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Renovating a Pre War Bathroom


Hi, I am about to start renovating a pre war bathroom that I don't think has been touched since .. God knows how long. The building was built in the 30s, and has subway tiles and old fixtures now. It's time for an update. I've read some great discussion threads on here, but as they were all over 2 yrs ago, I'm hoping some people have some new advice (kylewest, are you out there??) Of course, I went into the situation thinking I was just going to retile and replace the sink and fixtures.... turns out because of the age of the building, my building requires me to update all plumbing (back to the risers) which just doubled my estimate... great. So here are my questions :

1) Marble vs. Ceramic: I am going to do some kind of subway tile and marble (probably carrara) - my GC says he does not recommend doing marble in the bathroom bc of the maintenance. I'm a single girl now and it's not a high traffic bathroom, but I do want the place to hold up for the next 10 years. I also don't think I'd enjoy re-sealing marble every 3 months. Of course, every tile place I've gone to says marble is the way to go. Obviously marble looks the best, but I've found some pretty good ceramic replicas (at half the cost). What's your opinion?

2) Tub - back when I thought I was just retiling (how naive I was...), I was going to keep my existing porcelain tub- it's nice, deep, etc and I just had it reglazed when I moved in a few months ago. But now that all the plumbing has to be redone and I'm into this place for way more than I wanted to be, I am thinking about replacing the tub- I don't want it to be the one thing I don't update and wish that I had. I also wanted to put in a glass shower door, I think shower curtains are so... college. Anyway- Is it worth getting a new tub? Is there ANY value saying that the tub is "original" for resale purposes? The tub I have now is rounded - is it possible (and even worth it for that matter) to just add a shower door? My GC thinks it will be too small for showering purposes, but I can't stomach the thought of sinking over $20 k into a bathroom and still have to look at a shower curtain.
3) Shower door- IF i replace the tub, I still have the problem of only having walls on two sides of the tub. Could I put a half shower door (sliding ones scare me) and leave the end of the tub open? Is this totally impractical?

Ok that's all for now, but any insight you have for me would be GREATLY appreciated!!


Tub: When I first moved in a few months ago, I had the original tub reglazed- it looks nice now, but considering I have to

Renovating a prewar bathroom is a nice problem to have!

I'd go with marble even if more costly. Worth it. Don't believe in the hype around resealing. Marble can be very resilient and shows the best. Also, since you're talking about a prewar bathroom, it's probably the most appropriate and classic material as well.

As for the tub, refurbishing the original is a timeless look but if you'd prefer the practicality of a tub with the shower doors, I've seen them in prewars (albeit, complete sliding ones) and they show well.

Good luck


Most buildings regardless of age are making us change the plumbing back to the riser. Marble is very nice but there is extra care that has to be taken. You will not have to reveal every 3 months. More like once a year. There are many alternatives that look great. You can use either a porcelain or a glass composite. The last two bathrooms we did it was with the glass composite. One that was 3 x 6 which looks great and one with 12 x24 and that looks great as well. The tile looks like super white Thasos. I think it is worth getting a new tub. Take a look at Zuma. Very nice deep tub for $1,000.00. I believe a new tub will help resale value. We install splash guards that are about 34" wide. If your contractor can put the shower body on the wall where it is opened you don't have to reach around to turn the water on

I love pre wars, and I kinda dig the 30s era Art Deco tub. I know exactly the kind you have, little bit more rounded than modern ones - don't accommodate a shower door.

I'm in 2 minds about this. Love vintage tubs, don't mind a little wear on them while juxtaposing with all new tiles & sink & toilet. Gotta be careful about matching the styles. I like the Duravit 1930 range. If not done well, the tub will stick out like a sore thumb. I also like the look of a clean white waffle-y shower curtain on a new nickel L-shaped rod (2 walls, right)? If you are determined to change your tub, can't you build a half-wall on one side of the tub and mount glass surround doors? Would have to be a custom job. But then you get a nice ledge for shaving your legs.

We have hex marble carrera floors in the kids' bath (polished). It's been 4 years, and it's holding up very, very well. Will probably reseal in the summer. Don't want to push my luck.

I've visited a couple of recent renos in 30s era buildings, and I like the Thassos white on walls, hex basket weave tiles on floor (either ceramic or marble).

Purple, I am in almost the exact situation as you with a pre war early 30's original bath. You are a few weeks ahead of me so it'll good to find out how your project unfolds. I considered replacing that slightly curvy tub with a shower stall but now intended to keep that tub (yes, with waffle shower curtain). The plan is also to replace the sink and the toilet and retile everything. Shower system will need to be replaced as well and I suspect I will be required to update all the plumbing (not sure how much that will cost). The toilet has no water tank, any advice on what would be a good replacement? I am also contemplating a wall mounted sink with exposed pipe but it's difficult to find a slightly rounded shape with simple lines that reflects the period. Tiles: 3x6 white subway wall tile and hexagon floor tiles. All tiny details to yet hammered out. Any advice will be much appreciated.

Apparently to replace the tub you have to pull a permit from the city which can take like 6 weeks ... So I'm keeping my tub and just adding a custom glass door.... All I can say is CHA CHING - this thing is going to cost me $30k for kitchen and bath and that's on the low end..

Who did your tub reglazing?


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