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leahjane10 01-02-2006 06:26 PM

New Minnesota homeowner & found rotten bath subfloor...HELP!
Hello from Minnesota! :)

I purchased my first house at the end of August 2005. I tore out the linoleum in the upstairs bathroom to inspect a stain around the bathtub and toilet. I found two types of underlayment(?) over the subfloor, the top one is probably 1/4" and the second layer is about 1". Every layer, including the subfloor is rotting. I have read many articles online about how to replace s SECTION of rotted subfloor, but my area is a little bigger. I have to replace the whole area in front of the tub and around the toilet (which is right next to the tub). The damage extends to the wall behind the toilet and to the edge of the vanity. I will have to replace everything right up to the edge of the tub, wall behind the toilet, and the vanity. Is there a good way to go about doing this? (I removed the toilet a couple of days ago). I can email pictures of the area if you would like a better look at what I am trying to describe, ha.

I have been teaching myself how to do alot of repairs from the internet and even those Home Depot 1-2-3 books! I am a "girly-girl", but I am starting to get the hang of home repair...and surprisingly...I actually like it (so far, lol)!

ANY advice would so so incredibly have no idea!

THANKS in advance!

Leah (in the MSP/St. Paul 'burbs)

Bonus 01-03-2006 01:14 AM

Sure send some pics, we like pics :) What material is the sub-floor: plywood or boards? How old is your house? You'll have to pull out any rotten wood, replace with appropriate thicknesses of new plywood, and perhaps blocking to support edges, then put your new surface down. While it's up you need to find out where the water has been coming from and fix the problem. None of this is rocket science, I'm sure with a little advice you can get through it, it IS fun. :D

leahjane10 01-03-2006 02:54 PM

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I am not sure if I got this picture thing right...let's hope they show up when I post this!

The house was built in the late 1960's...1968, I think. The floor looks like it was done with boards, not plywood. The previous owner's disclosed a leak that was noticed on the garage ceiling and wall, which happens to be immediately under where this bathroom issue is. They said that the leak was "completely fixed". They didn't describe what the actual problem was, but I'd like to know so I can follow up on it as long as I am ripping up the floors! They either didn't know the leak caused the damage on the bathroom floor, OR they only fixed the leak (hopefully) but not the damage, and then covered it up with new linoleum. Once I get the subfloor out, I can look at the bottom of the wood to see if the rot was visible when they "fixed" the leak problem from the bathroom in the garage area.

I am new to tools & all this stuff, so I am intimidated by cutting the floor open. I am sure I can do it once I have enough information, but there are so many "little" questions! Like, do I have to worry about wiring or pipes when I cut into the subfloor? That wouldn't be fun to deal with, ha.

THANKS for helping!


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Mike Swearingen 01-03-2006 05:10 PM

If you're new to tools and intimidated about cutting into flooring, maybe you should get someone to do this for you. (You should not hit any pipes or electrical wires unless they're built into the flooring for heat, and you should know that by now one way or another.)
However, if you want to DIY, you will need a circular power saw with an old blade (you WILL hit nails or screws), safety glasses, and a crowbar, flatbar, and clawhammer to pry up the bad flooring sections.
It is easiest to cut it into small sections no bigger than two feet square or so, and then pry those out. At first, adjust the depth of the blade to just cut into the upper flooring level and not into the subfloor until you're sure that the subfloor needs to be cut out too.
You will need to cut the bad flooring out back to the center of the adjoining good wood floor joists, so that you'll have something to screw the new flooring to. You also will need to put 14.5" blocks between the floor joists (level with the tops of the joists) at the ends of the cut-out sections for additional support, also half under the old and the new flooring.
Use screws and glue (like Liquid Nails) on the joists and between the layers. Stagger the joints as best you can of the upper flooring and subflooring.
Good Luck!

Bonus 01-04-2006 01:08 AM

Mike's got it, adjust the saw to cut only one layer at a time. It will also make you feel more comfortable with a screaming circular saw in your bathroom if, in addition to safety glasses (a must), you also wear earmuffs and gloves. I have run into (thankfully not cut into) both wiring and plumbing far too close under floors, you never know what previous people have done, once you've got an access cut, take a look with a flashlight and mirror, or feel around in the cavity (that's where the gloves come in handy).:)

leahjane10 01-04-2006 08:02 AM

SOME progress!
:cool: Well, last night I cut out a small piece of the subfloor to check it's thickness (which is 1/2"). After that I used the circular saw to cut out a "trial" section of the floor. It went well! What I saw underneath was insulation that had obviously been wet at some point. The joist that I exposed looks good, but I still have to check out the others that are under subfloor that sustained more damage than where I cut.

