Posts Tagged ‘Bathrooms’

Sweet, sweet completion.  After 4 full months in various stages of being torn apart, it’s put back together again and ready for guests.  Without further ado:

Paint:  SW Interesting Aqua and SW Alabaster | Tile:  Tracce del Tempo in marrone 13x13s | Sink:  Mansfield Barrett | Toilet:  Mansfield Barrett, a discontinued version without concealed trap | Faucet, towel ring, and TP ring:  Moen Eva collection in brushed nickel | Mirror:  Lowe’s

We’ve worked on it most of the last bunch of weekends, and I confess I got so tired of the project toward the end that I wasn’t enjoying working on it, let alone taking pictures or writing about it.  So, I stopped blogging about it – this is supposed to be fun, right?  Besides, nobody wants to see pictures of “and then I did another coat of white paint!” or “and then we ran out to Lowe’s again!”

We did a lot of that – the running out to Lowe’s again.  It seemed like every step that could’ve had a hangup, required another trip to Lowe’s, needed a different part, or had 8 more steps than we thought, did.  Most parts of the project weren’t that difficult, but they were almost all things we don’t do everyday.  “One off” sort of projects always take more time and effort than you expect.

But finally.

After it was all finished, it struck me how similar it was to what was previously there – it was really just a nicer, more polished version of itself.  The layout is the same.  It’s still blue, and still has neutral colored, square-patterned flooring.  The shift from bisque to white fixtures isn’t dramatic.  The mirror and vanity light were things we’d had in there before.  But the overall impression, I think, is much nicer.  It’s the little things.  Looking at the befores:

There’s no more gapping between pieces of laminate flooring, no more vague smell of mold (the old toilet wax seal leaked), no more pinky beige, circa 1985, no more shreds of wallpaper that I couldn’t quite get out from behind the baseboard molding, no more shoddy finish carpentry, more floor space, and a cleaner, brighter look.  It’s warmer, with a forced air heat register that now opens into the room, and radiant heat in the floor.  It feels more like part of the house, not part of the garage.

We still have a few little tasks left to do:  we need to install a threshold between the tile and the family room carpet, just to finish it off.  I’m also thinking about what to hang on the walls.  A floating shelf over the toilet would provide space for extra TP rolls, etc.  I admit I will probably miss the vanity storage space a little.  With the heat vent where it is, I think we made the right decision to use a pedestal sink, but it always pains me to sacrifice storage space.

We’re also going to replace the lauan door – which looks so orange against all that white! – with a solid pine 6 panel door that will be painted white to match, with a brushed nickel knob.  I am ready to give that up for now and call it a separate project.  I need a little break where I’m “done” for a bit.  We’ll eventually be doing all the interior doors in the house, and they’ll all still be there next month.

Just for funsies:


and 2012:

I’m pretty proud of that!


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Progress has been pretty slow in the half bath lately:  for a good chunk of August and early September, we were juggling travel, visits with family, and triathlon race season, as well as remaining gainfully employed (hey, these improvements don’t pay for themselves!).  A certain degree of complacency with just having a working toilet crept in.

We have made a few steps forward, though:  we have a monochromatic toilet now!  We were able to exchange the bone colored tank for a white tank that matches the bowl.

We also finally made it this week to Habitat for Humanity, where we donated the old toilet, vanity, sink top, and faucet.  They were happy to take it off our hands, and we were happy to have the space in our garage back.

This weekend we’re getting rained out of our Adirondack hike, so hopefully there will be more progress to report soon.  The pedestal sink (both bowl and pedestal) are in boxes in the family room, just waiting for us to finish the beadboard.  What a tease!

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It has been a busy week+ in half bathroom progress.  I haven’t had time to update, because I’ve had to choose between doing the work and blogging about the work (and, well, catching Olympic swimming), and blogging was a distant third.  But here we are.

Last Saturday, we grouted the tile floor.  Grouting is just kind of tedious, but it’s gratifying to see the floor going from looking obviously in-progress to DONE in an afternoon.

Sunday, when the grout was dry enough to walk on the tile, I primed the ceiling and walls so they could be painted.

We also went to Lowe’s to buy the beadboard and molding.  4’x8′ sheets of beadboard don’t fit as well into a Subaru Forester as one might hope, but we got them home.

Monday I got up early and painted the ceiling white before I went in to work, so I could do the walls that night when I got home.

