Book Review: Bathroom Remodeling

Bathroom Remodeling, by the editors of Fine Homebuilding

There are a lot of books about bathroom remodeling out there.  How does this one stand out?  Well, it doesn’t really stand out all that much.  Compared to some of the more high-concept books about bathroom remodeling that exist, this book is somewhat plain.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, as plain books are not necessarily bad.  This is certainly a practical job and certainly representative of the sorts of remodeling projects that people have, and it is worth noting that most people do not have high aesthetic principles or large budgets or odd and eccentric tastes when it comes to the sorts of bathrooms they need or want.  And so this book is certainly one worth reading if you have practical aims and no particularly elevated principles of design by which you like to operate.  Admittedly, I found this book a bit dull but at the same time I well understood that this book was being written to someone of a far more practical and far less eccentric and artistic bent than I am, and I am okay with that.  There are bathroom remodeling books for all kinds of people, and there are a great many that this book is for.

This book is more than 200 pages long and after its introduction the material is divided into several parts.  The first part of the book looks at remodeling on any budget as well as projects that look at basement baths, making two baths from one, and the author’s view of seven sins of bathroom design.  After that there are discussions about plumbing and hardware, where the author talks about various projects involving shower doors and niches and glass block walls, as well as buyers’ guides on toilets, faucets, and fans and an attempt to pump up PEX water pipe as the piping of the future.  The third part of the book looks at bathroom floors and walls and includes a project on a barrier-proof bath that looked very exciting.  Finally, the fourth part of the book shows some projects for lighting, heating, and ventilation, including skylights, brightening up a small bath, installing a bathroom fan, fighting mold with paperless drywall (something that is practical to those of us in mold-prone areas), as well as the installation of an electric radiant floor.  The book then closes with credits and an index.

This book is obviously written with selling in mind.  It is easy to imagine Fine Homebuilding as being a trade sort of operation that has strong ties to industry and, as a result, a high degree of interest in promoting solutions to homebuilding and remodeling that would make those businesses a lot of money.  So a lot of the advice in this book has to be taken with a grain of salt.  Is it possible that PEX water piping is about as good as copper?  Maybe.  Is it possible that there could be issues with it that the authors are not interested in discussing because it would hurt profits?  Quite possibly.  The authors’ interests in promoting a lot more ventilation and high-tech solutions to automating fans is similarly the sort of solution that one could imagine as being very profitable to the homebuilding industry, whether or not it is something that is all that useful for homeowners themselves.  And it is that sort of commercial angle that makes this book less enjoyable than it would be otherwise.  It is easier to celebrate fine aesthetics in one’s homebuilding and remodeling, easier to show off  tools in action, than it is to celebrate the moneyed interests that wish to promote certain materials and solutions for remodeling that may or may not serve the desires of the customers themselves.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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