Monday, March 31, 2014

Progress and Problems... Hopefully Solved

As you can see, I got the cement backer board installed which serves as the base for the mortared tiles. It went up pretty easily but due to the location of the studs and cutting waste, I was one sheet short and had to run to the store to get another one. Also, to make things easier on me, I ended up putting an extra seam in the left wall so that I could put a small piece around all the shower fittings and make it easier to finagle into place. Just as I finished up, I started reviewing my notes and saved videos on the subject to make sure I did the next step right and that was when I discovered a problem.

Back when I was researching this, I had bought some waterproofing rubberized membrane stuff that you brush on and it sets up and allows application or mortar to it. I bought enough to completely cover the entire shower area along with some fiberglass cloth that is embedded in it on the joints. Then somewhere along the line I got it into my mind that I needed to install a plastic vapor barrier behind the cement board which I did and showed in the previous post. On reviewing my notes, I noticed that the pros said you could put a vapor barrier and then cement board or you could do cement barrier and apply a rubberized membrane but you didn't want to do both. The reason is that you didn't want to create a trap for moisture in the cement board that would eventually mold. There was plenty of people who said that you could do both in this case since there wasn't any moisture in the cement board starting off to trap and that the rubberized membrane would prevent any from getting in. I debated on what to do and finally compromised. Because the vapor barrier I installed was screwed through in lots of places, especially along the seams of the cement board which being seams, would definitely allow any water that gets behind the tile to filter right through to the holes in my vapor barrier, I decided to put the rubberized membrane stuff and fiberglass on the seams and screw holes and leave the rest of the cement board open to breath. Any water that should penetrate the tile, grout and cement board will run down the vapor barrier which runs down the inside of the one piece pan liner that I installed and will eventually make its way down to the drain. In theory anyway.Since the shampoo niche doesn't have a vapor barrier at all, I made sure to thoroughly waterproof it.

The blue hydro-barrier stuff that I bought is awesome stuff. It can be painted on though I used a drywall knife and it sets up into a very hard rubber surface. I saw many people who recommend putting it on basement floors before installing wood flooring to prevent it from moisture damage. The previous occupants of this house didn't do this step and used extremely cheap laminate flooring and the seams all look like cardboard that has suffered some water damage. When I rectify the problem someday in the future, I now know how to prevent that.

The other problem that I hopefully solved can be seen in this picture. I am installing a heated floor in this bathroom using electric resistance mat that gets installed between the cement board and the tile embedded in the mortar. It doesn't use much electricity and to make it even more efficient, it comes with a thermostat that only runs it for a couple hours of your choosing such as first thing in the morning. It also comes with an embedded sensor so it also only runs when it isn't up to ideal temperature. So to install the thermostat for it, I needed to get power to a junction box that I will install in the wall after I fish up the wires from the mat. Since I was planning to put the thermostat above the bank of switches and outlets next to the door, I figured I wouldn't have any problems.

When I took a peak behind those switches and outlets, I saw that all of them were run off of the load side of the GFI outlet. this didn't surprise me since it has tripped a handful of times since I moved in here especially when the light, fan, fan light and something else in the outlet were all running at once. What did surprise me was the literal rats nest of wiring crammed into the back of the box and there wasn't really any good place for me to hook up to the power without going through the load side of the GFI which I didn't want to do. So I looked it up and saw that switches for lights or exhaust fans don't need to be GFI protected. I ended up converting all the switches to non-GFI protected and jumper that with the yellow wire I fished up to power the electric heated floor. The outlet I left GFI protected per code.

