Best Tig Welder Reviews: Under $2,000, for the Money

Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG), otherwise known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), is a process that involves the production of heat and electricity using a non-consumable tungsten electrode. TIG rose in popularity as a welding method in the 1940s because of the amount of control it provides welders under any circumstances. 

There are many good reasons why TIG welders are still widely used today, so let’s enumerate them, shall we?

For starters,  TIG welders are highly efficient and effective when used on a wide variety of metals. It’s known for its precision welding capabilities and ability to produce a fine finish, not to mention its wide range of applications. If you can’t stand smoke and spatter during the welding process, TIG welding is the perfect method for you.

TIG welders are also known for their variety. There’s a TIG welder for everyone regardless of experience, financial capability, and working environment.

If you’re looking for the perfect TIG welder for yourself, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ve listed our TIG welder reviews for every type of user – the best options whether you’re looking for an AC/DC solution, or you are looking for an option under $2,000. Whether you’re a beginner or someone who’s on a tight budget, it’s highly likely that you’ll find what you’re looking for here. The same way you want the right safety equipment, like welding gloves, you’ll also want the right welder.

Best TIG Welders for the Money

Can you get a TIG welder on a shoestring budget? Why, yes you can. There’s a good selection of excellent TIG welders available out there that won’t break the bank. By doing away with the superfluous and focusing on the essentials, you’ll be owning a serviceable TIG welder and still have some money left for other expenditures. Here are our picks for the best TIG welders for the money.

1. AHP AlphaTIG 200X

When working on stainless steel and aluminum, the AHP AlphaTIG 200x delivers the goods in terms of utility and convenience. It’s also versatile as it can be used for both 110V and 220V power outlets, and you don’t have to worry about the welder damaging those outlets since the output can be easily adjusted.

The AHP AlphaTIG 200X is so flexible that it can be used for both home repairs and businesses. It comes with a steel case and plastic-encased buttons, making it one of the most durable welders in the market. The AHP AlphaTIG 200X is versatile enough to be used on 6013 and 7018, not to mention that it’s highly compatible with most sticks and rods.

What makes this welder stand out best, perhaps, is its ergonomic handle and nifty food pedals as they give you excellent control in any environment. High-precision welding can become the easiest thing in the world when the welding machine you’re using feels like an extension of your arms.

The best part about the AHP AlphaTig 200X, however, is its price. At just a little over $700, the AHP brings a lot to the table that it will satisfy even the pickiest welder. To sweeten the pot further, this amazing welding machine comes with a three-year warranty as well.

2. Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG

Do you want a TIG welder that does the job easily without the frills? The 500551 EZ-TIG by Hobart is just the thing. Though this  user-friendly welder lacks the bells and whistles that can attract high-end users, it’s got a lot of things going for it, at least in terms of utility and price. For one, it can be used for both AC and DC outputs, making it easy to make quick work of oxidized steel. It’s got extensive amperage range and a foot pedal, allowing you to fill craters with ease and in relative comfort.

Better yet, this TIG welder has all those features at a competitive price—a little over $300, if you can believe it!

3. Forney Multi-Process Welder

The Forney Multi-Process Welder is the TIG welder to go for if you put a high premium on versatility. For one, it can be used for TIG, Stick, MIG, and Flux Cored. It’s so easy that even those who’ve never handled a welder before can switch between these processes with little effort.

Even with the amperage turned low, this welder packs a wallop, resulting in a more stable arc and a smoother operation.

No two ways about it: If you want a multi-process welder that won’t break the bank, you can’t go wrong with the Forney Multi-Process Welder.

4. Lotos CT520D

The Lotos CT520D is not only a great catch because of its low price, but it also comes with a wide range of features that will help you perform welding work like a professional. But this TIG welder’s strongest feature is its plasma cutter, which allows you to cut through most metals easily. The output range runs at a steady 15A – 200A, thus providing you with a steady arc, which guarantees a refined finish. The Lotos CT520D, quite simply, gives you a great bang for your buck. If you’re on a limited budget, do yourself a favor by giving it a once over.

5. Everlast Power ITig

If you want quality welding at a relatively low price, the Everlast Power ITig delivers in more ways than one. For starters, it’s got extensive amperage range which allows for arc stability and excellent crater filling. 

The Power TIG has both AC and DC power output, giving you the ability to weld almost all types of metal, including magnesium and aluminum. It can deliver up to 250A while running on 240v motor, helping you perform exceptional welding work for all types of jobs.

Admittedly, the panel display can be a little unintuitive, but you’ll get used to it eventually after several hours of use. Thankfully, it more than makes up for it in versatility.

Best Tig Welders for Beginners

It takes time for anyone to get good at using a TIG welder. Most experts will tell you that it may take a couple of thousand hours of welding work to be able to weld like an expert. That said, there are TIG welders built to be user-friendly for beginners. Here are our top picks for the best TIG welders built for beginners.

1. The Weldpro 200 Amp Inverter Multi-Process Welder

The Weldpro 200 isn’t only the perfect welder for beginners, it’s also incredibly cheap. 

Equipped with pre-set internal parameters, the Weldpro 200 calculates the recommended settings on its own, meaning you don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time adjusting it to the right settings because the machine itself does it for you automatically. Just turn the welder on and you’re off to the races!

It’s hard for most beginners to maneuver the torch around, but thanks to the wire feed button, doing that has become much easier. The Weldpro 200 has a lightweight build, making it easy for anyone to lug around wherever you go.

If you haven’t been using a welding machine that long, the Weldpro 200 has many features that make you feel like an expert. Better yet, it can make you produce results like an expert.

2. Lotos TIG 200 AC DC

At first glance, the Lotos TIG 200 AC DC looks like your run-of-the-mill TIG welder with the equally run-of-the-mill features, but it’s more than that. For one thing, its longevity far outlasts the typical TIG AC DC welder.

Simply put, if  you want an aluminum welder that will last you for many years, you can’t go wrong with the Lotos TIG200 AC DC. 

Also, if you have to work on small projects that involve aluminum, there’s no better product in the market. 

This reliable, no-nonsense TIG welder has all the essentials and does away with all the bells and whistles to ensure that you pay only for what you need. And you don’t have to be an expert to use it.

It has one glaring disadvantage, though: it doesn’t come with the pulse and extensive frequency settings. But if you feel you can live without those, then there’s no other TIG welder that can match it in terms of value.

3. ESAB 0558101694 MiniArc Welder

The ESAB 0558101694 MiniArc Welder is a DC welder with a lightweight build, which makes it perfect for those who are still not used to welding work. It does pack a wallop with an amperage of up to 160 amps. What makes this one stand out even more is its fixed hot start, which allows you to strike an arc without causing the electrode to stick to the plate.

4. Forney 322 140-Amp MIG/Stick/TIG Multi-Process Welder

If you’re a beginner who wants to focus on maintenance work as well as light industrial welding then this multipurpose welder should hit many of your sweet spots. As an inverter machine with MIG and TIG capabilities, the Forney 322 is packed with useful features including spool gun functionality, MIG synergy, a stick electrode holder, and an HD cast aluminum drive system. With a built-in gas hose and regulator, even those who haven’t used a welding machine before can switch between work processes with minimal effort.

5.  ESAB Thermadyne W1003202 Stick/Lift TIG Welding System

This lightweight Stick/Lift Tig welding system is the perfect machine for beginners who want to carry out light repairs. Thermadyne W1003202 comes with a lift process specifically built for TIG welding as well as a ground clamp and electrode holder, allowing for easier navigation and efficient maneuverability. It’s also got a hard carrying case that lets you carry it around with you with ease.  If you’re someone who works frequently on small projects, this Stick/Lift TIG welder in one is a gift that keeps on giving.

Best Portable TIG Welders

Wielding a TIG welder can be difficult if you’re not experienced with welding  work. If you’re new at this and want to weld aluminum with skill and high precision, you’d do well to use a TIG welder that is lightweight and portable. 

Here are our top recommendations for portable TIG welders:

1. Everlast PowerArc

The PowerArc by Everlast might not be the most powerful welder in the market (it peaks at 140 amps), but it’s intuitive operational controls make it ideal for welding work that requires precision. This TIG welder comes with an automated “hot start,” thus preventing the electrode from attaching to your weld and ruining the work. 

One major flaw with the PowerArc is that it’s DC only, so skip this one if you’re planning on doing AC work.

Weighing 24.8 pounds and having a compact build, the PowerArc is simply one of the most portable welding machines in the market. If you want to carry around a welding machine with you all the time without breaking your back, we can’t recommend the PowerArc enough.

2. Zojan TIG Handheld Mini-welder

The TIG Handheld Mini Welding Machine by Zojan is a high-performance machine that boasts a superpower electrode, an anti-supply voltage change, and a welding current that won’t overheat. All these features combined make this machine a reliable welding tool whether you’re using it as a homeowner, a professional, or a hobbyist. Weighing only 2.5 kg, the TIG Handheld Mini Welding Machine makes welding work effortless, fast, and accurate.

3. Lotos LTPDC2000D Non-Touch

The LOTOS LTPDC2000D Non-Touch Plasma Cutter is a multi-purpose welding machine that combines TIG, plasma, and Stick welding in one compact package. Switching between these three functions is easy street courtesy of the machine’s ergonomic flip switch. You can rest assured that the arc is always stable, and with the addition of an adjustable hot striking arc current, welding can run smoother even in different conditions.

4. Ansen 160AMP Tig & Stick Welder DC Inverter Welder

If you want something lightweight and compact yet packs a lot of punch in terms of features, the Ansen 160AMP Tig & Stick Welder certainly delivers the goods. Thanks to the machine’s IGBT dual functionality, portable handle, and lightweight frame, the machine’s controls are easy to operate, so much so that you can use it on a wide range of steel metals under any condition. It also has self-locking mechanisms and adjustable time-delays to make adjustments fast and efficient.

5. CT312 Ridgeyard 3 in 1 Combo Welding Machine

Some beginners want to get the best of all worlds. However, finding a welding machine that can execute three welding functions, namely TIG welding, plasma cutting, and MMA functions, at a professional level can prove difficult.

Well, look no further because the CT312 Ridgeyard 3-in-1 combo welding machine can pull that off and more. And while this TIG welder is small, it still packs quite a punch with a duty cycle rate of 60%. It’s powerful enough to cut through 8mm of steel. The CT312 combo machine is also perfect for the outdoors as it comes with a wide range of accessories that will prove useful when you’re out and about.

Oxy Acetylene Cutting Torch Pressure Settings

One of the most widely used cutting tools around is the oxy-fuel or oxy acetylene cutting torch, also commonly referred to as the blow torch. While using a cutting torch is easy in theory, many people find it difficult to properly use, let alone make a proper cut. Most of them have no idea about the proper settings, particularly involving the working pressure, that is why the cuts they made are of poor quality.

The proper use of an oxy acetylene cutting torch, especially with the right pressure settings, ensures that the quality of the cuts made would rival that of machine cuts. Not only that, but this will also guarantee a safe operation.

If you’ve got a bigger budget and want to cut metal more easily, we encourage you to visit our page on the best plasma cutters, and if you decide to buy one, check out all the plasma cutters we have for sale.

How Do You Set Up an Oxy Acetylene Torch?

Unlike the portable blow torch, an oxy acetylene torch involves different components that must be correctly set up. Doing so not only ensures a proper operation that can result in quality cuts but also minimizes the risks of accidents, especially flashbacks and explosions.

Here are the important steps to follow when setting up an oxy acetylene torch:

  1. Ensure that the cylinders or tanks containing oxygen and acetylene are properly secured and in an upright position. Use a cylinder cart if available but if not, ensure that they are properly fastened or chained to a sturdy object, post, beam, or wall. They should never be knocked down during operation and even when not in use.
  1. Remove any coverings placed on the valve of the cylinder or tank. But if protective covers were not used, remove any dust or debris that has settled inside the valves, which can cause the torch to malfunction. To do so, stand away from the valve’s opening or outlet (preferably on its opposite side), turn the valve quickly about a quarter of the way, and immediately close it. This quick release of gas will immediately blow away the dust or debris.
  1. Connect the regulators to the valves but confirm first that they have the same threads. If not, use an adaptor to connect them. It is important that they have a completely tight and secure fit not just for safety but also for proper monitoring of the pressure settings. Manually screw them by hand as tight as you can, and use a wrench with a fixed opening to finish tightening them.
  1. Attach the proper hoses if they are not yet connected to the respective regulators. If you have already used them before, connect them to the same tanks as before. Note that the standard practice is to use green hoses for oxygen and red hoses for acetylene. Never apply any oil, grease, or any form of lubricant to the hoses, especially on its ends.
  1. Connect the torch handle to both of the hoses. Once they are securely attached, install the cutting torch to the handle and manually tighten the nut. Check the valves on both the cutting torch and its handle, as they must be closed before opening the valves of both cylinders.
  1. Turn the valve of the oxygen tank or cylinder until it is fully open. Locate the regulator’s adjusting screw and turn it clockwise until the gauge shows that the pressure being released is between 40 to 60 psi.
  1. For the acetylene cylinder, do a counterclockwise turn for the valve, but only a quarter of the way. Turn the adjusting screw on the regulator until it releases acetylene and the gauge shows 10 psi.
  1. Find the oxygen valve of the cutting torch and open it slightly to allow oxygen to flow. Do the same for the cutting torch’s acetylene valve but do not open it by more than 45 degrees or a 1/8 turn.
  1. To do a leak test, coat the valves and connections between the cylinder, hose, and regulators with a leak-test solution or a thin paste made by dissolving Ivory soap and use a clean brush for its application. A leak is present if you see any small bubbles on the coated surfaces after letting the solution sit for a few minutes.
  1. If leaks are present, you must retighten or reattach connections first and do another leak test before lighting the torch.
  1. Once there are no more leaks present, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to light up the torch.

Remember to watch the flame as you use the torch. If it goes out when using the torch, stop and simply relight the torch. This occurrence is known as a backfire and it happens when the torch itself and the metal being cut get into direct contact.

How to Light an Acetylene Torch

Lighting an acetylene torch is fairly easy, but you must follow the correct steps to do so, and this mainly involves tinkering with the oxygen and acetylene valves of the cutting torch to get the right kind of flame. Also, make sure that both oxygen and acetylene regulators show the right amounts of psi before lighting.

The following steps are the standard procedures but always check with the manufacturer for specific instructions:

  1. Open the acetylene valve with a half-turn first before using a friction or spark lighter, not a match, to create a flame coming from the torch. There should be a one-inch gap between the tip of the torch and the flame coming out of the lighter.

Using a match to light the torch is risky; you may accidentally burn yourself once the flame comes out. Some torches also come with their own ignition devices, so manually lighting them up with a lighter is unnecessary.

  1. Black smoke or soot may come out together with the flame. Wait until it disappears before slowly opening the oxygen valve. The oxygen being released will remove any yellow sections on the flame, which is essential for a neutral flame.
  1. Adjust both valves to achieve a neutral flame, which must have a small, whitish or bright blue center and is clearly shaped like a cone.

When lighting the torch, make sure that the tip faces away from people or any flammable object to avoid any accident.

Cutting Torch Tip Sizes

Choosing the right tip size for your cutting torch will mainly depend on the thickness of the metal to be cut and the application. While the different tips serve the same purpose, you must choose the correct cutting torch tip to make it easier to achieve a quality cut on the metal.

Each torch manufacturer has its own recommendations for tip or nozzle sizes that depend on the thickness of the plate or metal. They also have different means of classifying the different cutting torch tip sizes, but the standard practice is assigning a number. A low number indicates a small tip size, while a high number indicates a large tip size.

Generally, the thicker the metal, the bigger the nozzle or tip size required. This means a thin plate requires a tip with a small nozzle to make a precision cut, while this kind of tip is insufficient for cutting through thick metal.

Cutting torch tips for general use have more sizes available. This variation allows them to cut through metals of varying thickness, from ¼ of an inch and up to 12 inches thick. On the other hand, specialized tips, such as angular ones, have more limited sizes.

Note that bigger cutting torch tips with larger nozzle sizes will require more oxygen and acetylene to create a neutral flame and a slower speed to cleanly cut through metal.

How to Use Acetylene Torch

To use an acetylene torch for cutting after properly setting up the equipment, conducting a leak test, and lighting up the torch, you must first pre-heat the metal in preparation for cutting. Do not press the torch lever when doing so, as the flame present is only hot enough for pre-heating, not cutting.

Do so at one of the edges or ends of the cut to be made, preferably at the most difficult section to cut. This will soften the metal to make it easier for cutting. Keep an eye on the metal being pre-heated; stop when the metal surface shows a bright cherry red color. This color indicates that the metal is ready for cutting.

Once the metal is soft enough, slowly press the torch lever to produce the flame suitable for cutting. Start at the pre-heated edge, check if a cut has been made, and slowly make your way to the other edge of the metal at an even speed and following the mark you made on the metal.

Keep in mind that the metals are still hot after cutting, so allow it to cool first before touching them even with gloved hands. Also, never lay down a lit-up torch on any surface.

What is the Ratio of Oxygen to Acetylene?

A neutral flame is produced when there is a 1:1 ratio of oxygen to acetylene. You need this kind of flame if you want a quality cut without affecting the metal’s properties. This is because the equal amounts of these gases will produce carbon dioxide that acts as a shielding gas. This shielding gas then prevents the oxidation of the metal and gives you a clean cut.

Oxy-Acetylene Torch Working Pressure Settings

While there should be equal amounts of acetylene and oxygen to produce a neutral flame, you must observe the right pressure settings when working with an oxy-acetylene cutting torch. Note that the ratio of oxygen to acetylene is different from the pressure required. This means that oxygen and acetylene should not have equal psi readings.

