Monday, June 20, 2011

Progress On the Home Front... At Last According to Some

Last fall, probably more like late summer, I got an itch and decided I was going to do something I have wanted to do for some time, remodel our second three-quarter bathroom. I have pretty much remodeled our entire house since we bought it five years ago with the exception of the two bathrooms. Most of the bedrooms, needed just some paint and new carpeting, the first floor rooms had good flooring and the kitchen new cabinets so all I had to do was some painting and then built some custom bookcases and fireplace mantel in the family room. The basement I completely gutted and redid and I think that burnt me out of remodeling projects for awhile so the bathrooms just remained.

But the three quarter bath was hideous and worst of all, the lack of an exhaust fan had caused moisture problems causing tiles to rain down from the ceiling over the shower. Since we bought the house, we have used that shower only a handful of times for that very reason and I finally decided with my daughter getting older, it would be nice to actually have two functional bathrooms. So I gutted the tile surround above the shower which was pretty easy with the moisture destroyed drywall and tore out the ceiling. I installed an over sized in-line ceiling fan that was capable of doing not only that bathroom but the other one too and do it better than those standard ceiling fans with tiny but loud motors that mount in 95% of bathrooms. Now when I take a hot shower, no matter how long it is or what the humidity level is in the house, there is not a drop of steam on the mirror and best of all, you can't even hear the motor since it is in the attic. I put moisture resistant cement board above the shower and dry walled the ceiling. Then I ran out of steam and that was early last fall.

So for the last nine months, there is sat, a partially functioning bathroom full of tools that we still couldn't take a shower in. When you only see your spouse on weekends and hold a full time job as well as being a single parent during the week, it was just hard to find the time or motivation to finish the project. But finally a couple weeks ago, I finally got re-motivated. I mudded the drywall and sanded it down so that it was ready for paint. That was perhaps the reason for my lack of motivation because that job sucks, particularly the sanding part. It is was mostly overhead so all the dust falls on top of me and the repetitive motion with my arms over my head makes them feel like they will soon fall off my body within minutes of beginning. After ten minutes of it, I was caked in sweat and drywall dust, my arms felt like they were about to separate from my body and I wasn't even close to being down with the job at hand. Then I had a brainstorm. I took a fresh drywall sanding screen, cut it down to a size that could fit on my palm sander and went to town. That was much better on my arms and best of all, was much faster than hand sanding.

Three coats of mud applied and sanded, I started right into retiling above the shower. I've done most things involved with building houses or remodeling them in my lifetime so far but tiling is one of the few where I lack experience. My first tiling job was to tile the hearth in front of our fireplace and that was easy since the previous owners had down everything except mudding the tiles in place and grouting them. This tiling job would be a much larger job and all overhead instead of at my feet. This job, as with most remodeling jobs in old houses, had its issues to work around, namely that of the three surfaces that I had to tile, none were square or flat. I did the best that I could leveling things out with the cement board and getting everything to match with the existing wall level and decided that it was the best I could do.

I laid out the pattern, figured out how many tiles I would need this way and that and began to mud the tiles on. It went fairly easily and I must say that of various remodeling jobs, setting tiles is a pretty easy one to do. The only hard part were the numerous trips up and down the ladder. An added bonus was that my wife had found and purchased a tile cutter at a garage sale a few years ago for only one dollar and I dug it out for this job and it worked beautifully. Considering my other option would be to rent one for $25 for one weekend or buy a new one for much more, I came out well ahead. By the end of the day, I had all the tiles installed and I must say, they were a big improvement over the previous tiles, those that had still been sticking anyway.

And so that project still sits though I haven't run out of steam.  Work is still busy and my wife's schedule has necessitated trips to the urban jungle on the weekends so I haven't been able to finish it yet. I have the grout already bought so I need to spend a morning grouting the tiles. After that, I need to seal the grout and caulk the seams to make it waterproof. I plan to install a glass shower door instead of the shower curtain in their before. With a bathroom that is only 4 x 8 feet big and a shower taking up 25% of that, I think a glass shower door will give the illusion that it is much bigger since you will be able to see the back wall of the shower. Then it is a new coat of paint and I can finally have a fully functional second bathroom for the first time since we bought the place five years ago... just in time to turn around and possibly sell it later this fall. Oh well.

Note: I will post some finished pictures in a later post when I get the job done, I promise.


Ron said...

Moisture is the enemy. Keep things dry and they last forever.

I remodeled our bathroom right before selling, too, complete with tile and glass doors. Oh well. It was good practice for future projects. Down here, we've got a cheap one-piece fiberglass shower, and I love it. :)

PhilippinesPhil said...

Makes me appreciate having Eddie. When I have to move back there one of these days I wish I could take him with me.

warren said...

Yours sat undone for only 9 months? You're too speedy for me...mine has been much longer!

Murf said...

Sounds like Little A needs to spend some quality one-on-one time with the grandparents one weekend soon.

You must've thought of me with that last bit. I was wondering were the pictures were.