Hopefully that is the last of the surprises. The cavity behind the outlets has insulation but the paperbacking is facing towards me so when I fish the electric mat wires up to this box, I should be able to do it between the paper backing and the drywall back fairly easily. My next step will be to prime the drywall, paint and then start installing tile. Once the tile is installed and the shower fixtures and toilet are installed, I can turn my attention to building the vanity which I haven't yet gotten to. The end is nearing!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Working On Up... One Layer At a Time

I should preface this post and a few future ones by saying this is the first time I have ever completely tiled a shower from top to bottom. I've done a couple up above the surround but never an entire shower. But I have researched dozens of videos on Youtube on how to do it and it didn't seem that hard so I gave it a go. So far it is turning out well.

In the picture above, once I had the cement board fastened to the subfloor, I blocked around the perimeter to provide support for the mortar that I will be applying further down in this post.

What you see in this picture is the why for the blocking. On top of the cement board, I installed a one piece 40 mil thick pan liner for the shower base. Water can migrate through grout and it can migrate through mortar but that is as far as I want it to go. This pan liner prevents it from going further and will eventually allow it to drain through weep holes in the drain assembly and down into the drain. The black thing in the foreground is a matrix system that I found for making a curb. The liner wraps up and over the 2 x 4's and gets nailed to the outside of the curb and also to the walls above the height of the curb. This means that I don't puncture the liner anyplace lower than the curb so if a drain were to clog, the water will spill up and over the curb before it soaks into the walls and does even more damage. The matrix system just screws together and gets nailed to the curb from the outside. Eventually I will pack it full of mortar to create a nice surface to bond tiles to.

The next step is to provide a protective base over the liner and to create slope to the drain. The same place that I bought the curb kit from also sells this kit that essentially comes with pre-beveled float sticks that create the necessary 1/4" per foot of fall and provides a reference when screeding the mortar. The circle at the bottom of the photo is what all those float sticks snap into but as you see, it didn't work well with a square drain that I picked out to make it easier to tile around. I got around this problem by just hot glueing the float sticks on top of the weep hole protector so that they would stay put while I was leveling the mortar. That worked well. For those that don't know, the weep hole protector is just a ruffled piece of plastic that covers the holes around the drain base that feed into the lower drain pipe should any water find its way down to the liner. It prevents the holes from being clogged up by mortar.

Here is the shower right before I poured the mortar. I had some leftover insulation that I put on the two inside walls on the back and left side. I did this just for sound insulation and the fact that I had this roll of insulation that has been in my way for the last seven years and I finally found a place to stick it! I covered everything with plastic for a moisture barrier that drains down inside the shower pan should any moisture somehow find its way through the walls. Also note that I am creating what is called a shower niche for the soap and shampoo bottles. That is the hole where there is no insulation. It looked fairly straightforward to create and make waterproof so I'm giving it a go. I will cover it with more photos and a post when I reach that point.

Finally here is a photo of the shower floor with the properly sloped mortar put in. It ends up being about an inch and a half thick by the drain and close to two inches at the far left side. I was nervous to do this step because mortar is essentially permanent and has a finite life you can work with it. I put it off by doing a complete toilet overhaul on a toilet whose flapper was worn out and starting to slowly leak. If I would rather be hugging a toilet than doing something else, you know how nervous I was! But I finished that project and still had three hours left before lunch and just forced myself to start. I bought four 60lb bags of mortar with sand mix for the entire project and was initially worried I wouldn't have enough when I mixed up the first bag but it took me only 2 and probably 4/5ths of the third bag to pour the pad. I'm currently waiting for it to set up before I go ahead and do the shower curb next. It went fairly smoothly but eventually I had to stop worrying over it and just walk away. No since trying to get it perfectly smooth and mark free when I'm going to cover it with tile. It just needs to be flat and sloped properly and it is that.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bad Texas Memories and a Chance at Redemption

Spring can't get here soon enough so I am heading south to meet it. Way south. Dallas, Texas south. We actually left a few days ago and will be back in a few days by the time you read this so my blog will be running itself and that might explain my lack of comments on other blogs.