In general, oxygen must have a higher pressure setting than acetylene. The actual setting will depend on the cutting tip being used and manufacturer recommendations. But as a rule, more pressure for both oxygen and acetylene is needed for bigger-sized cutting tips.

In case the recommended working pressure settings are not indicated, safe numbers are 40 psi for oxygen and 10 psi for acetylene, regardless of cutting tip size. Simply adjust them until you get a neutral flame, but pay close attention to the acetylene pressure to prevent it from exceeding the limit.

What is the Maximum Working Pressure for Acetylene Gas?

The maximum working pressure for acetylene gas when using a cutting torch is 15 psi or 103.4 kPa. If the pressure goes beyond that, raw acetylene gets unstable and becomes dangerous to use. Acetylene is a flammable gas and when it becomes unstable, it is at risk of spontaneously combusting. Raw acetylene can cause an explosion even with a slight shock.

Fortunately, this risk is minimized because the acetylene stored inside cylinders or tanks is dissolved in acetone. Liquid acetone stabilizes this gas to prevent it from combusting. Also, the cylinders themselves are laced with acetone, which makes it possible to safely transport or move around the acetylene gas tank or cylinder.

If the acetylene pressure exceeds 15 psi, it will use up the acetone present in the cylinder to be stable. While it has a positive effect on acetylene, it negatively affects the components of your system. Acetone can cause damage or deterioration to any plastic or rubber parts, affecting cut quality. This will also eventually cause the regulator to fail, stopping the entire system. This failure is a sign that the acetone present is nearly depleted and what mostly remains in the cylinder is dangerous raw acetylene.

The worst-case scenario is that the rubber hose will deteriorate before the regulator fails because it has drawn up so much acetone. And when this happens, an explosion is likely to occur.

What Do You Turn Off First, Oxygen or Acetylene?

Turning off the cutting torch, particularly involving oxygen and acetylene, should follow the right order for safe operation. However, this is a point of contention for many; some believe that the acetylene valve must be switched off first, while others advocate cutting off oxygen supply first.

The consensus among manufacturers is that the oxygen should be switched off first followed by acetylene, not the other way around. This allows any soot that settled on the torch to be blown away by the acetylene. A buildup of soot can prevent the fuel valve from properly being sealed off, causing it to leak.

This method also allows you to see if any leaking is present before you completely switch off the cylinders. If there is an acetylene leak, a small flame will remain after you turn off oxygen then acetylene. Detecting a possible acetylene leak is crucial to avoid an explosion.

Interchanging them is possible, but hearing a loud bang is more likely if you switch off acetylene first before oxygen. This pop indicates a mini-flashback and when this happens, you must immediately turn off the oxygen. Even mini-flashbacks can be potentially dangerous.

Easy & Cheap Bathroom Update Ideas: Small, Modern and Affordable

The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the house. While all rooms serve their purpose and are very important in one’s home, it’s pretty hard to imagine living in a house without a bathroom.

Let’s talk about worst case scenarios just to give you an idea on how important it is. If your house doesn’t have a bedroom, you can sleep in the living room or virtually any room of the house. If your house doesn’t have a kitchen, well, you can eat takeout in any room with a table and a chair. If your house doesn’t have a living room, well, the bedroom is more comfortable anyway.

Now, imagine living a life in a house without a bathroom. Where are you going to take a bath? Where are you going to do the number 1 and the number 2? Imagine waking up in the middle of the night needing to do the number 2 and you have no bathroom.

This is why most homeowners really spend a lot of money for their bathroom. They put a lot of thought into it, making sure that it will be as comfortable as ever. Think about it. You spend a lot of time in it. You basically start and end your day in it.

Fortunately if done by a good contractor, a good bathroom will serve you well for years. However with the use and abuse that it will be taking, time will come when you’d need to renovate it. Also, time will come when you’ll get sick and tired of how it looks. One second you’re sitting on your throne and the next second, you’re pissed off at the bathroom’s outdated look.

A lot of these homeowners are thinking that it’s something that they simply have to live with. They’re under the impression that renovating it will require a lot of money – the same amount that they spent when they first had it constructed. While you can spend a lot of money to update its looks, you actually don’t have to do it if you don’t have the budget for it.

There are lots of easy and cheap bathroom update ideas that you can implement right now. Most homeowners have money set aside that they can use to implement these ideas right now for an instant upgrade. By implementing these ideas, you can have a bathroom that will look and feel brand new.

This article has you covered. We’ll tell you how to update your bathroom on a budget and make it look better. These are easy and cheap bathroom update ideas that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

We’ll also list down small bathroom update ideas. A lot of homeowners, including probably you, have a small bathroom. Having a small bathroom shouldn’t be too much of an issue once you’ve updated it with these ideas.

Of course if you have it, the Master’s bathroom is your favorite. You take pride in it. Only you and your partner can use it. Unfortunately once it becomes outdated, you’ll get sick and tired of it pretty fast. Don’t worry because we have you covered as well with update ideas.

How to Update your Bathroom on a Budget and Make it Look Better

What do you want to happen? That’s the first thing that you have to consider. What do you want to see? What do you want to change? What are the improvements that you want to see?

Knowing the answers to these questions is very important since you’re working on a budget. The last thing that you’d want to happen is to implement ideas only to find out in the end that they don’t work for you. Imagine the horror if you later on realize that you made things worse. You’d have to spend money again to correct the mistakes. This defeats the purpose of operating on a budget.

You also have to consider doing it DIY versus hiring a contractor. Obviously, doing the latter will add to the cost, but don’t let that force you to do it DIY when you should hire a contractor. Depending on your skill level, there are some projects that are better off done by professionals. Hiring one can actually help you save money because the projects will be done correctly and if not, they’ll be held accountable and will make things right.

Fortunately for you, there are a lot of update ideas that you can do as a DIY project. Here are some very basic ones that can get you started:

  1. Clean it!

When was the last time you cleaned it? I mean, really cleaned it? We’re talking about deep cleaning including the grout. A lot of homeowners are surprised when they see their newly-cleaned bathroom.

It’s important to keep it clean regularly. This means ensuring that the flooring and fixtures are dry, among others. Of course, schedule a regular general cleaning.

  1. Think of a theme.

A modern farmhouse look is gaining a lot of popularity so that’s something to consider. Thinking of sticking to the classic? That’s never a bad move.

  1. Repaint the room.

There’s a good chance that the paint job has seen better days. You see chipped paint. Overall, the paint job looks outdated.

A good idea for a small bathroom is to embrace the dark mood. Use a dark shade like a deep blue to complement black and white floor tiles.

Repainting the room is a relatively easy DIY project. The bigger challenge is on choosing the paint type and color. Consult a professional to be sure.

You can also get away with using wallpaper. Just make sure to use it only on walls that don’t get moist.

  1. Replace the shower curtain.

Don’t laugh. Replacing the shower curtain can really go a long way. Do it today to see for yourself.

  1. Add more storage for your shower area.

Do you find yourself constantly going in and out of the shower for your essentials? There’s a simple solution. There are a lot of shower storage solutions that you can buy at the nearest home improvement store or even online that you can easily install. The additional storage, while very simple and inexpensive, can really make a lot of difference. You’ll instantly improve your showering experience because everything is within reach!

Glass shelves work best for this purpose!

Besides, it will look good! It can transform a bare-looking shower into a better-looking and more importantly, a more-efficient one!

  1. Improve or replace the mirror.

Of course you have a mirror in there. Of course it’s now old, outdated and dirty. Cleaning it will instantly improve its appearance, but there are other things that you can do to improve its appearance.

For example, you can frame the mirror to add turn a plain-looking mirror into an artistic one. Frame it with glass tiles and then finish the whole look with a wood trim. You can also use something like oyster shells to frame it.

Replace the mirror if needed! It’s relatively inexpensive to replace. While you’re at it, you can also add a small pull-out mirror. Installing one only takes a few minutes.

  1. Add a cabinet in the bathroom.

A lot of homeowners have bare walls in the bathroom. On the other hand, a lot of people have something simple up on the wall like a mirror or a painting. Some even have a small shelf.

Those who have a small shelf up have the right idea. This shelf will add storage space and will make the area more functional without increasing the square footage. It can also make the area more organized, so you don’t have to have things lying around.

With these benefits, doesn’t it make sense to make it bigger? Therefore, it’s recommended that you put up a cabinet. It doesn’t have to be a big one. Just make sure that it’s beautiful to look at.

The beautiful cabinet will instantly add appeal to the room. Open it, store your personal effects in it, and you’ll see why it’s a good idea to have it installed. You just have to pay for the cabinet and a handyman to have it installed if you choose to hire one, although it can be a DIY project for an experienced DIYer.

  1. Place glass shelves.

What if adding a cabinet is not an option? It could be because of lack of space or it would look weird. If you have limited space to work with or you want that all glass everything look, placing glass shelves is the way to go.

All you need for the space is that unused space above the toilet. You can add one or more and you can use it for decorative purposes. You can also add more functionality by using it for storage. It can also be used for something as simple as placing your watch before showering.

  1. Improve the vanity.

You probably fell in love with the vanity the first time you had installed. When was the last time you appreciated how it looks? When was the last time you thanked it for its efficiency? It’s been a long time ago.

There’s a good chance that it needs an upgrade. You don’t have to replace it in most cases. Sometimes, all it needs is a fresh paint job. It will be like brand new.

You can also take this chance to add more storage space. Add a couple of some pullout drawers and shelves. How about some dividers for the drawers for better organization?

Having furniture like an organized vanity can really help a lot. With it, you can have a more organized bathroom which will lead to a cleaner, better-looking and more enjoyable bathroom.

  1. Install a new vanity or other cabinets.

What if the vanity is beyond saving? You can have a new one installed if you have the budget for it. Take this chance to modernize the storage that you have in the bathroom. There are a lot of modern designs that you can look at. You can buy ready to assemble ones.

  1. Improve the lighting.

Photographers know what they’re talking about when they say that lighting matters. Natural lighting is out of the question in most cases so it’s up to you to improve the artificial lighting.

Installing a dimmer switch is a good start. It can help set the mood. But generally speaking, it has to be well-lighted.

It’s important that you hire a professional for this task. Working with electricity requires professional expertise.

  1. Get a towel warmer.

Ah, very few things can match the comfort that a warm and toasty towel gives. It’s one of those things that make a trip to the spa worth it. Fortunately, you can have the same experience at home. No, we’re not talking about using a towel fresh out of the dryer.

A towel warmer is a generally inexpensive upgrade. You can get one for a little over $50 and you can even install it yourself.

In addition to providing you with warm towels, it also serves as a hanger. This means that you won’t have towels lying around. It can also help you save on energy because you won’t get the towels dirty because you’ll have a place where you’d want to store them.

Your guests will also love you for it! They’d probably find a way to keep using the towels.

  1. Use accent tiles.

You don’t have to re-tile the whole room for a new look. In a lot of cases, you just need to change how it looks and using accent tiles should do the trick.

This works best if you have plain white tiles. Add accent tiles in strategic areas and it will look and feel like you had the whole room re-tiled.

This can help you save a lot of money. You just have to buy a few tiles. They don’t have to be expensive ones. You just have to make sure that they provide a nice contrast in color, texture and appearance.

There’s something about accent tiles that give off a luxury appeal. No one’s going to know that they’re affordable tiles.

Experienced DIYers can even install them on their own. When in doubt, hire a contractor. Get in touch with shower room tile contractors in your area.

  1. Replace the faucets and the showerhead.

This is often overlooked by homeowners. There’s a good chance that your faucets have lost their shine and luster, and it affects the overall appeal. The same goes for the showerhead.

They’re pretty inexpensive and anyone can install them. Replace them for an easy and cheap bathroom update idea.

Small Bathroom Update Ideas

Take note of these small bathroom update ideas:

  1. Reclaim floor space.

Floor space is a luxury in a small room. You can reclaim a few square footage here and there and they can add up. For example, use a pedestal sink. You still get the full functionality of a sink but with a smaller footprint.

  1. Take advantage of vertical space.

Think of condominiums. Hundreds of families get to live in a relatively small space because of their verticality. The same principle applies here.

Instead of placing cabinets and other storage furniture on the floor, you should install storage solutions on the walls. A nice-looking cabinet will add to the appeal. More importantly, it can serve as storage.

A good place to store it is above the toilet. Why? It’s to save on floor space. You’re basically using floor space that’s been taken already, maximizing its use.

Shelves can also work here. Glass shelves can look pretty and they’re functional too. You can place towels there. You can also place things that you use while on the sink like shaving cream, lotion, and the likes.

Speaking of shelves, don’t forget about the shower room! Corner shelves are an efficient way of using an otherwise unused space. You can place your shampoo, conditioner, soap and the likes here.

Of course, don’t forget a towel rack!

  1. Place the sink in the corner.

In most cases, the corners of any room are left unused. They become dead space which shouldn’t be a problem for bigger rooms. But if you’re utilizing a small space, maximizing the corners can do wonders.

This is why it’s recommended that you place the sink in the corner. There are designs that should fit against a corner perfectly. This way, at least one corner won’t be a dead space.

  1. The space outside is fair game.

You can place a small cabinet by the door outside. It’s a good storage space for towels and extra bottles of shampoo and tubes of toothpaste. You can also install additional storage above the door outside.

  1. Experiment with patterns.

You can fool your eyes, this time willingly, by experimenting with patterns. You know how people wear vertical stripes to make them thinner? Do the opposite and use horizontal stripes (the wider the better) to make the space look bigger.

You can also experiment with big squares and patterns.

  1. Turn one wall into a mirror.

This can help you in two ways. It can create the appearance of a bigger room. In addition if you place it directly across the vanity, you can also use it while doing your personal rituals. It also allows two people to use the vanity at once.

  1. Think of the small space when dealing with doors.

For starters, you can place the towel rack on the door itself. This way, you don’t have to install a separate rack that will take up space. You should also use a vanity that doesn’t have doors. There are vanities that have open shelves. This helps because opening doors can be tricky in a small space. With that being said, use a shower curtain or a sliding door for the shower for the same reason.

Easy & Cheap Bathroom Update Ideas

Most of the readers of this article are operating on a budget. In this case, here are some tips and ideas for you:

  1. Save on tiles.

Tiles can get pretty expensive especially if you’re going to tile everything. There are a lot of affordable options. Yes, even with the design that you have in mind.

You also don’t have to tile the walls. Paint works in most cases. Wallpaper will work on some walls as well.

Accent tiles are your friend if you’re looking to save on tiles. If you really have your eyes set on an expensive tile design, use that as an accent with cheaper tiles.

  1. Just paint the bathroom.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on renovation. In a lot of cases, simply repainting the room will give it an entirely new look.

This tip will also help for your mobile home bathroom.

  1. Find things that you can clean or replace.

When was the last time you cleaned the grout? How about the caulk? Dirty grout and caulk can lead to an ugly overall look. The simple act of cleaning them can really do wonders.

You can also clean the faucets, showerhead and other fixtures. Replace them if necessary.

  1. Look for used replacements.

You don’t have to spend on brand new replacements especially if you’re operating on a budget. Buying used can save you hundreds of dollars.

  1. Go green.

This is more of a long-term solution. You’re looking for cheap updates which means that money is a concern. If you have to update, go green. This way, you can save on energy which in turn will save you money.

Master Bathroom Update Ideas

Ah, your pride and joy. It’s a pride and joy that you don’t want people to use. It’s reserved for you and your significant other. But this doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t want to make it look good.

Here are some master bathroom update ideas:

  1. Make a statement wall.

This is a relatively inexpensive update that can really make a, well, statement. It’s proof that you don’t have to replace or remodel all the walls. You just have to remodel one wall and make it stand out.

  1. Add a standalone tub.

If your master bathroom doesn’t have a tub, well, it’s time to install one. Keep it simple but elegant with a standalone tub.

For this, you need the expertise of a plumber.

  1. In with the new and the old.

The saying out with the old, in with the new, only works if you have the budget for it. For most homeowners, it’s a logical idea to keep things that still look amazing and complement them with new things.

It can also be taken in such a way that you’ll complement older designs with a modern touch. A customized steel vanity will look great in a traditional design. Another example is to use modern marble accent tiles to go with the traditional look.

  1. Use accent tiles under and behind the tub.

This works great with a standalone tub. Place accent tiles underneath and behind it. It will be amazing to look at.

  1. Go reclaimed.

It’s a good way to go green. As a bonus, reclaimed materials like tiles look amazing.

  1. Invest in a mirror.

A Venetian mirror will stand out in a positive way. It looks luxurious and elegant – perfect for your master bathroom.

  1. Paint a mural by your tub.

Imagine a cherry blossoms mural as wall decor. Imagine soaking in the tub, feeling as if you’re amidst the cherry blossoms.

  1. Contrast the walls with the floor.

If you have plain walls, make sure that you have patterned flooring.

  1. Invest in rugs.

It’s a good way to regularly update the room. You can easily replace them if you get sick and tired of them, although beautiful rugs will remain beautiful for a long time.

  1. Add a chandelier.

Yes, it’s not just for living rooms.

  1. Keep it Zen.

The master bathroom has to be relaxing. Maintaining a Zen atmosphere can surely help.

Tub to Shower Conversion: Cost, Before & After Pictures, How to

There are a few reasons why a lot of homeowners are looking for information on tub to shower conversion. But mainly, it’s because of their need and desire for improvement. They want to improve the look and feel of their bathroom. They’re right to assume that converting a tub into a shower will help do just that.

This article will teach you everything that you need to know about this project. First of all, it will answer the question – why convert a tub into a shower? This should push you towards doing it just in case you’re 50-50.

A promising project such as this one can still end in a disaster. This is why we’ll also provide tub to shower conversion tips. Following these tips can help improve the chances of a successful project.

