When I bought this house, the upstairs bathroom had just been installed by the previous owners. They’d skipped a few steps—the cabinets weren’t secured to the walls, there was no exhaust fan and they hadn’t finished the top row of tile above the bathtub—but the room functioned reasonably well. Then we started using the shower, and it didn’t take long to realize that, under the right conditions, you can grow mold anywhere—even in Canada.
Panicked, I called a contractor, and last week they installed an exhaust fan so strong it could dry out a tropical rainforest. And they’ve promised to return to douse the room in mildew-resistant paint (which will be a huge upgrade from the mildew-welcoming paint that’s currently in there).
Now, if I can get away with it, I’m hoping to blame what happened next on my mother. Remember that top row of bathtub tiles? The row that was unfinished? Well, my mom pointed out that those tiles were most likely discontinued years ago, so it would be a lot faster to simply pop off that incomplete top row rather than spend weeks schlepping from store to store, trying to find an exact match.
I’ve watched lots of decorating shows—and I’ve watched them take off bathroom tiles dozens of times. How hard could it be? I’ll tell you how hard it can be:
Tile #1: I tucked a screwdriver under the edge of the tile, tinked away at the end of the screwdriver with a hammer and POW the tile exploded off the wall and landed (pointy corner down) on my bare foot.
Tile #2: Now wearing shoes, I gently tinked away at the second tile. Tink…tink…tink…apparently, Tile #2 had seen what had happened to Tile #1, and it wasn’t coming off the wall without a fight. By the time it had succumbed to my screwdriver-and-hammer maneuver, it was in three pieces—and I’d damaged the wall.
Tile #3: I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say bathtub tiles have finely honed survival instincts—and they’re vindictive little jerks. too. Some of the tiles only half fell off—leaving a thick layer of themselves welded permanently to the drywall. Other tiles pulled so much drywall down with them that chicken wire, hunks of plaster and weird little bead things came tumbling out. Bathroom walls are generally smooth—mine now have ceiling-to-floor water stains, a light dusting of mold, plus a flaky, lumpy, eczema-like strip above the bathtub.
I’ve set up the international symbol for Don’t Judge, This Room’s Not Finished (two screw drivers and a hammer on the side of the tub). My next DIY project? Call the contractor, then avoid eye contact when he shows up with spackle and paint.