Actually we are visiting an uncle of my wife who lives there and perhaps take in a few sites during our stay. I've only driven across Texas once about 20 years ago and have never been to Dallas other than to fly through their horseshoe airport. Have you ever been to that airport? You arrive in a horseshoe shaped terminal, one of four, and you never really know which part of the horseshoe you are on. The ends of the horseshoe are where you hop onto the train to get to one of the other terminals and when you exit the plane, you could be fairly close to one end and never even know it. It never fails but I always choose the wrong direction and end up walking most of the way around the horseshoe before getting to the train.

I took a little puddle jumper once to Texas but never flew through Dallas. Instead I ended up somewhere in the middle of nowhere where they make machines for packaging Miracle Grow products. I was looking for a new job and they flew me down for an interview. After almost a full day of flying and sitting in airports, I arrived late in the afternoon feeling very much tired and hung over. They plopped down a shaft out of some machine and asked me to draw it on some proprietary 3D software I had never heard. When I told them that much they gave me a pencil and paper and told me to draw it? I did but shook my head about how this was pertinent to an engineering job. After an hour of scribbling on a piece of paper, they took me to another room and grilled me on how I might design a machine that packages pots. I hadn't eaten all day at this point and it was nearly eight in the evening and so I got pretty blunt with them. Finally they dropped me off at a hotel miles from anything and said they would be back in the morning to take me out for breakfast. I walked about three miles down a road to a little diner where I finally had some food and walked back and went to bed. In the morning, I was up and ready to go by eight o'clock. Nine came, ten came, and then eleven came. I had a flight at two in the afternoon and knew that I would need to get to the airport sometime relatively soon so I walked the three miles down to the diner and ate breakfast by myself. Finally about one o'clock the fellow who interviewed me showed up and asked if I was ready to eat. I told him that I had just eaten and that if he could just drop me off at the airport that would be just fine. As he drove me to the airport he asked if I had made a decision. Huh? I asked him what decision I was supposed to be making. He asked if I wanted the job. I hadn't even heard a salary, benefits, start dates, etc mentioned at this point and told him so. He quoted me a salary half of what I was currently making and I think I actually laughed just a bit. Well he kind of took offense to that and got a little upset telling me how much money it cost them to fly me down here. I told him that had he been serious about employing me, he would have listened when I had told him before I flew down here how much I was making for a salary and that when he flew me down here he would have treated me a little bit better. I think he was kind of new to the hiring game and it kind of showed. I bid him goodbye and hopped out of the truck telling him I would think about the offer. I thought about it until he pulled away still in a huff and that was about the end of my thoughts of working in Texas. That turned out to be the last time I've been there outside of the airport.

Hopefully this time treats me better.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Creating a Solid Foundation

With the plumbing installed, my first order of business is to prepare the floor for tiling. Because the floor has been abused by me and previous owners, I need to get a good base down before tiling so that all my work won't crack when I walk upon it. To do that, I put down a layer of thinset mortar, placed upon that a sheet of cement board and then punched it full of special cement board screws to sandwich it down to the subfloor nice and tight. The purpose of the mortar isn't to adhere the cement board to the subfloor but rather to fill in all the voids and air pockets so that when it cures, I should have a very stable surface on which to lay my tile. But before that I need to apply some more mortar to grade a slight slope to the drain. I have something pretty slick which should make that job easy but I'll show more about that in a future post.

While mixing up the thinset, I nearly burnt up a brand new drill that I bought last fall specifically for this type of project. I have a steel mixing rod for mixing drywall mud, mortar and such but it requires a half inch drill to turn it. I don't have a half inch drill and have always had to borrow one from my father. Well I found a new Bosch one on sale last fall and got it so that I didn't have to borrow one anymore. When mixing up my first batch of thinset, I nearly burnt the thing up. I got hot enough that some smoke whisps came out the side of it. After letting it cool down, it still works fine but I didn't want to damage it any futher so I ended up buying another mixing paddle but this time for a 3/8 drill. It was a little bit lighter and didn't have as much surface area to provide resistance my other mixer. Rather than risk burning up my good drill, I chucked it up in my cheapo Black and Decker 3/8 drill that someone gave me some years back. It only has two speeds, stop and warp speed and has nearly broken my wrist a time or two when I have gotten it bound up which is why I rarely use it these days. Well it held up just fine and mixed up the thinset for the rest of the floor with no problems. Now I am wondering if Bosch has gone cheap or I just have a reject drill.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Things In and Along the River

