Author Archives: nikandlouise

The Tub Demo

I mentioned last week we had to do a mild demolition of our tub to get the old tiles down – we were hoping we could just chip them off, but it turns out the people who built our house decided, for once, to not do things half-assed and to actually adhere these small tiles quite well to the drywall underneath. Nik was finding he was just denting the drywall in when he tried to chip them off with a pry bar. So he got the Dremel out and cut just outside the tile on each wall. Here’s the tub, (old pic, but you can see the square white tile surround), and after:

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There weren’t any huge issues, other than the studs on the left wall were built up an extra 1/2″ with some plywood so the drywall would reach the tub on one side, but that will be easy to replace when we put the new drywall in.

So, new drywall. We went to Lowe’s last night to buy a sheet of 5/8″ thick drywall, but of course a 4’x8′ board didn’t fit in the car, so here we are cutting it down to size in the Lowe’s parking lot:

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I was envisioning this ending poorly, perhaps because my most recent experience cutting large sheets of things was with the Hardibacker cement board for the shower, which was so difficult to cut. For once, this actually went very smoothly and we had the drywall sheet cut down to fit in the car within about 10 minutes. A simple cut with the razor, breaking the board along the line, and then a razor cut through the paper backing. It’s almost like we’re pros at this! We got home and finished the last few cuts to make the pieces the right size – all that’s left is cutting out a small circle for the faucet, then screwing them into the walls.

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After we get drywall up, we’ll be able to slather on a layer of mortar (we have some left over from the shower), and then lay the tub tile – one row of the 12×24″ tiles, and bullnose to surround it. And then grout. And then patching any exposed drywall seams between the new and old drywall – which will exist, because of course the old tiles went about 1″ further up the wall than one row of our new tile + 1 row of bullnose will go. Speaking of bullnose, I just remembered we forgot to buy those on our Lowe’s run last night…we got excited about the drywall, and apparently that was enough to distract us from our extensive two-item shopping list. All in all, replacing drywall and giving new tile to this tub will probably cost ~$60 at the end of it, which I think is well worth it to not leave behind one part of this renovated bathroom in the 1990s.

In other news, our shower is up and running! We got the faucet in yesterday, and we used it this morning! My only complaint is we had to buy the eco-sense shower head, only because the regular one was out of stock until the end of this week and I didn’t want to wait. And sure enough, it has a pretty weak flow. There might be a way to take out the water restricting device in the shower head, which would work; if not we may switch it out with our old one, or see if we can return it to get the other one when it’s back in stock.

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Also, since we had part of the drywall down around the tub, we toyed with the idea of trying to reach up into the wall to move the valve back from below so the shower handle wouldn’t stick out as far. But, for once, we decided to leave it as it, for fear that we would make a small cosmetic problem into something bigger if we screwed it up.

Gunnar didn’t know quite what to think of the new shower, he just stood awkwardly in the bathroom and watched me while I was using it this morning! I’m pretty sure he was wondering whether there was also peanut butter in this shower, just like there was on the wall of our other shower when we gave him a bath last weekend. Or he was wondering why I hadn’t fed him breakfast yet…we’re pretty confident his thoughts revolve around food approximately 97% of the time.

 

Shower Doors…and More Demo

The last few weeks Nik and I (well, mostly me) have hemmed and hawed about what faucet set will be most compatible with our shower, and we’ve made some new discoveries, and had some set backs. We did determine that we have a Moen posi-temp valve that is already there, and we also determined we’re not willing to cut through the wall to replace it! So we have several options at this point: we can use a universal kit we got that is made by Pfister and that should work, but it protrudes pretty far from the wall because of our valve placement and it isn’t as nice looking as some of the other sets. This isn’t completely installed, but this is what the ‘protrusion’ would look like with the universal set…not impossible, but not ideal:

Now that we know we have a Moen valve, we started looking more closely at Moen products, and found a line that we like (Brantford) that also sells individual components which we thought would be useful for replacing the tub hardware without having to buy another complete set (spout, shower head, and dial) as well.

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Our tub spout turns out to be somewhat not standard (surprise!), so we did have to order a couple other tub spouts to try (Delta and Kohler make one that should work in theory…whether the metal finishes match the Moen ones perfectly is unlikely but Moen doesn’t make a compatible spout that isn’t chrome). So we ordered all the parts (shower head and temperature dial for the shower, temperature dial and tub spout for the tub) and then started pulling the tub apart yesterday (1 hour after ordering) and realized that the tub  temperature control dial HAS A DIFFERENT STUPID VALVE THAN THE SHOWER!

