Tag Archives: subfloor

The Hump of All Hump Days

Our demo was completed last weekend, and the shower is currently sitting on our back lawn in 3 jagged fiberglass pieces. We also removed that patch in the floor, so there is a 4′ wide hole in the bathroom floor – large enough, in fact, that our whole shop vac actually fell into it when dragged across the room by an unobservant user (me) and nearly damaged our dining room ceiling, which is what is at the bottom of the hole. But it didn’t, so crisis averted.

I promise I will add pictures of our demolition, but right now it’s my time to vent about the stress of renovations. This whole day has been one bad piece of news after another, and I’m about ready for a drink. I assure you this will be entirely uninteresting to everyone reading, but I have to vent for a bit.

First, I called Lowe’s this morning to find out why the heck they haven’t called to say our shower pans are in. Directly on my online receipt, it says both colors of the shower pans we ordered (since we aren’t sure what would match our tub) would be in by 5/29. Two days ago. The lady at the store said the order now says arriving 6/21. 6/21!!!!! Nearly a month after the promised delivery date! We ordered the shower door in the same order, and when we ordered that item it did say 6/21 for the door, which is fine because it won’t be needed until much further into our renovation. But the pans? We need them NOW. The pan is what will start everything – it will go in first, followed by cement board around the shower. Then we can start tiling the floor – which we can’t do until we know where the shower will sit on the floor. And we can’t put in the vanity until the tile floor is done. Turns out the way we have planned this, the pan is the crux of this renovation.

So, I talked to the Lowe’s manager to find out what was going on, to see if maybe they were just trying to lump the order together and deliver the pans with the door at that later date, but he said that’s not the case. Apparently the manufacturer has the pans on back order. Upon looking into it further, he said the pans should be into the manufacturer on 6/6, then they won’t ship out until 6/9, with an estimated actual delivery date of 6/14. So not as bad as the original 6/21 estimation, but still 3 weeks later than promised. He said when they ‘promise’ a date, that date doesn’t take into account for the possibility of being back ordered. It’s not his fault, but I told him I was annoyed that no one called to tell me this after the order was placed. Lowe’s says it isn’t their policy to follow up on an order until the customer calls to ask about it. Really great customer service (I hope my sarcasm is palpable).

This will really hold us up, but we’ll have to deal with it. So then I started looking into the Schluter DITRA floor substrate I purchased, since we may just start on the floor tile and start from the other side of the room and leave a row out as we approach where the shower pan will go. The DITRA is a lightweight product that can be used in place of cement board, and we were planning to use it under our floor tile. When we pulled up the floor patch, we found out we have 24″ joist spacing and one layer of 3/4″ plywood subfloor. Apparently you can’t use regular DITRA on this – you can if it is only 16″ joist spacing, or if it is 24″ spacing you have to add an additional layer of subfloor (aka the underlayment under the linoleum I just spent an ENTIRE day ripping out and pulling nails out of). You can use a product called DITRA-XL in the subfloor situation we have, but it’s $300 a roll, it wouldn’t be here for a couple weeks because no one local carries it, and it’s much thicker for added stability, so our tile would be towering over the carpet height in the bedroom, which is not ideal.

I even emailed Schluter to ask what the worst case scenerio would be if I just used the regular DITRA with our single layer subfloor and 24″ joist spacing, and she highly recommended against that, unless we add back 3/8″ underlayment. We could do this…but it would be a pain, and most likely not very level since we are not experienced with installing underlayment. Also, in case I haven’t ranted about Lowe’s enough yet, NOWHERE on their product information for the DITRA does it mention joist spacing and how critical it is for this product. I had to download the DITRA installation pamphlet and read it, and that’s when I discovered the conundrum we are in. I’m lucky I can return the rolls I bought to the store.

So what to do? Well, we may just go with the heavy cement board like what we did in the downstairs bathroom and forgo the DITRA. The tile seems to be holding up well down there, and I believe we can use the 1/4″ thick cement board which is thinner and lighter than the 3/8″ thick cement board we used downstairs (we used the thicker board downstairs on purpose to increase the tile height to more closely match the thicker engineered wood floors we installed). The thought of returning to the store and lugging 6 more pieces of cement board upstairs that then needs to be cut to size and installed is not particularly appealing. But, we want to do things right and if the DITRA isn’t right, we have to find something that will work and last.

We did end up buying the pre-fab vanity I wrote about in the last post, since the Cary Lowe’s had several actually in stock so I got to compare a few and pick one out that looked decent. I looked it over pretty thoroughly in the store before purchasing, but haven’t removed the full packaging yet. I’m thinking I won’t do that in the next few days, because with the luck I’ve had today, there’s surely a cracked edge or something hiding in that packaging that I couldn’t see in the store. Nope, I’m going to wait until things start going right again before I dive into that box.

On top of this, and on a completely unrelated note, I found out that the car rental prices for our trip out west later this summer have skyrocketed from $550 to about $1300. And of course I didn’t book when they were low (the rental lady actually thinks the $550 was a system glitch, which I wouldn’t be surprised at, since every other company I searched was about $1300 when I was first looking, and that $550 sounded too good to be true…but we didn’t have our trip figured out at that time so I didn’t book it. Grr.). So that’s more fantastic news to top off this day.

Well, if you’ve read this far, I hope you’re not commiserating with me because you’re also having a bad day. Sometimes I wonder if renovations are worth the stress. I’d like to say they are, but right now I’m too far from the end of that tunnel to see the light. It will come.

Ok, one fun picture to leave you with that reminds us of the joy of renovation – Nik happily ripping out the piece of the shower with the awful bench (and finding absolutely no mold behind any of it!):

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