Did you know that there are several options when converting a tub into a shower? Yes, there are several of them, and it’s important that you know them. This way, you can find the best option for you.

A lot of our readers are also looking for a step by step guide on how to convert a tub into a shower. Now, it’s important to note that this is a project that should be done by a professional. It requires a specialized set of skills and equipment. If you want the project to be successful, hire the best person for the job. But still, it’s a good idea to know about these steps for you to appreciate the tasks to be performed by the professional even more.

Of course, the most important information that you’re looking for – the cost. How much does it cost to convert a tub to a shower? How much does it cost to get a walk in shower? We will provide you with estimates. More importantly, we’ll provide you with a free service that can help you find the best and more specific quotes.

Why Convert a Tub into a Shower?

Why invest in a conversion? Here are some compelling reasons:

  • Change is good.

This is especially true if you’re already bored with how your bathroom looks like. You don’t have to change everything. In most cases, changing one aspect will do a lot of wonders.

It’s not just for aesthetics purposes. Imagine the improved experience. Most homeowners looking to do this project don’t have a shower. Having a new shower will really improve your experience.

  • It’s convenient.

Why do you think most people take a shower instead of a bath every morning? It’s because it’s more convenient. Most people don’t have the time and effort to prepare a bath every morning. Sure, a bath is very relaxing, but what good will it do if you only have a few minutes to spare every morning?

Besides, taking a shower is also a relaxing experience. This is especially true with a brand new shower.

  • It’s safer.

A lot of homeowners have fallen into an accident stepping in and out of the tub. Generally speaking, stepping over the tub’s wall is more dangerous than stepping into the shower.

  • It will save you a lot of space.

In a perfect world, you have a lot of space in your bathroom. You can add a shower without worrying about how cramped it’s going to be. But in most people’s reality, doing so will make it feel like you’re in a closet.

If space has always been a problem, converting a tub into a shower can save you a lot of space. While beautiful, a tub takes up a lot of space. Convert it into a shower and watch as you turn the cramped space into a spacious one.

Besides with how they’re both set up, even if a shower will take up the exact same space left behind by the tub, the shower will feel way roomier than the tub.

Tub to Shower Conversion Tips

Here are some tips to ensure a more successful project:

  • Keep one tub.

As mentioned, don’t convert all of the tubs in your home. If you only have one, don’t do this project. As mentioned, having one can help you maintain or even increase your home’s value. If you have several, keep one. Besides, a long hot bath is a luxury that you’d want to experience every now and then.

  • Make sure that you have enough space.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends a 36 inch by 36 inch space for the stall. However, a 30 inch by 30 inch one should suffice.

The height should be considered as well. There should be at least 80 inches of vertical space.

You should also make sure that there’s enough room between the stall and the toilet. Measured from the center of the toilet, there should be at least 15 inches from the toilet’s side to the wall of the shower. The clearance from the front of the toilet should be longer at 21 inches at the very least.

You have to consider the door. Make sure that it doesn’t hit anything when you swing it out. Make sure it wouldn’t hit the toilet, vanity, cabinets and more. If it will, a sliding door or a curtain are the more logical options.

  • Know your options.

It’s quite the shame if you’re going to spend money only to find out in the end that there are better (and more affordable) options are there. This is why it’s important that you do your research. Don’t worry, because we’ll be providing you with the options later on in this article.

This is also important because the right option will be on a case to case basis. For starters, the type of tub that you have right now will play a huge determining factor in choosing the right option for you.

  • Don’t forget about the fixtures.

There’s no point in having a shower if it has poor fixtures. Feel free to mix and match different fixtures from different brands. You’re not an endorser of a specific brand. Consider function and aesthetics when choosing the fixtures.

Take time to also select the right flooring. Complement that with the right lighting choice and that will lead to a beautiful shower.

  • Hire a professional.

You might be tempted to do it DIY. After all, who wouldn’t want to save money, right? You’re under the impression that you’ll save a lot of money by not paying for a contractor. While that’s initially true, in most cases, you’ll end up spending more money in the end.

This is because you’re not a professional. You’ll make expensive mistakes. In the end, you might end up hiring a professional to correct your mistakes. That will be more expensive than hiring a professional from the get-go.

Besides, the only way for you to experience the benefits of this conversion is if it’s successful. Hiring a professional can ensure this.

You don’t have to worry because there are affordable options. More on these later.

  • Minimize the need for additional plumbing work.

This can help you save a lot of money. Make sure that you install the shower near the water supply and drain. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re installing it in the space where the tub currently is.

Speaking of minimizing, you should also minimize the risk of future problems. For example, don’t install a shower where a window is. Mold is going to be a real problem.

  • Check the plumbing.

Do this before installing the shower. Since you’re taking out the tub, take the chance to inspect the current plumbing. Repair things when needed. It will save you a lot of potential headaches and expenses later on if you’re going to take that chance to conduct the repairs.

Options when Converting a Tub into a Shower

Here are the options that you can choose from:

  • Shower stall kit.

This is the option for you if you’re on a budget. This is pre-built using fiberglass or acrylic. It does have pre-made sides even if it’s a low-cost option. But the floor pan is light and feels cheap. It also comes with a drain hole and curbs. Surprisingly, it also comes with a quarter inch hinged door.

  • Solid Surface Mosaic Tile

This is another pre-built kit that you can consider. It looks amazing since it’s made to look like natural stone with a mosaic design. Even if it should be installed on site, it’s almost as easy to install as a shower stall kit.

It’s actually the safest choice especially if you don’t want to splurge. It’s not that expensive. It’s easy to install especially if you hire a professional. Installed right, it can look and feel like the most expensive option. As a bonus, it’s easier to clean!

  • Tiles/Stone

This is the option for you if budget is not a concern. Expect to spend around $15,000 to have it installed by a competent contractor. This is because of the materials It’s worth it, though. You get beautiful travertine or marble. The shower pan is hot mopped. Its glass is customized.

It’s a complicated task that’s best reserved for a professional. Even with the help of a professional, it may take several weeks.

How to Convert a Tub into a Shower

The best way to do so is to hire a professional. That is if you want to save time and effort and if you want the best results. In most cases, you’ll even save money.

Here’s how a professional will do it:

  • They will remove the faucet.
  • They will remove the tub.
  • They will install the base of the shower.
  • They will repair the wall, if needed.
  • They will install the wall.
  • They will install the shower door.

It’s done! Sure, each of these steps have more complicated steps, but they’re very basic to a professional since he’s been doing it for years.

There are DIY kits if you fancy yourself as a DIYer and you understand and welcome the risks involved in doing this DIY project. However, this won’t make the project significantly easier. Sure, it’s going to be a bit easier, but it’s still going to be a lot of work.

This project is considered to be for expert DIYers and professionals only. It may take up to 10 days. If you insist, here’s how to convert a tub into a shower:

  • Get a permit.

Yes, you need to get a permit. This is because you’ll be working on the plumbing. You can consult with the permits office for the requirements and process. This alone requires a lot of work.

  • Turn off the water supply at the main.

The last thing you’d want is to have water bursting. Check to see if your tub has a shut-off valve. If there’s none, turn of the main valve for your home.

  • Remove the surround of your tub.

You’ll need a prybar, hammer, and oscillating multi-tool. The process would depend on whether the material is ceramic or plastic. If it’s the former, you need a lot of patience to chip away using a prybar and hammer. If it’s the latter, you need to strip it off first since glue was probably used.

  • Take out the tub.

This is not a one-man job, obviously. Remove any nails or anything that secures it to the wall. Depending on how tight it is, you may need to remove part of the drywall.

Clean the area once the tub has been removed. Make sure to remove the screws and nails. If some of the studs have been damaged, you need to fix them first before moving to the next step.

  • Plan how you’ll position the shower head and the controls.

This will vary greatly on whether it’s a single or double valve. You can check the manufacturer’s directions for this.

  • Check the drain.

Fortunately, there are cases wherein you don’t need to move it. Although in most cases, you need to adjust its height.

  • Install the pan and then the shower surround panels

Check the manufacturer if you still need to construct a mortar bed. Next up are the shower surround panels. You need to drill. The back panel is installed first before moving onto the side panel that doesn’t have the controls in it. Last to be installed is the panel with the controls.

  • Install the door.

You will be installing it by following the manufacturer’s directions.

  • Finish with the shower head and controls.

You need to align them with the holes you’ve drilled.

  • Test it.

Turn on the main water valve to test the shower.

Things to Consider when Converting

Generally speaking, losing a tub will lower your home’s resale value. For a lot of potential home buyers, a tub is a deal-breaker. It’s the first one that they’re going to look for. If you’re going to sell your home in the future and you converted your only tub into a shower, then expect potential home buyers to ask for a lower price.

If you plan on selling your home in the future, make sure that you keep at least one tub. If you have it, keep the Master’s bathroom tub and you can convert the rest.

Do you have a toddler? You also have to consider that it’s easier to give them a bath in the tub rather than in the shower. This is something that other parents know and this is why it will turn off a lot of potential home buyers.

How Much does it Cost to Convert a Tub to a Shower?

There are a lot of factors to consider. It can cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000. Anywhere around $5,000 is a safe bet especially if you’re going for the mid-range options.

How Much does it Cost to Get a Walk in Shower

Try it today!

Shower vs Bathtub Resale Value: How Important Is It?

Make no mistake—remodeling your bathroom is one of the best investments you can make as a homeowner. 

There are many good reasons to renovate a bathroom. It adds storage space, improves energy efficiency, adds more functionality, and fixes any existing problems. 

More importantly, it adds to the resale value of your home.

One thing that can significantly impact your home’s resale value is having to choose between a shower and a bathtub.

It’s a tough decision to make. To let you decide, let’s go over their respective pros and cons.

Advantages of installing a shower

Thinking of installing a shower? Here are several good reasons why you should go through with it.

Showers require less space

Showers take up less space, at least if you’re going with a standard-sized shower stall, which measures nine square feet. A standard tub, on the other hand, takes up around 13 square feet. Big difference there!

You guessed it: you’re better off installing a shower if your bathroom is small—especially if you want to make more room for other bathroom fixtures. You can even have some wiggle room for a walk-in shower or a double vanity if you like.

Showers use less water

Are you always worried about your water bill? Then you might want to go with a shower instead. Think about it: did you know that using a standard-sized tub consumes between 25 to 40 gallons of water? If you think that’s a lot, wait till you use a whirlpool tub, which consumes between 80 to 100 gallons. 

You don’t have to worry over losing that amount of water if you’re using a shower. According to Home Water Works, the average American consumes 17.2 gallons when using the shower for 8.2 minutes (the average shower length). Now go over the figures again and convert them to monthly (or yearly). Done? As you can already tell, the difference is staggering.

Showers are easier to access

Entering a shower is an effortless thing. You just open the door (or curtain), adjust the heat regulator, pull on the nozzle, and you’re off to the races. Showers can also come in with grab bars, non-slip tiles, and benches, making them more user-friendly.

Stepping into a bathtub, on the other hand, requires more physical work. You have to climb in to use and climb out when you’re done. Entering a tub can also be dangerous for the elderly. According to a study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a third of the elderly struggle getting in and out of the bath

Showers offer many features

Showers offer many features that make bathing more user-friendly, practical, and luxurious. Steam options, custom wallpapers, benches,  rain showers. Heck, even small tables. The point is this: with the right additions, your shower can offer so much more than a bathtub.

Advantages of installing a bathtub

On the other side of the argument, here are the advantages of installing a bathtub instead of a shower.

Bathtubs are cheaper to install

If you’re on a tight budget, you’re probably better off installing a bathtub. While prices vary, a regular bathtub can cost between $500 and $8000, while a shower can cost you between $600 and $12,000. Of course, materials and design factor into the equation. For example, a walk-in shower will typically cost you $6,000 to $7,000, including labor and materials. It can reach up to $10,000 if you want one that is custom-tiled. To customize your tiles, you may want to hire a professional shower tile repair contractor near you.

Bathtubs have more resale value

Bathtubs add that “special sauce” that appeals to a wide range of homebuyers. While there’s increasing interest in big, feature-heavy, walk-in showers, many buyers are still likely to want a bathtub. 

That’s not to say that bathrooms without tubs are difficult to sell. Homes with smaller bathrooms, for starters, go better with showers. 

But overall? Potential homeowners are likely to ask, “But is there a bathtub?” and we have to get used to it.

Bathtubs are safer for small children

Stephanie Mallios, a sales rep for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, says that most parents want a traditional tub because it’s safer for children. Better yet, there are many ways for you to babyproof your tub. You can install a non-slip bath mat made of rubber, for starters. If you’re a parent, chances are you’re worried about that spout sticking out of the wall. Thankfully, you can put a cover on it to protect your little one in case she knocks her head against it. You can also prevent your baby from scalding accidents by installing anti-scald faucets.

Bathtubs have more health benefits

Bathtubs offer many health benefits. In fact, studies show that taking a hot bath has health benefits similar to exercise.  Taking  a hot bath can also boost your mood, help with cold and flu symptoms, and even give your immune system the boost it needs to fight off viruses. 

To top it off, nothing beats the feeling of a relaxing bath after a long day. Throw in additives like Epsom salts, ginger, essential oils, and other additives and you get the perfect recipe for even more relaxing, soothing baths.

3/4 Bath vs Full Bath: What gives you more value? 

We briefly discussed how significant bathtubs are for increasing a home’s resale value. Of course, the amount of features your bathtub has is a big part of that. 

But before we proceed, let’s get something out of the way. When talking about bathtubs with home improvement companies and potential buyers, you may encounter the terms “¾ bath” and “full bath.” The confusing part is that people often mention any of these terms but are in truth referring to the other. 

To avoid any confusion, let’s do a short breakdown of what each one is comprised of.

Full Bathroom

A full bathroom is comprised of four components: a bathtub, a toilet, a shower, and a sink. Without any of these key items, a room has no right to be called a full bathroom. 

Three-Quarter Bathroom

A ¾ bath, on the other hand, comes with three of the previously mentioned components. If your bathroom consists of a toilet, a tub, a sink, then you have a ¾ bath. If you take that same bathroom and replace the tub with a shower, then you still have a ¾ bath.

So which one provides more value?

Since a full bathroom is often bigger than a ¾ bath, many would think it’s the more expensive one. In reality? Not really. The value of a bathroom, regardless of whether it’s a full bath or a ¾ bath, depends on so many factors, most notably the preferences of potential buyers. 

Most of the time, it comes down to whether a potential homebuyer prefers a bathtub or a shower.

How important is a bathtub for your home’s resale value?

To give you a better idea of how a bathtub can boost a home’s resale value, let’s take a deep dive into why most potential homeowners are always on the lookout for bathtubs when buying  a new home.

A home’s resale value is mostly dependent on trends. Over the last few years, oversized walk-in showers were the rage, though many buyers still want to own a tub in their home. Most homeowners, particularly young families with children and homeowners with multiple bathrooms, still view tubs as a required fixture in the home. 

So, should you install a bathtub for the sole purpose of boosting your home’s resale value? 

Our answer is a resounding yes. However, you may want to reconsider if your bathroom is small or if you have small children. 

Does replacing a bathtub with a shower decrease your home’s resale value?

Maybe you’re done with your bathtub and want to turn it into a shower instead. But you’re hesitating because you don’t want your home’s resale value to take a dive. After all, as discussed in the previous section, a bathtub adds more to a home’s value than a shower does.

However, it also begs this question: will you be staying in that home long enough to use the shower? If you’ll be staying in that home for many years, why deprive yourself of the conveniences a shower can bring you in all that time? 

To find out if converting your tub into a shower is worth it, you may need to think of it in terms of what it will mean for your ROI (return on investment). 

You may want to think twice about going through with it if you’re selling the home to parents of small children. Why? Because a bathroom without a bathtub is a deal-breaker for most of them. As already mentioned earlier, it’s safer to bathe children in a bathtub rather than in a shower.

In the end, the general rule of thumb is that it’s perfectly fine to replace a tub with a shower as long as there’s still one remaining tub in the house. Because in most cases, that one tub can spell the difference between a home that gets sold for a premium amount and one that does not. In fact, it’s a good idea to install a bathtub for the sole purpose of increasing the resale value of a home. 

If there’s anything that proves without any shadow of a doubt that tubs are highly valued, it’s the survey data compiled by NAHB between 2007 and 2018, which states that 70% of millennials prefer whirlpool tubs, compared to Gen Xers with 62%, baby boomers with 47%, and seniors with 44%.

Always remember this: when you’re selling a home with a bathtub, you’re not just selling a bathtub, but you’re selling a lifestyle. 

Steps to Converting a Tub to a Shower

So you’ve decided to convert your bathtub into a shower? Good on you! But before you do, make sure that you know the proper procedures. Converting  a tub into a shower is not easy, and involves a wide range of mini-projects, including plumbing, insulation, demolition, and more. But if done well, the myriad of benefits you get more than makes up for time and effort spent on the project.

So, let’s get to it, shall we? Here are the steps to converting a bathtub into a shower.

1. Decide on the shower size

If you’re removing a standard-sized tub (60 inches long, 30-32 inches wide), you’re better off replacing it with a shower that’s roughly similar in size. This way, you don’t need to do any modifications to the wall and the shower pan. If you go with a smaller shower, you will have to carry out minor repairs to the walls and the floors. On the bright side, you’re getting more wiggle room in the bathroom as a result.

2. Get the necessary permits

To ensure that you’re not violating any local laws, check with your municipality if converting a tub into a shower in your home will require permits. 

3. Shut off the water supply

Is your bathtub connected to a shut-off valve? Make sure you shut it off before pushing through with the project. 

