Bathroom hell

“Let’s redo the bathroom instead of getting each other Christmas gifts this year!” he said.

“It’ll be fun!” he said.

Actually, it may have been my idea all along.  Not that I didn’t need to think about it a bit.  I love Christmas and I love opening presents.  Trading out the bathroom for presents was a big deal to me.  But, bathrooms are expensive to remodel.  Faucets are upwards of $100 and clawfoot tub faucets are even more expensive.  We really couldn’t afford to do both.

“But wait a minute…..isn’t the upstairs bathroom the only room in the house that was  pretty much DONE?!” you ask.

Sheepishly, I answer “Yes”.

It’s true that the upstairs bathroom was remodeled by the most recent prior owner.  They reinforced the flooring, installed tile, plastered, painted, repaired wainscoat, installed a new toilet, sink, and hauled the clawfoot tub upstairs.  So, why are we remodeling?  Well, friends, it all started with the leaking clawfoot tub faucet.  It leaked so badly that it dripped down through the ceiling to the room below.  We tried to repair it, but it needed to be replaced.

Leaky faucet

Leaky faucet

Second, I really hated the toilet.  I think it was a handicap toilet because it was really tall.  I am not a tall woman and my feet literally dangled when I went pee.  So, if we’re replacing the tub faucet, let’s replace the toilet.

Third, there was this weird cabinet that wasn’t really very useful.  Turns out, the cabinet was hiding old plumbing that once went to a kitchen sink in the adjoining room (now the boy’s bedroom).  If we’re replacing the faucet and the toilet, let’s rip out the weird cabinet. 20141214_075139 Fourth, there was an old electrical box that we bypassed when we re-wired the house which needed to be removed and the resulting hole in the wall patched.  If we’re replacing the faucet, toilet, and removing the cabinet…..let’s remove and patch in the electrical box. See how a simple faucet replacement can turn in to a complete bathroom overhaul?

Buying the stuff we needed for the remodel was the fun part.  Actually doing the work has proven to be one of the hardest projects we’ve ever tackled.  I think the hardest part is shoving two grown adults into a relatively small space, handing them power tools, and telling them to get to work without 1) hurting each other on accident, or, 2) hurting each other on purpose.

Step one was getting everything out of the room.  That includes the clawfoot tub.  Apparently hubby thinks that since I enjoy wearing Wonder Woman shirts, I have somehow become part Amazon woman and can suddenly help lift a 350-400 lb cast iron plumbing fixture.  I should have traded back for the Christmas presents right then and there.

Step two was repairing plaster and skim-coating the walls.  There isn’t much I can do here as I am not the plastering person in this house.  So, I spent some time feeling rather useless.  I have found that I’m a very good supervisor in these cases.  I’m also quite good at pointing out areas that were missed or not sanded well enough.  Hubby really appreciates my input (rolls eyes).

Next was painting.  This, I can do!  Usually, when we get to this step, I get excited.  Painting almost always means we are getting close to the end of the project.  However, with this project, I knew that wasn’t the case.  Why is that?  Well, This bathroom had tile floors.  Relatively new tile floors which actually matched the period of the house pretty well.   And…after removing the weird cabinet, there was a space with no tile.  And….hubby has always wanted a bathroom with hardwood floors.    And…..since we’re replacing the faucet, and the toilet, patching the plaster, painting,……why not replace the floors with what you REALLY want?!

Have you ever removed tile floors?  If not, let me make a suggestion.  If your spouse tells you they want to remove the tile floors in a room, do one of two things.  Either politely tell them with love and kindness in your voice to kiss your a**…. OR…. hire someone else to do it.

We spent about half of the day removing the tile, one tile at a time.  Sometimes less than one tile at a time.  We thought ahead and had ear plugs and eye protection, but we both ended up getting hit by a glass shard and bleeding down our faces.  Amazing how much a tiny little cut on your head can bleed.  I hit my knuckle with the hammer so many times I’m surprised I can still bend it.  We both had intense back strain, but I tweaked mine to the point of tears.  It sucked.  It really really sucked.  This was my experience tearing up about 60 square feet of tile.  I can’t imagine tearing up a large room. After tearing up the tile, we had to get the floor ready for new flooring.  This meant tearing up the subfloor because it was covered in tile cement.  The tile cement was on some sort of fiber board which was screwed and cemented (with a LOT of cement) to a 7/8″ piece of plywood which was screwed and glued to the floor joists.  All of this had to come up.  We spent hours on this part of the project.  After tearing up tile all morning, with fatigued backs and bad attitudes, we forged on.  After going through countless saw blades (the cement kept dulling the blades), we finally had to give up for the day.

The following day (today), hubby woke me up with “I woke up in the middle of the night thinking we should remove that old plumbing.”

Aw, hell.

Under the floor were the old cast iron drain pipes.  Each had the weight listed on the pipe.  One said 32 lbs, another said 12 lbs….all in all around 75-100 lbs of cast iron pipe.  OLD cast iron pipe.  Pipe that looks like it could crack and leak at any moment.  Now, once you say out loud that you think something should be removed/replaced in an old house, you’d better remove/replace it.  Otherwise, it will fail at some point in the future and you’ll wish you had listened to your instincts the first time.

Ancient drain pipe

Ancient drain pipe

It took a couple hours and many saw blades to cut through the pipe.  All the while, I feared whatever liquid contents left in the pipe would spill out.  **shudder**

No more pipe!

No more pipe!

Then, we had to finish ripping out the rest of the sub-floor.  Because one afternoon of that kind of fun isn’t enough for us!  We are finally done with the demolition, ready to start installing new drains, installing floors, and finishing up.

Hopefully the rest of this project goes smoother.  Stay tuned!


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Wife, mom, small business owner, and hobby farm hopeful.
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