A Place Where No Dreams Come True...

Current Topic: The Retro-House Bathroom is Horrible, Hideous and Tiny. And Yes... That is Linoleum on the walls. Ugh! None of the fixtures (toilet, sink, tub/shower) work and the layers of thin plywood and linoleum are all that holds the floor together.

Everything Leaks In This Bathroom And It Has Rotted Everything Away...

Well... The bathroom was the crux of the failure in this house. It was not only completely broken (everything leaked) it had been remodeled so many times (to hide the problems) that the renovations were the only thing holding it together.

Repaired shower valve seats

Before any work could be done the plumbing leaks needed to be eliminated. For the most part new shut-off valves were installed. The bathtub however does not have shut-offs. It is a built in valve assembly (like everybody else's) so it needed to be rebuilt. Well new washers were a breeze to round up but unfortunately the valve seats were pitted and none of this vintage were readily available. So I got out the file and sandpaper and began machining. Wow was I surprised how easy it was to resurface the seats. And that did the trick. Now there were no leaks and the demolition could continue.

I guess you would call it a vanity Old sink and bathtub Vanity plumbing Bathroom before size upgrade Under the tub... Possibly the best floor in the bathroom

Kind of a typical gut job removing everything down to the studs.

Original floor under vanity Rotted floor in bathroom... Maybe the worst of it

Removing a small portion of the floor revealed a completely rotted sub floor as well as four layers of linoleum sandwiched around some layers of 1/4 plywood. This on top of the original sub floor and a T&G (tongue and groove) hardwood original floor.

I know in the pictures the floor looks like strand-board (OSB) but really; it's what's left of the solid 1 x 6 Fir sub-floor and a T&G Fir floor and it kind of pulled apart like finely smoked pork.

Aren't you bored yet? The tiolet's original location

It also appeared (at closer look) that the bathroom had been moved. Along with the plumbing which was now kludged with dozens of unions (which at this point were very delicate) connecting the old with some new copper.

All in all it was a disaster. If we are going to repair this house then the plumbing will have to be completely replaced. Ugh!

Starting on the new plumbing The new pedestal sink is going here

So... We installed new drains, vents and supply lines. At each supply line we also added a brass gate-valve (as a built in shut-off). The main body of the valve is positioned to be recessed behind the wall with only the stem and knob exposed. This allows minimal intrusion and long-term reliability. How many times I've went to use a shut-off and it leaks. The constant flow across the seal deteriorates it over time. It works great the day you install it but the first time you go to use it (years later) it leaks. Not enough to replace, but just enough to cause additional cleanup. So for about $2.80 CDN for each valve (and only a few extra minutes while we are already here) it seemed like a good long-term investment.

The cleaned up toilet flushes once again

And finally, after about six weeks, the toilet (in it's new place) flushes again.

A proper water closet eventually insulated for privacy The water closet has it's own private exhaust fan

Like everything in this house the electrical service needed total upgrading. And that needed to be done before the new walls were closed up. This is not easy work. The crawlspace below the house is minimal and the Attic is a complete mess.

Expanded bathroom view Expanded bathroom view The new water closet

Now we are starting to make some progress. The walls are starting to go back up. The sub-floor is being replaced. The floor joists have been repaired and the plumbing (supply and waste) has been replaced.

New Resized bathroom shell

The goal for this bathroom is a complete tile shell. The importance of tile is investment preservation. Tile is hard to damage and easy to sanitize. It's easy to tell when tile is dirty and equally easy to tell when tile is clean.

Shower curb; bottom of it's framing

So... With the floor completed and re-enforced by mortar and concrete board (wonder board) it's finally time to create the shower.

Mixing the shower dry morter bed Applying the shower dry morter bed Applying a steel mesh to the structure Layer 1 complete: A re-enforced dry morter bed The drain looke pretty good too Now it's time for the membrane (rubber liner)

We did a little bit of research about this and came up with a traditional approach. First we built the base. Then we made a 'dry mortar mix' with 'Portland cement' and 'damp playground sand' and water using an age-old recipe (ratio). I, of course, decided to add to the mix a steel re-enforcement. In this case. Stucco-Mesh. Wow... That stuff had a personality completely opposing our task. To recap... Wild horses are more tame then stucco-mesh. Blah blah... After much wrangling we think we have a bed suitable for a tile shower.