4. Remove or strip away the bathtub surround

Remove the tub surround from the tub with a pry bar and an oscillating multi-tool. If you’re having difficulties prying it off, give it a little nudge using the pry bar and a hammer. If the tub’s surround is made of plastic, it might be glued to a substrate material, in which case you need to strip it off.

5. Remove the tub

You may need to ask for assistance to do this. To remove the tub, you will need to unscrew the wall from the tub’s rim. Once it’s unscrewed, ask someone to help you lift one side of the tub and tip it over. Set it aside for the meantime.

6. Fix the studs, flooring, and joists

Once the tub is removed, you must repair the studs, flooring or joists that are exposed underneath. 

7. Adjust the shower valves and the showerhead

At this point, the water outlet and tub controls are positioned to service the bathtub. You need to raise both to position them for shower use. Typically, the valves should be located approximately 47 inches above the floor, while the showerhead is right smack dab in the center, 78 inches from the floor.

8. Install the shower pan

Next, you must install the shower pan. But before you do, you must set up a mortar bed for the pan to stand on. Make sure the shower pan is attached securely by screwing its lip tight to the studs.

9. Install the surround panels

It bears noting that you need to install the large back panel first when working with surround panels. Once it’s set up, install the side without the shower controls before doing the same with the panel on the control side. Drill holes through the controls and showerhead and then attach the last surround panel by nailing studs and caulk along the seams.

10. Install the shower door

Next, install the door by following the directions provided by the manufacturer.

11. Install the showerhead and the controls

Check to make sure the rough-ins are aligned with the holes in the surround panel before installing the controls and the showerhead.

12. Test the shower

Turn the shut-off valve back on and test if the shower is working.

Steps to Converting a Shower into a Bathtub

Now, what if it’s the other way around? There’s a myriad of ways to convert a shower into a bathtub, and the type of conversion you want to do will depend on many factors. But to give you some idea about the scope involved, here’s a standard procedure you can follow as you deem fit:

1. Get the shower area’s dimensions

The first order of business is to measure the area. You have two approaches to choose from: either you demolish the shower area and install a bathtub as a replacement or you modify the shower area so it can be converted into a tub. 

2. Check if the tub will fit

A standard tub measures 60 inches (length) x 30 inches (width) x 14 1/4” (height). Now, look at the shower area’s dimensions. Is the shower area big enough to accommodate a standard-sized bathtub? If not, you’ll need to carry out a demolition so that the tub can fit inside the area for installation. If you don’t want a full demolition, you can opt for a smaller tub. 

3. Build a wall for the tub

To build the wall, cut a rectangular frame and place support boards every 10 inches along its length. Attach the frame in front of the shower and secure it by drilling long screws to the floor and adjacent walls.

3. Screw the concrete backer board into the wood frame

4. Tile the new bathtub wall

Install the first tile to the adhesive and put a spacer next to it before installing the next tile. Continue doing this until you get to the other end. Use a cutter if some of the tiles don’t fit. 

5. Apply bullnose tile pieces on the top of the wall using the adhesive

6. Start grouting

You can use premixed grout or prepare dry mix grout. Word of caution: make sure that you wear safety gear to protect your eyes and skin from grout. For best results, the rubber float must be used at a 46-degree angle to ensure that the grout is spread across the tiles and into the gaps smoothly.  Wipe away any excess grout by using a sponge.

7. Clean up

Clean the tile after the grout has hardened and then apply some water-soluble caulking along the part of the tile that meets the walls and the shower’s edge 

8. Grout it up

Wait a week before applying grout sealer on the joints and the grout lines.

6 Cheap ways to remodel a Bath for resale before selling

So, are you going with a bathtub? Or is it a shower? Or a good combination of both? Whatever your decision is, it’s worth considering what other changes you can make to improve your home’s resale value. Owning a home, after all, is a good investment. And if you’re going to make any changes, you need to know what it entails for your home’s ROI.

So, without further ado, here are cheap bathroom upgrades that will bode well for your home’s resale value down the line.

1. Install a new showerhead

If your shower head is old and outdated fashion-wise, you’re not doing your bathroom any favors. Besides, there are many “upgrades” you can do with a showerhead that both homeowners and prospective homeowners alike will find appealing. For one, current shower technology allows showers to maximize water flow with minimal need for water.  Some showerheads also have added massage action to help you get rid of those tension aches after a long day at work. When it comes to showerheads, there’s plenty for everyone, from multiple spray settings to embedded Bluetooth speakers, to anti-scald technology to water conservation

2. Reglaze your bathtub

Bathtubs may accumulate chips and cracks over time. If you’re going to sell your home, you better make sure that your tub looks good as new. You can pull this off with the help of a reglazing kit. However, it bears noting that reglazing is only for cosmetic purposes. If you want to fully restore your bathtub, call a professional plumbing contractor or a bathroom contractor (you’ll need a mobile home contractor if the bathroom is in a trailer or a camper).

3. Retile your bathtub

If the bathtub is too damaged for reglazing, you can do better than to restore it, you can also change the style by retiling everything. There are many styles to choose from, including glass, marble, and metal. Allow yourself to be creative by choosing patterns and designs that showcase your personality.

4. Install a concealed shower valve

A “concealed” shower is the way to go if you want your bathroom to have a streamlined look.  Because let’s face it, exposed fittings and pipes aren’t nice to look at. Besides, they give your bathroom a more contemporary look, which will make it look more attractive to prospective homebuyers.

5. Convert your shower into a steam shower

Why go to a spa if you have a steam shower right in your own home? Having a steam shower isn’t only soothing and pleasant, but it also improves blood circulation, relieves muscle tension, and removes toxins from your body. Okay, fine, converting a shower into a steam shower isn’t exactly cheap, as it costs between $2,500 and $6,000, but the price people are willing to pay for that added feature will more than compensate for it.

6. Install shower body sprays

Who doesn’t like a good massage? Believe it or not, you can get a soothing massage by installing shower body sprays in your bathroom. All you need are separate mini-body sprays that can apply water pressure across your entire body. Who needs a masseuse when you have those? Better yet, it will only cost you $500!

20 Bathroom Remodel Ideas on a Budget: How-To’s, Cost & Mistakes to Avoid

Most homeowners have to remodel their bathrooms at one point in their lives. There could be a wide range of reasons for it. Maybe the bathroom is worn due to prolonged use. Maybe there’s this bathroom design idea you want to try. Or maybe your bathroom needs some fixing and you thought it would make more sense economically-wise to remodel it altogether.

Here’s the good news: Whatever your reason for remodeling your bathroom, it’s only going to increase your home’s resale value. Get it right and you can make a mint!

The problem? Bathroom remodel ideas are hard to come by and even harder to execute. Chances are you have a thousand ideas but have no idea which one to go for. Worse, you’re not entirely sure if you can afford it all.

But don’t worry. We’ve got your back.

In this article, we’ll delve into a wide range of bathroom remodel ideas that will inspire you in your bathroom remodeling project. Better yet, all are tailored for those who are on a shoestring budget!

Having a limited budget doesn’t mean that your bathroom remodeling project will be of subpar quality. Your budget may be limited, sure, but creativity and imagination knows no bounds. Want to make the most out of your project? All it takes is to get familiar with the available options and possibilities out there.

But first…

How much does it cost to remodel a bathroom?

Well, that depends. For one, you need to consider the room’s size. A medium-sized bathroom (5×7 foot), for instance, will cost around $19,000, according to a 2018 Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling Magazine.

To give you a bird’s eye view of the total costs, here’s a breakdown of the fixtures involved in a bathroom remodel project:

  • A vanity counter with a sink
  • Standard toilet
  • A standard-sized (30×60-inches) porcelain-on-steel bathtub
  • A recessed medicine cabinet with outlet
  • A single-level shower control

A high-end remodel upgrade, obviously, will cost more, falling anywhere between $50,000 and $70,000. Upscale bathroom remodels usually include room expansions, in-floor heating installations, heated towel bar additions, body spray, a frameless glass enclosure, upscale faucets, soaker tub installation, and many others.

How much does it cost to remodel a small bathroom?

If you’re remodeling an 8×5/40 square foot bathroom, it would cost you around $6,500. The cost varies a lot, ranging between $2,000 and $17,000. If we’re talking high-end remodels, be prepared to pay between $10,000 and $30,000. 

Want to know how they add up? Here’s a breakdown of different bathroom fixtures and their average remodeling costs (Please note that all prices are inclusive of materials, labor, as well as the expenses for removal and disposal):

  • Bathtub – $1,300
  • Shower – $900
  • Sink – $500
  • Toilet – $700
  • Countertop – $700
  • Floor – $900

Price of materials

Let’s talk about something most homeowners get antsy about: *cue horror music* the price of materials. To get a more accurate estimate, here’s a breakdown of each material and their average prices.

  • Tile – $18 per square foot
  • Mirrors – $250
  • Paint – $300
  • Cabinets – $750
  • Lights – $200

Common mistakes to avoid when remodeling a bathroom

When remodeling a bathroom, you want to avoid mistakes as you possibly can. Mistakes, after all, cost money, especially if you’re doing upscale remodels. 

Here are common mistakes you must avoid:

Mistake #1: Fixtures don’t match

When you’re remodeling your bathroom, you don’t just pick any material or design that catches your attention. You want your bathroom to be remarkable? Then you need to make sure that all visual elements in your bathroom form a cohesive whole. 

Here’s one golden rule: when choosing materials, choose only two to three different types. Having more than that can make your room look haphazard. You don’t want your bathroom to look like a showroom, don’t you? Remember, repetition brings more familiarity and comfort, but  you can mix it up a bit to ensure that the overall look doesn’t look monotonous or drab.

Mistake #2: Not too much light

Lighting fixtures not only make your bathroom more convenient and functional, but they also add to its visual impact and mood. To pull off your bathroom’s lighting,, make sure that you have a lighting plan. Ideally, a lighting plan needs four layers of light: decorative, accent, ambient, decorative, and task.

Mistake #3: Poor ventilation

Nothing is more frustrating than seeing black streaks of mold crawling all over your newly minted walls, floors, and ceiling not long after a bathroom remodel. If you experience this problem, chances are it was caused by poor ventilation. To avoid this scenario, make sure that you have an exhaust fan or some sort of ventilation system running while your bathroom is undergoing a remodel. 

Mistake #4: Picking looks over functionality

Homeowners sometimes get carried away when designing their bathrooms that they forget about functionality. This is a disaster waiting to happen. A bathroom is made for a specific function, after all. A beautiful bathroom won’t be doing you any favors if it’s mostly inaccessible, unsafe, and uncomfortable.

Mistake #5: Not having a clear remodeling plan

When carrying out a bathroom remodeling project, you don’t just wing it and hope for the best. If you want every aspect of the project to run smoothly, you need to draw up a plan. And not just any plan. Make sure that it’s clear and specific so you can have amazing results. It’s a document that serves as a guide that will inform all tasks in the project, after all, and leaving some things to interpretation can have disastrous results.

Mistake #6: Not setting aside a reserve budget

Like any other complex project, a bathroom remodel may have unexpected expenses that can wreak havoc on your budget. To avoid bill shock, you must set aside a reserve fund for such expenditures. The last thing you want to do is put your bathroom remodeling project to a halt just because you don’t have the money to pay for it. 

Ideally, you must set aside at least 10% of the total budget. That way, you can relax easy in knowing you can pay up when there are unpleasant surprises. And even if the initial budget pans out, it’s always nice to know that you have some extra money stashed away somewhere.

Mistake #7: Picking the wrong materials

Using the right materials is essential to any home remodeling project, especially if it involves the bathroom. Obviously, bathrooms are prone to moisture, which could lead to water damage. As such, picking wood over more water-resistant materials like  tile, acrylic, laminate, glass, etc. will have less than ideal results.

Don’t just pick a material for its water-resistant properties. Also, consider if it dries easily. For one thing, water-resistant material that collects water can cause drainage issues in the bathroom.

Bathroom Remodel Ideas: How to remodel a bathroom on a budget

So, do you already have a set budget? You’ve already got your priorities straightened out? Good! Let’s go over 20 bathroom remodel ideas that will help you explore the wide range of possibilities out there. Feel free to grab a pen and paper so you can take notes!

1. Buy used materials

The old cliche, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” applies here. You can save a lot more if you buy used materials or fixtures instead of buying new ones. Not only are you able to buy materials at a fraction of the price, but you’ll be doing the environment a favor as well. Classified sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, Swappa or eBay can sell you used materials and fixtures for bargain prices. 

Buying used materials comes with some responsibility, however. You don’t want to buy a used vanity only to find out it’s in its initial stages of water damage. Before you buy from someone, check if that person is already trusted within that online community. As much as possible, avoid paying without seeing the item or items in person. And as much as possible, stay local when making online transactions.

2. Don’t replace your tub, just refinish it

Most people tend to replace their bathtub if it looks worn out after long use. In reality, a refinishing job is all it takes to make the bathtub look good as new. Buying and installing a new bathtub can put a serious dent in your wallet. For one, the average cost to install a new bathtub is about $2,500, whereas refinishing a bathtub will only cost anywhere between $200 and $1,000. You can even go cheaper by going the DIY route! 

3. Install a prefabricated shower stall

Prefabricated shower stalls are easier on the budget than tiled showers. For starters, tiled showers require you to hire a bathroom contractor or to build the shower unit with tile from the ground up. Obviously, that’s not the case when installing a prefabricated shower stall, at least when you’re installing DIY options such as the interlocking mutti-piece units and wall kits only types. 

4. Install the new toilet yourself

Hiring a plumber to install your toilet can be expensive, costing you anywhere between $100 and $200. But if you feel you are strong enough to carry a toilet bowl, then you might want to consider installing your new toilet by yourself. 

5. Take it easy on the tile

Tile can be expensive if you’re not careful. To give your wallet a much-needed break, limit the amount of tile you use in your bathroom remodel project. One great way to save up on tile is to create a feature wall and install it behind the sink. This way, tiling up the rest of the room wouldn’t cost a fortune. Adding some beadboard or paneling towards the center of the wall can also add a nice contrast and balancing effect to the tilework if done properly.

If you’re going to use tile, use it on areas that are more prone to foot traffic. You can also mix and match cheap tiles with premium tiles. With the right design or pattern, cheaper tiles can be used as an accent that can make your premium tiles stand out.

6. Upgrade the lighting

Upgrading your bathroom’s lighting not only scores you more points in terms of convenience and functionality, but it also adds to the atmosphere and ambiance of the room.  If the lighting fixtures in your bathroom are dull, it’s about time you give them an upgrade. If you want something modern yet cheap, you can never go wrong with monorail lighting. Multiple bulbs, with proper placing, can reflect off the side mirror in a way that produces a stunning yet relaxing effect. A light bar isn’t a bad idea if you want to add some modern flair. 

P.S. If you’re using a mobile home or trailer, make sure to hire a mobile home contractor to help you with the lighting upgrades. Mobile homes have different electrical requirements than regular homes, after all.

7. Paint the interior yourself

Painting a bathroom’s interior doesn’t require much skill. You can do it well even if you have zero professional experience, especially when you’re working with a small bathroom. For better results, always use premium items. You also want your bathroom to be highly resistant to mold and mildew, so we highly recommend that you use high-quality paint with a satin finish. Since you’re probably an amateur at this, take your time and do it gently and carefully. If you want to paint like a pro in no time, this comprehensive guide should be able to help.

8. Install your own vanity tops

It’s not difficult to install vanities and tops because they’re already pre-assembled for you. As long as you’ve already done the measurements and figure out how they fit into your entire remodeling plan, installing vanities and tips is a painless task, and as such will take you only a couple of hours to complete. You can also buy solid-surface countertops and place them alongside your vanities so that bathroom fixtures like faucets and sinks can be easily shared. 

9. Re-grout the seals around your tiles, sink, etc.

If the caulking in your bathroom has seen better days, you may need to re-caulk the seals again. Caulking might be resistant to water, but they’re not immune to wear and tear. They will eventually crack, wear out, and get discolored. Regrout them again and your bathroom will look good as new. Moreover, regrouting prevents your bathroom fixtures and materials from incurring water damage.

P.S. If the caulking is severely damaged, the best course of action is to hire a shower tile repair contractor.

10. Add seating

If there’s still room, why not install a stool, small chair, or bench to your bathroom? A bathroom, after all, is a good place to relax, and having a bench (preferably near the shower) makes your bathroom become that place of relaxation you’ve been dreaming of.

11. Remodel with the environment in mind

The alarming increase in our carbon footprint on the planet over the years, it’s time that we remodel our bathroom with the environment in mind. We owe it to the planet and ourselves. That said, going green doesn’t only benefit the environment, it’s also amazingly practical. For example, using low-flow toilets, automatic faucets,  and dual-flush systems helps us conserve water, thus saving you money.

You can also save on your electricity bill by using a solar-powered hot water system or tankless water heater. 

12. Design your bathroom on your own

In remodeling your bathroom, you might have your own ideas on how you want the end result to appear. In that case, it shouldn’t hurt if you design your bathroom by yourself. If your creative ideas are in a jumble, you can come up with a more specific design by doing a layout first. Just don’t forget to factor in important bathroom fixtures, as well as plumbing drains, vent stacks, and water lines into the equation (you will need to hire a plumber for those). And as explained earlier, don’t sacrifice functionality for looks.

As to doing design layouts, you can take advantage of current technology by using a bathroom remodel software. If you’re having some difficulties putting all the design elements together, you can create a mood board on Pinterest for inspiration.

13. Use a sliding door

You’re better off using a sliding door instead of a swinging one if you want to save space in your bathroom. Having to open a swinging door not only takes up space, but it also requires a lot of effort. Sliding doors, on the other hand, open new possibilities in terms of diversity of space and functionality, especially when you want two mini-rooms to be made into one. To top it off, a nice sliding door also blends well with your bathroom’s interior design.

