How To Conceal Damaged Tile

Sometimes I go crazy and I demo stuff without really thinking too hard about what I’ll do after the demo dust clears. See, for some reason when I stopped and stared at all those crazy towel racks in our hall bathroom for the five hundredth time…

… I decided it was time to get the hammer and take a stand. Because who really needs that many towel bars? And who decided to put that one on the left so crazy off-centered below the window so it would protrude halfway out of the shower curtain? Especially when there’s room for a cute little hand towel ring on the un-tiled wall next to the sink near the doorway.

Can you tell that wonky half-under-the-window towel bar especially bugged me? Yeah I took it personally. So I took a minute to inspect the towel rods and decided that the ones in the shower weren’t that bad since they’d be hidden by a shower curtain 99.9% of the time (once we actually hung one). And I noticed that they all seemed to be adhered on top of the tile instead of inset in it (meaning if I could carefully chisel them off I might be able to save the tile under them for a completely seamless look). So I decided to say goodbye to that annoying off-centered bar under the window first. You know, since he was my least favorite towel bar in the history of the universe.

I very carefully chiseled it ever so softly with a flat head screwdriver and a hammer. Tap… tap…

… crap. The bar holders came off pretty easily. But they weren’t stuck on top of the tile like I hoped. They were inset. Boo. So I was left with two highly visible boo-boos that looked a little something like this:

Cue the nausea. John didn’t even know what I was up to (surprise). I was banking on a “look what I did – doesn’t it look better?” reveal. You know, as opposed to an “oops I ruined the original 60’s tile that we definitely planned to work with” reveal.

But as I stood there picturing baked potatoes (an insane anti nausea method that I honed during 100 straight days of morning sickness while prego with Clara) I assured myself that we could probably semi easily hunt down two replacement tiles and just Dremmel out those ruined ones for a pretty flawless repair. But the longer I stared at my mistake, the more I realized there was a much easier fix. At least for one of the holes. Let’s rewind a little. Look closely at the window. Do you notice anything odd about it?

Why was there trim around the sides and the top, but not along the bottom? If we added some simple white wood trim down there it would probably look a heackova lot more balanced and it would cover one of my two glaringly obvious tile gaffes. We had also been meaning to hang the shower rod up near the ceiling with another one of our favorite super long 95″ waffle shower curtains, which would end up draping right in front of the other tile hole (yes, “tile hole” is a technical term) and completely obscuring it whether it was open or closed (since we push it towards the window when open, so it would still hide my dirty little tile secret in the open position as well as the closed one). Although it’s not a forever solution like adding trim, it’s definitely a will-do-until-we-find-a-matching-tile-later solution.

So I sheepishly padded down the hall wearing my best oops-I-went-crazy expression (humming “Oops I Did It Again” for effect) and requested some help adding “a tiny bit of trim and re-hanging the shower rod at ceiling height” so I could string up our new 95″ curtain (we ordered it from amazon.com a while back but hadn’t hung it yet). John was the man. He was pretty quiet (a sure sign that he wasn’t exactly ecstatic) but he didn’t give me the stink eye or anything. Instead he got to work fixing my mess while I stood in the background holding the baby and flattering him with stupidity like “you look great in that hat” and “nobody hangs trim like you, babe.” I managed to even get a little smirk with that last one. As for what John specifically did, first he removed the tiny piece of faux trim that looked sort of like shoe molding under the windowsill by prying it out with a flat head screwdriver (a mini crowbar would also work).

Then he cut a piece of trim that we already had in our scrap pile by looking at other windows in the house and mimicking the shape (straight down on each side with a small 45 degree diagonal bottom corner cut which he made using a miter box). He attached it with small finish nails which he hammered in at an angle towards the sill, using a small metal nail punch (which drives the nails in while keeping the trim from getting dented by the hammer).

About twenty minutes and zero bucks later any evidence of my moment of madness was completely unidentifiable. And we were left with this (I even painted the new trim piece with leftover trim paint that I found in the basement thanks to the previous owners):

Oh yeah, and if you wonder why this next picture is so white, John took it. And he remembered to white balance first. See, sometimes when I’m going crazy and demoing something I forget to white balance before taking pics. I contend that this is an honest mistake. I mean in a state of demo mania, you can hardly be expected to remember how to use the complicated camera, can you? Anyway, the shower curtain and tile is pure white (along with the walls, the sink, the toilet, etc) so this shot’s coloring is the most true to life:

I know it seems like a stretch to act like my big tile “incident” was a good thing. And I might be in complete denial. But I think the window looks a lot better with that trim on the bottom, so that will definitely stay for life. And of course the whole “hide the other tile hole with a shower curtain” isn’t ideal, but once we hunt down a replacement tile it’ll be fixed for realsies. Best of all, our bathroom no longer has that crazy off centered towel bar that annoyed me from the hallway every single time I walked by. And I ask you, who the heck would want their hand towel grazing the toiler paper dispenser anyway?

I rest my case. Hooray crazy.

Psst- Wanna know what that silver nozzle next to the toilet tank is? Check this out.

Psssst- Clara is officially less than two months away from her first birthday. Crazytown. Which means we’re starting to think about how we’ll plan her cute little DIY b-day party. We’re spilling a few of our just-starting-out ideas (and sniffing around for not-your-first-birthday-rodeo advice) over on BabyCenter today, so feel free to drop in and sound off.

