Tag Archives: vanity top

Coming Together

This past weekend was productive again, thanks to a 4 day weekend with July 4th. We hadn’t planned to go anywhere, and I was anticipating working Monday, but the company unexpectedly gave us the day off. Every time we have 4 days off in a row, we tend to travel to visit family, so 4 days off and staying at home was an unusual situation. It resulted in a lot of progress with the bathroom with things finally starting to feel like they were coming together. And after 4 days, I was definitely feeling antsy to get back to work on Wednesday. Win-win.

Saturday morning we got started with the shower pan, and everything went very smoothly with the proper mortar. We mixed it to a pudding-like consistency, then got the pan placed neatly in the middle. We checked the levelness of each side, and as we hoped, everything was level and sloping towards the drain. I was afraid to step on the pan for 3 days afterwards (even though the mortar should’ve been set within 24 hours), but I finally stepped on it last night and it feels super solid. Done!

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On to the wall paint. We were debating between two colors, both light gray and one that was more blue/cool toned and one that was more brown toned. We ended up going with the brown-toned gray and I love the color. Of all the expensive renovations we’ve done, getting paint on the walls so they’re not the awful yellow-white “landlord” paint is usually one of the pinnacle moments that transforms a room.

After paint, we started measuring for the floor trim. We added fresh baseboard and fresh shoe trim over that (~$40 for new trim). Getting the shoe trim attached was tricky, because unlike all our floor installation downstairs we actually removed all the baseboard to do this renovation, and remounted the baseboard higher. This meant when we shot a nail through the shoe trim, there was only a fraction of an inch of baseboard behind it, so in some places we couldn’t get good attachment with a nail. Liquid nails solved the problem in those spots. Then we filled and painted nail holes and caulked the gaps.

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Before trim

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After trim

Then we finished sealing the vanity with polycrylic – this is supposed to dry clear, but after earlier uses sealing stained furniture, we do tend to notice a bit of yellowing, which showed up more in some places on our white vanity. If it continues to yellow over time, we can always sand down and repaint…but for right now, it’s good to go.

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We then got the vanity top all unpacked and opened up our new Pfister Ladera faucets which we purchased at Home Depot for $99 each. When I picked out this sink top, I noticed it had what they called 8″ wide spread faucet holes, and I asked if the wide spread faucets are more expensive than standard faucets. “Oh, about $5-10 more” says the salesman. WRONG. It was hard to find a nice looking widespread set for under $120 at Lowe’s, while the standard 4″ center set faucets were all in the $50’s-$70’s, so we moved on to Home Depot which had a slightly less expensive selection. There is also a matching shower faucet set, which we haven’t bought yet, but when the time comes I liked the looks of it.

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Usually Nik does all the fancy plumbing work, but with two faucets to install, I sat next to him and watched each step and repeated. I noticed he assigned me to do the faucet on the side that I would use…reasonably assuming my disinterest in absolute perfection would result in a faucet head installation that wasn’t up to his standards. But, they both came out looking great in the end.

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We popped the vanity top onto the sink just to see how we liked it, and to decide if we wanted everything against the wall, or slightly shifted. We picked our location, then went through a grueling process of lifting one end of the vanity while I added a bead of silicone caulk around the cabinet tops, then slowly lowering the vanity top back down precisely to create somewhat of a seal. We got it done, but ended up doing another bead of caulk around the edges once it was in place to make it look prettier.

Nik finished up the actual plumbing installation and hooking things into the pipes, so the sink is functional! I still need to seal the countertops, since they are actual marble (a veneer, but still real stone) and Nik got a splash of water on them and confirmed they definitely get water stains. We bought Rock Doctor countertop sealer, so that just needs to be applied in a few coats which should do the trick. There’s also a backsplash piece which just needs to be adhered in place and sealed, and then the sinks are ready for use.

Next, Nik cleaned off the toilet plumbing area (I know it’s just old wax, but it looks like poop so I refused to deal with that mess). He purchased a new foam ring ($13) and got it situated around the hole. We lowered the old toilet in place and attached the plumbing, and Nik has since confirmed it is functional. It does still need a bead of caulk around the base, but that isn’t urgent.

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While purchasing faucets, we also browsed the lighting aisle for a new vanity light. Nothing really caught our eye, but we decided to go ahead and buy one since the old one had already been removed and we were down a light in the room. Nik got it mounted and installed in no time, and I think it fits the bill well enough, for $100.

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We’d like to get started on our shower soon, which will include installing thick cement board around the space, waterproofing it with 1-2 layers of roll-on red guard, applying mortar, tiling, grouting, installing the faucet hardware, and finally installing the shower doors. We might have to hold off a bit with the cement board this weekend, since we ordered a shower niche insert that unfortunately won’t arrive till Monday.¬†We know the approximate dimensions we’d have to cut out of the cement board for this niche to fit…so we might go ahead and get that started this weekend.

I’ll leave you with a picture of our freshly opened sunflower from this morning…the bees have already found it!

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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!