14. Go minimalist

You want to remodel your bathroom in a way that won’t break the bank? Pull a Marie Kondo! Get rid of clutter and other stuff you don’t need. Having two cabinets where one would suffice only takes up more space, and having too many colors will only assault the senses. Remember, when it comes to interior design, “less is more.” Restore an atmosphere of calm and order by removing all the clutter.

15. Emphasize one visual element

By creating a focal point in one part of the bathroom, you can afford to be less extravagant when it comes to the rest of the room. You can make your bathtub “pop” by painting it a bright yellow color or any color you feel will bring out your personality. The focal point could be a vanity that comes with crystal sconces, a mirrored wall, or a vintage poster. —anything that draws the eye and will make your bathroom look spectacular.

16. Buy a fan and timer

Proper ventilation is essential in maintaining optimal airflow inside the bathroom, and getting a fan and timer can help tremendously in this regard. Want to ensure that your bathroom is well ventilated at all times? Then go buy a fan timer, preferably one that comes with a one-hour setting. If you have kids who aren’t physically capable of opening a fan timer, then you’d do well to buy one that comes with a motion sensor.

17. Breathe new life into old baseboards

Instead of replacing your bathroom’s old baseboards, why not just breathe new life into them? If your baseboards look dilapidated, you can patch and repaint them until they look good as new. Patching up baseboards is not as hard as it looks. Just apply putty in the little holes with your index finger and make sure to smooth it out with the palms of your hands. Once it’s all patched up and there are no bumps and lumps left, repaint everything again.

18. Upgrade your bathroom lighting

Believe it or not, upgrading your bathroom’s light fixtures is as easy as changing a lightbulb. It’s fairly cheap, too, at least if you know where to look. For one thing, there’s no shortage of cheap but beautiful vanity lights out there. You can buy vanity light kits for under $30. If you want to give your bathroom a Victorian vibe, for example, you can buy this Vanity light industrial metal wire cage wall sconce. If you want something elegant and vintage, you can go for the vintage Edison lightbulb. If you want something more modern, you can never go wrong with the JoosenHouse Stainless Steel Bathroom Wall sconce

19. Use alternative materials

Instead of using standard bathroom materials, try unconventional ones instead. Why use tile when you can use Plycem (a cement board reinforced by fibers that are typically used in modern construction) instead? You can also stone resin in place of shower floor tile as well. For one thing, stone resin is highly resistant to cracks and mold, not to mention that it feels warmer underfoot than tile.

20. Go on a price hunt

While home improvement stores and bathroom supply stores are still the best places to buy bathroom materials and fixtures, some supermarkets like Walmart and Target also stock up on bathroom products… and at very affordable prices. Make sure to drop by the Bathroom Accessories section the next time you pick up your groceries. 

Lastly, don’t forget the internet! Doing a local search on Google will probably yield pleasant surprises. 

Adding a Shower to a Half Bath: Conversion Mistakes, How to, Plumbing, ¾ Bathroom

A bathroom is not just a bathroom. If you’re going to build or remodel one, you must take into account two things: function and design. Better yet, build or remodel your bathroom in a way where the function serves the design and vice versa. 

With that said, the specific needs and preferences of the homeowner must be considered when deciding on a bathroom’s layout. 

It’s for this reason why you’d come across a half-bath,a ¾ bath, a full bath, heck, even a ¼ bath. You begin to wonder: What do these terms even mean? What are their differences? 

Since you’re reading this article, chances are you’re thinking of adding a shower to your half bath. 

This comprehensive guide’s got all that covered, but before we begin, let’s talk about the differences between a half-bath and a ¾ bathroom. After all, this guide will only be of help to you if we’re on the same page.

What is a half-bath?

A half-bath, to put it simply, is a bathroom that comprises of a toilet and a sink—nothing more, nothing less. In other words, it’s a two-piece bathroom. If a bathroom has a shower or a bathtub, then you can’t call it a half-bath. 

What is a ¾ bath?

This is where it gets tricky. In most cases, people think they’re seeing a full bath when they’re actually looking at a ¾ bath. 

So, let’s demystify the difference between the two. To begin with, what sets them apart are their contents. 

In a nutshell, a full bath comes with a sink, a bathtub, and a toilet while a ¾ bath is a bath with a toilet, sink, and a shower. If a bathroom doesn’t have a tub, then you can’t call it a full bath. That said, if a bathroom contains all four fixtures, then you have every right to call it a full bath. 

So, do the math. When you’re adding a shower to a half-bath, what do you get? A ¾ bath, of course!

(Since the full bath and the ¾ bath are often used interchangeably, and erringly so, make sure to clarify the difference when talking to a realtor or a homebuyer if you’re selling your home.)

How much does it cost to install a shower in a half-bath?

According to a survey by Victorian Plumbing, 57% of adults prefer showers over baths. This only suggests that most Americans don’t want to take too long getting ready for the day or washing the day away.

But the major reason why homeowners prefer showers over baths is that it’s way cheaper.

How cheap?

Well, that depends on the type of shower you’re buying. There’s a wide variety to choose from, but if we’re to categorize them into two, then your choice is between a custom shower or a prefab shower unit.

Custom showers

When installing a custom shower, expect to spend anywhere between $1,500 and $7,000. Of course, the overall price depends on numerous factors, including size, shape, type, and materials. 

To give you an idea where your money is going when buying a custom shower, it bears noting that a shower is comprised of several components, including the surround, the pan, the plumbing, accessories. 

Surround

The type of material used for the surround can significantly impact the shower’s overall cost. Ideally, you want to buy one that can prevent water from making contact with the drywall and studs. Some materials also look better than others, so you may want to factor in appearances when deciding on a budget.

To give you a well-rounded idea of what you’ll have to pay for the surround, here are the different materials and their corresponding costs:

Material Cost

Porcelain $10/sq. ft.

Fiberglass $20/sq. Ft.

Stone $120/sq.ft.

Ceramic $7/sq.ft.

Solid surface slab $100/sq.ft.

There are good reasons why some materials are more expensive than others. Ever wonder why a solid surface slab costs a fortune? Or why porcelain is so cheap? Let’s delve into the pros and cons

Fiberglass

If you want a cost-effective option for your shower surround, picking fiberglass makes sense. It’s easy to install if your bathroom is the right size, even more so if your shower stall has a separate pan and backing. Just make sure that the seams are interlocked securely to avoid leaks. 

Fiberglass also has a smooth surface and is easy to clean. Make no mistake, fiberglass is the convenient, no-nonsense option for the practical homeowner.

Natural stone

Natural stone is a great option for homeowners who put a high premium on luxury. Natural stone, which could be marble, granite or travertine, has a nice luster that gives it a sophisticated appearance. As a luxury item, a shower stall made of natural stone can significantly increase the resale value of your home.

The downside? Stone shower surrounds are very expensive and hard to maintain. But if you have the budget for it and don’t mind doing regular maintenance, a stone shower surround can be a good investment.

Ceramic

Ceramic shower surrounds are another cheaper option, but it bears noting that ceramic materials are wide-ranging. It’s also available in a variety of styles, finishes, and colors, not to mention that it’s easy to customize. One major drawback of ceramic is that it can easily crack if you’re not careful.

Porcelain

If you think of porcelain as a high-end version of ceramic, then you’d be correct. Porcelain hits the sweet spot in terms of a compromise between price and appearance. Porcelain has a sleek, beautiful appearance that will look great on any bathroom. To top it off, it’s durable and has high resistance to water, especially if you seal the gaps with melted glass.

Prefabricated shower

But if you prefer a shower that’s cheaper and easier to install, go for the prefabricated shower. As the term implies, a prefab shower is already ready-made. In other words, what you’re getting is a complete shower stall. As can be expected, installing it is a breeze because you don’t have to build it from scratch.

Prefab showers are also mass-produced at factories and can be installed in a few hours, which is a big advantage considering custom-built showers are installed in 2-3 days. These ready-made shower stalls can be made from acrylic, fiberglass, or cultured marble.

If you want to install a prefab shower, expect the overall cost to fall between $500 and $2,500. A 48-inch, dual-seat prefab shower kit, for instance, costs for less than $700. If you want a luxurious prefab shower (a steam shower, for instance), expect to spend a little over $2,000. 

Shower door installations

Shower doors make up a significant portion of a custom shower’s overall costs. Of course, the price of the door will depend on the material it’s made of.

Glass shower doors, for instance, cost anywhere between $700 and $2,000. Factors that can affect the price include door size, side panels, operational specifics, door type, and more. 

Different types of shower doors and their costs

Standard Shower Door: $700-$1000

Sliding Shower Door: $1500-$1700

Corner Shower Door: $1500-$1800

Curved Shower Door: $1600-$2000

Do I need a permit to add a shower?

Most locales require their homeowners to obtain a permit when installing a shower stall in the  bathroom, especially when some changes need to be made in the drain. The likelihood that you’ll need one increases even more if you’re installing a shower stall where a bathroom doesn’t exist. You may want to hire the services of a plumbing or bathroom contractor if your plumbing and drains need to be upgraded for them to accommodate the new shower. Before you proceed with installing a shower, make sure to contact your county officials to ask about regulations in your locality. Y

We strongly recommend, nay implore, that you don’t skip the above step. If you push through with a shower installation without obtaining the proper permits, you’re likely to face heavy penalties, project stoppages. It’s even possible that you may forfeit the right to resell your home.

To give you a feel for what to expect, here’s a list of renovation or remodeling tasks that will most definitely require a permit:

  • Water heater replacement
  • Any work that involves the sewer line
  • Installation of new electrical wiring
  • Room additions
  • Installation of new plumbing
  • Demolition of load-bearing walls
  • Installation of any HVAC system

How to add a shower to a bathroom

There are many ways to add a shower to a half-bath, and they vary according to the current layout and design of your bathroom. But as a point of reference, we’re listing down below the general procedures in adding a shower to a bathroom.

Installing a prefabricated shower unit

1. Prepare your space

The right installation method will depend on the type of shower you want. As already explained, prefabricated shower units are so much easier to install, requiring only the most basic plumbing and carpentry skills to pull it off. 

There are two types of prefabricated shower stalls: single unit and multi-panel. Installing a single-unit shower stall requires only a few steps: Secure and connect them to the walls and pipes, seal the seams, and you’re off to the races. Multi-panel units, on the other hand, take longer to install because you need to connect the individual panels together as well as seal up each seam and joint. 

2. Mark the location of the pipes

Next, you need to determine the location of the pipes. Marking their location will give you an idea of how the shower stall will be attached to the wall and its essential elements. While getting the measurements, start from the floor and then move up to the corner of the walls. To mark the layout, draw a sketch showing the connections  between the shower and the wall, along with the plumbing. After recording the measurements, mark those same dimensions to the back of the shower unit, right on the spot that will be connected to your bathroom’s plumbing fixtures.

3. Start assembling

Now it’s time to start assembling the tools and materials that go along with your shower kit. That said, make sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Typically, you will need the following to assemble a shower stall:

  • Shower kit
  • 1.2 m level
  • Tile caulking
  • 2-inch hole saw
  • Electric drill
  • 1/8th-inch drill bit
  • Flathead screwdriver

4. Clean the floor and the walls 

You need to clear the work area of dust and debris before proceeding with the installation. Use a broom or a vacuum to get rid of  all the dirt and remove any excess caulking by peeling or prying them off with a putty knife. Lastly, make sure the floors and walls are dry. This is because installing a shower stall on a wet subfloor may cause water damage down the line.

5. Waterproof the surrounding walls

The surrounding walls of a shower stall are often exposed to moisture. And you’d do well to install waterproof wallboard or apply water-resistant glues on the walls to prevent water damage. Apply silicone caulking in the seams to make the installation more watertight.

Installing a single-unit shower stall

As already mentioned, installing a single-unit shower stall is easy, at least if you’re strong enough to lift it yourself. To ensure easy and safe installation, seek some assistance from an able-bodied friend or family member.

1. Perform measurements

Take stock of the space where the shower unit is to be installed and then perform some measurements. If the shower stall has a swinging door, don’t forget to include that in the measurements. If the area hasn’t been set up for plumbing before,you should contact a professional plumber who will do it for you. You will need to create templates for the drain and faucet areas as well to prevent potential plumbing issues down the road. If the bathroom in question is in the basement, you will need to install an up-flush system.

2. Install a waterproof interior wallboard

The walls surrounding the shower stall are always vulnerable to water moisture. To prevent water from damaging them, install a waterproof all-board behind the shower unit and then coat it with latex primer for good measure.

3. Drill holes in the unit

Once you’ve marked the locations of your bathroom’s pipes and fixtures on the back of your shower unit, carefully drill pilot holes at the back. Make sure to do it slowly to avoid cracking the interior. 

4.  Level the shower stall

With the help of an assistant, place the shower stall into the designated area. Put a level on the shower stall and make sure it’s lined up correctly relative to the holes.

5. Install the shower unit

Make sure to read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer before proceeding. But here’s some advice: go easy on the adhesive or it will lead to swelling and buckling. Position the shower unit to its designated area and double-check if it’s on the level. If the shower kit didn’t come with nails, attach the flanges to the studs yourself by driving galvanized nails into them. 

6. Caulk it up

Calk around the drain’s lip, between the wall coverings, and around the fixtures with silicone caulk. Once the catch screen is in the proper position, tighten the faucets for good measure.

Mistakes to avoid when installing a shower

Mistakes happen, but then again mistakes cost money, time, and yes, even our sanity. If you’re going to install a shower unit in your bathroom, you’ll be better off avoiding costly mistakes if you can help it.

Here are common shower installation mistakes you’d do well to avoid.

1. Not planning the space properly

Make no mistake—the shower stall is going to take up a lot of space in your bathroom, and if you space it poorly, the whole room is going to be compromised in more ways than one. As such, you want to make sure that the unit is positioned properly relative to the position of the plumbing fixtures and the wall studs. To boost the room’s functionality, position the shower unit accordingly relative to the positions of other bathroom fixtures, including benches and added storage.

2. Forgetting about the shower drain

It does seem more intuitive to put the drain in the middle of the shower floor, but in truth, it is better to place it along one wall of the shower. By installing a floor that slopes gently toward the drain, the water won’t be filling around your feet while you’re taking a shower. 

3. Not adding grab bars

No doubt about it —the bathroom is one of the most treacherous places in the home, especially for the elderly. When you combine water with slick surfaces, the more likely that slips and falls will occur. You can avoid this from happening by installing grab bars on one side of the shower wall. 

4. Using the wrong tools

Shower installations require precision, and if you want to be precise, you better use the right tools throughout the entire process. For instance, when you’re cutting wall panels for the shower, it’s better to use a fine-toothed saw or a tenon saw to make the cut precise and smooth. Using a circular saw or chop saw is not recommended because you’re likely to end up with coarse, rough edges.

5. Choosing not to place wall studs

A shower unit’s components can be heavy, and if you want to secure them firmly to the surrounding walls, they must be attached via heavy-duty screws. As such, consider the location of the wall studs when you’re putting the shower stall in position, making sure that the glass enclosure is firmly attached to the wall studs via screws.

6. Not making your bathroom’s pipes central to the shower plan

It goes without saying, but the shower is probably the water fixture that spikes your water bill the most. As such, it’ll be wise to ensure that there’s a sufficient amount of piping in the bathroom before carrying out a shower installation project. Better yet, you need to make the pipes central to the entire plan. Things can get tricky if you want to add a shower to a mobile home, so you’d do well to hire a mobile home contractor for that. 

7. Not setting aside reserve funds

Micromanaging your budget might make you feel that you’re in control financially, but unexpected expenditures are bound to come up almost every time. If you want to survive the financial onslaught, you better be prepared. And nothing prepares you better than by setting aside reserve funds. As a general rule of thumb, you need to set aside an extra 10% of the overall budget. Besides, it’s always nice to have some extra money if it turns out that you don’t need a reserve fund after all.

8. Hiring cheap labor

It’s tempting to hire shower contractors with the lowest costs if you want to save money. Don’t do it. For one, contractors who charge such cheap prices do so because they don’t have much to offer by way of expertise. They might also be hiring illegal workers or using dirt-cheap materials to cut costs, which could compromise the entire project.

Increasing the home value when you’re remodeling your bathroom

A smart homeowner wants to make sure that his home has a lot to offer in terms of value. Buying a home, after all, is an investment, and you want to maintain or increase its market value in case you’d need to resale it down the line.

There are plenty of ways to add value to a home, foremost of which is to give it a remodel or makeover.

In terms of house remodeling projects, one place you shouldn’t ignore is the bathroom. In fact, in a 2019 Remodeling Impact Report by the National Association of Realtors, consumers gave bathroom remodels a Joy Score of 9.6.

With that said, remodeling or renovating your bathroom costs money, and you need to be smart about how you spend it so you can receive more value for your renovation projects. Is a full bathroom renovation necessary? Or do you only need to update a few fixtures? Are there aspects of the remodeling project you can DIY instead?

More to the point, will adding a shower stall to your half-bath increase the value of your home?

Most definitely! Whether the return on your investment will be worth it is another matter.

To give you some perspective, according to a study by the National Association of Home Builders,  a half bathroom adds approximately 10.5% to a home’s value whereas a full bathroom adds around 20%.

Will that 10% increase be worth it on account of the amount you’re going to spend on the bathroom remodeling project? 

It can be difficult to arrive at a correct estimate on account of several factors, the foremost of which is the bedroom-to-bathroom ratio. 

If your home has more bedrooms than bathrooms, then yes, the increase in value will be much more significant.

