Condo Makeover: Pt. 1 (Despair lurks behind the shower wall.)

There is nothing we want more right now than to sell our condo and move to a beautiful, quiet place out in the sticks. Since there is a fire burning under our butts, I've compiled a long list of home repair/makeover projects to complete before Christmas. Although I shudder to think about investing more money, labor and time into a place that I despise, I try to remind myself that every project is step closer to our goal of selling.

So, I started my first project - re-grouting and repairing the bathroom tile. This was without a doubt the most unsightly eyesore in the place, even worse than the harvest gold (to match the bathroom tile, of course) kitchen counters or 1970's bathroom wallpaper. (Who wallpapers a bathroom? WHO!) The grout in the shower was either stained, crumbling or completely missing. There was a broken soap dish - it had just fallen off the wall one day, probably due to the fact that I used it many times to prop up my leg to aid in shaving that tricky spot under the knee. So basically, I was faced with a major grout FAIL, a 4" x 8" rectangle of jagged plaster protruding from the wall, and a perpetually fuzzy knee-bow.

Replacing the soap dish was most challenging. I was naive to think that we could just chip away the plaster, sand down the opening and insert a new soap dish. Instead, after a minute of chipping, the entire tile crumbled, taking two neighboring tiles with it. Now I had a bona fide hole in the wall, revealing a musty black abyss framed by moldy pieces of deteriorating drywall. (Who puts drywall behind a shower?) My first Money Pit moment.

I've had the honor of living in an assortment of dumps in my lifetime. In a momentary fit of panic, all the scruffy, sunken faces of past landlords flashed before my eyes as I scrambled to recall what a self-respecting slumlord would do to temporarily mask a disaster of this caliber. Kidding! Kidding. I fixed it up real nice and right.

After a little panicking and a lot of research, I managed to patch the hole and affix the tiles and new dish using an obscene amount of grout and silicone adhesive.

Re-grouting the tile was a piece of cake. Took me maybe 30 minutes. This would be good to try if you have a sad looking shower wall, but can't afford to replace the tile. New grout brightened up the whole space, making it fresh and new again. Here's how:

  • Scrub the tile and grout until it is as clean as possible.
  • If the grout is still stained and mildewed, gently scrape away the layer of grime with a utility knife. Vacuum the tub of loose debris.
  • In a plastic bucket, mix unsanded grout and water until it forms a thick paste. It will be a little gritty. Let stand about 10 minutes.
  • Using plastic spatula or float, apply grout mixture to the tile, working over the old grout in upward motions, with the spatula held at a 45 degree angle against the wall. With a damp sponge, wipe away excess grout. Carefully work grout into the cracks with your finger, if necessary. If you mess up, it's okay, just wipe off the grout and try again. It's a very forgiving process.
  • Take a break. There will be a white powdery film on your tiles, but after a couple of hours, you can wipe it away with a dry rag.
  • Allow grout to cure for 24-48 hours. Do not expose the tile to moisture.
  • Finally, use a brush and apply a coat of sealer to the new grout.

Viola! My bright new shower wall! It's like I have a brand new shower. Hooray!

Tonight I tackle the horrifying wallpaper. Cross your fingers for no surprises!


  1. hey! this is awesome. it never even occured to me you could do this. i must do this!

  2. Wish I can do this on my bathroom. Great job! :)
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  3. Johanna, this is wonderful! Good for you on not being intimidated by scary Home Ownership Projects that make you want to sit on the couch and eat a block of cheese. I'm so excited to see more Home Improvement Posts to come. We can inspire each other (and you are now who I will call at 4 a.m. (your time) "THE GROUT IS CRUMBLING I CAN'T FIX THIS STUPID SHOWER!!")

  4. for beginners like me need a lot of reading and searching for information on various blogs. and articles that you share a very nice and inspires me .
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