Tuesday the beadboard started going up:

The hole saw was nobody’s BFF, but we got the job done.  Since this is the only piece with holes, the hardest one was out of the way first.  We adhered it to the wall with Liquid Nails and actual nails into the studs.

The beadboard + chair rail will be about 40″ off the floor.  That will be about 6″ higher than the top of the pedestal sink, and a couple inches below the light switches and outlets.

The pieces of beadboard were not as long as the walls were, so most of the walls (all except the door wall) have joints in the beadboard.  They’re about 1/8″ wide, caulked, so there’s room for the beadboard to expand and contract a little, and the caulk should hide it.  The goal was to make it with the beadboard around the corner where the toilet will sit, so we could put the toilet in and not have to take it back out again to finish the trim work.  We also needed to put in the baseboard molding behind the toilet.

The remaining days of the week were mostly spent painting.  Three coats of semigloss paint took some time.  Yesterday, I finished the third coat of paint in the morning, cleaned out the accumulated tools, washed the floor, and the toilet went in — just as weekend guests were arriving.

The bowl went in pretty uneventfully, but when we sat the tank on the bowl… womp, womp, womp.  The pieces don’t match.

The bowl is white like it’s supposed to be, but the tank is bone colored.  We’d ordered white, and hadn’t checked the boxes to make sure both pieces actually said white.  What a pain.  So that is still to be resolved.  The white sink pedestal is also still on backorder, and will (really) hopefully be here soon.  The only positive that I can say for all this is that it makes me feel good about the decision to replace the old bone colored toilet in favor of a white one, rather than just buying a bone colored pedestal sink and being done with it.  I like the white with the white beadboard.  I think it’ll look great when the trim work is finished and the sink comes in.

In the meantime, we’re finishing the beadboard and baseboards, and will then do the chair rail over the beadboard.  New door casing will be part of that, again with lots of painting.  Eventually we’ll need to pick out and hang a new door, since the Lauan door that’s there has seen some better days (and even those days were not as awesome as they could be).  Solid pine is a possibility for the new doors.  Whatever we pick will probably become the standard for the rest of the house as we slowly replace the stained Lauan doors throughout.

The bathroom is far from done, but at least there’s been some significant progress, and it’s starting to look like a bathroom again!

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Some unmodified gray thinset and water, some time with the tile saw, and…

here we are!

We’re using 3/16″ spacers between each of the 13×13″ tiles.

The thinset is currently drying, so we’ll be able to walk on it to measure and cut the last couple of corner pieces in a day or so.  After that, we’ll just need to grout and then the floor will be finished and ready for toilet installation.  (Yay!)

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This morning I bought a quart of Interesting Aqua (SW 6220) for the half bath (and some primer, for the new sheetrock):

After staring at a bunch of paint chips laid out on a 16 square foot tile arrangement on the family room floor, this was the favorite.  I’m very excited to see it go up, but it’s not a secret around here that I love painting.

Incidentally, the Sherwin Williams 40% off sale is running today through Monday, July 20-23.  Happy painting!

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Now that the walls are in pretty decent shape, it’s time to turn our attention back to the floor.  This weekend, we made progress on the flooring under the tile.

First, the Ditra went down over the concrete slab.  The Ditra will help with a couple of challenges with this floor.  First, it provides an uncoupling layer between the cracked slab and the tile that will be laid above it, so if there’s any movement in the crack in the future, it won’t cause the tiles to crack.  It also provides a waterproofing membrane, and vapor barrier under the tile.

The upper surface has a waffle texture, with undercut dovetail squares, and the bottom surface has a fleecy backing for adhering to thinset between the Ditra and the concrete.

After we laid the Ditra (and the thinset dried overnight), we started playing with the tile layout.  A few of the tiles, maybe a third or so of the square footage, are cut and ready to go.  The starting point for the tile pattern is the triangular half tile that is centered in the doorway.  We’ll build the pattern from there.  That will be a pain when we actually lay the tile, because we want to work our way out of the room, but for setting the pattern it works better this way.

I think the average tile color is darker than the tile that we brought home to look at initially.  Only a few are as light as it was.  I was a little surprised by how dark they are, but I think it will look good when it’s done.

After playing with the layout a bit, we took the tiles out and started the next step in installation, which is the radiant heat.  We used a 3×5′ mat from Laticrete which will lay under the floor where people will walk/stand.  It didn’t seem necessary go to the additional complexity of installing it under where the sink bowl will be.