If there’s already a separate bathroom that already has a shower in it, then that value might decrease as well.

Overall, the bathroom conversion must make sense to the overall layout of your house.

Whatever your circumstances, following the tips and suggestions in this guide should ensure that your bathroom renovation is worth it, from a practical standpoint and also in terms of your home’s overall value.

What is Particulate Matter? PM2.5, PM10, Health Effects, Pollution Sources

When we speak of airborne contaminants, one of the first things that come to mind is pollution. We know that air pollution is one of the leading causes of deaths and illnesses worldwide, that is why we take measures to lessen our exposure to it, such as by installing air purifiers and wearing masks and respirators.

What makes air pollution even more dangerous is the fact that one of its major components is particulate matter, also referred to as PM or particle pollution. Particulate matter is mostly invisible to the eye and is present indoors and outdoors, that is why avoiding exposure to it is impossible. Add the fact that it has plenty of sources and is present both indoors and outdoors.

Whether you have heard of it or not, you should keep reading because we will discuss its different types, specifically PM2.5 and PM10, the different health effects, and the sources of particle pollution.

EPA Sources on Particulate Matter

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is known as one of the best sources for environmental concerns, including about particulate matter. On their website, they have covered the basics and other essential information explaining why particulate matter in high amounts should be a cause for concern.

However, they did not go into much detail about the topic, and their presentation may be too technical for some.

This guide is our answer to that problem, as we will go delve deeper into the basics not covered by the EPA website and other sources they link to, but in a way that is easier to understand by all.

What is Particulate Matter?

Before anything else, we need to first understand what particulate matter is.

If you are thinking that this is involves dust, you are partly correct. However, dust is just one of the many components that comprise particulate matter.

The EPA defines particulate matter as combinations of solid and liquid particles that are airborne and may include dust, pollen, smoke, allergens, acids, metals, soot, soil particles, sulphates, organic chemicals, nitrates, and other organic and inorganic particles. Particulate matter can come in different sizes and can either be easily seen or will require the use of a microscope to do so.

It may sound harmless to you, but what complicates matters is the fact that many of these particles are considered hazardous and most of them are microscopic in size. This makes particulate matter easily ingestible through inhalation or swallowing. And when this happens, it can lead to various health effects, the most dangerous of which is death. Direct contact with particulates has also been proven to cause skin problems.

Take note that particulate matter consists of different particles, not just one, and these particles present will determine its chemical composition and properties. This means a particulate matter may contain safe compounds, while others may have extremely hazardous ones. This is one of the reasons why some PM are more harmful than others.

Sources of Particulate Matter in the Air

Due to the numerous substances that comprise particulate matter, it should come as no surprise that there are numerous sources for it. But generally speaking, there two sources of particulate matter in the air, which are primary and secondary sources.

A primary source directly produces or emits particulate matter on its own, with most of them produced as a result of anthropogenic or human activity. These activities include:

  • Industrial and Agricultural Processes
  • Construction and Demolition Work
  • Fuel Combustion using Wood, Biofuel, and Fossil Fuel, Including Those Coming from Fireplaces and Wood Stoves
  • Disturbance of Roads and Fields, Particularly Those That are Unpaved

Sea sprays, wildfires, and organic matter resuspension are also considered primary sources, but they are naturally-occurring or non-anthropogenic. This means they do not require human activity for the particulates to be produced.

Mineral dust, which is among the most common components of particulate matter, is produced through both human and natural activities. This dust is present in areas that are arid and semiarid, and can become airborne with the slightest breeze or when disturbed while doing construction or agricultural work.

On the other hand, a secondary source releases compounds or substances into the air that will react to the gases present in the atmosphere, which will then create the particulate matter. Simply put, a secondary source will produce the compound or chemical that will react to the atmosphere to create the PM; it will not create particulate matter itself. Most particulate matter present is actually produced via a secondary source.

Among the most common compounds and natural gaseous precursors that produce PMs after oxidation are VOCs or volatile organic compounds, ammonia, sulfur oxide, and nitrogen oxide. These usually come from emissions of motor vehicles and wood-smoke, and even gaseous vegetative emissions.

Take note that the source of particulate matter in the air will greatly affect the composition of the PM, especially in terms of their volatility and size, and this is one of the main reasons why PMs have varying environmental and health impacts.

Particulate matter may come in different sizes, depending on its components, but they only have two size classifications, which are PM2.5 and PM10.

Particulate Matter 2.5

Also referred to as fine particulate matter, particulate matter 2.5 or PM2.5 is named as such because it only measures 2.5 micrometers in diameter, or even less than that. To put it into perspective, the size of PM2.5 is only 3% the diameter of a strand of human hair and requires the use of an electron microscope to be detected.

PM2.5 can be produced by either a primary or secondary source, but most of its particles come from a secondary source. Most PM2.5 material is produced from the chemical reaction between the atmosphere and fuel combustion, especially that of motor vehicles. Primary sources of PM2.5, on the other hand, include sea spray and wildfires.

In the US, PM2.5 is produced mostly by the following sources:

  • Fires
  • Road Dust
  • Generation of Electricity
  • Industrial Activities and Processes
  • Combustion of Wood in Residential Homes
  • Use of Non-Road Equipment
  • Waste Disposal
  • Miscellaneous
  • Combustion of Fossil Fuel
  • On Road Vehicles
  • Use of Solvent
  • Fertilizer and Livestock

Fine particulate matter is found both indoors and outdoors, but the concentration levels tend to be higher outdoors, especially near roads. Its size also makes it easier for PM2.5 to be transported to different places, as it can easily be blown away by the wind and remain airborne for several days to even several weeks.

Aside from various health effects, which we will discuss in the succeeding section, fine particulate matter also has environmental impacts. PM2.5 can cause plant damage, soiling, corrosion, and poor visibility, among others. In fact, the fog or mist you see is a good indicator of high levels of this particle pollution.

Particulate Matter 10

In contrast, PM10 or particulate matter 10 has a larger diameter than PM2.5. Also called inhalable coarse particles, they have a diameter not exceeding 10 micrometers, but is bigger than 2.5 micrometers. And because of its larger size, some PM10 may be seen even without the aid of a microscope, especially in large amounts.

This coarse particulate matter, also known as respirable particulate matter, is likewise produced through both primary and secondary sources, and are abundant in roadsides. This particle pollution is also prevalent in conditions where combustion occurs, as well as in natural sources like pollen, resuspension of biological matter, and sea salt.

This particulate matter is also known to pose harm not just to your health but also to the environment, but to a lesser degree than PM2.5. Its larger size also allows it to be transported in shorter distances and remain airborne for shorter periods – as quick as several minutes to a few hours only.

Is PM10 More Harmful than PM2.5?

Now that you are aware of their differences, you may be wondering if PM10 is more harmful than PM2.5 because of their size difference. But before we answer that question, you need to understand what exactly makes them hazardous.

Earlier, we mentioned that air pollution is a worldwide problem, and that particulate matter that is abundant in polluted air is seen as the major culprit for these health risks. This is because particulate matter is too small to be blocked by our body’s natural defenses, and they often contain hazardous material. This applies to both PM10 and PM2.5, as their size allows them to be easily ingested by anyone.

However, size really matters in this case, as the smaller PM2.5 is seen as more harmful than PM10.

While they can both enter your body without you noticing, the larger PM10 tends to be trapped on the upper respiratory tract area, specifically in the nose and throat. This is because the cilia found along the respiratory tract can block PM10, preventing it from penetrating deeper into your body. The trapped particulate matter may even be expelled through sneezing, coughing, or end up trapped inside mucus that is then digested harmlessly or ejected through the mouth.

On the other hand, the smaller PM2.5 can go deeper than that and reach the lungs where it can cause more severe health effects. Certain PM2.5 can even go into the areas of the respiratory system where the lungs and the bloodstream meet and the exchange of gases occurs, allowing the soluble component of the PM2.5 to enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc to other organs. The insoluble component remains in the lungs’ alveoli and can trigger inflammation when it accumulates.

The composition of the particulate matter will also play a crucial role in its health effects. But ultimately, the size of the particulate matter will be the biggest factor in determining how harmful it can be; the smaller the size of the PM, the more dangerous it is.

Particulate Matter Health Effects

Did you know that the health effects of particulate matter are not limited to respiratory issues? In fact, the health risks it poses goes beyond that, especially if the particulate matter contains metals, which is often the case for PM2.5.

The respiratory system, especially the lungs, is known to be one of the most at risk when you are exposed to particulate matter, but it can also affect your cardiovascular and reproductive systems, as well as cause other health issues.

Respiratory System

Because the particulates are most often ingested through inhalation, it is not surprising that the respiratory system is the most commonly affected. These effects are experience by both young and old alike, with children, those who already have lung or heart disease, and older adults considered as the most at risk for it.

The health effects involving the respiratory system due to particulate matter exposure include the following:

  • Greater risk of acquiring respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, bronchitis, and asthma (with long-term exposure)
  • Increased vulnerability to pathogens, both bacterial and viral, that can cause various diseases
  • Aggravated symptoms or reactions for those who already have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma and COPD (with short-term exposure)
  • May cause breathing difficulties due to airway blockage, causing death
  • Recurrent coughs
  • Irritation of the throat and lungs, which can increase its permeability and lead to lung injury
  • More frequent asthma attacks
  • Inflamed lung tissue
  • Decreased lung function
  • Reduction in lung growth and development for children and even teenagers, compromising lung function for the rest of their lives
  • Higher risk of hospitalization or death due to lung disease in older adults
  • Breathing difficulties

Cardiovascular System

Exposure to particulate matter will also affect your cardiovascular system, particularly your heart and blood vessels. However, this is may also be an effect of respiratory issues due to particulate matter exposure. This means that particulate matter can cause respiratory problems, which can then cause cardiovascular issues.

Some of the known effects to the cardiovascular system are:

  • Blood chemistry changes
  • Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, especially for those with heart disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Buildup of arterial plaque that can cause hardening and inflammation, which can trigger stroke or heart attack
  • Higher risk of experiencing heart attacks, or an increase frequency for those who already have history
  • Greater possibility of cardiovascular mortality
  • Weakening of the heart
  • Development of vascular diseases, including coronary heart disease (with long-term exposure)
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Irregular activity of the heart muscle caused by an irritated autonomic nervous system
  • High blood pressure
  • Worsened symptoms of heart disease

Reproductive System

To some extent, your reproductive system may also be affected by exposure to harmful particulate matter. The risk is even higher for pregnant women, as it can affect both them and their unborn child, especially when they get exposed to it during the first month.

Health risks include:

  • Infertility
  • Menarche delays
  • Menstrual problems
  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth weight of infants
  • Birth defects
  • Complications to the pregnancy, such as GDM or gestational diabetes mellitus and preeclampsia

Other Health Issues

You may also develop other PM-related health issues, such as:

  • Eye irritation, including conjunctivitis
  • Stuffy or running nose, post-nasal drip, or constant sneezing due to nasal irritation
  • Irritation of the throat that can cause sore or dry throat and coughing
  • Chest pains
  • Headache
  • Increased risk of acquiring diabetes and hyperglycemia, or insulin resistance for those who are already diabetic
  • Genotoxicity or damage to DNA that can lead to cancer
  • Dizziness
  • Increased possibility of getting cancer, as particulates may contain known carcinogens
  • Lethargy
  • Fibrosis or scarring of the liver that can lead to cirrhosis, as well as liver damage and dysfunction
  • Faster aging of the brain, including neurodegeneration
  • Poor attention span or hyperactivity
  • Learning difficulties, which can lead to IQ decrease in children
  • Symptoms of mental and behavioral disorders, including those of anxiety and depression

The size, length of exposure, and the components of particulate matter will determine the kind and severity of health effects that you may acquire. While PM2.5 is known to be more harmful, this does not mean that PM10 is completely safe; you must still limit your exposure to both. Long-term PM exposures will be the most harmful to anyone, as well as exposure to particulate matter that contain toxic components.

Death is the most severe health effect of particulate matter, even with short-term exposure. Long-term exposure to particulate matter may not immediately show symptoms, but it can affect your quality of life and even significantly reduce your lifespan.

Will a HEPA Filter Remove PM2.5?

The microscopic size of PM2.5 may make it seem like protection is impossible, but you can remove certain particulate matter with the use of a suitable HEPA filter. This kind of filter, also referred to as a High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor, is known to typically screen particles that are up to 0.3 microns small. Certain HEPA filters are capable of removing particles measuring 0.1 microns, and this can successfully filter out PM2.5.

A respirator with an N95 rating and HEPA filter is also effective in filtering PM2.5. Both reusable and disposable types can be used for this, as what matters more is a respirator’s capability of creating a tight seal. A proper sealing ensures that no particulate matter can pass through any gaps present between your face and the respirator. This means surgical and single-strap paper masks should not be used even if they have an N95 rating. Respirators with HEPA filters are even more effective in doing so.

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Particulate Matter Sensor

You may be familiar with air quality monitoring devices that measure the air quality indoors and outdoors. While these devices can determine the level of air pollution present in that area, they are generally not capable of detecting the presence of particulate matter and the levels present.

If you want to determine PM concentration levels indoors, outdoors, or both, you must get a particulate matter sensor.

A particulate matter sensor and a typical air quality monitor have generally the same function, which is to detect the concentration levels of airborne contaminants. Air quality monitors focus on general levels of pollutants, with only specialized ones capable of identifying the type of pollutants present. On the other hand, particulate matter sensors focus on determining the levels of PM2.5 and PM10 present, which most air quality monitors are not capable of.

These PM sensors typically make use of optical means to determine the number of and concentration levels of the PM present. Particulates will pass through a light source, often a laser, in the detection chamber, and they will allow light to be either absorbed or scattered. When this happens, the sensor can determine the number and concentration levels of the particulates present.

PM sensors can either be standalone or connected to air quality monitors, air purifiers, and HVAC systems to increase its functionality.

How to Reduce Particulate Matter

With the abundance of sources of particulate matter, both natural and manmade, it is a given that the particulate matter present may exceed acceptable levels every now and then. And with the numerous environmental and health risks involving both fine and coarse particulate matter, you know that it should be immediately addressed when it happens.

But how can you reduce the levels of particulate matter present? Here are some ways to ensure that they will fall within safe levels:

  • Avoid smoking, especially indoors where there is poor air circulation. This also includes lighting candles and incense
  • Lessen the use of heating devices that involve combustion or burning of wood. Ensure proper ventilation and use well-seasoned wood when doing so
  • Stop open burning practices, even if it involves biodegradable household trash like leaves and wood
  • Decrease black carbon production by limiting the use of vehicles equipped with older engines, particularly diesel-powered ones
  • Immediately address wildfires and prevent new ones from starting
  • Install appropriate air purifiers with HEPA filters and particulate matter sensors to quickly address high PM levels before it reaches dangerous levels
  • Drive less and use mass transport or carpool instead. If possible, travel by foot, bike, or any other means that have zero emission
  • Reduce your usage of household products that may produce particulate matter
  • Observe regular car maintenance, as this will also help reduce PM production
  • Go green by using energy-efficient appliances and install environment-friendly energy sources, like solar panels
  • Open windows and ventilation systems if the indoor PM levels are higher than normal
  • Remove sources of asbestos, lead, and other toxic airborne particulates that are known to be present in old homes, and observing safe practices when doing so to prevent them from spreading around
  • If you live near roads, fields, or industrial facilities, which are among the major sources of particulate matter, make home improvements to prevent particulate matter from getting inside your home
  • Keep your home clean and use HEPA vacuum to ensure that particulates are removed
  • When idling your car for longer periods, do it outside your attached garage and away from any doors and windows
  • Limit your use of gas-powered gardening equipment

Contrary to what you might think, reducing particulate matter does not require doing anything fancy or using sophisticated equipment. These simple methods can already greatly decrease the PM levels in a short time and prevent it from reaching levels that can immediately pose harm to anyone.

Air Quality Trends and Particulate Matter

Various government agencies started keeping track of air quality trends over the years, particularly paying close attention to concentrations levels of particulate matter, as this is a good indicator of the severity of air pollution. PM10 used to be the only particulate matter monitored but with the discovery of the more harmful effects of PM2.5, they started monitoring it alongside PM10.

Because of their effects, those who crafted the Clean Air Act of 1970 included provisions that involve particulate matter. This Act, including addendums and related policies resulting from it, has been instrumental in dramatically improving air quality in the country, which has been proven with the steadily declining number of illnesses and premature deaths due to exposure to particulate matter.

Monitoring particulate matter present in the air has made it possible for agencies to accurately predict high particle pollution days based on historical data. Some of the trends they discovered include:

  • Higher PM2.5 concentrations in the eastern half of the US from July to September, while fine particulate matter is higher in the western half from October to November
  • PM10 concentrations are now nearly 50% lower compared to the levels in the 1980s, while PM2.5 concentrations are now lower by 40% on average compared to the levels in the 1990s when they started keeping track
  • Concentrations of both coarse and fine particulate matter have generally been declining over the years, with some small increases for short periods. However, they are observed to be steadily increasing since 2015, with climate change seen as one of the major factors
  • Worldwide, majority of countries have also shown remarkable decline in concentration levels over the years, especially with PM2.5

Monitoring air quality trends involving particulate matter is ideal to decrease the chances of acquiring health issues due to prolonged or high-level exposure. By now, you know that this is easier said than done, but not completely impossible.

You can check the air quality index, or AQI, in real-time via EPA’s AirNow to know how polluted the air is in various parts of the country, as well as be aware of AQI forecasts. However, the agency combines PM and ozone levels to come up with the index, so there is no way of knowing the actual PM levels.

By this time, you are now aware of the essentials involving particulate matter. You are also more conscious of its impact to you and the environment and know how you can take measures to keep it within acceptable levels.

