It’s the second day of our bathroom renovation project, and we’re already off to a great start! We’ve been following the plan we laid out in our last post, Bathroom Renovations – Day 1. So far there have been no catastrophic surprises (fingers crossed), though I did have one really fun discovery which you can see pictured above. Keep reading to the end of the article and I’ll give you the details on my very bizarre and funny finding!
Even with things going really smoothly thus far, I’m realizing that the demolition process will take a little longer than the two days I had initially hoped for.
Since I know you’re dying to see the progress, let’s jump straight to the video of my half destroyed bathroom.
For a little more detail, here are the Day 2 updates by category:
Electrical Wiring and Fixture Removal
The first thing I did after shutting off the electric to the bathroom was to remove the fixtures and get a look at the wiring. The layout is what I had suspected, with the power being stolen from the adjacent bedroom and flowing from the light switch to the light fixture down to the outlet. It is obvious that the outlet was a newer addition as the second layer of wall paneling was cut in order to accommodate laying the wire in front of the stub and lathe.
Take a look at the updated to-do list:
Shut off the electric to the bathroom Disconnect and remove the old fixture, switch, and outlet
- Replace the knob and tube wiring with new 14 gauge wire
- Replace the outlet boxes
- Cut a hole for a second outlet, one on each side of the vanity
- Move the light switch closer to the door, adding a second switch for the installation of a new exhaust fan and light combo
- Cut a hole for the new exhaust fan/light system over the shower. Install system through attic, attaching the boy to a ceiling joist.
- Run two separate power feeds from a box in the attic (already installed during a previous project) to first outlet and the light switch box. Then run power in a series from the 1st bathroom outlet to the second bathroom outlet and then to the bedroom outlet located on the same wall. Finally, run two lines from the light switch – one to the vanity light and one to the exhaust fan/light.
Toilet Removal and Replacement
The toilet removal was quick and relatively easy. I carried the entire toilet out in one piece and placed it in the alley behind my house in hopes that one of the neighborhood scrappers might come by and grab it. If not, I’ll be making a trip to Frank Road Recycling Solutions tomorrow to unload all the construction debris from my truck bed.
Here is the progress on my toilet replacement to-do list.
Turn off the water to the toilet Flush the toilet draining as much of the remaining water as possible. Unscrew the water feed line and drain water into a nearby bucket Remove bolt caps and unscrew toilet from the bolts holding it to the floor Lift toilet from its place and dump water from bowl into a bucket or the tub. Have towels handy for water spillage Stuff a rag into the drain to prevent sewage smell from entering room
- Replace flange and/or wax seal as needed (flange may still be in good condition)
- *Note: the flange looks good, though the wax seal will need replaced
- Install new toilet, hook up water feed
Removing the Vanity and Sink
Like the toilet, the vanity was also a pretty easy removal, though it had one extra layer of difficulty. First a little bit of background about my home’s funky history.
At some point, probably because of a leak, the pipe that was feeding cold water into the sink was cut at it’s source in the basement and replaced with a new copper pipe.They never removed the old feed though, which comes through the wall behind the vanity, next to the still-in-use hot water line.
The new cold water feed enters the vanity through the floor beneath it, which means that my vanity has three places where pipes enter it, though only two are “live,” so to speak.
In order to remove the vanity I needed to take the valve on the cold water pipe that was fed up through the bottom of it, as the hole cut in the vanity floor was only as wide as the copper pipe’s diameter. After removing the old valve, it was clear that it would never be able to go back on.
Yes, this means we have encountered our first unexpected expense of the project. Fortunately I put money in the budget for the extraneous repairs and replacements I’m likely to encounter. This led me to HomeDepot where I bought three 1/2″ BassCraft compression valves for $7.78/piece, knowing that I will likely use the other two for my shower shut off valves.
