Demo Day!

To be more honest, a better title for this is demo week, based on our timeline, but demo day is so much catchier. We started ripping apart our bathroom on Saturday, and I’m pleased to say we’re close to being done with this phase of our renovation. The last couple things to resolve are removing the shower insert, and figuring out a weird subfloor situation.

So here are the before pictures (messier than usual, because my standard low level of motivation for cleaning the bathroom has dropped to an almost non-existent level since we decided it was getting ripped out).

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Our strategy for demo was to move the toilet, mirror, and vanity top, then remove the floor trim, weird towel bar/toilet paper holder pieces, linoleum/underlayment, vanity cabinet, and finally the shower insert.

Here’s the toilet and vanity gone (the tub seemed like an ideal temporary storage spot for the toilet, since we’re not messing with the tub):

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And here’s Nik removing trim, and the little panel that held the toilet paper roll. Apparently someone was enjoying the nail gun while attaching this lightweight 3″x8″ piece of wood to the wall…

Then came the linoleum. It was only glued/stapled around the edges, so we started cutting it in the middle to reveal the underlayment. For those who aren’t familiar with linoleum, first there is the plywood subfloor, then a 1/4″ layer of smooth wood called underlayment comes next, and this provides a very smooth substrate for the linoleum to be laid out on. Unfortunately for anyone who has ever had to remove linoleum, this underlayment is tacked down with long staple nails every 4 inches across the entire sheet, plus extra around the edges (you can see the guide marks for the staples on the underlayment sheets below – those little X’s show how many there should be!). When you pull up the underlayment, the nails rip through it and stay lodged in the subfloor, and (very tediously) have to be pulled out one by one, which was all done by yours truly. This brought terrible flashbacks to our kitchen renovation…which had many times as much linoleum in it!

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Next out came the vanity. When our plumbing was installed, they put the vanity in first then attached the cumbersome pipes, so the only way to detach the vanity is to cut out squares in the back of it because the pipes (once installed) don’t fit back out the holes. Nik used the multitool to do this, then we dragged the vanity down the stairs to it’s temporary resting place in our living room.

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The shower insert is one HUGE piece with no seams. And, as inserts are supposed to be installed, the edges are under the drywall, so it is wider than the actual drywall opening. We’re thinking we’ll have to use the circular saw to cut it into smaller pieces to get it out, but this is a job for next weekend. We did remove the doors at least:

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So that’s about where we are right now with the demo. You probably also noticed the one weird piece of subfloor in the room…we were aware there was a previous leak in the home that was fixed (obviously not by us, or we would’ve done a better patch job). The thing we can’t figure out is why on earth they replaced a patch of the subfloor with that new piece, but left an extremely thin border of the existing subfloor around the patch? (If someone has a logical explanation, please share before we put much effort into fixing this!).

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Those teeny pieces of subfloor around the patch are now very unstable, which is a problem for tile. We’re thinking of ripping up that patch piece, double checking that an absolute moron didn’t fix whatever leak issue was under the floor previously, and re-patching it with a piece of subfloor that actually reaches to the edge of that original piece. Then we’d belt sand it to ensure it is level before moving on with our tile install. Minor set back but, fingers crossed, hopefully an easy fix.

One other conundrum is about the vanity top. I spent some time getting quotes for remnant granite from the place we got our kitchen counters from, and that came to about $775, sinks and install included (but not faucets or plumbing hookup). It was a bit higher than I was thinking…so I stopped at Lowe’s on the way home to see what price I could get from them. I hope you’re sitting down…because their quote was upwards of $1600!!!! For a stupid vanity top! I was blown away. But the sales guy was really nice, and encouraged me to at least consider their pre-fabricated vanity tops. I smiled and nodded and thanked him, thinking that would be a complete waste of time, but wandered down that aisle anyway and was pleasantly surprised at one option they had. It is $399, a “natural marble veneer”, and it has white undermount sinks included in one piece, in the size we need.

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The reviews online are somewhat conflicting – some people say it looks great without breaking the bank, and some that say it has poorly patched cracks, the one they got had weird colors mixed in, bad veneer seams, etc. I’m thinking I’ll order 2 (to hedge my bets, knowing I can return 1 or both), or maybe find a store that has some in stock and fully examine them in the store. If we can find one we like, we’re happy to save almost $400. And if they really do look cheap, we’ll know that the extra expense for the granite top is worth it. During a renovation, its important to keep reminding ourselves that our house might not be worth every upgrade we want, and if we might sell in the next few years, mainly picking upgrades that we can expect to pay us back is important.

While I was at Lowes, I also peeked at tile samples, and found a bunch that I really like. I’m excited to go back to the store with Nik so we can make our final selections and move on with this reno!

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