Q. I want to change the look of my bathroom by putting in a new "tub surround." I want to avoid ripping out the ceramic tile if possible. Are there special panels that I can glue or attach to my present tile wall? Any options will be appreciated.
A. When it comes to upgrading or replacing tub and shower-area components, I recommend working with a licensed and insured contractor who can help suggest the best option. To help give you a little guidance, here are some things to consider:
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• If your tile surround walls are in very good shape: I've seen refinishing contractors who can actually prep and re-coat the tile walls with epoxy-type paints to change the color and finish.
• You can also have the present tile surround walls professionally lined and sealed with custom-cut waterproof panels, as long as the wall construction is sound.
• This may be the most expensive option, but it does give you a lot of choices. Completely gut the tub/shower area and start fresh. Now you can upgrade the plumbing and install a new multipiece tub-shower unit for a totally fresh look. You can even use a walk-in shower base instead of a tub to create a large comfortable shower stall complete with a seat.
Bottom line: Any of these options may work. But the key is to choose a reliable contractor so you don't get into any hot water "before" your tub/shower project is complete.
• Master plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and hosts TV and Internet shows. Visit eddelgrande.com or write firstname.lastname@example.org. Always consult local contractors and codes.
Scripps Howard News Service