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rh8868 01-21-2009 12:55 PM

Remodeling a half bath with plaster walls
Hi all this is my first post so I will try to be clear and thorough with my questions. I am by no means a a DIY master. I like to tear things apart and ask questions later. I do enjoy learning how to repair and fix just about anything myself. So I will get to my point, I'm a student on a modest budget, this past fall I purchased this house built sometime in the 1920's. After getting the minimal amount of cleaning done to make it habitable I have started a couple of projects. The house has 1.5 baths so I figured what better to start on than the .5 bath which is smaller than most the closets in the house. You can literally wash your hands while, doing your business (this is all in theory). I've included some photos to make it easiest to understand my situation.

First is a picture before I started. I'm not one for wallpaper or glass shelves.
Next is the room emptied, holes/cracks mostly filled, primed.
And finally my first question. The new light that will go in this space is about 1" - 1.5" smaller in diameter than the old. The hole is 5" top to bottom and my light cap is 3" diameter. So I need to rebuild some of this hole as my new cap will not cover all of it. I assume this is too large of an area to use a joint compound, it will crack if applied that thick right? After reading through tons of posts about plaster repair I've gather I should use Durabound 20,45 or 90. Does this sound like the correct solution?
I've decided to move the sink up about 7". The lid of the bowl is now 37" off the ground, about hip height for a 5'10" person. I understand that this may not be up to code and if I decide to sell will likely need to move it lower. I have already purchased a pipe extension for the drain as well as longer water lines for the increase in height. Ultimately I think this will make the bathroom more usable, or at least as usable as a bathroom this size can be. I'd prefer to keep the sink, because its in great condition and I think it keeps some of the old style of the house versus a new pedestal sink. Does anyone see any problems with this application that I haven't mentioned, other than children may not be able to use the sink?
My final question is once again about the plaster and lath. With plenty of 2.5" nails holding in the trim I roughed up the plaster majorly while removing the baseboard. Is this another area where the Durabond application would work or will plastering be needed? I am hesitant about using plaster as all the posts I have read regarding mention how it requires a mastery that is not a DIY type of thing. But were simply talking about an area that will be covered by trim here.
As you can see from the above picture I've also torn up the linoleum tiles and some of the masonite that was on the floor. I haven't looked into it in detail but would very much like to do the floor in ceramic tile. As I said earlier I've not done any of this before but with this small of an area I feel it would be a great spot to try it out. If the bathroom is out of service for another month it's not a problem. I will likely post again regarding the toilet removal and the flooring but this posting is already quite long. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Bob Mariani 01-21-2009 02:07 PM

That electrical wiring needs to be addressed. It must be enclosed in a junction box behind the light fixture. The height of the sink is your choice, not code. The floor needs to be strengthened for tile and use Ditra under the tile installation. The patches should be done by making a clean cut in the plaster and installing the correct thickness of drywall to make the patch. Then use the durabond 90 and tape to make the transition smooth.

rh8868 01-21-2009 05:20 PM

Thanks for the quick response Bob! Should I remove the lath as well and anchor the new pieces of drywall directly to the studs or remove plaster only and get a thinner sheet of drywall? If I decide later to run a tile border a few inches up the wall instead of the white trim this won't matter right? I assume the same method will be needed for the junction box? Remove plaster and lath to be able to recess the box and drywall around it, and locate the box over a couple inches attached to the side of the stud, since this hole is directly over a stud? Thanks so much for the help!

Bob Mariani 01-21-2009 05:59 PM

you can use what we call a "pancake box" and leave it mounted to the stud. (wire is not long enough to move it) You can leave the lath in place. If you attempt to cut it, vibrations will cause more plaster to break away. And yes, you should patch all of the wall even under the new baseboard trim.

4just1don 01-21-2009 08:36 PM

I dont like old rough plaster,,,usually cracked and less than nice. I would jerk ALL the plaster off the walls. Usually its about 1/2 thick so 1/2" drywall works good. Whether you take laths off is up to you,,if you want to place insulation,replace wiring,plumbing access,,,then yes. SAVE some of that,might use for spacers later,,depending on what your going to do with door trim casing etc.. Take stool off to wall back there too. get a screw tite plug to keep sewer gases out. DONT assume you can fix door casing height after while,,,account for that up front. Shimming out drywall is mch easier than triming casings. Can use laths as shims on ALL studs, the full length of them. IF you have very ornate trim,alot of it,and hard to take off and replace without damage,,,you CAN drywall over plaster and all inside door trims,caulk the gap. lessens depth of trim. what ever is best for your situation. The END result is a very much better,,, smooth surface that will last alot longer than any old plaster I have ever seen!!

rh8868 01-22-2009 09:33 PM

I've started tearing up the rest of the flooring and cleaning up the edges of the plaster. I will post some updated photos next week when I am ready to use the Ditra, thanks again guys for all the help!

rh8868 02-08-2009 11:02 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Took a little longer than expected, I've been working on the fireplace lately instead of the bathroom, see my other post for that. I've finally torn up the rest of the floor and started removing the damaged plaster. I believe in all, there were 3 floors torn up, all linoleum/vinyl types. Also removed the wood layer between them to set me a total of 1.5" below the hallway floor. You can see the plank floor in the first photo, the rightmost section. The entire floor is down to that now, which is under a pile of plaster. I was only going to remove about a foot or so up from the floor, but the area around the drain was looking very brittle so I removed 32" up all the way around. I would like the continuity of having all drywall but the rest of the plaster is in pretty good condition except what I've had to destroy from removing the trim and sink area. So now I plan on evening up my plaster edge, then cleaning out the mess. In order to be level with the hallway floor, I've come up with I need 1/2" plywood as my base. Should the plywood base cover the entire floor and then drywall edge over top of the plywood or should the drywall be down to the plank floor, or does it not matter? I've come up with the 1/2" plywood by adding, 1/2" plywood, 1/4" portland cement mortar, 1/8" ditra, 1/4" thin set mortar, 5/16" porcelain tile which comes to 1 7/16", 1/16" below the hallway floor. Does anyone see any problems with these plans so far? Thanks very much for everyones help by the way! I've also included the tiles I decided on.

