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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To set the scene: our house was built in 1978, so all the fixtures date to then (except the toilet, which I replaced a couple of years ago). My inclination is to do mainly a cosmetic remodeling of the bathroom: refinish the vanities, put new tops, faucets and sinks on them, rip up linoleum and tile the floor, remove wallpaper and repaint.

The most ambitious part is the tub/shower area. Currently it has a crappy plastic surround over drywall. Probably not how it was supposed to be done even in 1978 (?) but there's lots of crappy DIY stuff in the house from the first owner, who may have had a hand in the construction. So, I'll be removing the drywall out to the first stud outside the tub, probably sistering that stud, and putting up concrete backer or maybe one of the lightweight alternatives, then tiling all that area.

I don't really want to replace the tub or the shower plumbing. I was just planning to tile up as close to the mixing valve as I can, and put a shiny new escutcheon on it, and a new knob. So, that's question #1: While I have the wall torn up, is it insane not to put in a new tub and plumbing before doing all that work on top of them? Am I living on borrowed time with 40 year old fixtures? The faucet is a Delta (see photo), so replacement parts should be no problem, and this might be a good time to just swap them out while I'm thinking about it. I guess I'm most worried about the tub drain and how long the life of that mechanism is expected to be. We have no plans to move prior to retirement, which would be about fifteen years, so figure we want to avoid problems for at least that long.

The second question is whether that idea about just closing up the wall and tiling around the existing plumbing is all right. The escutcheon is currently slid *way* in along the body of the faucet, so it seems like I have no worries there about the added thickness of the tile. Are there any pitfalls I'm overlooking in working around this and the spout and shower pipes?

Thanks,
Mike
 

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retired framer
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Your new bathroom should be good for 25 more years. How old is the plumbing by then? A new unit would also be anti scald.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
We keep our hot water heater set low enough that scalding is not an issue. Full hot water is uncomfortable but not harmful. My plumbing skills are weak enough that if that is the only real benefit, I'll pass.
 

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I would replace it, especially since it is a Delta and in my experience they suck.I wouldn’t waste my time by not ripping it all out and doing a good job. I have done several bathroom gut outs in my son’s houses since I retired. I can replace everything including putting tile on the floor and tub surround single handedly in 8 days. It is not hard with modern materials and methods.
If you leave it is it in a place where you can cut some wallboard out on the other side of the wall to replace it later?
 

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That sure isn't what was in my 1977 house when we moved in, I think that might be a hack DIY thing. I can't imagine anyone leaving drywall exposed in a wet shower - even if it's the green board stuff.

Random comments:

I don't like the anti-scald thing; we put one in one of the showers upstairs thinking it was good for the kidos, but I really don't like it. Better off to teach the young ones a life lesson about testing the water before jumping in willy nilly IMO.

If you're not keen to tile, some of the new surrounds are pretty nice. The one we'd put in around the Jacuzzi has faux columns and build in niches and such. I really like that part. (Though admittedly I did one of them hack DIY jobs on the silicone and it leaked all over so my husband had to go back in some years later and redo it - it wrecked a bit of the floor and nearly all the painted wood molding and trim I'd put in too :/ -- I'm only going to use PVC in my bathrooms from now on heh)

I think I might disagree with the previous poster on Delta's, I've seen a lot of them that are 30+ years old and still working fine - though admittedly not in my own personal house so I wasn't using them all the time and there could have been hidden problems or something. I just recall my bathroom at my folks house had delta fixtures and they were still in my bathroom when they sold the house (They had it built in 84' and sold it in '17-ish)


To your question though;

I mean if the faucet works fine and you don't have the money for replacing it with a reliable (more expensive) brand, and it doesn't look all corroded or anything inside it - then I'd probs just fix the surround, and do it right around the faucet. If you can find the cash though, I'd totally replace it all (yes, including the mixer/valve plumbing - it should be easy enough to do while the walls open), it's good for resale value, good for peace of mind, and good for the spirit/soul/karma/whatever you wanna call it as well :)
 

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We keep our hot water heater set low enough that scalding is not an issue.
That can lead to bacteria growth in the tank. That's why many (all ???) areas now require a mixing valve after the tank. The idea being that the tank is kept hot enough to kill bacteria, and then a mixing valve immediately after the tank brings it down to a temperature low enough to prevent scalding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If you leave it is it in a place where you can cut some wallboard out on the other side of the wall to replace it later?
The other side of the wall is inside a kitchen cabinet. So, to get at only the mixing valve, it would be possible if you could tolerate kneeling and leaning in through a 22" wide cabinet under the counter. But to open up the wall all the way up to the shower head would require taking out the counter top and the cabinet above it (no great loss in the short term since both are old, but we may someday get around to face-lifting the kitchen, too).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
To your question though;

I mean if the faucet works fine and you don't have the money for replacing it with a reliable (more expensive) brand, and it doesn't look all corroded or anything inside it - then I'd probs just fix the surround, and do it right around the faucet. If you can find the cash though, I'd totally replace it all (yes, including the mixer/valve plumbing - it should be easy enough to do while the walls open)
While I'm not saying "cost is no object," it's not the the budget that's daunting. A grand or two for a new tub and plumbing would not be a problem. It's more a matter of me being not very skilled (understatement!) and so quite slow and uncertain about pretty much any step in the process. However long you think it would take a competent person to do the job, multiply by three or more likely five or six to figure how long it's going to take me to do it! I could easily spend a couple of weeks just doing the backer board and tile as described in my OP. (I'm temporarily laid off from work, so I have have lots of time, not just weekends, but I'm a slow DIYer.)

