Our house was built in the 80s, 1982 to be exact. Many, if not most things have not really been touched since then. Sure, fresh paint has been applied to the walls and carpet occasionally replaced, but the “bones” of the house have remained unchanged for the last 35 years.
That changed immediately when we moved in almost 2 years ago. It started with windows, moved to the kitchen (which is still awesome, btw), moved on to doors, and now has passed to the biggest thorn remaining on the first floor, the bathroom.
Our first floor bathroom is a full bath. It would ostensibly be used for guests under normal circumstances, but since we have a first floor bedroom that is occupied currently by Ethan, it is also his bathroom. It is smaller than our other bathrooms. The ceiling is strangely low to accommodate plumbing from the laundry and upstairs bathrooms.
The project started a few weeks ago with destruction. Destruction is not too difficult - if you know what you want to do. I always have trouble figuring out how far to take things. Do them right, or do them quickly. I almost always err on the side of doing things right, but there are times when I get distracted by other projects that spring up while I’m destructing.
My original thought was to take things down to the studs in the bathroom and just start anew. It makes wiring and plumbing easier, but means you have to drywall. In my research, a certain amount of drywall would have to be removed to replace the tub anyway. Also, we are going to redo the tile in the shower area, so all that drywall needed to be replaced with cement board. Of course, early in the project I second guessed that decision and tried to justify surgically removing drywall instead of wholesale replacing. That decision didn’t last, but it did prolong the destruction phase…
The bathtub was an amusing story. Peeking at the bathtub from below, I had convinced myself, for some reason, that it was a cast iron tub. It had a black looking bottom, and that told me that it was cast iron. So I searched for how to remove a cast iron tub on the internet. The steps were somewhat complicated. The gist was, since they are so heavy, you have to break them apart with a sledge hammer and remove them in pieces. So we attempted to do that. I let Ethan do the honors, so he grabbed the sledgehammer and diligently started hammering away at the tub. After about 5 minutes when nothing was happening other than some flaking of porcelain, oh, and the sledgehammer broke from repeated stress, we decided to reassess. What if the tub were steel? Turns out, that is the far more common thing for tubs to be made of, even if installed in the 80s. The instructions for removing a steel tub were much simpler as well. Detach tub from wall studs, carry tub out. Oh well, now we have a new sledgehammer I guess.
Since no project should be so simple as completely removing a bathroom and replacing it with all new fixtures, floor, and wall coverings, we decided to also do our “I Dream of Genie” bar that is adjacent to it. That project isn’t quite as big, but is just as intrusive - down to the studs there as well! Looks like I will have some drywalling in my future.
To further complicate the project, Mireille has clearly been watching too much Dora the Explorer and has started modeling her behavior after the character Swiper. Several times a day, she will just take things and move them somewhere else in the house. Tools, wire nuts, my wallet, bolts… It makes it sort of difficult to consistently make progress. Luckily she hides them in consistent places. She has one particular spot in her bedroom that she likes to deposit her stolen goods.
Yesterday we finally transitioned from destruction to construction. It was marked by a trip to Home Depot to load up on things that we would need, including shower doors, toilet, vanity, tile, laminate flooring, and a bunch of other stuff that will ultimately make its way into our bathroom. I will update as we progress.