showed its age, but the new one with its clean lines and modern finish is a great update. And the crown molding we added above it adds a touch of elegance that the old space never had.

The 40-year-old tile floor never looked clean, even when it was. But simply re-staining the grout has given it a new life.

All together, these changes have given a tired, old bathroom a brand new life and a brand new feel.

Jackie Cruthirds: I’m so pleased. It’s just amazing. In less than $1,000, it’s like a whole new bathroom.

Danny Lipford: Absolutely.

Jackie Cruthirds: I love it.

Danny Lipford: You and Brian did a great job on the paint job as well.

Jackie Cruthirds: Yes, I did.

Danny Lipford: Hey, you can see you can have a lot of fun and make a big, big difference in a bathroom like this by taking your time and having the right attitude. You can have a little fun along the way, just like Jackie and I did.

Jackie Cruthirds: Lots of fun, Danny. Lots of fun. All that painting, it was a blast!

Danny Lipford: It was, yeah. I can hear that. Hey, thanks a lot for being with us this week. Hope we’ll see you next week, right here on Today’s Homeowner. You know, I noticed you also got a new…

Allen Lyle: And, all right. And now you have a fancy bathroom, and you have to talk like this every time you come in the bathroom.

Jackie Cruthirds: Love it!



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