I just thought I would post a few odd ball pictures from our walk along the river. The one above appears to me to be an old wheelchair that someone threw out in the channel. During normal years when we have average rainfall, the river would be 3 or 4 feet deep here. But thanks to the prolonged drought we have been having, it is now high and dry. Someone should rescue that wheelchair someday.

This was left right in the middle of the boat ramp. Anyone who puts their boat in the water here when water levels get higher will have to first move that out of the way. I'm guessing the pieces of the bed frame were used as a pallet of sorts as it was missing all the rest of the pieces normally associated with a bed frame.

As I walked underneath one of the bridges, my gaze went upward for the first time even though I have walked underneath this spot dozens of times. I assume those are bird nests due to their large openings and there are literally hundreds of them strung out where the pedestrian walk meets the main bridge proper. In the bird world, I would assume these are the swanky nests of the rich birds because not only are they very well sheltered by a five foot overhang but they have a nifty view of the river as it heads downstream. If I were a bird, these might very well be my dream nests!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Snag Fishing

With the warm weather and the break up of the ice, snag fishermen appeared to enjoy the day. Although I've known people who snag fish and have heard them talking, this was the first time I had ever seen people doing so. Judging from their actions, they throw a line with a heavy weight out into the river and with rapid jerks pull their hook in along the bottom hoping to snag some fish. The fishing was good because they had some huge fish laid out on chunks of ice along the river bank.

I watched the man in the gray shirt haul in a fish here that was probably eighteen or twenty-four inches long and it was the runt of the litter. He had to work pretty hard to pull the thing in sideways and almost pulled himself into the river at one point. He was able to dig his boot heels in once he fell into the mud and arrest his slide toward the river.

Father teaching his daughter the finer art of snag fishing. She pulled in several small pan fish while I was standing on the bridge taking photos.

Some of their haul. I'm guessing the largest one is three and a half or four feet long. I'm not a river fish expert so I don't know what kind of fish they are but I do know I probably wouldn't eat one. There are lots of factories and such all along the river from  here until it peters out in northwest Iowa not to mention it being bordered by hundreds of thousands of acres of farm fields many of which the farmers don't practice safe chemical application when raising their crops. I much prefer to get my fish for eating from smaller farm ponds where I know the water quality is good.

Friday, March 14, 2014

One Bridge Down

On the first day of 40+ degree temperature when after a winter like this past one, it feels just like around 80 degrees, we hit the trail along the river to stretch our legs with about half the stir crazy inhabitants of this town. I'm not sure what will happen tomorrow when the temperature if forecasted to be in the mid-60's but I full expect no good can come of it. I plan to be out and taking part in whatever no good is happening because it is just too nice to be indoors.

The bridge in town that I use the least is shown above. Even for those who use it the most, they aren't using it now. The deck is being torn off of it and a new deck put in place hopefully open to use sometime early this next winter. The build a berm of rock that stretches about 7/8th of the way across the river to work off of with a crane. I'm not sure how that will work when the snow pack up north starts to melt in earnest. I suppose most of the big rock is too big to be moved much but the little stuff that they used as fill will surely be gone and have to be replaced, not to mention any equipment left behind. But because there is a dam only a hundred yards or so upstream, I reckon they will get sufficient warning to move before the gates are opened.  All this certainly will spice up our summer walks along the river this year.