Comments

  1. says

    Last week, I ripped the towel bar off of the wall in our master bathroom. I also thought that it just sat on the wall. It didn’t. The result? Huge holes in the wall. Luckily the towel bar was just over drywall and I almost have it all fixed (last layer of spackle and paint should go on tonight)

    My husband was not very impressed… Especially when I walked out into the living room with that ‘Woops’ look on my face. I like your solutions though… The trim looks much much much better, and I’m sure the tile will be really nice when it’s done too.

  2. Sandy says

    Not bad for a quick fix. Something my husband would do as well. Go John! BTW – for an oldie of a bathroom, it sure is not a bad looking bathroom. Any ideas for paint color?

  3. Alex says

    I’m no photography guru, however I did recently chat up the photographers at my brothers wedding to learn the inside scoop with how to use my new camera. They told me they never never never use the cheap-o-flash on the camera, that it’ll only distort the colors. They said don’t worry if the (flashless) picture comes out a little yellowy, instead pop it in photoshop and use the white balancing tool there. You simply tell the program what should have been pure white and it’ll autocorrect the whole thing. Cue the happy dance.

    They also suggested you read the owners manuel, they swear it’ll turn liking your camera every other picture, to snapping pictures like a pro. I really do plan on doing this one day. mmhmm. one day.

  4. says

    A little demo and a quick fix made your bathroom window and that wall all the more good looking now. So boo for the towel rod being embedded in the tile, but yay for the new window frame solution.

    One question for you, how do you white balance your camera before you take a picture?

  5. says

    Who seriously wants 4 towel bars IN the shower? Don’t the towels get wet? A small hook or two for washcloths, sure, but bars? I would ditch them all once you’ve found replacement tile. Definitely better now though!

    • LavandulaLady says

      Yes, I’m wondering the same thing! I’ve NEVER seen towel bars INSIDE the shower!!!

    • Shell says

      Those towel racks are placed exactly like I’ve seen in my nanna’s retirement village. Can they take much weight? If so – could they be there to assist the less limber :) as a hand-hold while showering, and to get safely in and out of the shower unassisted?

    • says

      Maybe at one point they could take some weight, but I tapped them a few times and they were off the wall, so maybe after 60 years they just weren’t as strong!

      xo,
      s

  6. says

    Goodness.. were they trying to build a jungle gym in that bathroom?
    That trim turned out great… never hurts to make a small bathroom window seem a smidge bigger!

  7. says

    It definitely looks better — good save with the trim!
    I am probably the only one thinking this, but it bugs me that the black tile border is interrupted by the window. I kinda want to draw a line across the picture to finish it off!
    Maybe a striped curtain in your future?

  8. Kristin F says

    I’d say that moment of crazy mania was the best thing that ever happened to that bathroom. At least until you paint those walls a deep, saturated color.

    Go Sherry!

  9. says

    I just pulled something like this too. My poor husband went to his nephew’s baseball game to come home to find me painting a wall in our kitchen black (chalkboard paint). Surprise! LOL!

    As far as your bathroom, nothing a little wooden trim can’t fix! It looks even better! You guys are my favorite!
    xo
    Mindy

  10. says

    I bet they hung that towel bar (and the others in the shower)there as more of a grab bar to help someone get out of the shower. That would have bugged me, too.

    Your fix looks fantastic.

    • Emily says

      I completely agree with Janet. Before I started doing work on my house there were grab/towel bars everywhere. The toilet was even surrounded by them. I think there were a total of 7 in a very small bathroom.

  11. says

    If you think an off-centered towel bar is crazy, your mind is about to explode!
    Our hall bath is set up like your bathroom above, and the window was previously exposed to the backyard….until they built on an addition! We still have the window in the bathroom (luckily the glass is frosted), but when you open it, you get the beautiful view of electrical wiring and drywall. We have absolutely no idea what to do. Remove the window and patch in drywall? Hang a painting over it? Put a piece of art inside the window so if you were to open it, it’d fake you out that maybe you really were looking outside…or to a gorgeous view of the ocean (we live in St Louis)?! I’ll put up a picture on your facebook page the next chance I get, because we are stumped with how to handle this problem. If only a chisel could solve this one!

    • says

      Wow- that is pretty tricky! Since you don’t actually get any light from it you might want to just drywall over it or cover it with a mirror or a painting that might make things feel more airy than a window to nowhere. Anyone else have ideas for Lindsey?

      xo,
      s

    • Susan says

      We had this same situation in our house, and we had a mirror cut the size of the window and hung it behind the pane. So now it’s a mirror with the window pane in front (our glass isn’t frosted). It looks great and visitors often comment on how they like it.

    • says

      Susan: That’s a great idea!!
      AnnaBelvita: I suppose that we could put a medicine cabinet there, hadn’t given that a thought yet. It’s just a little bit of a wonky place for one, but if we found the perfect fit, it could be great.

      Thanks for the input!!

  12. says

    I often get demo crazy…usually late at night or when I’m supposed to be “cleaning.” I look at it this way: If I don’t get demo crazy, most of the small changes in our house would have never gotten down and we wouldn’t be as happy with the house as we are now. Those little changes are often the things that we like best about the house. Oh, and I totally did something similar in our master bath and am now needing to repair the dry wall..I should have guessed the towel bar was anchored…but serious, who hangs a bath towel bar so low that the towels touch the floor? Ick!