Soooo…we should be set on the shower when those kits come in this week, but the tub will still take some troubleshooting to find a valve dial that works with it. This part of the project has honestly taken longer to figure out than tiling our floor and shower. If only the contractors that built our house used standard, matching plumbing and fixtures, we could’ve been done with this 2 months ago!

In other news, while we were disassembling the old tub faucet parts, we also started removing some of the square white tiles around the tub – we’re planning to do a quick cosmetic tile update around the tub to match the shower tile. Well, the little white tile squares didn’t come off neatly so we ended up just cutting out all the drywall attached to the tile around the tub so we’ll need to replace that drywall, then tile over it. We thought the demolition for this bathroom was done, but we were wrong.

All that aside, we do have some fun progress to show you! We got the remainder of our walls painted this weekend, and got the shower doors installed! Despite the doors being super heavy (about 75lbs each), we got them in with relatively little hassle and I think they look amazing. We selected Dreamline Encore 48″ frameless sliding door in brushed nickel, which set us back about $450. Here’s the Home Depot stock photo:

DreamLine Encore 44 in. to 48 in. x 76 in. Framed Bypass Shower Door in Brushed Nickel

We thought about using a hinged door for a hot second…but the reviews were much worse for those types of doors, the installation seemed a lot trickier, and they were a couple hundred dollars more expensive. I read a few reviews for these sliding doors and everyone loved them and had an easy time installing them, so that made our decision easy. The hardest part about installing these was drilling 4 screws into the tile to secure the top bar. Nik did a great job with this, but it took him about 2 hours to get those 4 screws through a layer of porcelain tile, mortar, and cement board.

Here’s the finished product:

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In other news, we got a mini-Christmas tree this year to avoid any potential dog destruction:

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Luckily, Gunnar has shown very little interest in the tree. We’ve started leaving him loose out of the crate for about a week now while we’ve been at work, which has gone splendidly for the most part. His one goofy transgression was consuming an ENTIRE banana, peel and all, that Nik mistakenly left on the coffee table. We only figured this out because Nik found a small portion of the stem left behind on Gunnar’s bed, then we realized what had happened. Lesson learned. But really, who couldn’t forgive that sweet face? Gunnar has managed to carve himself a perfect little niche in our family, and I have to say that snuggling with him is just the best thing ever!

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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:

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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):

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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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:

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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:

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

A Cool Stool

In the midst of our bathroom renovation, we knew we’d be taking a trip up to PA for one of my friend’s weddings, and luckily it worked out that we’d also be able to visit Nik’s best man, Jed, and his wife Laura who just had a baby boy in June. This baby has a special (and kinda funny) story: Jed and Laura Skyped us last December to tell us the very happy news, and the due date. They could quickly see the gears turning as we thought about the due date, and realized it was just about 9 months after our wedding! So we call him our wedding baby (which will surely embarrass him some day!), and he is the sweetest little thing! Nik is a little more enthusiastic about children than I am, so I’m pretty sure this trip was one of his ploys to get me more interested….and he was so cute,  it was pretty effective!

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Before our visit, we hadn’t gotten the little guy a gift yet, so we decided to build him something. I had seen a post on another blog I read about a step stool that she made for her kids, with free design plans from another DIY blog. We headed to Lowe’s because somehow in our garage filled with lumber, we didn’t have quite the right piece of wood to start building it. We got a plank of poplar and traced out the design, then cut it with the jigsaw:

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Nik used his Kreg Jig to make some fancy pocket holes for the joinery:

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Then it was time for assembly. We decided to stain the top and prime and paint the sides light gray:

After 2 coats of paint, we then screwed the steps onto the body, and I got to work free-hand painting his name onto the stool, which was stressful but came out pretty well in the end:

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He’s not old enough for it yet, but I’m excited to watch him grow into it over the next year or two! Jed also just finished a very impressive remodel of their basement, and I told him we’d love to have a guest post about it on the blog, so perhaps that will be coming in the future.

I also mentioned in our last post that we were doing something exciting for our anniversary. Nik and I (well, mostly me!) have been thinking about adding something fluffy to our family for a while, and we finally decided on adopting a retired racing greyhound. We’ve done tons of research on this breed, and visited a wonderful adoption kennel about an hour west of us called Project Racing Home. On our anniversary weekend, we picked out this handsome, goofy boy, and he’ll be coming home with us tomorrow! One good thing about a dog is, in anticipation of his arrival, we’ve been forced to clean up after ourselves for our in-progress DIY projects. It’s nice to have our living room back (well, mostly…the dog’s crate is rather large!) which is normally our staging area, and all the tools and debris from our bathroom renovation mostly cleared out of our master bedroom!  Here he is!