And because of all these, you avoid being part of the statistics of injuries or fatalities caused by exposure to it.

Clean Water Act: Trump Repealing, What Is It, Summary, & More

Did you know that we can survive without food for several weeks, but we can only live without water for a few days?

That is how important water is.

You may remember your science teacher telling your class that water is essential for all living things. This fact is recognized by officials all over the world, since most countries have crafted laws involving clean water, with the US being one of them.

The Clean Water Act is one of those legislations that ordinary people like you have likely heard of but have no clue what exactly it is about. You may have even heard of it plenty of times lately due to the controversial plan of the Trump administration to repeal one of its aspects.

But, should you be concerned about this decision? Before you decide, you need to first understand what it is, and that is why we came up with this guide to help you learn about the history of the Clean Water Act, its purpose, and more.

We also know that going through the entire law will be time consuming, that is why we will provide you with a summary of its main points to help you understand its main points.

What is the Clean Water Act?

Are you one of the many people who believe that this law has something to do with the water coming out of your faucets, as well as the kind of water that we drink?

We hate to burst your bubble, but this is not the case.

So, what exactly is the Clean Water Act?

The main purpose of the Clean Water Act, or CWA, is to ensure that the bodies of water in the entire US are well-protected against contamination, which has become a huge problem not just in large bodies of water but also even in smaller ones. The bodies of water primarily covered by this law are those that are considered navigable, including any of their tributaries, as well as those that serve an economical function.

Rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water were used as dumping ground of wastes in the past, especially by industrial facilities and commercial enterprises, and this had serious consequences. These surface waters became unsafe for consumption or use by humans and animals alike, as well as wreaked havoc to the environment. This problem was the major reason for the creation of the CWA.

This federal law does not only cover the regulation and prevention of discharged pollutants, but also includes addressing already polluted surface waters to improve its water quality to meet local standards. Not only that, this law also covers any related components, such as wetlands that are adjacent to these waters.

The Clean Water Act vs Safe Drinking Water Act

Given that this law covers the waters used for navigation and commerce, as well as their adjacent wetlands, you may think that it does not really apply to you. Your concern may lie on how safe the water supply that you use every day is, and this is covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act, or SDWA. Some people mistake one for the other, that is why it is important to compare the Clean Water Act versus the Safe Drinking Water Act.

While the two laws both deal with water quality, their scope is different.

You are already aware that the CWA deals with the natural bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes, and the monitoring, protection, and improvement of their conditions. They are concerned with achieving the quality of water that meets the minimum standards set, which is done through the rehabilitation of the polluted surface waters, as well as the monitoring of discharges to these waters.

On the other hand, the SDWA focuses on the public’s water supply, ensuring that the potable water is safe for drinking. This law requires the water suppliers, states, and localities to work together to achieve the quality of potable water that meets their minimum standards.

Even if they have different scopes, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act have a common ground. For the drinking water to be safe in accordance to the SDWA, the source of the water supply and the processes involved must also meet the standards set by the state. This is where the CWA comes in; by ensuring that the sources are up to par by following the CWA, it makes it easier to get safe drinking water, which is the main objective of the SDWA.

What Does the Clean Water Act Do?

With the establishment of the CWA, the dumping of pollutants into the different bodies of water became highly regulated. By monitoring and controlling the point source pollution, they are one step closer to achieving the main objective of the law, which is to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”

To address already polluted waters, the CWA has also included provisions focusing on their revival and rehabilitation, in hopes of making them “fishable and swimmable.” And once these waters have been brought back to life, the law requires that authorized agencies must ensure that the water quality remains in that acceptable state or is improved.

Among the objectives of the Clean Water Act are to:

  • Provide financial assistance to create facilities that are publicly-owned that will address water pollution in terms of prevention, cleanup, and maintenance, as well as improve water quality
  • Prosecute entities responsible for point source pollution who are caught discharging pollutants into the waters in quantities considered toxic
  • Develop proper waste treatment policies and facilities to stop the improper dumping of pollutants into the waters in each state
  • Conduct research in hopes of finding technological means of preventing the discharging of contaminants into the surface waters
  • Come up with plans and solutions to address the problem of nonpoint sources polluting the waters
  • Recognize the importance of wetlands, especially in terms of improving water quality, and create development plans in relation to it

Not only does the CWA have statutes and regulations aimed to protect surface waters, they have also set penalties for violators of these regulations in the form of fines, imprisonment, or both.

Fortunately, the Clean Water Act has been proven to be effective, especially in curbing water pollution. It was also discovered that since the establishment of this law, the number of surface waters that are now suitable for fishing increased by 12% and toxic pollutants in the water have greatly decreased, which means that the quality of the Nation’s waters have generally shown signs of improvement.

Clean Water Act History

It is not enough that you have a general idea of what the Clean Water Act is all about. You must also learn its history to understand why this law is pivotal not just in the US but even in other countries.

The main precursor of the Clean Water Act that we know today is the Federal Pollution Control Act of 1948. However, this law, as well as similar ones, were ineffective in dealing with water pollution. This is because these laws aimed primarily to prevent the dumping of garbage into navigational or commercial waters only, which means smaller bodies of water were left unmonitored.

People back then saw these waters as a dumping ground. It was so bad that billions of tons of raw sewage were entering the waters every day. In fact, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland reportedly caught fire several times because of all the industrial waste present that contained flammable materials and chemicals. The fires in that river is considered as one of the major catalysts for people to start realizing that the problem with water pollution has become very serious.

However, this burning river was not the only incident that spurred people into action. There were also several reports of fish kills in different places, with 26 million fish alone killed in Lake Thonotosassa, and that the bacteria present were more than a hundred times the safe limits. Various government agencies then came up with their respective reports, with all of them in consensus that the waters are no longer safe.

All these led to the creation of the Clean Water Act of 1972. While it can be considered as a revision of the 1948 law, this 1972 law was the first comprehensive legislation to focus on water pollution and its effects and be more proactive in dealing with them. It was later amended in 1977, and again in 1987.

Since then, the law started including nonpoint sources of water pollution, such as snow and rainwater that can collect particulate matter (link to particulate matter article?) as they fall. They also discovered the importance of wetlands when it comes to dealing with water pollution, so they expanded the law to include protection to these wetlands.

In recent times, the Clean Water Act has been met with criticisms. In particular, people have begun debating about what constitutes the “waters of the United States, or WOTUS,” that needs to be protected.

Despite the criticisms, it cannot be denied that the Clean Water Act has been instrumental in the overall improvement of the waters of the United States.

Why Was the Clean Water Act Created?

Many of the country’s laws were created in response to a single catalyst, but the Clean Water Act is not one of them. Why this law was crafted is mainly due to the increasing number of incidents that affected humans, animals, and the environment that were all caused by water pollution, such as the Cuyahoga River fires and numerous fish kills that occurred throughout the country.

While it may not be the main reason, it cannot be denied that the Cuyahoga River fires were a big factor in the establishment of this law. There had been several other incidents prior to the 1969 fire, but it was this incident that was even documented and published by Time Magazine which led to public awareness of the horrific conditions of the waters.

However, those incidents were not the sole reason for amendment of the 1948 law. Even before this law, people were already throwing their wastes into the waters, as it is the most convenient way of waste disposal. But with the boom of factories and mass settlement of people near bodies of water, especially during the Industrial age, this practice got even worse and started affecting people’s health.

Because of these collective incidents, people realized that the existing laws were no longer enough to address the problem, and this lead to the creation of the Clean Water Act. This was also done to alleviate the concerns of the general public who were fearful of how the water pollution can affect them.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Section 404

While there are several sections under the Clean Water Act, there are specific ones that are noteworthy. One of those is Section 404, which is considered as one of the cores of the entire this law.

Section 404 of the CWA regulates the type and quantity of discharge, particularly fill or dredged material, that enters the protected waters and wetlands through the establishment of a permit program. This section also prohibits any dredge and fill discharges based on these conditions:

  1. A feasible alternative that will cause less harm to the waters is available
  2. The discharge will negatively affect the quality of the water

Those who will conduct activities that can cause dredge and fill material to end up in the surface waters must first undergo a permit review process before they can obtain the necessary permit.

Should you pass the screening, you will be given either a general permit or individual permit by the US Army Corps of Engineers. A general permit is issued when the activity is believed to affect the aquatic environment only minimally, such as through utility line backfills, beddings, and small-scale road activities. But if the activity has the potential to cause harm, either due to the larger scope of the project or will conflict with environmental issues, you will be given an individual permit.

There are also exemptions to this ruling; not all those who will discharge pollutants are mandated to obtain a permit from the Corps before starting their activities. However, those who do may also be required to get a similar permit at the state level in accordance to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

Section 401

Section 401 is known as the “water quality certification program”, which authorizes the state and specific tribes to issue the required certificates or permits to entities who will conduct any activity that can result in the discharge of dredge or fill material into the waters, but only after a careful review.

This Section 401 Water Quality Certification, or WQC, will only be given to individuals or businesses that have successfully passed the required screening process conducted by authorized tribes and the state. It will only be issued to those who can prove that their activities will not worsen the condition of the waters involved.

While it primarily supports the Section 404 Dredge and Fill permits, this certification is also required by the following:

  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission licenses
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses for hydroelectric power plants that fall under the Federal Power Act
  • Permits issued under the Rivers and Harbors Act and are covered by Sections 9 and 10

These applicable federal licenses are invalid if you are unable to acquire the Section 401 certification that is issued at the state level. You must obtain the 401 Certificate first before you can be given a 404 Certificate.

Section 402

If the material that may enter the surface waters involves stormwater and sewer discharges, Section 402 will apply. This Section mandates those who will discharge known pollutants from a point source to the surface waters to get a permit to do so under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES. This program allows states to monitor and control discharges that are directed to surface waters.

Those who are required to secure this permit include the following:

  • Construction sites that cover an acre of land at minimum
  • Municipal facilities that have stormwater systems, including those found in chemical storage facilities, highways, rest areas, ferry terminals, maintenance facilities, and park and ride lots
  • Industrial facilities
  • Developments or those who will conduct any activity that will cause disturbance to the soil, including hydraulic fracturing or fracking

The NPDES will also issue either general or individual permits, but these are different from the ones issued by the Corps. Individual permits will cover specific facilities only, while general permits is suitable for multiple facilities that fall under the same category, whether in their operations and use or in the disposal of sludge.

Who Enforces the Clean Water Act?

One of the biggest criticisms of the old environmental laws is in terms of enforcement. Different states have different laws involving their surface waters, that is why the implementation of the laws is inconsistent. The Clean Water Act aimed to resolve this by assigning specific agencies and organizations to handle this crucial aspect.

The primary enforcer of the Clean Water Act is the Environmental Protection Agency, which was created in the 1970s to streamline the research, monitoring, and enforcement of laws and programs involving environmental issues, including water pollution.

However, the EPA does not act alone when it comes to enforcing the CWA. Under the Clean Water Act Compliance monitoring program, the EPA works together with state, federal, and tribal partners in ensuring the compliance of everyone to the law.

Not only do these partners handle the reviews and permit issuance mentioned in the earlier sections, they also have a role in ensuring that everyone under their jurisdiction will follow the law, regardless of whether they have the required permits or not.

In case of non-compliance with the law, the EPA has assigned Administrative Law Judges to handle related cases. And for those who will file administrative appeals involving the agency, such as in terms of penalties set under the CWA and the issuance or non-issuance of permits by the NPDES, the Environmental Appeals Board will handle them.

All these agencies and authorized partners work together to ensure that all concerned parties and individuals in their jurisdiction will comply with the law.

The Clean Water Act Under the Obama Administration

Over the years, the Clean Water Act has undergone numerous amendments and addendums, and this also happened under the Obama administration. Perhaps the most significant changes to it during that time was made in 2015 and is now known as the Clean Water Rule or the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS).

What constitutes as the “Nation’s waters” had often been a point of contention for many, and the 2015 Clean Water Rule aimed to solve this issue. The Obama administration believed that by defining what are the waters that should be protected under the Clean Water Act, it will allow the EPA and its partners, especially the Corps, to give better protection to those covered by the rule.

The WOTUS rule does not contain any new rules to follow in relation to the CWA, but simply clarifies the waters that are covered by the law. The administration deemed it necessary to clearly define what these waters are because the traditional term “navigational waters” used to define it was considered too broad and vague.

With this rule, the Nation’s waters covered by the Clean Water Act are:

  1. Interstate waters, or waters that intersect two or more state borders
  2. Waters that are used for interstate commerce and navigation
  3. Territorial seas
  4. Tributaries, or waters that branch out from the interstate waters and territorial seas
  5. Waters that are located next to or adjacent to the aforementioned
  6. Those with a significant nexus to the waters that are considered interstate waters and territorial seas, including wetlands and seasonal streams
  7. Impoundments of the waters that are qualified based on the above conditions

These criteria are not absolute, as the rule also mentions that there are instances wherein determining if the body of water is covered by the CWA will be decided on a case-to-case basis, such as:

  • If it is part of named formations, e.g. pocosins, prairie potholes, and the Carolina and Delmarva Bays
  • Is a coastal prairie wetland found in Texas or California
  • Is located within a specific distance to territorial water’s high water mark or high tide and has a significant nexus to it

Although its aim was to make the definition clearer, it was still met with criticisms and objections. Those who vehemently opposed the rule include farmers, coal miners, home developers, oil and gas drillers (especially those involved in fracking), and various officials, arguing that the rule will negatively impact different industries and can even violate the property and economic rights of these small business owners.

The Trump Administration’s Repeal of the Clean Water Rule

If you are not aware, the Trump administration has decided to repeal the Clean Water Rule made by the Obama administration because of the various criticisms involving it.

President Trump claimed that this rule gave free reign to the EPA to consider various surface waters as navigational waters, even those that are found inside farmlands, ranches, and other properties. He also highlighted the situation in California to justify this decision.

Both the EPA and the Corps are said to support this decision, based on the discovery that there were various violations committed in the creation and application of the rule, especially procedural errors, including:

  • Legal limits of the authorized agencies under the Clean Water Act were not implemented and failed to meet the expectations of Congress, and this was proven through various cases that reached the Supreme Court
  • There was inadequate record support and evidence of procedural errors when it comes to the distance-based limitations covered by the WOTUS rule
  • It did not fully protect and acknowledge the sovereignty of states when it comes to handling their resources, both land and water, in terms of their rights and responsibilities
  • Without any clear statement from the Congress, this rule then allowed the authorized agencies to reach the limits of their statutory and constitutional authority

Unsurprisingly, there are also people who opposed this repeal. Those who do argue that by repealing the Clean Water Rule, it will be detrimental to human health, affect the quality of potable water, and negatively impact the environment, among others.

In response to the criticisms of this controversial decision, the Trump administration released their own possible guidelines as to which bodies of water will be federally regulated, namely:

  • “Certain” lakes, ponds, and ditches
  • Waters traditionally used for navigation and their tributaries
  • Adjacent wetlands and impoundments of territorial waters

They also made a list of those that they do not considered as the Nation’s waters but were said to be included in the Obama WOTUS rule, which are:

  • Groundwater
  • Cropland that underwent conversion
  • Waste treatment systems and stormwater control features
  • “Many” ditches, including those on farms and roadsides
  • Those that only hold water under specific conditions, such as due to rainfall

Those who laud this repeal consider it as a personal victory, especially those who have income-generating properties located near bodies of water, as they claim that the Obama rule prevented them from using their lands as they see fit. On the other hand, those who oppose it are fearful of its effects, as they believe that it will return the conditions of these waters before the Clean Water Act was created.

It is important to note that the Trump administration is only repealing the Clean Water Rule of the Obama administration, not the entire Clean Water Act. However, only time will tell if the current administration’s decision to repeal will stop there.

Summary

The Clean Water Act was created in order to address the growing concern involving pollution in surface waters. This law primarily focuses on the monitoring and regulation of discharges of materials that may be considered pollutants to the Nation’s waters. And under this law, the authorized agencies and partners are expected to clean up or rehabilitate these waters to meet the water quality standards set and ensure that the quality is at least retained or improved once it meets the minimum standards.

While this law does not completely prohibit discharges into protected waters, it limits point source discharges by requiring those who will do so to first obtain the necessary permits and certifications. The required permits will depend on the relevant section of this law.

The 1972 version of the law, which was based on the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, included these major points:

  • The EPA is authorized to create and handle programs aimed at pollution control
  • Any person or entity who discharges pollutants into the waters, particularly from a point source to navigable waters, without the required permit is in violation of the law
  • Authorized agencies, including the state and tribes, are expected to set the standards of water quality for surface waters under their jurisdiction
  • Construction of facilities intended for sewage treatment
  • Acknowledge the contribution of nonpoint sources to water pollution and come up with ways to address the problems they bring

Amendments made in 1977 to address the shortcomings of and improve the initial version of the Clean Water Act include:

  • Giving the EPA authority to create programs aimed to develop wetlands
  • Focused on pollutants considered toxic and mandated different industries to meet the technology standards set involving these pollutants, as well as any new ones listed within three years
  • Authorized the EPA to address pollution involving hazardous materials and oil through cleanups of the waters up to 200 miles from the shoreline

The main goal of this law is ensure that the waters of the United States covered by this law will meet the standards set to make it “fishable and swimmable”, whether through preventive measures or by rehabilitating the protected waters.

Ozone Layer Depletion

Everyone says that the best way to protect yourself from the sun’s rays is to wear sunscreen. But nothing beats the best sunscreen of all – the ozone layer.

And best of all, no application required.

Since its discovery, we constantly hear those in the science field tell us that the ozone layer is being destroyed due to human activity. And unless we all do something about it, this ozone layer depletion is bound to get worse.

