Monthly Archives: November 2017

So Close, Then So Far

Well, we had good intentions when we were hoping to have our entire bathroom (shower included) functional by Thanksgiving. I mean, all we really had left to do was some trim installation and popping the new shower faucet hardware on this weekend. We should’ve known better that many things don’t just “pop” on, and this turns out to be the case for our shower faucet dial.

You know what I’m talking about – changing something that looked like this:

Image result for old shower knob

Into a more updated one like this:Image result for pfister ladera

You would think that the old one comes off with some hidden screws (this was true), and then the new one fits into the standard plumbing that is under the old one and voila, updated hardware. WRONG.

Apparently almost every shower valve is unique to each brand of shower dial, and even if you use the same brand but the first one was 20 years old, they likely won’t be compatible. How do you fix this? You need to access the pipes, cut the old valve and surrounding piping out, reattach new copper piping to the new valve, install the new valve mounted to the studs under the wall, then weld those new pipes to the old ones (called ‘sweating the pipes’ as I found out, or you can buy fancy connectors that allow you to snap the pipes together). Home Depot has a very thorough video detailing this process, which was useful, but caused my anxiety to rise with each passing second as I realized what a big job this can be:

https://www.google.com/search?q=install+bathroom+shower+faucet&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#kpvalbx=1

Fortunately, Nik seems somewhat confident that he can do these things (one of the reasons I love him!), but the one complication is that WE JUST TILED OVER THE PIPES. So now we’re faced with cutting a hole in the drywall directly behind the shower wall (over the tub) to perform this surgery.

We did get a plumber to come over just to advise us and we’re waiting on the quote, but I think we’re going to end up trying to do this ourselves since I’m assuming it’ll be at least a couple hundred dollars to hire someone. We did look back at old pictures from when the wall was open, and realized that the two water lines leading into the old valve are plastic, so there will be only one copper line to cut and reattach which is the one that leads up to the shower head (the shower plumbing is off to the right in these pics – the plumbing that is straight ahead is actually for the bathtub in our guest bathroom):

IMG_1887

IMG_3565

We actually have two options at this point, both of which will probably involve cutting into the wall. If we use the faucet set that matches our sink faucets (Pfister Ladera Trim Kit), this will require a totally new valve to be installed (so all the steps I listed above). But, we also ordered a “universal” faucet kit that is coming in the mail today, and that one supposedly is compatible with many types of valves and I believe our old valve pictured here will work with it:

IMG_4260

It still looks nice, but wouldn’t totally match the sink faucets. But, even for that kit I’m about 95% certain we’ll still need to open the wall to recess the old valve back into the wall about 1/2″ since our new tile is not as deep as the fiberglass insert that was there previously – you can kind of see the line where the wall used to hit the valve in this side picture:

IMG_4262

Might be an easier job that replacing the whole valve system, but if we’re going into the wall anyways, we might as well put in the hardware set we like better! We’ll make our final assessment tonight once we have both faucet sets to compare. The two kits were comparably priced, around $105-125, and include the shower head, temperature dial, and a tub spout, which we won’t use, so we’ll just cap off that connection on the valve.

Another annoying thing about this is that we now know we’ll have to do the same thing to replace the tub hardware in the master bathroom, meaning we’ll have to make an even larger hole in the wall to reach that plumbing (it’s in the same wall as the shower plumbing, just lower down). Still blows my mind that switching these fixtures out is so complicated…

Anyway, we did make progress elsewhere this weekend while waiting for that other faucet set to arrive today. I got the shower area all cut in with paint, but we’ll probably wait to fill in the larger areas with a paint roller once we’re all done with repatching the drywall hole to access the plumbing. Nik and I installed the baseboard trim and quarter round for the rest of the room. I got it all caulked last night and filled the nail holes – now all that’s left is the touch up paint! Trim is amazing – these are before and after pictures and the trim is about the only difference, but it makes the room look so much more finished:

I also finished the last few remaining sections on the sink that needed caulking:

IMG_4277

Last night we moved back in to start using this sink so all we’ll have to share with my family in the other bathroom is the shower. Not too bad, and I might even convince Nik and my dad to busy themselves working on this shower plumbing adventure to remove them from the Thanksgiving kitchen madness!

Shower Progress

I was looking back through my summer calendar, and almost laughed out loud when I saw that this renovation was scheduled to be completed in July. HAHA. Makes me laugh again. Sadly, we are still working on this bathroom. Which is partly our fault, since we’ve had plenty of weekend days we just didn’t FEEL like doing work on it, so we didn’t. Fortunately, the light at the end of the tunnel became a lot brighter last weekend with the installation of the shower door, and now most of what’s left is purely cosmetic.

The most difficult part of finishing up the shower has been patching the space between the tile and the drywall, since the cement board under the drywall (the red and darker grey area) was about 1/8-1/4″ thinner than the surrounding drywall:

IMG_4026

This has meant applying a thin coat of joint compound, sanding till smooth, then repeating approximately 932 times:

IMG_4158

I think it is ALMOST there – maybe 1 more coat this weekend, and we’ll be ready for wall paint. We got all the door framing up last weekend, including about 2 hours that it took for Nik to drill 4 holes through hard porcelain tile (and the mortar and cement board underneath it!). After all that drilling, we forgot to take a picture of Nik’s perfect drill holes, but we did take one of the final frame installation:

IMG_4222

We haven’t actually put the doors on yet, just to make the sanding/painting part easier, but at this point it’s just lifting the door panels into place when we’re ready for them:

IMG_4227

Nik also finished caulking and installing the shower drain the other weekend, so that is all done:

IMG_4224

Another problem we had to tackle was figuring out how to caulk between the shower pan and the first row of tiles. This was fine on the right side of the shower, where this gap was a perfectly caulkable size of about 1/8″ thick. However, this gap was significantly larger on the left side of the shower, closer to 1/2″. We couldn’t come up with a better strategy for filling it, so I just squirted in several thick layers of clear silicone caulk. It seems successfully filled at this point, but when clear caulk is that thick, it’s not really very clear.

IMG_4225

Once the door is in place, I’m sure it won’t be noticeable. We’ll just have to clean it regularly and maybe replace it every year if icky stuff grows on it.

Next up is attaching the faucet hardware, which we need to pick up from the store. We’ll probably match the sink hardware, unless we find a set that has a hose attached to the shower head that looks decent. Our new greyhound, Gunnar, appears to lack all sense of agility and grace, so we’re thinking that future baths will probably be way easier in a walk-in shower vs having to help him navigate his bony, long, awkward legs over a tub wall. So it could make more sense to put a hose shower head in there, and they do make some pretty nice looking ones now. Here’s those long, bony legs I’m talking about!

IMG_4117

After those tasks are done, the last few things will be installing the remaining floor trim around the shower and the adjoining walls, which is already painted and ready to go. Although Gunnar doesn’t like people in driveways a hundred yards away, he seems to have no fear of loud noises or power tools, so he’s been extremely tolerant of, if not interested to the point of being annoying, in our bathroom renovation. He’ll probably love the air compressor and nail gun for installing the trim!  We also need to fashion some type of threshold for the room. Once we’re done with those things, we can move back into the bathroom, and at that point we’ll also assess if we want to do any sort of cosmetic tiling around the tub to tie it into the room, and the accent wall I had envisioned behind the tub. This tiling will be a lot easier than the shower tiling since the cosmetic tiles can go right over the existing drywall.

Well, the count down to the end has begun. We’re hosting my family for Thanksgiving this year, so with extra people in the house, this puts a hard deadline on us to get this renovation wrapped up!