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UltraJim17 02-04-2010 10:58 AM

Threshold for Destruction
So the wife and I bought a 20-year-old suburban ranch roughly a year ago. We've done a myriad of projects and now it's time to do the two bathrooms. They're both pretty small, say about 30 sq-ft each excluding tubs. All of the fixtures and such are original, so replacing those is a foregone conclusion. I'd also like to do tile floors and tub surrounds instead of vinyl and fiberglass, respectively. We're just getting started looking at things, and one subject I'm curious about is at what point does it make sense to destroy the existing drywall and start all over? For the most part (at least on the surface, to me) the existing walls seem to be in pretty good shape, save for a spot that has a little water damage. (In the corner where the outer part of the tub meets the floor.)

I have no idea what drywall's life expectancy is in a bathroom (if it has one). I obviously don't want to spend more than necessary but at the same time, when we do plunk down for this project I want it to be a solid long-lasting investment. The last thing I want is to finish everything then a few years down the road find out I should have replaced the drywall when I had everything else torn up. Know whadda mean?

Thanks for any input you may have.


bjbatlanta 02-04-2010 12:28 PM

Drywall is relatively inexpensive. For the sake of access for new wiring, plumbing, adding exhaust fans, etc. the sacrifice of the drywall would be insignificant, especially if the baths are on the small side. There is really no "lifespan". By the time you tear out a piece here and there, cut a hole for this and that, sometimes it's easier just to tear it all out and start over...

Mop in Hand 02-04-2010 11:34 PM

I agree with bjb, on the other hand if you don't need to rip it out why bother. Our ranch style home was built in 1958. The drywall in the bath is just fine.

user1007 02-05-2010 06:09 AM

Agreed! If you are going to be doing any work at all behind those walls do get the stuff out of your way. It will save you time and money in the long run. It will be faster for the electrician and plumber to have the walls open. And no real offense to electricians and plumbers but most are not exactly careful when it comes to cutting access into drywall. A dull hatchet or bent up rusty drywall saw will work very well thank you very much.

Especially as I get a bit older, moving 70-100# sheets of stuff around is not as much fun as it used to be! I am a drywall person only when I have to be (usually sub it out but realize this is hard for only a couple of sheets). Even I can put a new sheet up much faster than blending in a bunch of patches though.

Definitely source the water damage in the one area and replace any of that drywall that has been compromised. You are going to end up buying a full sheet (unless you can find leftovers at a construction site or something) for this anyhow so be liberal in the area you replace if there is any doubt how far the damage stretches.

If you are tearing off tile for replacement, you should probably plan on replacing whatever is behind it because the odds of getting the adhesive off without more labor than the new wet board will cost to hang would be hard to justify. You are likely to carve it up a bit too in the removal process although my Fein multimaster thingie does a great job removing tile with little damage. There are cheaper alternatives to the Fein out there now from Dremel, Rockwell, Craftsman, Harbour Freight, etc. The thing is one of the handiest and best tool investments I ever made. I got it for a specific purpose but find I use it for more than I ever would have imagined.

UltraJim17 02-09-2010 03:42 PM

Thank you. I don't plan on having to move any plumbing or electrical, but we'll see what happens. Before I get nuts ripping stuff up we have to decide what new styles/colors/fixtures/etc will be going in.

I scraped the vinyl off the floor in the kitchen as part of a Pergo project, and that was incredibly labor intensive. It will not be duplicated again, if possible.

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