Speaking of the river, it must have been exciting to see the ice pack get swept downstream. I missed out on the action but the riverbanks were littered with huge blocks of ice, some much larger than our minivan. Because the river is about at the same level it has been all winter long, all of them were pushed up by ice jams before the water eventually broke them down and swept them downstream. Like I said, I wish I'd been there to see it happen.

(Addendum March 14th at 8:20: The next day after I took the photo the water had breached the road beneath the bridge and a few days after that, it was a foot deep over it. I'm guessing they will have to do some rebuilding when they need to use it again.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Due to the cramped space, the only way to get a decent photograph was to use the panoramic feature on my phone so that explains the distorted nature. The subject matter is of the now plumbed master bathroom shower.

When doing projects like this on a house, especially one that I hope to sell someday, I tend to try and follow at least some of the current trends where it makes sense. Nobody wants to buy a house that is run down and hasn't been updated for forty years, I guess except me, and so doing small upgrades like this helps bring a price premium when you go to see the place. In this example, we wanted to expand our shower to a more comfortable three feet by four and a half feet instead of the three by three (not counting the plastic surround that took up probably eight of those inches on each side) feet shower we had before. The current trend angle was installing a thermostatic control valve and two body sprays. They probably increased the shower hardware budget by 25% but could bring many times their value in return when we sell the place.

When researching this project, I wasn't able to find much help in how to do this yourself. Almost every place just specified the parts and assumed you would have a plumber install them. Even the showrooms I visited would just have a shower with them installed to show you how they worked but the backside was all dry walled up so you couldn't see how they were plumbed up. After hours of research online and squinting at various videos, I thought I knew how to plumb them but I wasn't very sure and because I was going to enclose this wall with cement board and a lot of tile, I wanted to be 100% sure. So in the end, I hired a plumber to do the rough in part of this project.

The price was right but I still have mixed feelings about hiring this project done. As it turned out, the plumber had only installed similar systems as one piece console units and not individual components. He also seemed confused until I told him how I thought it was to work and then he seemed to understand how things worked. The work he did was pretty straight forward and all something I have the skills to do. On the other side of the coin, he needed quite a few special fittings and couplings to get everything hooked together which would have meant many trips to the local big box store and trying to figure things out by myself since nobody there in the plumbing department knows squat about plumbing. So at the end of the day, I mark it down as experience gained for me and something else I will be able to do with confidence the next time a project like this comes my way. The plumber used PEX which is something I haven't worked with but have heard a lot about it. I was glad to see that he used this kind and not the other kind with memory recall which I've heard can leak with time. He says he spends a significant part of his job repairing leaking memory recall PEX with this stuff which doesn't have the memory recall and instead relies upon crimped clamps to hold things together permanently.

Before closing, I should explain how it works. The valve on the right is the thermostatic control valve. You can set it to a range of temperatures that suit your needs and it balances water pressure and flowrates to give you that same temperature time after time and within seconds of opening the valve. It will also maintain that temperature when someone else uses the bathroom downstairs or starts up the dishwasher in the kitchen. Living in a house with three bathrooms and extended family, that comes in quite handy unless you are fond of taking showers after everyone is asleep.

From the thermostatic valve, the now precisely monitored temperature water goes over to the two valves on the left side of the picture. The top valve controls the flow to the shower head which will go top center. The bottom valve controls the flow to the two body sprays which will be those two white circles in the center. You can have either/or on both at the same time as suits your desires. The body sprays have some ability to swivel so you can adjust the direction a bit. That's about it. We tested the system as much as we could and it appears to work as what I had imagined but in the end, I won't know for sure until I get the wall and tile up and then finish out the fixtures.

I put two small ball valves down near the floor which are just barely visible in this picture. Behind them I cut a hole in the floor which I can reach up through from the linen closet in the downstairs bathroom and hopefully shut off the valves if something catastrophic ever happens. Behind this setup is the shower in our upstairs hall bathroom that is dated and needed replaced sometime. When I go to do that project, I will leave some more room on that side to access all this stuff if the need should arise.

