March 7, 2013

The ads are all over tv and the radio: transform your dated, ugly old shower/tub by covering it. It’s fast! It’s easy! There’s no messy demo! It’s a little cheaper! What the ads don’t tell you is that when you cover your old shower/tub, you may be also covering hidden problems.

The picture above is from a master bath we demo’d a few weeks ago in a home that is just 13 years old. The shower had no visible signs of a leak nor were there any signs of a leak anywhere else in the home, the homeowners were simply ready for a new look. But once the old shower was removed, we could see there had been a long-time leak. The water was being absorbed by the insulation and the moisture was slowly rotting the framing. What was left between the shower tile and siding? Basically some very wet insulation and a lot of rotten wood. Hmmmmm.

So if these homeowners had chosen to cover their existing shower, this problem would have continued to spread and would have become symptomatic. Then what? Then the homeowners would have been tearing out two showers to repair the problem. This is obviously an extreme example, but it’s really not uncommon for us to demo a shower/tub and find some sort of damage. After all, most homeowners are not remodeling new bathrooms. We’re dealing with rooms that are 10, 20, 30 years old or more and everything has a useful life. Especially where water comes into play.

Visually, covering your old shower/tub might seem fast and easy. But there are several reasons we think replacement is a better choice:

You May Have Hidden Problems – Just like in the picture above, your tub/shower may be sitting on a problem. During a remodel is the perfect time to pull everything out and make sure the framing behind your shower/tub is in the best condition possible. If your previous shower has been leaking, repairs can be made and you’ll be sure that your new shower looks good on the surface AND that it’s dry and sound below the finish.

You Can Take Advantage of New/Better Materials – Building materials evolve and improve constantly, so the materials that will be used to build a new tub/shower will likely be superior to those used for the original unit. During a remodel you’ll also be around to see your shower/tub being installed. Your remodeler should be able to explain the good processes they are using to ensure that it’s adequately waterproofed.

For example, in the home above, once the framing was repaired, we installed multiple layers of water protection that extended far enough to prevent the new shower from leaking into the wall.

You Can Update Plumbing – A remodel is also the perfect time to update plumbing, not just the visible fixtures. If you intend to install a new tub or shower, plumbing services in Canton or your vicinity might help in installing a new drain assembly and new valves. Cover your tub/shower and you’re not getting that benefit.

It’s true that removing an old tub/shower and replacing it will cost a little more and will take a little bit longer. But we think it’s well worth it to be sure that the money you invest in a better-looking bathroom isn’t wasted on unseen structural problems.

Want to learn more about remodeling your bath? Attend one of our upcoming Kitchen & Bath Remodeling Seminar. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot.

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