1946 Home With No Bathroom - Vapor Barrier Question - Kitchen & Bath Remodeling - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum
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Old 11-04-2014, 03:07 PM   #1
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1946 home with no bathroom - vapor barrier question


Hello everyone!

I just acquired an old family home that was built by my great grand dad in 1946. It is a small home and our family was poor back then, as were most people. Anyway, the home was constructed with no indoor plumbing and the home has remained the same ever since except for a kitchen upgrade in the 80's. I have taken a small portion of one of the bedrooms and partitioned it off to make a small Jack & Jill style bathroom.

The house has absolutely no insulation except in the attic and the shiplap siding is nailed directly to the studs. Because of this, I have decided to not insulate the home in favor of letting the home "breathe" instead of risking any moisture problems. I've taken the drywall down on some of the exterior walls and have seen no moisture issues so I believe it will be okay sine it has made it approximately 70 years.

Now, my question is this: The bathtub.shower combo is on an exterior wall and I'm wondering if a vapor barrier will be needed behind the cement board? I want this bathroom to last for many years so doing it right the first time is my main priority. I just don't know if a vapor barrier will help or cause problems since I've opted to allow the rest of the house to breathe freely. The bathroom area is approximately 60sqft and I will have a properly-sized exhaust fan to move the steam and vapor out but, as stated, I want to make sure this is done correctly the first time.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 11-04-2014, 05:00 PM   #2
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#1 No one here is going to know where you live because you did not add your location to your profile.
Huge mistake not insulating. Going to nothing but cost you more money to heat and cool.
An old wife's tale that a house has to breathe.
A house that old is most likely is going to need all new wiring, plumbing, insulation, roof venting, fire blocking in the walls, air sealing in the attic and under the house.
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Old 11-04-2014, 05:08 PM   #3
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#1 No one here is going to know where you live because you did not add your location to your profile.
Huge mistake not insulating. Going to nothing but cost you more money to heat and cool.
An old wife's tale that a house has to breathe.
A house that old is most likely is going to need all new wiring, plumbing, insulation, roof venting, fire blocking in the walls, air sealing in the attic and under the house.
Going to need a bunch of permits for this work, at least plumbing, and electrical.
Is there even a septic tank or town sewer available?
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Old 11-04-2014, 05:19 PM   #4
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My location is Jefferson, Georgia, which I did fill out in my location when I signed up so not sure why that isn't displaying. My location is northeastern Georgia. I plan to heat with a wood-burning stove and no need to cool the house other than opening the windows. However, the walls are still open and can easily be insulated. However, how does one assure proper moisture exchange when insulating a home that has nothing more than siding on the studs? I'm not referring to the wives tale that you have in mind where people claim the walls need to breathe for the air circulation. I was hesitant about insulating because I'm afraid of trapping moisture.

I understand a home of this age needs a lot of work which is the reason I have new wiring, roofing, etc. My question at this point is about how to make sure I setup the shower so I do not have any moisture problems in my walls. As stated, the exterior walls of the bathroom are still open and can be insulated if that will help with my problem.

Thank you!
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Old 11-04-2014, 06:09 PM   #5
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There is a septic tank on site as there was once a mobile home on the property. The house has always been occupied despite the lack of indoor bathroom so everything has been well-maintained. I am wanting to finish the bathroom so I can get moved in and continue working on the house.

I forgot to mention that I do plan to build an addition on the exterior side of the bathroom so that was another reason I decided not to insulate. However, that addition will not be started until spring of 2015. I am experienced with construction: flooring, drywall, painting, plumbing, roofing (more experience than I care to mention haha), and basic electrical work. I worked with a contractor for about 6 years doing additions, remodels, and repairs. However, the topic of proper vapor barriers is confusing to me so I am wanting to be sure this is done right the first time.

Right now, the bathroom is framed, electrical boxes and conduit are installed, lights are installed, bathtub is set, plumbing is stubbed in, ceiling is hung all the way to the bathtub, and the rest is bare studs so I'm not too far ahead to make corrective actions if needed.
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Old 11-04-2014, 06:33 PM   #6
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Got to check now is if permits are required, it's going to come back to haunt you later and if someone turns you in later you just may have to rip out and fix anything they find.
Adding paper backed fiberglass insulation and tile board with a water proofer like Red Guard is all you need.
Tile board and grout are not water proof, why let the water work it's way through it?
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Old 11-04-2014, 06:40 PM   #7
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Sorry I wasn't clear but I have obtained all required permits. I am doing this by the book and working with a licensed electrician for the electrical work.

Is Red Guard a water barrier or vapour barrier. I understand that CBU and grout are not water proof and I could easily add a water barrier... My question relates to the vapour (steam from the shower) creating moisture problems. Water barriers can be penetrated by vapour and it can/will condense on the other side and cause moisture problems.
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Old 11-04-2014, 07:25 PM   #8
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It's a water proofer not a vapor barrier.
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