Tag Archives: demo

In the Other Direction

The past few weeks has been all demo – ripping things out. For the first time in this renovation, we’ve started going in the other direction – putting new things in. Even though it’s so early in the renovation, it’s always exciting when we hit that point. It feels like real progress.

After the frustrations of last week, we’re past all of that and moving forward. But before we do, I promised some more demolition photos. Last weekend, our goal was to rip out the shower and remove the floor patch, both to check that whatever pipe fixes were under there looked ok, and also to redo the patch job so the new piece of wood actually lined up with the other existing pieces of subfloor in a sensible manner.

So the shower started out as this:

I feebly attempted to smash the back wall with a hammer, and that was unsuccessful. So Nik punctured it with something small, enough to get the blade of the Sawzall into it. Then he cut up and down. We then used the multitool to cut into the drywall a few inches above the insert – to clear the piece of the insert that is install under the drywall. We cut the shower into two wall wall pieces and a floor piece, and dragged them out to the backyard:

Looks simple, but it took us the better part of the day. Then on to the patch with the stupid edges:

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This took a lot of prying for Nik to get it out, but finally it came loose. They had built “fake joists” to anchor this beauty, which were entirely unsound, but did hold the patch down pretty good, making removal difficult. One of the fake support joists actually ripped out with the piece of plywood, and here are the remainders left behind:

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Anyways, we decided not to rip out those joists for fear of damaging something else down there, but we would not use them for support for the new piece. Subfloor is actually tongue and groove at each edge, so even the sides that are not supported with the joists under the subfloor have support from the tongue and groove. The issue with our patch is you can’t get a tongue and groove piece into place when there are already pieces on both sides – you have to build from one side to the next so you can insert the tongue into the slot, then the next piece inserts into the groove. The stupid person who did the original patch job didn’t want to deal with this, so they took the easy (incorrect) route and just threw a piece down that was flush on each edge. It did make a patch, but the edges were bouncy due to the lack of the tongue and groove support. So we did buy tongue and groove plywood, but to deal with the placement issue, Nik trimmed off just the bottom side of the grooved edge so that we could get decent support from the top groove edge while still being able to slide the piece into place. We bought 3/4″ OSB plywood for the patch, at $21 for a 4’x8′ sheet. We may be able to use the rest of that board for our vanity, when we mount it higher.

Here’s the final patch job, looking (and feeling) much better!

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There was one edge that was a smidge elevated, but 30 seconds with the belt sander took care of that.

So on to the tile foundation. Since learning that the Ditra stuff was going to be a pain with our 24″ non-standard joist spacing, we headed back to Lowe’s Friday night to purchase more mortar and cement board. We choose 0.25″ HardieBacker cement board, which came to only about $55 for 5 pieces. And we needed a bag of mortar ($21) and cement screws ($29), totaling about $105.  When I returned the two rolls of Ditra I had purchased, I got $176 back, and that wasn’t even including the thin set mortar that this item would’ve required to lay it. So at least we’re in the green on this (initially frustrating) error!

We got the 3×5′ cement board pieces upstairs and played floor tetris for a bit to figure out the best orientation to make sure our subfloor seams and patch job would be best supported with the cement boards. We made a few cuts to the board (you score it repeatedly with a razor blade, then sort of bend it to break it to size) and laid it all out, leaving space in front of where our shower pan will eventually be. We’ll have to revisit this spot once the pan is in:

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Once we had the pieces ready to be put in place, I told Nik to make his best “it’s time for mortar!” face, and this was the result (slightly skeptical and concerned):

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We went outside to mix up our mortar and this was stressful because we did way too large a batch at once, which put a lot of strain on our drill that was used to mix it – but luckily it survived. And then we got to work spreading – using a 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 1/4″ trowel size, then placing the board, then Nik following up with cement screws. We started on the far wall first, and did the three pieces along that wall:

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There’s 3 more pieces still to go on the other side of the room that we didn’t have time to get to – Nik had to go out of town to a conference on Sunday but he’ll be back later this week. It’s really a two man job, with the spreading, placing, and screwing the boards down in a timely manner (since the mortar only has about 30 minutes of pliable life). But it’s looking good – and most importantly, feels super solid. Next up will be another layer of mortar and then tile!

