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megancn 07-13-2012 12:00 PM

bathroom remodel complications
My bathroom is built like a bomb shelter.

I am embarking on a bathroom remodel in my 1960s split level. The approx. 4'x9' bathroom is about halfway below grade. House is block - both the exterior and interior walls of the bathroom are block. Bathroom is currently tiled floor to ceiling on the walls. Had a contractor come to the house to evaluate and he suspects the wall tile is applied directly to the block.

My wish had been to tear out the 36" shower insert and tile the walls (hopefully buying back a little of the wasted framed out space and using more of the full 48" room width). Also wanted to tile one accent wall in the bathroom (opposite the shower) with mosaic tile, while doing drywall on the other two opposing bathroom walls (small basement-type window on one, door in the other).

What sort of options do I have? The contractor said that the job of taking the tile off the walls would be a big one, which to me just says $$$. It's my understanding that tile over tile is acceptable so long as the underneath tile's in good shape (which this is, these walls feel solid as a rock). Is that our best bet - to forgo the drywall and just re-tile all the walls over the existing tile? Or is it possible to somehow do a drywall application over tile without losing much square footage? I'm concerned about moisture/mold with drywall applied directly to block or directly to the existing tile - is that a valid concern?

Also - the floor. It's tile over a concrete slab. Are we better off taking the time and effort to bust the tile off the slab, or would that potentially disrupt the concrete underneath and cause more problems than it solves? Is the best approach to tile over the floor tile (also in great shape, just ugly as sin)? I realize that will cause a height differential that will need to be addressed for door jambs, toilets, etc.

Anyone have any sage advice?

wkearney99 07-13-2012 12:10 PM

Scraping the tile off the floor isn't going to harm it, at least not enough to prevent installing something else again. Do not just tile over tile, an electric hammer with the scraper blade will make quick work of chipping those old ones off. Getting them off the block might be a bit more problematic, but still do-able.

You don't mention where you're located but in places with winters the cavity of a framed wall usually holds insulation. It would seem like a mistake to ditch that space and lose the insulating value. Even in warmer climates insulation helps keep the AC cooler inside.

megancn 07-23-2012 06:53 PM

I'm in NJ, and we definitely have winters, but if I'm understanding you correctly, the insulation isn't an issue because there isn't any. I don't have x-ray vision, but I'm fairly sure the wall tile is applied directly to the cinderblock walls (so no insulation there) and the "framed out" area around the shower currently is only a couple inches on each side (built out just to accommodate a shower enclosure smaller than the space). I am guessing this based on 1) what the contractor suspects and 2) the fact that heating my home in winter is a major PITA. All exterior walls - basement to attic - are block. There doesn't seem to be any real stud framing on the exterior walls.

I guess my biggest concern is that I really was hoping to have 2 walls drywalled, and only fully re-tile one wall and the shower (I feel like the current floor-to-ceiling tiled walls in such a small room make it feel very cold, cave-like and closed in, so was thinking drywall would soften things up. I'm just curious if I have any options to use drywall on some walls, or if I should just give that up and just re-tile all walls. If I was to frame out on the interior of the block walls with 2x4s then drywall, I don't think there'd be room to turn around in there anymore :)

scottktmrider 07-23-2012 10:43 PM

Why dont you just put the drywall on the block walls?Or put strips of plywood on the wall and screw the drywall to that.It would give you more room than a 2x4.If you use any wood directly to the block wall make sure the wood is treated so it wont rot.

megancn 07-24-2012 06:41 AM

I guess that's part of my question - is it OK to put drywall straight on either the existing tile, or to tear the existing tile off the wall and put drywall directly on the block (or furred out slightly and applied to furring strips?) Is moisture/mold an issue in that sort of application in a bathroom, or is it no more an issue than drywall in any other bathroom in a wood-framed room?

scottktmrider 07-24-2012 04:23 PM

I have put dw right to concrete and block before when there wasnt no other choice.

If i was you i would put plywood strips (treated wood) over the block and screw the drywall to it.

or i guess you could put it right to the tile there shouldnt be that much moistre on the tile.I would for sure use water res.drywall though.

4just1don 07-24-2012 04:38 PM

"I would" take tile off wall best I could,,,they may pop off easier than you think or they will be alot harder,,nobody really knows quality of mortar/thinset used there.

I would then glue 2 " foam on block and drywall to that and live with the inches it removes in name of insulated wall and moisture barrier foam gives.

If 2 " really bothers space an 1" is better than nothing with no vb.

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