My next steps are to grout the cement board down to the floor of the bathroom and shower floor in preparation for tiling. Before I tile though I plan to install the rubber membrane for the shower pan and then mortar to create the fall to the drain along with the cement board on the shower walls. Once all that is put on and sealed, I will probably paint and then do the tiling last before finishing up with the fixtures and vanities. Still a lot of work but fortunately I still have plenty of time to do it all in.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Big Plans

While waiting for the drywall mud to dry and get it sanded for what I hope is the final time, I did some doodling on the bathroom vanity I plan to build. I used to have access to professional 3-D software but now that I've left the rat race, I no longer have any. Well I no longer have the computer to run it at home anyway. So I decided to go old school and draw my plans on engineering paper with a pencil and ruler. 

Due to the small confines of the bathroom, we are going to keep the vanity depth the same as it was but stretch the width another six inches to allow for more room for the wife to set things while getting ready in the morning, something the old vanity didn't. So I designed the vanity cabinet for a standard 19" x 31" vanity top which we will most likely buy.

The carcass is going to be build using 3/4" plywood. Because I'm going to stain the final product, I'm using cabinet grade plywood, probably oak. Around the carcass, I plan to attach a hardwood face frame and side frame on side away from the wall. The latter will give it a frame and panel look. 

Instead of the typical one large door and three small drawer layouts, we are opting for a three large drawer layout. It seems more practical since the large portion behind the one large drawer isn't very well utilized space-wise in most vanities that I've seen. There is always lots of wasted room and a jumble of things on the bottom. To make things work around the sink P-trap, I will have to notch the top drawer and possibly the second. I will have to wait to get the sink attached to the P-trap before I make the final decision on that. 

The top drawer will be shallow for the wife's makeup and such things. The middle drawer will be a bit deeper and the bottom drawer will be the deepest to hopefully hold a couple sets of towels and wash clothes when not in use and was mostly what was stored in the cabinet I took out to expand the shower. 

I think I will let things simmer in my head a day or two before I actually start cutting any parts to make sure this is the route I want to take and catch any errors that I might have made. With the weather forecasted to start warming up, it will be a fun little project out in the shop.

Friday, March 7, 2014

RIP My 1/4 Sheet Sander Friend

Darn if Murphy's Law didn't rear up and bite me in the ass. I had just commented on Ron's For Lack of a Better Plan blog about how I didn't hand sand drywall anymore once I found out my 1/4 sheet palm sander could do a better job with much less effort and time involved. I was always careful to try and suck the dust away from it so that it wouldn't clog the internal parts and kill the thing. I've been doing it that was for over 10 years of various drywall projects, including an entire basement remodel at my last house, countless dozens/hundreds of wood sanding projects over those years and it has never failed me. Well after reading Ron's comment about him not using his random orbit sander because he was afraid it would kill it, I went upstairs and went to sanding my drywall and my 1/4 sheet sander up and died. That thing has been with me for probably 15 years and I'm saddened to see it go. But on the plus side, I'm guessing new ones vibrate way less than that one did and now they come with handy features like vacuum connections and dust collection bags. Until my replacement arrives, it is back to hand sanding for me. I'm not sure what I will do the next time I have drywall to do.

Dry walling for me is the most hated part of home renovation. I just suck at it. No matter how much I try, the sheets end up unlevel and thus requiring large swaths of drywall mud to hide joints. Until recently, I struggled to even apply the mud in an even manner so that I could minimize sanding. I finally figured out that the go to applicator that I've been using was too stiff and a more flexible one I had did a much better job. Despite that, it seems like I am constantly sanding and then touching up spots multiple times more than necessary. I do realize that the perfectionist side of my nature may be causing some of this but I know if I don't get it perfectly smooth, that I will be walking by it like that one spot near the couch in the living room and seeing that tiny patch that didn't get final sanded and regretting it for years until I finally break down and fix it.