Speaking of tile, we brought home pieces of our top choices to see how they look in the room – we’ve selected “Mitte gray” 12×24″ tiles for the floor (the darker one) and “Leonia silver” 12″x24″ tiles for the shower. They’re between $1.79 and $1.99/square foot. These tiles are HEAVY and I’m worried about mounting them vertically on a wall (what if they come crashing off and damage my shower pan, and then I have to wait another month to get a new one!??). But apparently they make mortar that is for large tile or heavier natural stone applications that we might have to use – the porcelain grade mortar we’ve been using says it’s only good for up to 13″x13″ tile. And back  buttering the tiles helps as well. So here’s the tile – the Leonia has some warmer tones in it that I’m liking a lot, and the floor tile is a nice shade of gray that will hopefully hide dust/my hair very well. I’m liking how they look!

IMG_1870The leonia silver also has cute little mosaic tiles in the same color that are part of the collection, so we might use those to make an accent row in the shower. Or pick out some other fancier tile for a small accent row. But the accent tiles are expensive, and require more grouting work so we’ll see how ambitious/poor we’re feeling by that point!

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!

If you give us a toilet seat…

Have you heard of the children’s book “if you give a mouse a cookie?” The story goes on that if you give the mouse a cookie then he asks for milk…then he asks for a straw…then it continues to escalate as he asks for more things. Apparently our “cookie” is a toilet seat. And when we bought a new toilet seat on Saturday evening to replace the old one on our downstairs toilet and spruce up the bathroom a bit, in a matter of hours (and completely on a whim) we went from this:

To this:

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Now, we have been planning to eventually demo this bathroom this month, but it was not planned to be started this soon. So, it seems like our children’s book goes something like “if you give us a simple toilet seat…we’ll tear a bathroom down to the subfloor.” Our future kids wil be DIY pros if we read them this kind of story!

To show you step by step how we did this, we started with the toilet. Nik turned the water off, then flushed to empty the tank. Then he sopped up extra water with a sponge and  loosened the bolts.

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I grabbed a large bag, and Nik lifted the toilet up and straight into the bag to catch any dripping water. We plopped it on the deck for the time being:

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Then Nik scraped off the wax ring and stuffed the hole with a rag for the time being. Luckily he knows what he’s doing, because I (stupidly) thought that gross wax ring was poop. Can you blame me?

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Next we removed the counter top and side panels which required some maneuvering since it was actually wider than the wall with the door casing right there.

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And then out came the vanity, which is now residing in our garage as a handy workbench.

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Finally, the linoleum and underlayment it was glued to was ripped up, leaving approximately 1 million little staple nails behind in the subfloor which we plucked out one by one with a nail puller.

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We also removed the two weird pieces of wood that were behind the towel rack and toilet paper holder, which left behind a little damage in the drywall that’ll have to be patched.

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So next on the list, we need to pick out tile and figure out how to prep the subfloor to lay the tile. Then we’ll need to add some new floor trim around where the vanity was, since our new vanity won’t go all the way to the side walls. Then we’ll paint with some semigloss grey-beige clearance mismatch paint we found at Home Depot. Then we’ll need to install the vanity we bought a while ago, which will require some plumbing altering since this sink is about 4″ higher:

Style Selections Drayden Grey Integral Single Sink Bathroom Vanity with Cultured Marble Top (Common: 31-in x 19-in; Actual: 30.5-in x 18.75-in)

If we’re feeling artsy we might add something to the walls for more character – tiling or chair rail or something. I think we’ll also upgrade the mirror to something nicer with a frame. And finally, our toilet will go back in and the last piece will be put in place: the toilet seat that started this whole renovation!