1/21/2013 5:00:00 PM
In Praise of Fathers
"Well, we don't have the money for that so... we're doing it ourselves."
That was the conversation with my friend. And when I said "Ourselves" I meant, of course, "With lots of help from our fathers who actually know what they're doing!"
Andrew and I both have fathers who seem to know how to do just about anything. Andrew's dad, for instance, excels in wiring (he's an engineer) and my dad can build anything. Both are very hard workers who are not only willing to help but seem to enjoy it.
So, when we discovered a leak in our bathroom at the end of August and Andrew decided it was the excuse to re do our ugly bathroom, I knew we weren't getting it done on our own. I may have told Andrew "If you want to re-do the bathroom, you can do it yourself!" But I knew I'd help out... and mostly, our fathers would be needed.
The leak we found, by the way, was the water pipe to the toilet. The 'off' valve was old and leaking... easily fixed but... man our bathroom was ugly!! So, like I said, Andrew took it as his chance to demolish!
Lesson One: DIY always takes longer than you think it will. We started to demolish in September and the bathroom is finally done as of January 19. Pictures!
Lovely colour scheme, eh? haha!
(Mirror taken off the wall)
Lesson 2: You know when the Youtube instructional video talks about breaking one tile then popping off the rest? It probably won't work like that.
The only way to get the tiles off for us was to rip the whole wall down. "Popping" tiles off wasn't possible and, believe me, I tried my hardest!
Try not to chip your bathtub as you rip out walls of sharp, broken tiles. We did. That is why this tub is no longer there. Why deal with a tub that will rust and rust for year when we've gone through so much work already, right? At least, that's the advice my dad gave us.
Andrew and his dad put in some wiring for the new light over the vanity.
Because we took the tub out, we discovered a secondary 'leak' so to say. The water had been running out of the tub during showers and underneath the quarter-round and the floor was rotting in a spot about a foot square. Because the floor was weak, the tile in the area had cracked. Thankfully, I found 3 extra tiles in the basement and we were able to replace/repair the floor and two cracked tiles. Again, I mean, my dad did.
My dad in the new soaker tub working on the last stages of the plumbing. Lesson 3: The box may say "Perfect to replace standard tubs!" but beware! It may be the same length but, if the new tub is wider than the old one, you'll have to move your plumbing. Thankfully, my dad was able to move everything over (the ONE inch it all had to move) and install the new tub for us.
New walls! We put Hardibacker cement board on 2 of the 3 walls surrounding the tub. This is is about 2 times more expensive than drywall that has the mould resistant coating (~$30 a sheet vs. $15). Also, if anyone wants to rip off our tiles in 15 years, they may actually be able to do the "pop-off" method with this backing board.
On the back wall, we used the green dry-wall because it was easiest. One 4X8 sheet went from one wall to the other.
With the walls up, it was time to tile!
One thing we tried to do when making purchases for this renovation was to buy items made in Canada of the US; at very least, Mexico (where our toilet was made). We made this decision because 1) the closer it was manufactured, theoretically, the smaller the carbon footprint from shipping and 2) we want support good paying jobs in this country/continent.
We came to a dilemma, though, when it came to the tiles we chose. As you will see, they are a simple 3X6 white "subway" tiles. We found a Made in the US version at Lowes and a Made in China version at a small "Mom and Pop" shop in Barrie. So, do we buy from the small guys and buy Made in China or the Box Store and buy Made in the US?
For some, it would come down to money. The China tiles were $1 less a square foot.
I asked a contractor friend and he said the US tiles were probably more expensive because they were better quality and the glaze would be more consistent.
In the end, we chose to spend more and buy Made in the USA. Had a local Mom and Pop shop carried US made tiles, we would have gladly bought from the 'small guy'. But, the closest I found was "Made in Italy" for another $1 more per square foot than the Lowes tiles!
My dad and I spent the last day of 2012 and the 1st day of 2013 tiling around the tub. We used cement instead of glue so that I could actually do SOMETHING to help with the renovation!
Had I done the tiling on my own, I probably wouldn't have thought to make sure the lines from one wall to the next lined up. Nor would I have noticed that the back wall wasn't straight and that we would have to build up one corner with cement to make it a proper square corner. Again, thanks Dad!
Almost done! Lesson 4: Ask me to tile all day and I'm fine. But GROUTING is off limits. I hate it and never want to do it again. First of all, the amount of water the instructions tell you to add is wrong! Wrong! I tell you. One swipe and it's practically dried out and useless.
Also, the dry wall spatula is far handier than a grout float.
Also, the grout bag LIES about how much it will cover. We bought two 5lb bags that should have covered 104 square feet with our 3X6 tiles and 1/8 space. Well, I had to buy a 3rd bag! Yup, we needed to cover less than 65 square feet and 2 bags wasn't enough. I don't know what I was doing wrong.
Anyway, I hate grouting. It sucks. But look! We're finally done!
Andrew's dad came over this weekend and helped with the caulking and putting up our new medicine cabinet. All we have left to do is put the shower curtain back on, put the mirror on the cabinet and clean the floor. Tadaa!
I tried to do a panorama of the tub area but Photoshop has a hard time putting together 3 ALL WHITE photos! No kidding.
We couldn't decide on a colour so our bathroom is going to be white for the foreseeable future.
The only thing we didn't replace, as you can see, is the vanity. 3 reasons for this: 1) trying to keep the costs down- we didn't need a new one but we sure did need a new toilet and walls and tiles! 2) It would have taken forever to find one we liked 3) The current one is just placed on top of tiles so, when we do replace it, it will be easy to do (or, so we think!) Final Lesson: There is great satisfaction with DIY but you need to know what you're doing or have help. It will save you money but not time. If you have the money to pay someone, that might be the best route for you. We don't. Of course, we couldn't use it for 4 months but for less than $1500, we have a nice new bathroom! (2 of those months it just sat with us doing nothing about it, fyi.)
But... We're done! So I'm having a nice bath tonight in the soaker tub!
Margot T. Rivers