The other thing I hate about drywall is that it is time consuming. Once you apply the mud, you have to wait for it to dry and then sand it. Then you have to apply another layer of mud the next day, let it dry and sand it. Then you have to do it again perhaps the third day to touch up those spots that got missed and then let it dry and sand it. I can't really start anything else during this time because I don't want to get everything I'm working on in the mean time coated in drywall dust or clean it up every day. So for the better part of a week, I've been in a holding pattern as I wait for the drywall to be finished. Hopefully as I write this, tomorrow will be the final sanding because I just did touch up mudding today and after getting everything cleaned up, I can move on to tiling the floor.

In the meantime, we went and looked at vanities at the local big box store and bought tile for the floor. We found an excellent deal on the perfect tile that my wife wanted and grabbed enough to do the project. However the accent tile we liked was discontinued and there weren't enough sheets there to do the job. So we had to go to another floor and tile store here in town and buy it there. For eight sheets of accent tile, it cost more than the entire 8 cases of floor tile we bought! Ridiculous!

The vanity search however was a different matter. Vanities that we looked at seemed for the most part to be way over priced and very cheap looking. They almost looked like a disposable toy you might give your daughter to play 'house' with. So after much looking, I decided that I would make our vanity. So while I wait for the drywall to dry, I've been sketching on paper trying to figure out how I'm going to build this thing. Fortunately it sounds like it may warm up enough next week for me to spend some time out in the garage getting it built.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Just Another Hole In the Wall

Back when I started this project, I had planned on tearing out all the drywall and starting over. But as I got into the project, several things changed my mind. Most of the drywall wasn't in too bad of shape and didn't show any signs of moisture damage which I have seen a lot in drywalled bathrooms. What imperfections there were I thought I could patch. Because it is the dead of winter and there isn't any real good way to dispose of the drywall, the best solution and most economical was to purchase two large plastic barrels that I could dispose of the drywall into and then just haul to the dump. I figured if I just tore out the bare minimum around the shower, I could limit myself to two tip fees which was significantly less than renting a dumpster. So after pulling out the shower and reframing around it, I patched up the drywall here and there and called it good.

I finally decided that before I got too far along, I should open up the wall where I am going to install a flush mount medicine cabinet and mirror to further give the illusion of more space. I measured very carefully, cut very carefully so not to damage any of my recent patch work and pulled out the insulation only to see what you see above. Dang!

What you see is the sink vent pipe going right through where the cabinet is to go. Oddly enough, I figured that since there was a light above the opening that I would have to do some rewiring to route it around the space but it turned out not to be in the way at all. I'm not sure why I didn't assume there would be a vent pipe behind the sink. I think most of it was because of the vent stack just five feet over that I had to frame around for the shower made me slip into amnesia about the possibility. I briefly thought about trying to replumb the vent pipe in the three and a half inch slot or even just put a patch in place and buy a surface mount medicine cabinet after all but I decided both were as much work as the alternative. So I tore out that section of wall and after making a trip to the store for some ABS pipe and glue, I got it replumbed as shown below. The benefit of all this was that reframing the rough opening for the medicine cabinet was a lot easier without the drywall blocking my way.

I did have to go buy another sheet of drywall but that stuff is dirt cheap so it definitely was worth it. I patched in the new piece of drywall and using my router and an old flush trim bit, I professionally cut the opening back in place making things a heck of a lot easier.

On a side note, Ron had commented awhile back about things he has found in walls while fixing up his house in my post about the old Mountain Dew cans I found in my walls. I have found lots of stuff over the years but most was worthless and old stuff with a few tools that I could use. (On a side note to this side note, I've left my share of tools in walls inadvertently over the years too.) Well when I was removing the vanity below this opening, I found something I never would have expected to find. I found a pair of rather large pink panties. I don't think I want to guess how they ended up there.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Master Bathroom Update

Progress has been made in my master bathroom remodeling project. I cut a hole in the floor and moved the copper water supply lines back to the new stud wall you can see on the left. I framed up the stud wall and patched the resulting hole in the ceiling which essentially highlights the new area gained for our shower. I am excited because it definitely gives the entire bathroom a much bigger feel. 

