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Old 05-08-2013, 10:44 AM   #16
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1916 Bathroom gut rehab


Now with the design ideas out of the way, it's time to jump back into the hands-on. Plus, I also have a cutoff date on the calendar: my daughter's 4th bday party. Of course it's good to have goals right? On the other hand, is there ever a construction goal that doesn't go over budget and past the due date? "Lucky" for me, I didn't set a budget.

I left off after replacing the cast iron with PVC. The new copper would have to wait until the new wet wall was roughed in. First though, the floor. Keep in mind that the floor previously looked like this:



which was about 2" above the subfloor, so I had some buildup to do. Fortunately, most of the the original planks were in good shape. I removed the sections that were weakened due to water leaks. Plus I really wasn't too excited about cutting the planks at the centers of the "outside" joists. Here's what remained after checking the integrity of the original planks.



Remember, plywood wasn't as commonly used back then. I guess it wasn't as good and cheap like today?

Starting with the replacement for the bad planks:



As a replacement for all that concrete, I doubled up the plywood for the new subfloor. No OSB here. And this floor was going to be solid. No flexing, no squeaks, so all that plywood was getting glued n' screwed. Layer one had the seam on the left, although right in the "high traffic area." Note the valve for the single pipe steam heat radiator. I was not about to mess with that, so I just left it where it was:



The next layer would have the seam on the right, under the vanity. Since the seams should go out of the way where people won't be walking, I hid the seam in the top layer there. Not that it really matters since I used plenty of subfloor glue and deck screws.



WARNING - ERROR AHEAD: Yeah, this is the point where I realized I forgot something. You may have figured it out already. As you saw above, the orientation of the room is such that the long dimension of the room goes toward the center of the house, parallel to the joists. After a century or so, the center of the house tends to settle a bit. In this case, about 1.5" over about 10 feet. The funny thing is that I knew this and accounted for it in my much bigger kitchen rehab. I forgot it in the bathroom rehab, and after putting down the floor, I wasn't about to go back and correct it. So I basically ended up with a floor that pitched about 1.25" out to the hallway/center of the house. And before you say it, I couldn't level it up since I was already within 3/8" or so of the finished hallway floor level. Well, I guess it could have been worse. At least it was a consistent slope from the exterior wall to the center of the house.

I guess I will continue to embarrass myself here and show more evidence of my laziness. At some point in the demolition, I convinced myself that I could leave some of the plaster and lathe on the wall, and just install the drywall right over it. But eventually my construction conscience got the better of me, and I went back into demo mode. Time to get out the dust mask and heavy duty garbage bags again.






Here's a close up of the plaster and lathe in case you've never seen it.



Note the fibers. In many places (including Chicago) it was very common to use horsehair to help hold the plaster together. I've read that other materials were used too, depending on availability. It made me wonder though, with all the construction, how many horses were used for construction material back then? Of course, the horse was still a primary mode of transport, so that made for a lot of horse parts to eventually be used for something else. This whole "green initiative" isn't so modern as portrayed in the media these days. Back then, it was just pragmatic, not politically correct "progressive." Something to ponder over a beverage or three. What kind of beverage though, and where to go...



(I think this was an evening for Begyle Crash Landed Wheat, and maybe Rye of the Tiger. I'll leave that DFH 120 Minute for a day I'm really feeling my oats.)

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Old 05-09-2013, 10:01 AM   #17
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HA! Nice.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:57 AM   #18
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1916 Bathroom gut rehab


This job is starting to go a bit long, so it's time to pick up the pace. For me anyway, that is the big problem with the DIY - time management. I guess it is easier to live with the mess than buckle down and get the damn thing finished. Of course, having an unhappy woman in the house tends to help motivate things a bit.

AS I mentioned before, that shared wall with the kitchen was a mess of interconnected, sistered, cut up studs, and I wasn't about to solve that particular riddle. And since that riddle would've involved quite a bit of creative copper tubing work, I opted to just rough in a new wall. This would cost me a little floor space in an already small bathroom, but it was better (i.e., easier) than the alternative.





I also took advantage of the extra foot of ceiling space I had to just cover up the mess at 9 feet. I made a second ceiling of 2x4s since the span was only about 5 feet. (and yes, the garage-quality fluorescent fixture came out of there before the drywall was up!)



I made sure to frame plenty of potential pitch for the forthcoming window shelf in the shower. I'll tone that pitch down a bit when it comes time to put in the cement board.



My next challenge was the tub. Since I was able to save the cast iron tub that was in the bathroom already, I had to adapt the wall to fit it. And since I already used up some of the room width when I rough-framed the wet wall, that left me with a few inches on the opposite wall. Lucky for me, it was almost exactly 3.5". The challenge then became how to continue that wall. Should I pull the whole thing out 3.5" or just the wall in back of the tub? I was going to go the easy route again, and just bump out the whole wall, except there were two things in my way: the radiator pipe and the door swing. That little space behind the hinge of the door is surprisingly important, as I learned. And since I would've had to notch the new wall to fit the radiator (there was no way that I was going to mess with the placement of the steam pipe), I decided to go ahead and just bring out the wall behind the tub, and keep it at the original location for the rest of that wall.