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The Tile is Up!

We didn’t get to grouting last weekend, but we DID get all of the tile on the wall! Tiling around the nook was not fun, and didn’t come out perfect, but I’m hopeful that the grout will patch in all the cracks and it will look great when it’s done!

Last weekend we got the tiles on the back of the nook done irst, so we could get a decent measurement on the depth of the side tiles. This weekend we first did the tiles lining the walls of the nook, which went alright. We laid them out first to make sure our measurements worked:

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It was tricky, because I didn’t account for the fact that all the walls of the nook are slanted to allow water to flow out instead of collect inside, so the corners all have a pretty tight fit towards the back of the nook, but quite a wide gap at the front of the nook. But I think with the grout in, this will look normal.

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On Sunday, we then cut the tiles for the wall around the nook, got our last row of mosaic tiles down, and finished with the bullnose on the edges of the tile. The 45 degree mitered corners of the bullnose tiles for each corner of the side walls just about had me in tears. Something just wasn’t measuring right, and we ended up wasting a few of these expensive tiles, and I had to drive back to Lowe’s to buy 3 more. But it’s done, and we’re so relieved. I even vacuumed up and neatened around the pan, so you can actually see our floor!

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Next weekend will be grout grout grout, and hopefully tackling smoothing over the seam between tile, cement board, and drywall so we can paint around the shower. AND Sunday is our one year anniversary! Hard to believe it’s been a year already, but I guess that’s a good thing. We have an exciting event planned for Saturday, so we’ll update with some pictures next week if it goes well =)

I’ll leave you with a picture of our huge resident praying mantis. We see it every few days, and this thing is a beast. Shortly after I took this picture, it caught a large bumble bee and munched (crunched? There was lots of crunching…) it ALIVE right in front of us. At one point he dropped the injured bee onto the ground, and eerily walked all the way off the plant to the ground to retrieve the poor bee so he could finish his feast. Usually Nik is politely tolerant of  my often excessive interest in nature and bugs, and will briefly come look at the weird things I find. But for this show he was even engrossed!

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Progress Here and There

This weekend Nik got 3 applications sent away, so we had some time to get more work done on the shower. The tile is almost done (being placed, that is. Grouting hasn’t begun yet)! The last step of tile-laying is around the niche, and it will be complicated – having these tiles meet at right angles is tricky, because it’s not just tile measurements as it’s been everywhere else. Around the niche, we also have to account for the thickness of mortar and tile on the tiles in the niche and around the niche to ensure they meet at the right place. Cutting as we go might be necessary for this section.

Here is our progress after this weekend:

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It was hard to get the whole shower in one picture…sorry for the bad angle. I also did just the inside of the niche, with the accent tiles, so we at least would know the thickness to build off of for the sides, top and bottom:

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We got a couple other projects underway or completed this weekend which felt good. We bought an old window frame upwards of 2.5 years ago from an old warehouse in Durham, with plans to make a collage picture frame. We first reglazed the panes (this actually happened so long ago, it was before we bought out house!). Then, trying to figure out how to attach the prints to the inside of the glass derailed this project for about 2 years – we thought of using little black picture corner attachers, but the adhesive side that would show against the glass wasn’t pretty. Then we tried directly gluing pictures, but the glue made marks on the photos.

We had about given up, so we looked up videos of how other people successfully mounted pictures into these DIY window frames. This lady with a thick southern drawl came on, and said ‘it’s so quick and easy you wouldn’t believe it’ (hah, we thought, there’s NO way, we’ve been thinking about this for years and everything we try looks ugly and noticeable). She instructed us to use invisible tape – yup, plain tape, and just tape the corners. We were unimpressed, and knew we would see the tape and it would look so amateur. But in our desperation to get this project done, I tried it.

And guess what? YOU COULDN’T SEE THE TAPE! So, 2.5 years later, and we finally finished this project, using pictures from before our wedding, our honeymoon, and our trip to Utah. Now we just need to find a place to hang it!

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I know this picture is blurry…but you can’t see the tape!!

There was one more project we did this weekend building a piece of furniture from scratch as a surprise for Nik’s best man’s new baby. I’ll wait a couple weeks until after we’ve given it to him to post that, in case they stumble on the blog in the meantime. I just wanted to mention it, you know, in case you thought we weren’t very productive this weekend!

I’m really hoping to get the rest of the tile in Saturday, so we can at least think about grouting on Sunday. After that, we need to patch all the drywall around the tile and finish painting the walls, caulk around the shower pan and finish installing the drain, and then finally install the doors and faucet hardware. I swear, this list seems to never get shorter…