We realized we needed framing for the rubber liner (membrane) Getting fancy with the shower experience

Ok... Now that we have a bedding for the shower we can frame it (it was easier to work the shower floor bedding without framing).

That went well so we plumbed in the supply lines. We got a little fancy here. Maybe we shouldn't have. We have left and right and front and back heads. This may turn out to be a mistake or a Savior. I can't wait to find out.

Now we're ready to line the bed Layer 2 complete: A morter bed over the membrane Additional scructional support

Here goes the second phase of the 'shower-pan'. A rubber membrane, with 'hospital fold' corners, properly sloped to the drain, sealing the first layer. In older days this would have been done with a copper 'pan'.

Of course... Being completely inexperienced in tile showers we had nothing but trouble. So in order to get the next layer (over the membrane) of mortar to sit right we had to get out the clamps and persuade a bit. We must have missed a chapter in the tutorial.

Finally satisfied. We have insulated (why not) the shower framing.

Did I mention 'I hate building!' Did I mention 'I hate building!' Just about ready for tiling now

We have also, in yet another broken moment of clarity, lined the shower with roofing-felt (tar paper) before we covered it with 'Hardy' tile backer board. A much denser material then gyp-board (sheet rock) and more suitable to the eventual tile finish.

At the same time we prepared the rest of the walls. Tile-board for the lower half and regular sheet-rock for the upper half.

Bathroom walls Bathroom walls Bathroom walls

The floors and walls are now fully prepped. There were a lot of edges and corners to seam up but it went reasonably well and the room finally looks like there might be hope yet for a functional bathroom.

Bathroom ceiling Bathroom ceiling Bathroom ceiling

The ceiling on the other hand required major attention. Aside from being sub-standard thickness it was threatening to come down entirely. But we were not prepared to remove it either. We decided there was just enough there to save instead.

That was probably a bad call. Aside from drooping and deattachment there was a huge gap where the original wall stood. We supported the ceiling edge from above and used a mixture of plasters (hard,medium,sandable) and after a huge drawn-out effort had a suitably smooth surface.

Bathroom ceiling Bathroom ceiling Bathroom ceiling

I think we were all a little surprised how well that turned out. Except of course for the long term lung damage due to the sanding process. Oh well! At least were finally ready to tile and paint.

Good Thing We Waited For The Tenant To Move Out To Start Tiling.

Now that we have the tenant removed we can finally begin the bathroom tiling. Because of circumstance this project is about three years behind schedule. Ouch!

The shower tile is the real challange Bathtub surround detail Cove corner floor/wall transition detail

The first step was the floor. Basically... It went very well. However; because the bathroom, as large as it had become, had been divided into so many parts (water-closet, bathtub, shower, sink, etc...) the remaining floor was comprised of narrow arteries to the various facilities.

The problem here was that the reference point for the floor was the tub surround corner which was roughly in the center of the room. This point alone determined where the floor tile origin had to be and so we began there. The troublesome part was trying to keep the lines geometrically pleasing (straight). We could only go so far each day before the tiles we just set were blocking the way of the progression, unfortunately, because we had to start from the center instead of an outside edge.

So... After weeks of crawling along, at maybe a realistic 35 tiles a day average, we were finally ready to tile the walls.

Floor inlay detail Water closet tile detail Water closet tile detail

The water closet became the test bed for the wall tiling. As it turned out... A worst case scenario.

Before we acquired this house it had already suffered severe trauma. The bathroom was it's major victim. I knew that. However: Continuing on, and adjusting the averages, worked fine, until now.

This became the biggest lesson I learned on this project. On everything else there was enough room for fudge factor (rough) but when it was time for tiling the bathroom it became painfully obvious how important true, square and level really are.

Shower tiling Shower tiling Shower tiling

On top of the fact that we are proceeding at a snails pace we had to custom cut most of the tiles along the seams (edges) to make up for misalignment. This really sucked. Big time. It didn't look to bad when it was done however it was painfully slow.

The shower tile is the real challange Bathtub surround detail Cove corner floor/wall transition detail

Wow! About six months later we were finally ready to grout. Ad even that took several days.

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