After much internal debate, the rational side of me won over on the anal retentive side of me and I ended up leaving the drain hole in the same location. The anal retentive side of me wanted to put it in the center of the new shower. This would make everything symmetrical and thus pleasing to the eye. However, it would require chopping a new hole in the stud through which the pipe goes through along with a myriad of pipe fittings to achieve such a thing plus dealing with a joint between the ABS vent stack/drain and the PVC drain and P-trap. The rational side of me said that nobody would see it anyway except for my wife and I and this way, you aren't standing or straddling the drain while taking a shower. Like I said, the rational side won this round and I ended up just cutting the old drain pipe to length and installing a new drain flange on it that is compatible with a tiled shower floor. 

When I was in the demo phase, I had planned to demo the exhaust fan but didn't at the time. When it came time to make that decision, I looked at some new fans that were essentially the same look. Then I took this one apart, cleaning up the inside of it, putting in new LED lightbulbs to replace the burnt out ones. This one actually has a night light, regular light and exhaust fan functions and since they all work and it cleaned up nicely, I decided to keep it. When I get around to fixing the exhaust in the attic problem, I have enough room to reach it from above and thus no need to really do anything right now. So I went to the store and picked up a sheet of drywall to patch up the opening.

I'm sure I have seen half sheets or perhaps quarter sheets of drywall at the store for small projects but I couldn't find any this time around. They had small sheets of something similar but used as a tile backer that would have worked except that it had a million dimples on the surface that I would have to fill in. Not to mention it was 2.5 times more expensive than a $10 sheet of drywall. The problem was I had been planning on picking up a half sheet and hadn't removed all the seats out of the mini van to make room for it. I ended up just barely getting it in by removing half the seats and putting them on the other side and then sliding the passenger front seat all the way forward. Plan B was going to try and make a clean break with my knee somewhere in the middle.  The drywall around where the old cabinet had been hadn't been put in on the same plain for some reason so I had to flex my patch into place to meet it. It will end up taking a fair amount of feathering of joint compound to blend it in but I think I will be able to make a fair patch when all is said and done.

My wife really wants a modern shower complete with modern fixtures. This means a valve that balances the cold and hot water line pressures to deliver a never changing temperature while showering and some body sprays. This is my first foray into either of those things or even plumbing a shower and I have been puzzling on it for a couple weeks now. In the end, without a trip to the big city to find some sort of show room and someone who could help me, I just wasn't sure what all I needed to get to do the job. I did visit a local plumbing place that carried the parts but they wouldn't deal with me since they were a wholesale place. I didn't want to get it all in and then find out later after installing all the tiling that I put it in wrong. In the end, I called a plumber that I've used in the past for jobs too difficult for me and he came right over. He walked me through what I needed to order and how it would be plumbed. He also shot me a pretty reasonable price for doing all the rough in plumbing of the shower. In the end, I ended up ordering all the parts and doing the rough framing where the plumbing will be and when I get the parts, he will come over and do the rough in for them. Once that is done, all that will be left will be to prepare for the tiling.

Up next I need to build the curb area of the shower and finish putting in a few boards for the tile backer board and shower floor membrane that will be installed later. I need to do some more fairing work on the ceiling around my patch and remove the old medicine cabinet. It is a surface mount one that has seen its better days. I got one that installs flush with the wall which will help give the illusion of a bigger bathroom when done. I also need to remove the old vanity and take up the old tile on the floor. I want to do some research on a heated floor since that is something I've never done but requested by the wife. As the saying goes, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy....