"Green" Bathroom Remodeling Guide
In order to take control of their environment people are “going green.” They are learning there are ways to make a difference and make improvements by choosing a lifestyle that is more natural. There are cleaning and food products on the market that help them live a healthier lifestyle but they may not think that choosing to remodel the bathroom is yet another way to “go green.” The bathroom is one of the simplest rooms to improve upon simply by exchanging already installed fixtures that were in place before water conservation mandates. Because of these mandates consumer needs have changed and manufacturers are paying attention. There are many more products being developed that are recyclable, sustainable, and will improve upon the environmental quality of life.
Deciding What to Replace
Does the entire bathroom need a makeover or can it be limited to just one or two changes? “Green” bathroom products(PDF) will make the bathroom more energy efficient and water saving. Proper ventilation and certain materials will help the bathroom remain non toxic by eliminating the entrapment of moisture. When remodeling careful consideration should be taken and the chosen “green” products should be sustainable and durable. This will help the bathroom to be more resistant to moisture so mold does not form.
Once the decision has been made on what will be replaced, determine a budget and find “green” items that are affordable enough to keep within the allotted amount. Because “going green” can feel a little overwhelming there are some tips and advice that will prove to be very beneficial. A number of things can be meant by the term “green” when it comes to remodeling the bathroom. Start by selecting one area and make eco-friendly choices in order to make your home a “green” home. Following this section will be advice on what types of things to look for when choosing to replace walls, showers, floors, cabinetry, and other areas of the bathroom. The cost of a bathroom remodel can start at $10 and go upwards from there depending on what you choose to replace and what your budget will allow.
There is a high probability that the walls will need to be replaced. Bathrooms tend to collect moisture so the walls need to consist of special materials that are moisture resistant such as “green board” (PDF). Walls should also have a backer board that is also moisture proof. Mold-proof sheet rock and natural-based clay’s and paints are other ways to keep with eco-friendly bathroom walls. Using ceramic tile, cork tile, travertine tile, and stone on walls is a great way to keep the bathroom contemporary and elegant while using sustainable products. The cost of walls in the bathroom will depend on the size of the area that will be remodeled and the type of tile chosen for the walls.
This is the focal point of every bathroom. Some people decide just to fix the bare minimum such as a few cracks or replacing the bathtub liner, while others may decide to replace the whole tub or even completely re-tile the shower. If purchasing a new tub or shower, stick with recycled glass, porcelain, or ceramic tile. Try using un-sanded, thin grout (with epoxy grout) that is light-colored tends to be less prone to mildew and mold. The cost to replace a bathtub may be as little as $300 but may cost much more depending on what needs to be done. Take it one step at a time and make sure to stay within your budget. Take a look at your showerhead as well and see if replacing it with a low-flow showerhead is within your budget. This will use less water and save as much as 50% of your water usage per year.
If you are thinking about replacing your bathroom floors consider natural linoleum, laminate or ceramic tile. Depending on your budget and the amount of time you have to replace flooring these materials are perfect "green" floor replacements. Vinyl sheets and man-made tile products are typically not a good idea for a “green” bathroom. Larger bathrooms with larger floor space will require more time for installation and be a little more costly.
Dual-flush toilets typically have two buttons or levers. One is for liquid waste and the other for solid. These toilets have a larger hole and use a different system to flush. They are more efficient with water use but they are also more expensive than standard toilets. A dual-flush conversion kit can cost about $40 and the entire toilet can run upwards to about $497.00. Also try using a low-flow toilet which uses about half the amount of water per flush, about 1.6 gpf from a 3.5 gpf (gallons per flush). That can reduce one person's annual water use from 27,300 gallons down to 12,500 gallons; thats over 50% less water consumed! Low-flow toilets can also save money, averaging around $148 per month on the water bill (with the shower head changed as well). That is almost $2000 in savings a year, just by simply adjusting water usage.
Strategies for Going Green
Try replacing the cabinetry look for cabinets made out of wheatboard and other low VOC materials. You may also want to consider using recycled tile to replace vanity tops. Fluorescent lighting used with electronic bassists will proved maximum performance and efficiency. Halogen bulbs are another option for going "green" by changing the lighting. Depending on budget, other options to “go green” include tankless water heaters, reclaimed fixtures, and graywater recycling. Look for adhesives, sealants, and caulks that have little or no VOCs. These typically contain a compound to inhibit mold and make cleaning much easier.
Why Go Green?
By “going green” you are helping to make a difference for your family as well as for the environment. Conserving more energy will put more money back in your pocket. “Going green” by remodeling a bathroom is a great step in conserving energy and helping the environment. By taking small steps to a more efficient and cleaner lifestyle with ensure the safety and conservation of our world and the future generations that will live in it.