When my husband and I bought our home in 2017, we had little time and energy to focus on our renovation. With a 10 week window between closing and moving in with our then one year old son, we had to redo the interior of the house, finish the basement, build a patio, sand and stain the floors, and reconfigure the infamously small primary bathroom.
On this last point, we may have gone a little too fast. The mistakes we made during our quick renovation came back to haunt us a few years later, when moisture build-up from poorly made choices made paint boil, fixtures rust and mold grows on windows. and medicine cabinets.
A few weeks ago, we solved the humidity problem with a DIY makeover that brought our bathroom back to its former glory and relative dryness. The good news is, for homeowners who are installing bathrooms, remodeling bathrooms, or struggling with humidity in their current bathrooms, there are remedies.
Focus on prevention
The best way to tackle bathroom humidity issues is to prevent them in the first place. Most problems (mold, mildew and damp walls, for example) come from condensation, said Kate Reggev, a New York-based architect. To reduce humidity, she said, homeowners should consider three points before building or renovating: âTry to reduce the extent of cold surfaces in a bathroom, provide adequate ventilation and select the right building products for a wet space. ”
To combat cold surfaces, Reggev said, homeowners can install – or upgrade to – properly fitted double-glazed windows. Opening a window after you shower, which allows moisture to escape from the room, is also an option. If the bathroom has exterior walls or contact with an uninsulated attic, Reggev said, adding insulation to the walls or installing radiant underfloor heating âwill ensure that you keep the surfaces of the bathroom. warm bathroom â.
When building or renovating a bathroom, you can also install mold or moisture resistant wall panels, Reggev said. âThese types of wall panels are specifically treated with special backing and paperless coatings to prevent mold and / or moisture,â she said. Showers, she added, should be surrounded by a cement backerboard.
Using large porcelain tiles and stain-resistant grouts, such as epoxy-based grout, can also keep water from absorbing into the walls behind the tile, said James Upton, a room renovator. baths and blogger based in Washington State at diytileguy.com. “Porcelain tile is waterproof,” he said, and epoxy and one-part grouts “are not as porous as cement grouts.”
Improve bathroom details
If you already have water-related issues, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage. A high-powered ceiling fan, or a fan that also provides heat, can help remove moisture, said Kymberly Glazer, director of marketing and sales for the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Association. âIt will really be your biggest line of defense against moisture,â Glazer said. Additionally, Upton suggests having a fan with a humidity sensor or timer that will turn off on its own, saving energy.
Glazer suggests consulting a professional or visiting a hardware showroom before installing a fan. âThey’ll make sure you have the right size gear,â she said, for your space. For best results, leave the installation of the fan to the professionals.
The right kind of paint can also help combat moisture issues, Reggev said. Some paint companies, including Benjamin Moore, produce paints that contain antimicrobial additives that help resist mold growth. âYou’ll also want to make sure you’re using a moisture resistant primer to prevent moisture from seeping between the paint and the surface it’s applied to,â Reggev said. Otherwise, she noted, the paint might have a tendency to peel off.
Think about new products
There are other items you can add to an existing bathroom as additional moisture protection. Towel warmers, Glazer said, are easy to install and can help heat small spaces, drying excess moisture in the process. Electric towel warmers can be hardwired or plugged in, and there are even stand-alone versions available. Medicine cabinet defoggers, she said, are another option, using the same principle of heat to reduce humidity.
Another premium solution – which can be added during a build or remodel, or even rearranged into a space – is the AirJet Shower Drying System. It is installed throughout the shower area, with forced air coming out of the nozzles in the ceiling and, in new installations, the walls. The system costs approximately $ 1,300 plus installation.
And companies such as Kerdi and Wedi produce moisture-resistant showers, Upton said, that prevent water from seeping behind the backerboard. The Wedi system offers a waterproof, pre-tilted shower, supplied as a kit, made from mold and mildew resistant materials. The Kerdi Schluter-Shower System is a collection of products that go together for glued and waterproof tiled showers. (Items include drains, pipe gaskets, and shower benches.)
Removing moisture from the bathroom can also be a matter of due diligence, Reggev said. âA low-tech solution can be as simple as wiping up damp surfaces after a shower,â which, she said, can prevent mold from taking root in the first place. Larger-scale maintenance, like fixing cracked grout, loose caulk and missing caulk around the edge of a tub, is just as important, Reggev said.
Another easy way to let moist air escape, Upton said, is to leave the shower door open. âCombine that with the use of a squeegee after every shower,â he added. âIt will help reduce the humidity in the air and keep your shower clean. ”
Basic maintenance can be one of the most important parts of bathroom preservation. âWhat appear to be little crevices that aren’t a big deal,â said Reggev, âcan ultimately have a big impact on humidity control. Water is amazing in its ability to move around. .
If you end up with mold in your bathroom, like my husband and I did, all is not lost. Once your bathroom is completely dry, wipe down the walls and surfaces with a solution of bleach or distilled white vinegar mixed with water, which will kill any existing growth.
For tile and grout, use a scrub brush and cleaner that provides mildew protection, such as Soft Scrub with Bleach, Black Diamond Stoneworks Grout Cleaner, or Home Armor Mold & Mildew Stain Remover. Finally, if you decide to repaint, make sure your newly cleaned walls and surfaces are mold free and dry before you begin.