Eco-Friendly Bathroom Remodeling Tips

by Rachel Laurendeau on August 21, 2012

Your bathroom desperately needs to be remodeled and you’re ready for change. The only catch is that you don’t want the environment to have to pay for it so you’re looking for ways to update your bathroom with minimal environmental impact.

Low-Flow Fixtures
One of the most obvious eco-friendly ways to update your bathroom is to change out your old toilet, faucet and showerhead for modern ones with reduced water consumption. Low-flow plumbing fixtures are not all created equal. I’ve stepped into a couple of showers that barely had enough flow to rinse the shampoo out of my hair so definitely do spend the extra money on a good quality showerhead. We like the ones from Grohe for their water savings and design.

Refinishing Your Vanity, Tub, Shower and Sink
If your bathroom vanity is dated, it may simply need a facelift. Changing up the hardware for newer handles and pulls and giving it a few coats of paint using low-VOC paint can work wonders. Alternately, you could replace it with an older piece of furniture that you customize for this new purpose, repurposed kitchen cabinets or a new vanity made of low-emission engineered wood.

Replacing the bathtub or shower is often the most daunting task when taking on a bathroom remodeling project. Rather than tearing out the old, why not make it look like new with tub refinishing? It’s a fairly straightforward and inexpensive prospect and keeps your old tub in use rather than in the landfill. You can have a bathtub refinishing contractor come in for a day and your dull, scratched up bathtub (or sink or shower) will be shining like new. They can even change the color of the tub if you have inherited an olive green or pink tub that you’d like to forget. This is one project best left to the pros.

Flooring
If you already have wood or tile on the floor, explore the possibility of refinishing them. If they are well past their prime, they can be replaced with recycled tile or reclaimed wood. If you choose to go with a stone floor find a home improvement distributer who has locally sourced stone such as slate.

Efficient Lighting and Ventilation
Choosing energy-wise light fixtures will cut back on energy consumption, as will using compact fluorescent bulbs or xenon bulbs and using dimmer switches when you don’t need full lighting.

Replacing your old exhaust fan with an Energy Star certified ventilation fan that is vented outdoors will get the air circulating and help remove odors and control humidity in your bathroom. It’s easy to forget that the fan is on so rather than an on-off switch, opt for a timer switch or a unit with a motion or humidity-sensor.

Low VOC paint
Washing the ceiling and walls and giving them a fresh coat of paint is a quick and inexpensive way to brighten up any room. Choosing low-VOC or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint means that you are protecting your indoor air quality rather than having harmful gasses emitted into your home environment.

Finishing Touches
Adding plush towels and shower curtains made of organic cotton or bamboo is a great and cozy way to finish off your bathroom makeover. You’ll want to avoid vinyl or PVC shower curtains as they off-gas plenty of nasty VOCs.

Using your own photos, art or thrift store finds in vintage frames is an easy way to add a personal touch to your space. While you’re out hunting around at the thrift store or flea market, keep your eyes open for vintage coat hooks, doorknobs and towel racks for hanging towels and bathrobes.

It is possible to remodel your bathroom, stay within budget and still go easy on the environment. It might take a bit more shopping around but there is no shortage of ecologically responsible building products on the market today.

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