The mat is self-sticking, so with just a little wiggling and adjustment, we got it down where it needed to go.  The wires come up in the lower left corner, and are run up behind the wall to the thermostat, which will be next to the light switch and GFI outlet.  I forgot to take a picture of that, oops.

Once the wires were run, we were ready to cover it up.  It took quite a lot of thinset to bury it completely, and fill the undercut waffle pattern in the Ditra to anchor it down.

The next step will be tiling over it!

We also started thinking about paint colors.  Sherwin Williams is having a 40% off sale next weekend, so I’d like to decide by then what color I want to paint the walls.  If I really can’t, I can of course buy untinted paint on sale and tint it when I decide, but deadlines are good for me.

I laid out a few pieces of tile in the family room to look at paint cards against.  The walls used to be SW Sleepy Blue, which is the same color as the family room.  I like it, but I think I want something a little darker in the new half bath, and I’m not absolutely wedded to going with the same color card.

So back to the drawing board.

Ok, maybe not that far back.  How about one of these?

Colors from three of these four cards have been used somewhere else in the house already.  It turns out I’m pretty predictable.

We’re thinking about something from the middle (4th) row, probably on one of the two more blue cards.  Sleepy Blue is the 2nd from top, on the leftmost card.  Decisions, decisions.

Laying and grouting the tile are the only two steps left before we can install the new toilet.  Then we can re-hang the door, and be able to use the bathroom again a little bit.  That will save us a lot of walking upstairs!

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This weekend, we cleared out the half bath, and ripped out the baseboard molding, vanity, toilet, and the laminate flooring of horrible installation fame.  At this point it’s pretty much a closet with a drain!  The intention was to spend the rest of the weekend installing the electric heat mats and tiling the floor.  Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what happened.

The vanity and toilet came out ok.  The walls behind the vanity weren’t in fantastic shape, but they weren’t as bad as I was afraid of.

Once they were out, though, it became obvious that the wall that the sink & toilet are on, isn’t straight.  It bows out in between the sink and toilet hookups, which is why the molding buckled.  We also realized that, with the baseboard molding off, we could see daylight through to the garage at the bottom of the walls.  Gee, wonder why it gets so cold in the winter…?

When we pulled the laminate flooring out, there were more surprises.  There was vinyl linoleum under the laminate, which was sort of predictable.  Worse were the discoveries that the linoleum was laid down directly over the concrete slab, there was mildew all over the slab near the toilet drain, and, when the rest of the linoleum came up, we found a crack in the slab.

The linoleum came off only slightly better than the wallpaper did from the walls a few years back.  After that, C and his dad took turns using vinegar & water to soak and scrape up the glue to get the cleanest surface on the slab that we could get, and get the mildew up.

Since the bowed sheetrock was concerning, and the poor insulation in the walls was a problem, we cut away the lower portion of the wall to figure out what, exactly, was going on.

It was actually better insulated than we expected.  Not great, since it’s an exterior wall, but not egregious.  The real problem was the black drain pipe.  It’s set in concrete, so it can’t be moved, and it sits about half an inch proud of the studs.  The sheetrock was affixed to the studs, and bending around it.  Well that’s no good.

We cut the lower portion of the sheetrock away under the light switch as well, so we could fix a variety of electrical shortcuts that the builders had taken, and install a GFI outlet for the heat mat.  Then we screwed wood strips to the studs to build them out half an inch so the pipe could be tucked in behind the sheetrock.

We squirted foam insulation into the spaces where daylight was showing through, then hung half inch high-R sheathing on the two exterior walls:

then put up new sheetrock over it.  C’s dad came over today to start the taping, since that’s outside our repertoire of skills (among other things he’s helping us do with the bathroom!).

Here’s where it is now:

Talk about a high-maintenance 20 square feet.  We haven’t even started with the floor yet!  The pedestal for our sink is still on backorder until the end of the month, and I’m not too concerned.  I’m not sure if we’ll be ready to put it in until then!

Between the sheathing and the new sheetrock, the room is about an inch narrower and an inch shallower than it used to be.  The toilet measurements should still work, and we figured the real estate was worth it to have straighter walls and a warmer room.

Even though the project is turning out to be a lot more laborious than intended, at least we will know that we’ve taken it all the way down to the concrete and studs, and know exactly what’s there now.  No sneaky mildew (which we think was the result of a poor seal around the toilet), or shoddy insulation and construction.  That will be nice.

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