If you visit this site often, you’ll know that I’ve had some trouble with keeping my tumbled travertine shower enclosure tiles looking good. In that post, I mentioned my lovely oak vanity unit: well, after a few years this, too, was looking rather less than sparkling clean and well tended.
Bathroom suites and bathroom furniture are manufactured for use in a bathroom. So these items are made to stand up to a damp or humid environment and lots of splashes of water every day.
Because I created my own vanity unit by re-purposing a bedside cabinet, nothing about that structure was designed to live in a bathroom. The sides and front stood the test of time pretty well – but the top, which catches splashes and pools of water from the basin, faded, went patchy and in the area around the base of the tap, which is wet almost all of the time, the wood went black.
Now, I’m not saying don’t do what I did. Re-using, recycling or re-purposing items to create the exact look you want is a great way to go about making over your bathroom: you’ll have such satisfaction not just from the result, but from the fact that it’s your vision and your hard work that made that bathroom happen. It’s great, but don’t do exactly what I did…
Ensuring that the materials used to make your bathroom furniture are either waterproof or well protected from the water (covering wooden furniture with a coat of varnish or wood stain, a layer of tiles, or a coat of paint, for example – or by buying items that have been designed for bathroom use) is the only way to be sure that you won’t have to watch your gorgeous bathroom furniture slowly deteriorate. The coats of wax that covered my oak vanity protected it well from moisture in the air, but not from standing water on its surface.
My solution was to remove my basin and tap, allow the unit to dry out properly, sand down the ruined top surface, apply a waterproofing sealant to the wood, and tile the whole top of my vanity unit in olive glass brick mosaics (Better Bathrooms have a great range which I would recommend), before re-plumbing the basin and tap. It looks fab, and I’m almost glad the damage happened – because I wouldn’t have got this new look otherwise. I’m hoping this move has not only gained me an eye-catching new element for my bathroom, but also future-proofed my vanity unit – or at least bought me a few years of low maintenance good looks.
The moral of this story? Be realistic when it comes to buying or re-purposing solid wood furniture for a room that’s going to be wet a lot of the time. Choose another material, or make sure that your wooden surfaces are really well protected from splashes, spray and standing water.
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