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.