KGP 02-12-2009 08:49 PM

In the middle of doing this myself. Looks good. Glad to see you are ripping that all out of there. I had about 15 ft worth of lead removed after tearing out the plumbing. It seems as if the project is never ending. While everything is out and exposed, I have been relaxing at night with a beer or 2 watching my fire pit consume the lathe like matchsticks (trash men wont take it) while I think of what else should be done before sealing everything back up... it has extended the project by plenty of time, but Im sure I will be thankfull I did it in the long run.
Good luck

4just1don 02-12-2009 09:25 PM

1/2 " of floor is NOT enough to prevent flex,hence broken tile,,,OR are you leaving any subfloor down?? I would vote for 3/4 then 1/2 then ditra,then tile. IF that leaves you a little high to adjacent floor,they sell transitions. better high than low. the both layers of ply would give recomended minimum of 1 1/4" subfloor,,use exterior glue plywood the good stuff. you can recheck this on flooring page,they all say same.(I ask too)

While I had this much tore up,,,IF it were me,I would tear off rest of plaster also,,,make it smooth and right,otherwise in couple years your right back at it!! Usually 1/2 drywall fits back i place of plaster only,over top of lathes. If you take lathes off,,,save back enough to fir out studs to make door and other trim come out,,unless your doing new doors and your tape measure says otherwise. What I am saying is make the door and window casings dictate installed height of wall surface,,,much less painful that way!! Trimming casings to fit wall later is tedious task and a non perfect option.

doing it right the first time is the way to go!!!Insulate outside walls at least,vapor barrier, electrical wiring and plumbing,,,all new behind walls,,unless you make a way to pull it in later,,,like when remodeling room below, next???

rh8868 12-29-2009 12:01 AM

I'm going to split up my new questions. What a pain when you spend 30 minutes typing and organizing and hit the wrong button and lose it all. Anywho, I'm finally back to working on the bathroom. I've stripped the floor layers down to just the subfloor and will hopefully be able to attain the strength needed with either 1/2" or 3/4" ply on top of the subfloor then my ditra over that. Sound alright so far? I'm not sure if it is acceptable for the supply lines to be coming through the floor rather than up through a bottom plate and out the wall. But either way I would like to relocate them to the more often seen areas, as indicated in the photos and bring them out the wall with silver shutoff valves for the sink and toilet.
I have inspected the basement area under this spot and should be able to manage moving the lines enough to achieve this. I think it will look much better having the least amount of items coming up through the tile as possible, this way just the toilet. Any recommendations or problems with these thoughts please let me know. Thanks!

rh8868 12-29-2009 12:10 AM

As you can see in the photos, I decided to go ahead and remove all the lathe and plaster. I will go with all new drywall and try to do this room right the first and only time. I just finished furring out the studs tonight so that my 1/2" drywall will fit right in under my door casing as you guys suggested, thanks for that! My other questions for now is about the electrical. The light fixture was using the knob and tube setup and the gfci plug was using newer NM cable. I've been doing some reading and found a layout that would allow me to run the gfci plug and also my light fixture with a switch for it. Previously the light had to use a pull cord since it wasn't wired for a switch. I believe the wiring diagram I found should work, since it's identical to what I want to do here. This way little by little I can replace the knob and tube setup and not have to come back to this room once it's done right, but any recommendations would be appreciated.

Bob Mariani 12-29-2009 09:02 AM

What is feeding this outlet. A bathroom requires a separate circuit for the GFI outlet.

rh8868 01-13-2010 11:54 PM

Bob, I started a new thread for the electrical at

As I mention in one of my replies, it is 12/2 wire feeding the bathroom.
Thank you very much for all your help by the way! Let me know if you have any recommendations for the other thread. Thanks!

user1007 01-14-2010 12:52 AM


Originally Posted by Bob Mariani (Post 373397)
What is feeding this outlet. A bathroom requires a separate circuit for the GFI outlet.

For sure. And you cannot have 12/2 without a ground to a bathroom or anywhere else to meet any codes I know of. How in the world would you hook in the GCFI? You are not still hoping to claim some grandfather clause as far as wiring since your walls are wide open are you? I may have to hunt you down and kill you.

So where is the magazine rack for your girly magazines going to go? You must never gain weight or you will not fit in this half bath!:laughing:

You sure are putting a lot of energy into a tiny toilet space. You sure there is no room to expand it in any direction? I guess it could be great place to hide. Don't forget the exhaust fan! Some think of it at the last minute as an afterthought!

Bob Mariani 01-14-2010 07:04 AM

So you understand this. When replacing non-grounded outlets in an old home so you have three prong devices..... you replace these with GFI outlets. This is the code. Not sure what Sdsester is thinking here.

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