But if you have been regularly following the news, you may have heard the recent reports saying that the ozone layer hole is the smallest that it has ever been.

This is incredible news that affects the entire world, but why exactly should you be concerned about it?

To better understand why ozone layer depletion should be taken seriously and why we need to keep taking measures to replenish it, you must first get a good grasp of the concepts involving the ozone layer.

What is the Ozone Layer and Why is it Important?

You are probably aware that a shield is created to protect the one holding it from harm. However, other parts of the body are still vulnerable, because the shield can only cover certain areas at a time.

The ozone layer is like that, but it envelops the entire world. This protection is the main reason why this invisible layer is important to every living creature.

The ozone layer consists of ozone molecules that are naturally occurring. This layer is called as such because it contains the highest concentrations of ozone, and it is where ozone and oxygen are continuously formed as part of the ozone-oxygen cycle.

This cycle that continuously occurs in the ozone layer is essential in the prevention of harmful radiation emitted by the sun from entering the Earth. This ultraviolet light is required in this cycle, which means that most of it will be absorbed by these molecules and what is left will pass through the ozone layer and reach Earth.

Without the ozone layer, ultraviolet radiation can freely reach Earth without limits. And when it involves UV-B and especially UV-C, this will destroy not just the environment, but it will also cause deaths to living creatures in a short period of time.

What Type of Rays are Filtered by the Ozone Layer?

The sun produces large amounts of energy in different wavelengths, namely infrared radiation that we feel as heat, light that we see, and ultraviolet radiation or UV rays that cannot be seen or felt. Among these three, it is only the UV rays that get filtered by the ozone layer.

There are three different types of UV radiation, and they come with varying wavelengths:

  • UV-A has the longest wavelength, between 320 to 400 nanometers, and is not fully absorbed by the ozone layer, which allows around 95% of it to reach Earth’s surface. However, it is considered relatively harmless.
  • UV-B has a shorter wavelength, measuring between 290 to 320 nanometers, and is considered more harmful. While it can be absorbed, it can also pass through the ozone layer if it is depleted; the thinner the ozone layer, the more UV-B that can pass through and the greater its environmental and health effects, with sunburn being the most common effect.
  • UV-C is the most dangerous of all and comes with the shortest wavelength, only measuring between 100 to 290 nanometers. The ozone layer completely absorbs UV-C rays that is why it does not reach Earth, which is a good thing because we do not have any natural defenses against this particular UV ray.

These UV rays can cause great damage especially in large quantities, that is why the presence of the ozone layer is vital to prevent overexposure to it.

What Does the Ozone Layer Do?

You are already aware that the ozone layer acts like a shield for the Earth, but what exactly does this layer do?

While it prevents dangerous UV radiation from reaching Earth, it is not capable of completely blocking all UV rays. What it does is to make it harder for the UV radiation to pass through it, and only allowing the weaker and less harmful ones to penetrate it.

Because of the ozone layer, the most harmful UV-C is absorbed by the oxygen and ozone molecules present and is prevented from entering Earth.

When it comes to the UV-B, it can be absorbed by the ozone present in this layer, but not all the UV-B present will be absorbed by these molecules. The amount of UV-B that passes through it will depend on the thickness of the layer itself.

On the other hand, most UV-A can pass through the ozone layer. Although considered the safest, UV-A can still pose harm if you are exposed to it in large amounts or for prolonged periods.

Where is the Ozone Layer Located?

To know where the ozone layer is located, you must first understand what is present above the Earth’s surface.

There are five main atmospheric layers present, but our main concern here is the stratosphere, which is the second layer from the Earth’s surface. While the two lowest layers, namely the troposphere and stratosphere, both contain ozone, the stratosphere contains the largest amount of this molecule. This large concentration of ozone in the stratosphere is what we call the ozone layer.

The stratosphere is the only layer that is well-equipped to handle the unstable ozone molecules and for longer periods, as it is known as the stable or stratified layer and lacks vertical convection that allows the molecules to move up. However, the ozone layer is not synonymous to the stratosphere, since this layer is only confined in the lower region that is just above the troposphere.

While the stratosphere is roughly 10 km above the earth’s surface and spans 50 km high, the ozone layer is only found about 20 to 30 km above the earth. Unlike the stratosphere, the thickness of the ozone layer varies depending on the location and the season.

What is the Difference Between Bad and Good Ozone?

If we talk about ozone, most people think of it negatively – that it only causes harm and should be avoided. However, it is not always bad. There is also good ozone, and it is important to understand the difference between them.

Good ozone is the ozone found in the stratosphere, specifically in the ozone layer. As we already mentioned, this naturally-occurring ozone is responsible for protecting us against harmful UV rays emitted by the sun. Because of this, it is important to take measures not to destroy the ozone layer. The more ozone present in this atmospheric layer, the better protected we are.

This is not the case for bad ozone, which is present at the troposphere. The ozone present here is due to pollutants coming from vehicle emissions, industrial facilities, and other sources that produce volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide that react with sunlight. This kind of ozone that is produced at the ground level forms what we know as smog, which is known to be harmful to everyone.

Ground level ozone or bad ozone has various health effects if you get exposed to it, such as:

  • May cause respiratory issues or exacerbate already existing conditions
  • Trigger eye irritation
  • Damage or kill plants
  • Make it difficult to breathe
  • Damage lung tissue and cause scarring
  • Increase susceptibility of plants to various stressors, such as diseases and pests
  • Agricultural yield reduction

Complicating matters is the fact that bad ozone is insoluble in water, which means our bodies are incapable of processing it. When ozone gas is ingested, it will simply pass through the lungs without being broken down. And because ozone is very reactive, it will immediately trigger various health issues and can even cause death.

The difference between them makes it clear why good ozone must be constantly replenished and bad ozone must be eliminated, or at least limited, with the latter being one of the main reasons for the creation of the Clean Air Act.

How is Good Stratospheric Ozone Formed?

While bad ozone can be considered man-made in some way because it involves man-made processes, the stratospheric ozone we consider as the good ozone is formed naturally.

21% of the molecules found in the entire atmosphere are oxygen, and this oxygen is crucial in the formation of ozone, together with ultraviolet radiation. The UV rays coming from the sun split up the oxygen molecules in the stratosphere to form two separate oxygen atoms. When a newly unattached oxygen atom collides with an oxygen molecule, it will immediately react and combine with it to form the ozone molecule. This ozone molecule has three oxygen atoms present, two from the existing oxygen molecule and the other one is the free oxygen atom.

Because the air is thinner the higher it is in the atmosphere, the oxygen needed to create ozone are also fewer in number. On the other hand, the UV light necessary in this process decreases at it moves towards Earth. The stratosphere is the best location to form ozone because it meets the balance between the required UV light and oxygen molecules.

When Was the Ozone Hole Discovered?

Do you recall the time when the ozone layer hole was discovered and everyone was alarmed by it, fearing that it will immediately cause major damage to the whole world? It was a very significant issue back then, but some people are still unclear why this discovery was monumental. Whether or not you already have an idea why its discovery is crucial, it is important to correct any misconceptions about it.

In the past, ozone was believed to be just another gas found on earth. It was not until years later that scientists began to come up with the idea that this gas is vital to the planet and can absorb the UV rays coming from the sun. And in 1913, two French scientists named Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson discovered the actual presence of a layer abundant in ozone, which we now know as the ozone layer.

Another shocking discovery will be made decades later, but this time spurring the entire world into action.

In 1984, a low level of ozone was discovered in Syowa, Antarctica, as it dropped to less than 200 Dobson Units. This contradicted the belief of scientists back then that ozone levels tend to be steady. After all, records showed that these levels have remained the same for decades. However, this particular drop in the ozone level was not given much attention then, as they believed that this finding is insignificant.

The following year was monumental, as it was then confirmed by Joe Farman, Brian Gardiner, and Jonathan Shanklin that the ozone level has indeed dropped in Antarctica and in more than one station. Initially thought of as incidents of malfunctioning equipment, they discovered that the ozone levels have started dropping beginning in 1979, especially during spring. The historical low was 220 Dobson Units, but the level during that year was 194 Dobson Units and continued to decrease years later.

Unfortunately, the recorded ozone level in 1985 was only 124. Not only that, the ozone layer over the South Pole has dramatically decreased, with its thickness only two-thirds of what it was several decades ago. This thinning of the ozone layer in that area then became known as the Antarctic Ozone Hole.

The misconception about the newly discovered hole caused widespread alarm, as the public believed that it is a literal hole that will allow the UV rays to freely reach Earth and cause harm to people, especially to those who are directly underneath the ozone layer hole.

This “hole” should not be taken literally, as there is no actual hole in the ozone layer. What happens is that the amount of ozone present drops to less than 220 Dobson Units in a specific area, and this mainly occurs in Antarctica and the Arctic region. The hole being referred to is the areas of the ozone layer that has ozone less than that amount.

Scientists have discovered that this occurs seasonally, particularly during spring, because temperatures increase and more reactions occur in Antarctica, which then affects the ozone levels that will also affect the size of the hole.

What Causes Ozone Depletion and the Hole in the Ozone Layer?

Over the years, we have been told that certain chemicals cause ozone depletion and create the hole in the ozone layer. However, this is not fully understood by most people, largely owing to the confusion about what exactly the ozone layer hole is. Since we have already clarified what this hole is, what happens next is to understand what causes this phenomenon.

You may be wondering why the ozone layer hole is typically associated with Antarctica. Aside from being where the hole was discovered, this location also provides the ideal condition for ozone depletion to occur.

The main culprit for this depletion is the CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons. Scientists discovered that these chemicals that were widely used in aerosols and common household appliances, like refrigerators and air conditioning units that use freon, did not undergo any form of decay nor had any reaction with other chemicals while in the troposphere, even for years; they just remain stuck in the atmosphere. It is when these CFCs reach the stratosphere where they wreak havoc.

A specific type of cloud known as nacreous clouds, often called ‘mother of pearl’ clouds, is one of the main causes of the holes in the ozone layer. These clouds, including ice crystals, can only be formed in the ozone layer and during wintertime when the temperature drops to -78 ℃ in the stratosphere. Prevalent in Antarctica, these conditions are ideal for surface chemistry to occur, while the ice crystals present in these clouds draw CFCs closer to it.

When CFCs reach the stratosphere and react with UV radiation, it breaks apart these CFCs and releases various gases, the most dangerous of which is the highly reactive chlorine. Once a chlorine atom interacts with an ozone molecule, it destroys it by getting the third oxygen atom from the ozone molecule and produces the unstable chlorine monoxide molecule (ClO).

Once this new molecule meets a free oxygen atom, the oxygen atom part of the chlorine monoxide molecule will interact with it and form a new oxygen molecule. Because the chlorine is now a free atom once more, it can again interact with another ozone molecule and destroy it. This destruction occurs faster than the time it takes to replenish lost ozone molecules, causing ozone depletion and increasing the size of the hole.

Unfortunately, it is not just chlorine that can destroy these ozone molecules. Bromine, which is also often released by CFCs together with chlorine, as well as other chemicals and compounds like hydrofluorocarbons, halons, methyl chloroform, hydrocarbons with bromine, and carbon tetrachloride, are also known to cause ozone depletion.

With all these ozone-depleting substances, it is no wonder we were all caught off-guard when the hole was discovered and at an already noteworthy size.

What is Happening to the Hole in the Ozone Layer?

Since its discovery, scientists have begun taking a closer look to understand what is happening to the hole in the ozone layer. After the events in 1985, they realized that the problem is more serious than they initially thought, and that this worldwide problem has been the result of human activities over the years.

Using products and equipment that contain ozone-depleting substances, especially CFCs, were so widespread for decades, nobody expected that it would greatly affect the ozone layer in a matter of time. And as more research came, it became evident that unless the world does something about it, the hole in the ozone layer is bound to get bigger. Worst of all, it can have fatal consequences in the future.

To put a stop to this, world leaders decided to craft policies that will limit the depletion of the ozone layer. The first one was the United Nations Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was ratified in March 1985. While the Vienna Convention was a landmark agreement because all countries involved in it also became signatories and promoted the increase in research involving the ozone layer, it did not take an active stance in terms of its protection.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer that was created in September 1987 is a different story. It supplemented the Vienna Convention by aiming to phase out the ozone-depleting substances, or ODS, in terms of both its manufacture and consumption. Like the Vienna Convention, the Montreal Protocol was also a landmark agreement because 196 countries ratified the agreement and it was adapted worldwide.

It initially aimed to cut down the production and use of CFCs and other substances that destroy the ozone layer in the entire world by 1999. Over the years, the Montreal protocol has been revised many times and they eventually came up with the goal of completely banning these substances by the year 2000. The urgency was felt by some countries, that they even started the ban years before the set deadline.

Even with the protocol in place, scientists are aware that it will take time before the ozone layer can recover. Because these substances are stable, which means they remain in the atmosphere even after decades, scientists do not expect the ozone layer hole to be gone until around 2040 to 2070.

After all, record lows of ozone were discovered in the mid-1990s when chlorine and bromine present in the atmosphere reached peak levels. And this is why it seems impossible for the hole to disappear in just a few years.

If you recall, we have received some very good news recently. Because the number of CFCs present in the atmosphere have been in constant decline over the years after reaching record highs, the ozone layer hole has also begun to show signs of being repaired, which has now led to the smallest ozone layer hole since this hole was discovered. This is proof that the Montreal Protocol is effective.

While it was human activities that caused the ozone layer depletion, it is also human intervention that is now fixing it.

How Does Ozone Depletion Impact Human Health?

Ozone depletion became such a big deal for everyone because of its perceived impact on the human health, especially due to the misconceptions. Because the term ‘hole’ was used, the general public took it literally and believed that this hole will allow all the sun’s rays to get to earth. They thought that since they already get bad sunburns now, how much worse would it be if it the ozone layer has a hole?

If more ozone molecules are being destroyed than replenished, severe sunburns are the least of your worries. You can look forward to the following health issues with the increased exposure to the UV rays, particularly to UV-B, brought about by ozone depletion:

  • Skin cancer, including the non-melanoma kind
  • Development of melanoma considered malignant
  • Cataracts, which often lead to blindness
  • Snow blindness and other forms of photokeratitis
  • Damage to the cornea, retina, conjunctiva, and lens of the eyes
  • Compromised immune system
  • Polymorphic Light Eruption
  • Eye diseases
  • Premature skin aging and other forms of skin damage
  • Pterygium

You may have noticed that the health impacts brought about by ozone depletion are limited to the skin, eyes, and the immune system. It has also been discovered that while everyone can experience these health effects, those who are fair-skinned are more vulnerable to the various skin conditions mentioned here. This is because darker-skinned people have more melanin that also serves as protection against UV rays.

Many of these health issues have permanent effects, that is why it should be taken seriously. And if you are not yet aware, it can even have fatal consequences.

Remember all these when you go outside in a particularly hot day without slathering on some sunscreen.

What Impact Does Ozone Depletion Have on Plant and Animal Life?

Think again if you believe that the impact of ozone depletion is limited to humans. Sadly, plant and animal life are also vulnerable to the effects of too much exposure to UV radiation.

Plants

While certain plants are resistant to UV-B, many of them also have properties that protect them from radiation. Think of these plants having their own version of the ozone layer and only allowing small amounts of radiation to pass through.

Despite these defenses, scientists have confirmed that plants can still be badly affected by an ozone depletion of 10% or higher. If this happens, certain plants may experience the following negative effects:

  • Cell changes that can result in irregularities with the pollination cycle, varying flowering times, and stunted plant growth
  • Greater susceptibility to plant diseases
  • Imbalance in terms of plant and herbivore competition
  • Decrease in yield
  • Issues with photosynthesis
  • Decline of nitrogen-fixing bacteria

Do note that because plants have different reactions to UV-B, exposure to it even in large amounts will have an unequal impact to these plants; some may be severely affected while others may have little reaction to it. UV-B can also be beneficial to some plants, but not if it gets overexposed to it, which is the case if the depletion of the ozone layer continues.

Animals

Animals are also not spared from the harmful effects of UV-B overexposure due to ozone layer depletion. Its effects on animals is quite similar to that of humans, as it also mainly affects their eyes, skin, and immune system.

If the ozone layer is depleted and they get overexposed to UV-B, animals may acquire the following:

Humans and animals seem to be more affected by this scenario than plants, since only plants get to recover during the months when the ozone layer hole is smaller. This respite is crucial because if plants are not given time to recover from too much UV-B exposure, which is what will happen if the ozone layer stops being replenished, it can drastically affect the food supply of both humans and animals alike.

Fortunately, we are likely to avoid this scenario because we are already reaping the benefits of the Montreal Protocol. With the banning of the ozone-depleting substances, the hole in the ozone layer is getting smaller, which reduces our chances of experiencing these impacts, or at least experiencing them less severely.

We are one step further away from the worst-case scenario that we were all afraid of.

2 Minute Summary:

There is more to fear about ozone layer depletion than getting extremely sunburned.

Scientists have proven that the size of the hole in the ozone layer is detrimental to all living things here on Earth.

The bigger the hole present, the greater its negative impact.

With the continuous depletion of the ozone layer, we are all prime candidates for the acquisition of various health issues, particularly involving our eyes, our immune system, and our skin.

How does getting cataracts and becoming blind sound to you?

Or the acquisition of various illnesses because you have a weaker immune system?

But worst of all, we can also die from it, because skin cancer is a very real possibility.

Not only that, we can also die from starvation, as both plants and animals alike are also affected by it.

They can also die from it.

And when they die, our food source is affected.

One of the worst things you can possibly do is to underestimate the impact of the depletion of the ozone layer.

Because if you do, you can get first hand experience of its fatal consequences.