Eyesore in the morning, enticing by night

Patti Murphy

It may not have all the familiar trappings of a place of worship, save a few candles, but the bathroom is without a doubt a modern-day sanctuary. With a quick lock of the door, anyone who wants a little time to soak in the tub or enjoy a hot shower can get a moment’s peace.

It is troublesome, then, when homeowners see insidious invaders have attacked their refuge of relaxation. What may start as a small, black spot soon spreads to form a ring of mold around the tub and up the tiled shower walls.

“Any time you see any kind of black speck, you have a sizable amount of mold behind the wall,” said Vince Ferrantino, president of Chicago Re-Bath, 4646 Western Ave., Lisle. “When we take out the old wall and turn it around to show the customers the other side, they can’t believe what they’re seeing.”

Chicago Re-Bath, which is part of a franchise out of Arizona, has been in business since 1989. In that time, Ferrantino and his staff have helped thousands of suburban homeowners eradicate any signs of mold from their bathroom. And the best part is that the entire process takes only one day.

Rolling giant sheets of a synthetic rubber onto existing tile walls, installers then move walls and a ceiling panel of high impact acrylic onto the adhesive surface.

Measurements taken beforehand determine the size and shape of a custom made bathroom liner — also made of acrylic — which is placed over the existing tub.

“Re-Bath actually has a patent on the installation procedures for bathtub liners,” Ferrantino said.

To ensure a water-tight fit, installers fill the gap between the original tub and the liner with flowable silicone. Re-Bath has 850 different molds in its inventory and can fit 99 percent of all bathtubs with a liner that the company promises will never chip or crack. Several different colors and patterns — some walls are made to look like tile — can blend in with or even enhance the rest of the bathroom. If a tile wall is badly damaged or starting to buckle, the company will rip it out and put up new drywall. Wainscoting behind high-splash areas like the sink or toilet and bathroom fixtures are also available through the retailer.

“After about five years, bathrooms start to wear out and have moisture problems,” Ferrantino said. “If mold gets bad enough, some people have to go through a reclamation process where people come in and remove the mold. People have to move out while that process is going on.”

When Sally Hatcher bought her Wheaton home, the first thing on her to-do list was remodel the bathroom.

“The home had been previously owned by an investor and rented out, and the bathroom hadn’t been maintained,” Hatcher said.

It was through a direct mail flyer that Hatcher first learned of Re-Bath’s services.

“Initially they sent a salesperson and then someone stopped by to take measurements,” she said. “My installers were very easy to work with. I had no problems and they cleaned up after themselves. I thought they were great.”

Hatcher had decided to upgrade her existing unit and put in a whirlpool. Though this requires more labor than simply fitting a liner over an old tub, the entire process took only two days. The company also offers customers the option of ripping out their bathtub and installing a shower stall.

The average cost for a bathroom re-model is $4,500 to $5,000. Re-Bath offers a payment plan of $99 a month, no interest or payments for one full year, or half down before the job and the other half following completion. The company also includes a written lifetime guarantee for all of its services.

“A lot of people in this business do what we call ‘slamming,’ which means they’ll take a tub that doesn’t really fit your tub and push it in there until it fits,” Ferrantino said. “It might look nice, but a few years down the road you’ll start to have some real problems.”