In the last shot, you can also see the mesh/plaster that was used for the wall between the dining room and the bathroom. That didn't get the standard plaster/lathe on top of perpendicular mounted studs due to the niche in the dining room:



My guess is that there was originally some very nice wood china cabinet or some other furniture mounted in this location. It was very common in houses from this era to have "permanent" furniture occupying this kind of space. Unfortunately, this house never had or no longer had what was almost certainly a beautiful piece of woodwork. Well at least it leaves the space open for something creative later.

We're making some progress now! It's time to start sealing up some of these walls. The electric went in next, with a new (to this bathroom) ceiling vent and can lights.



And on to the drywall and Hardibacker! I'd read about using Hardi plenty of times on this site, but I'm more accustomed to traditional Durock-type boards. I was actually picking up the Durock at the local HD when the Hardibacker rep started talking to me, selling the advantages of Hardi over the old cement board. The fact that it was on sale didn't hurt either. So I decided to try it out, and I was glad that I did. It is so much lighter, and surprisingly easy to cut, even just using a typical utility knife. It's not drywall of course, so it doesn't cut *that* easy, but I was able to get reasonably precise cuts without my usual mess or cut fingers.


Last edited by Andiy; 05-28-2013 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:15 AM   #19
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1916 Bathroom gut rehab


Nice progress!
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:43 AM   #20
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Yeah it is starting to come together now - it is so close I can taste it. Actually, I probably taste the plaster dust, paint, etc... Ok, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and my daughter's birthday party is coming soon. I have to put it into overdrive now. I didn't get too many pics at this stage of the game so I'll have to just narrate most of it. I did get one picture of the Redgard effort. The first thing I did, based on a lot of the stories I read here, was to put down a primer coat first. I believe I did like a 1:3 mix of Redgard and water to prime the Hardi. I didn't want to end up with that easy peel-off coating that I've heard some other folks had.



I did 2 more layers of full strength Redgard after this one, and still ended up with a ton of leftover. I guess the 3.5 gallon bucket was really overkill, but better safe than sorry. And I ended up selling the leftover online. Gotta love that Craigslist!

Now, on to the tile. If you recall from my computer designs from earlier on, we were going retro, in keeping with the age of the house. I'm not going for a perfectly authentic museum display, but just a vintage "flavor." Since by far the standard tile back then was hexagonal mosaic, I went with a classic:



Tough to go wrong with the black and white. This isn't exactly what was in originally, but it's close. Next up were the walls. I decided on a black and white subway motif, with a couple custom ideas. My first was to go with a no-backsplash vanity top, and then run a black belt-line of subway tiles around the entire room, lining up perfectly with the vanity top. This would visually tie the vanity top in with the rest of the room via the pseudo-backsplash. Or something like that. I have no design experience, but this somehow made sense to me, visually. Naturally, my measurements didn't line up perfectly, despite my best efforts, so a little shimming would be involved once I set the vanity in place. In the meantime however, it was looking good.



The second custom idea was more of a necessity than purely for pretty looks. One of my errors along the way was not checking the floor for level. So the floor slopes out towards the door. Of course I am installing all the tiles level. That means by the "baseboard" tiles will be out of square with the floor. I definitely cannot hide 3/4" or so in a grout line, and you'd easily see a line of 3" tiles that differ by 3/4" over 5-6 feet. So here is my idea: install the 3x6" black subway tiles perpendicular to the rest of the tiles which are mounted horizontally. That way, I can gradually cut off that 3/4" as the tiles are installed from the door side (full size) to the tiles closest to the tub (5 1/4"). The change will be gradual enough, and the tiles will hopefully be tall enough that your eye won't catch the change in size. (this pic was taken after the grouting, so you can see our result of deciding to go with white grout on the entire wall. It was undecided for a while if we should use black grout for the black tile. I'm glad we went this way.)



Next up was what to do with that "shelf" area where there was a deep cutout for the window. I was very concerned about tiling the area, despite how good the Redgard was supposed to block the water that seeped through the grout. I really felt a one-piece shelf was the best solution, but I needed to have it in before I could finish the wall tile. Lucky for me, there are many options and most of them are close to where I live in Chicago. I stopped by a local counter top maker that could cut me a piece of Corian for same day use. Fortunately they had a nice scrap piece of bright white laying around, and I walked out of there in a matter of minutes with a piece sized to my dimensions with finished edges. Installation was easy-peasy.



Then all I had to do was finish the little bit of tiling left to go around the window, and grout it up!



I used my long history of color design and consulted the expert staff at the Home Depot to determine the color we should paint the walls. Here is the highly complicated method of determining the color that works with white and black: take white paint, mix with black paint. That's it. That's how we got our color for the walls! All the fixtures and cabinets are going to be white, so I wanted something to dim the brightness a bit. I think this should work.