While I was there, I also picked up a super neat 1/2″ copper pie cutter for $17.98 – so worth it! This thing is the coolest little tool I’ve ever owned. It worked perfectly and is really great for cutting copper pipes in tight spaces.
Here is the updated to-do list for the removal and replacement of the vanity and sink:
Turn off the water to the sink Unscrew the water feeds and the drain pipe – have a bucket handy to catch drips Detach the faucet from the drain pipe (plug plunger) and remove Lift off the sink and carry it out Detach the vanity frame from the wall and floor using a hammer and crowbar Replace plumbing, valves, connectors, etc as necessary
- Install the new vanity on top of the new flooring. My new vanities stand on legs atop the flooring, rather than sitting flush with it all the way around, as the old one does.
- Silicon the sink to the wall as gaps between them dictate
- Install the new faucet hardware and connect to the water supply and drain.
- Turn on!
Tearing Out the Shower and Tub
This has been, as expected, the most time consuming part so far. I didn’t fully appreciate how much trouble I’d have removing the wire mesh that forms the rounded tops of the shower enclosure.
All in all it is coming along, with a few big cracks of the sledgehammer in store for today. The shelving also is a bear to remove and will likely need pounded out with a lot of force.
I haven’t even touched the tub yet. Removing a cast iron tub is notoriously difficult and for good reason: they can weigh nearly a quarter of a ton, and require either a lot of strong men with feet as nimble as ballerinas to carry it down a flight of stairs, and a grueling session of smacking it with a sledgehammer until it shatters.
Here is an updated version of my task list for removing the shower and tub:
Shut off the water to the shower Disconnect the spigot, handles,and shower head
- Rip out the frame around the shower. Break apart the overhead frame to open up the shower to the ceiling, and tear out the built-in shelving *(Half complete)
- Remove tiles and plaster from the shower surround, taking the walls down to lathe *(Half complete – see the video of Day 2 progress below!)
- Disconnect the drain pipe from the tub
- Remove the tub by sliding it down the stairs on a blanket (team of 4 people likely needed), or break the cast iron tub with a sledgehammer
- Replace or repair any plumbing as necessary, including installing a pressure balance valve and extending the pipe to raise the shower head.
- Build the frame for the new shower and closet, preparing the walls and ceiling around it for cement board and/or drywall. Frame spaces for in-shower shelving for soaps, etc
- Install the new tub and glass shower door
- Cement board the walls around the tub, mortar, tile, and grout over the cement board
- Add the exterior wood frame for the facade of the tub
- Caulk in any cracks or space between the tub and wall or frame
*And just to share one fun video from the progress being made today, here I am removing old tiles from the shower wall:
Remodeling Bathroom Walls, Floors, Cosmetics
This is definitely a case of things needing to get worse before they can get better. Lots of demolition happening in the category, though we won’t see much of the pretty stuff appear until the 11th hour.
Here is an updated to-do list for the catch all category of renovation steps that we’re taking:
- Rip up the linoleum floor
Remove the paneling from the walls.Repair or cover the plaster as necessary
- Pull down the tiles from the ceiling. Repair or cover the plaster as necessary
- Attach cement backing board as the underlayment on the subfloor
- Mortar, tile, and grout over the floor, using spacers to keep the tiles in line and a tile saw to make cuts as necessary
- Install open shelving on the backside of the shower wall. Leave an access door below in order to access the shut off valves for the shower water lines
- Install the mirror, towel racks, toilet paper holder, or any other decorative pieces
Finding Vintage Razor Blades
And I can’t forget to mention the best discovery of the day – the treasure trove of razors!
A little research tells me that older homes commonly had a razor slot over the bathroom sink. After men shaved (can you imagine using those single blade razors today?), they would stuff the razors into the slot, where they would disappear forever. Or for 101 years, when a future bathroom renovation reveals hundreds, if not thousands, of razor blades hidden behind the plaster.
I even tweeted my discovery @Gillette and got this response. Anyway, that was my fun for the day!