In wet areas of the house, you need to take special care on the floors, in shower enclosures and other areas where water damage can occur. Tiling alone does not protect bathroom floors and shower enclosures. Before you look at the DIY wet area jobs you can do, you need to consider the one job you probably shouldn’t take on yourself: wet sealing.
What is wet sealing?
Wet sealing is the application of a waterproof membrane on floors, walls and seams wherever water is likely to gather. The membrane must be applied before tiles are laid because tiles alone do not provide enough of a seal against water damage. In New South Wales and Queensland, bathroom sealing can legally only be done by licensed waterproofers. Because it is important that this job is done correctly, if your renovations require wet sealing, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
What DIY wet area jobs can you safely do?
If you’re renovating a bathroom or laundry that is wet-sealed, there are a number of DIY jobs you can take on. Some weekend DIY jobs you can tackle include:
• Regrouting tiles.
• Removing and replacing old silicone.
• Touching up a chipped basin or bathtub.
A good hardware store will have the products you need for these jobs. Don’t forget to use wet area grout and silicone sealer. You may also need to apply a sealer over your shower enclosure grout.
If you’re handy and ambitious, there’s nothing to stop you from undertaking DIY tiling.
Painting your tiles
Another way to give your bathroom or laundry tiles a makeover is to paint them. Special tile paints are available, but you need to prepare the tiles carefully or they will not adhere. First you will need to thoroughly clean the tiles using a tile and laminate cleaner. Then you will need to rough up the tiles with 240-grit sandpaper. When the tiles are ready to paint, use masking tape to protect the areas you don’t want painted. Apply thin coats to avoid brush marks and runs.
It’s not advisable to paint wet area floors because heavy foot traffic will wear away the paint too quickly, but you can get great results on walls. Also look for tile painting kits that include decorative stencils.
The rest of the room
Wet areas are only considered ‘wet’ to a certain height. Floors, shower enclosures and areas around the toilet and bath need to be thoroughly sealed, but the walls and ceilings do not need to be comprehensively waterproofed. As long as you use paint that can withstand moisture and steam, you can paint your walls and install some of your fixtures. Just don’t tackle plumbing or electrical work yourself. It’s likely illegal to do so and you don’t want to make mistakes with electrical installations in wet areas.