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Old 05-28-2013, 03:08 PM   #21
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Oh wow, that looks great. Huge progress, you're a machine.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:15 AM   #22
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Nice work. That is a lot of tiling.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:30 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoconutPete View Post
Nice work. That is a lot of tiling.
Thanks, but I can see a ton of unevenness in the tiles. But then I guess the installer always knows where are the flaws are. So far, no one else has had any complaints...
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Old 06-25-2013, 12:05 PM   #24
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Sorry it has taken me a while to update here. I have been mired in other projects around this place. I think next time, I'm just going to buy a finished house.

Anyway, the hard stuff is mostly out of the way now, and it's just time to install the fixtures & cabinets. In my attempt to save money, I tried to reuse whatever I could. That turned out to be nothing but the tub, toilet, and door.

Shower fixtures are pretty standard, although I did match the handle to the Moen sink fixture handles which had a vintage flavor. I went with a chrome curtain rod, white fabric curtain and the old-school "ball bearing" type rings.



The cabinets are Bertsch Centennial, birch plywood construction, in an eggshell white finish, soft closing doors. As I've mentioned before, we were trying to go basically period-correct, although not absolutely so. This is supposed to be a nice, functional, modern bathroom with vintage appeal, not a museum piece. I think these cabinets work well in that regard.



The vanity is 30" wide, 36" high. Yeah, the kids have to use their step stool for the time being, but the taller vanities are soooo much nicer. I went with the "feet" instead of the toe kick for a couple reasons: one, they look more antique. Two, as I've mentioned before, the floor really pitches out toward the hallway, so it was much easier shimming the feet up to level out the cabinet than it would be to rip the toekick and cabinet base to level it up.

One item in the bathroom that is not vintage is the sink. I had the hardest time trying to get all the white in the room to come together. The tub, the toilet, the wall tile, the floor tile, the cabinets, and the sink were all some version of white. Some of those versions go well together and some don't. I was amazed that I could not find a vanity top in a traditional bowl shape that came close to the whites we had elsewhere. I actually returned some because the color was so glaringly unmatching. The other issue was that I needed a top with no backsplash since I wanted to continue the black beltline tile around the bathroom, matching up perfectly with the sinktop as a sort of integrated backsplash. I had seen a particular vanity top/bowl at a very trendy bath design place, but I shied away from it since it wasn't in the old-school groove. It was a Xylem white vitreous china with a rectangular bowl, and no backsplash. The color on this one blended in nicely, although the design was definitely a bit of a mismatch. In the end though, color won out, and so far, no one has noticed the design era faux pas. The faucet was a semi-retro Moen design.



While there is a good amount of storage in the vanity, this bathroom definitely needed more storage. I ordered the "johnny cabinet" to match the vanity. The medicine cabinet was from the same collection. I opted to surface-mount the wall cabinets since the wet wall is shared with the kitchen and also with the upstairs; i.e., there are a lot of pipes and conduit in the wall, and some of the original wall studs were in odd locations. Also, I wasn't bright enough to order my cabinets earlier than framing out the wall, so I'd know where to put the recesses. The light fixture is a traditional style chrome piece from Lowe's.



I went a bit more high tech with the outlet. I got this Lutron LED nightlight/GFI from Amazon for about $22 or so. Despite being partially blocked by the toilet cabinet, it does a very good job of illuminating the bathroom for those late night visits.



The towel bar is opposite the sink. The chrome Home Depot double bar is perfect for our family, as you can fit four towels on there.



I still need to repaint the radiator cover, but it's no eyesore as is, so that's on the backburner for now.



Sorry, but since the room is so small, it is quite difficult to get a full picture, so you'll have to kind of stitch the pics together to get the whole view.






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Old 06-25-2013, 12:31 PM   #25
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The last thing to deal with was the door. I was planning to replace it with one of the two (same sized) pantry doors that I salvaged from previous rehabs. Unfortunately, doors and their frames are generally matched for life, and they don't like to trade partners. I couldn't get either of the other two doors to work, so I had to go back to the original, despite its having been molested multiple times in the past. There were all kinds of holes, cracks, chiseled out hardware openings, etc. But the door fits perfectly and swings good too. I changed the hardware back to some original though, since the handle and associated bits were much newer and crappier. The door that I took the hardware from had been subjected to years of "thick paint abuse:"



I learned my lesson the last time I stripped a door in this condition though. Instead of using scrapers and harsh chemicals which inevitably cause some damage, I tried a very old school method: Boiling water.



I don't recall where I heard this tip, but it worked incredibly well. I let the painted parts boil for a good 15-20 minutes and the paint literally fell right off. There was a little residue left in the corners, but that scrubbed right out with some baking powder paste and an old toothbrush.



Well, that's it folks. One bathroom down, one to go. But for now, it's time for me to take my very patient better half away from this unending money pit for some well-deserved R&R, and final thoughts for it...


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Old 06-25-2013, 12:40 PM   #26
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1916 Bathroom gut rehab


Excellent job...my bathroom is the same layout and about the same size. Thanks for posting..!!
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Old 06-25-2013, 01:44 PM   #27
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Great work. Thanks a ton for the thread.
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:22 PM   #28
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1916 Bathroom gut rehab


I wish I had a nickle for every single wood lathe I tore off the wall.
Your doing great. Nice work

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