Anyhow, now that I feel okay with using the circular saw, but obviously I can't use it to cut out the floor right next to the bathtub, wall behind where the toilet goes, and the vanity. More questions! 1. How do I cut those areas, with a recip. saw? (I do have one but I haven't used it yet - can't be too tough.)

2. I am not sure how to cut around the toilet flange. Is there anything special that I need to do there?

3. Since the subfloor damage goes right up to the bathtub, do I need to worry about the floor underneath the tub?

I know that I CAN do this, I just need enough information - I am learning as I go.

THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR RESPONSES! You have no idea how much I appreciate it!


P.S. Are you able to see the photos I posted?

Bonus 01-05-2006 12:42 AM

1- Yes, with the recip. Hang onto it! They tend to kick really hard at you when you are 'pushing' with the tip.

2- The flange will be screwed to the floor, take the screws out and then cut the plywood out in pieces around the flange, you might have to dig some nails out, and the recip could be handy here.

3- Get up close to the tub with the circ. saw and you should be able to tell (see/feel) if the rot goes under it. If so you're likely gonna have to pull the tub. :( What's on the walls around the tub?

ps. the pics came through but it looks like you have a micrscopic bathroom. (They're small)

Remember that anything you take out you're going to have to replace, so you want to cut in nice straight, square lines to make it easier later.

leahjane10 01-05-2006 09:35 AM

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A couple more questions...

1. Around the doorways - do I remove the t-molding/threshold to the adjoining rooms and then cut up to the edge where the carpet is (with recip saw)?

2. Also, should I remove the trim around the door to do this?

To answer the question about the bathtub walls, it's just sheetrock. There was a plastic surround system that I have already torn out. I will probably remove it all anyway so I can eventually put up tile instead of another plastic surround. I really want a new tub, but I am not sure about connecting the plumbing myself. Oh, that, and the probability that I will have to take out part of the doorway to get a new tub in!

I am going to try and attach some bigger pictures - let me know if they work!



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Zero Punch 01-05-2006 11:28 AM

I have some Q's for you leahjane. First though, much better pictures.
The subfloor is waterstained but is it still solid or is it delaminating? Has it dried out or is it still wet/damp?
If it is solid and not delaminating I see no reason to replace if it will hold a nail.

leahjane10 01-05-2006 12:08 PM

Zero Punch: Unfortunately, I am able to kind-of "bounce" on the wood, especially by the toilet. Plus, the underside of the subfloor is damaged, too.

Every layer of floor smelled horribly moldy when I pulled it up, but went away soon after. I assume that means it was damp when I pulled it up. Regardless, everything is dry now (whew!).

Does that help? :rolleyes:


Zero Punch 01-05-2006 12:47 PM


Another Q, have you remove some of the subfloor after this last set of pic's were posted? You seem to imply that a section has been removed down to the joists?

leahjane10 01-05-2006 02:05 PM

Yep, a very small section maybe about a foot long & wide, enough to expose one of the joists. I was itchin' to see if it was damaged.


Bonus 01-05-2006 09:51 PM

"Don't fix it if it ain't broke!" Meaning only cut back to where rot ends. If the floor is simply waterstained then leave it. From the pics it doesn't look like you have to get close to the door, but if you do, follow the rot.
If you're going to be tiling then you might as well get rid of the drywall around the tub 'cos you're going to want put cement board up as underlayment for the tile. The tub should fit through the door on it's side. To take the tub out: unscrew the overflow trim and then the bracket behind that. Unscrew the drain strainer, you can get the proper wrench for this for a few $$. Once the drywall has been removed you will probably see a few screws holding the tub flange to the wall studs, pull those and the tub will be free. It's a real struggle to get the tub out but persist, it will come if you grunt hard enough.

Bonus 01-05-2006 09:54 PM

Looked at the pics some'll need to take the door trim off prob. just to get the tub out. And, of course, take the door off.

leahjane10 01-10-2006 09:23 AM

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Here's the progress so far...! My brother-in-law came over on Saturday to help me cut close to the walls & bathtub. The recip. saw was really hard for me to use - the kickback made me nervous. I am bummed that I needed help, because the feeling of accomplishment has already been wonderful. That, and it's great to see the looks on people's faces when they hear that I am doing this on my own (like I mentioned earlier, I am a "girly-girl", lol!).

Thanks again for your input! Any suggestions are still welcomed! ;)


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