I'm afraid if I did the tub and the plumbing and the tile, the bathroom would be out of service for a couple of months. We only have one other bathroom, and that would be OK while my kid is off at school, but once they return in late April and start taking two showers a day (or so it seems) that would be a nuisance. But, I guess there are worse things one could suffer. ;)

Nice compound. :smile: I just dabble a little in recurves since I only shoot targets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That can lead to bacteria growth in the tank. That's why many (all ???) areas now require a mixing valve after the tank. The idea being that the tank is kept hot enough to kill bacteria, and then a mixing valve immediately after the tank brings it down to a temperature low enough to prevent scalding.
I did not know the standards for that issue. I just measured the temperature at a tap near the heater after letting it run for a minute, and got 119° F. Based on this
https://www.smartwheater.com/safe-water-heater-temperature/
I think I will turn the heater up five degrees.
 

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TSo, that's question #1: While I have the wall torn up, is it insane not to put in a new tub and plumbing before doing all that work on top of them? Am I living on borrowed time with 40 year old fixtures?

If one of my customers asked me that, I would say "I wouldn't call you insane, but I would definitely take this opportunity to replace the plumbing" and "Yes, probably".


If someone on a forum asked me that question, I'd say "You'd be crazy to not replace the plumbing at this time."


I do understand the issue with the drain. If there is a crawlspace underneath, it's easier. But even if not, you can keep the drain plumbing and just replace the mixing valve.


While expensive, I would highly recommend a product like Schluter Kerdi Board for the walls. You can also use drywall and Kerdi membrane, but the board is sooooo easy to work with. There are other waterproofing options of course, but I wouldn't wish working with cement board on anyone.
 

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While I'm not saying "cost is no object," it's not the the budget that's daunting. A grand or two for a new tub and plumbing would not be a problem. It's more a matter of me being not very skilled (understatement!) and so quite slow and uncertain about pretty much any step in the process. However long you think it would take a competent person to do the job, multiply by three or more likely five or six to figure how long it's going to take me to do it! I could easily spend a couple of weeks just doing the backer board and tile as described in my OP. (I'm temporarily laid off from work, so I have have lots of time, not just weekends, but I'm a slow DIYer.)

I'm afraid if I did the tub and the plumbing and the tile, the bathroom would be out of service for a couple of months.

In that case, I would recommend hiring a plumber to replace the mixing valve, and then using Kerdi Board to do the tub surround. Even you can do that pretty quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I do understand the issue with the drain. If there is a crawlspace underneath, it's easier.
No crawlspace. The tub is above our laundry room, so tearing open the ceiling in there to get at it from below would not be a huge crisis, but redoing the ceiling isn't my idea of a party, either.

The tub drain hardware is Price-Pfister, btw, not Delta, if that makes any difference.

But even if not, you can keep the drain plumbing and just replace the mixing valve.
The part I would most like to avoid is wrestling the tub in and out and redoing its drain, so that would be an attractive compromise. As you say, if when I get the wall opened up and have a clear view of the project, I decide that replacing the valve is too challenging, I should be able to get a pro to come in for that part pretty quickly.

While expensive, I would highly recommend a product like Schluter Kerdi Board for the walls. You can also use drywall and Kerdi membrane, but the board is sooooo easy to work with. There are other waterproofing options of course, but I wouldn't wish working with cement board on anyone.
I've just barely started learning about Kerdi and Wedi. It *is* tempting to use something other than cement board to make it easier! I should estimate the price difference. Unless it's huge, time saved there will be better spent on other projects.
 

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The tub drain hardware is Price-Pfister, btw, not Delta, if that makes any difference.

No not really. It's not connected. You don't show that part in the photo, but you might be able to even replace the cover on your lever to make it look new, like your new faucet. If it's a snap down drain with no lever in the tub, even better. There should be an overflow vent either way, and that cover can be replaced too, more easily with a snap down drain.



I've just barely started learning about Kerdi and Wedi. It *is* tempting to use something other than cement board to make it easier! I should estimate the price difference. Unless it's huge, time saved there will be better spent on other projects.

When looking at costs, just keep in mind that waterproofing isn't optional. Even if you used cement board, you'd still have to waterproof somehow. A lot of the people who use cement board don't waterproof, so they think it's easier than it really is. Kerdi Board starts looking better when you realize what you need to do. I haven't used Wedi personally. Drywall with Kerdi membrane on top is cheaper, but it's also a bigger pain in the neck. Putting Kerdi membrane over cement board makes no sense to me - I can't understand why people would mess with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
When looking at costs, just keep in mind that waterproofing isn't optional. Even if you used cement board, you'd still have to waterproof somehow.
Yes, I knew that (just barely!). I was planning to use some sort of liquid waterproofing product over the cement board if I went that way. Which of course is another step before I can start on the tile...with Kerdi board, you can slap on the thinset almost immediately?
 

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While I'm not saying "cost is no object," it's not the the budget that's daunting. A grand or two for a new tub and plumbing would not be a problem. It's more a matter of me being not very skilled (understatement!) and so quite slow and uncertain about pretty much any step in the process. However long you think it would take a competent person to do the job, multiply by three or more likely five or six to figure how long it's going to take me to do it! I could easily spend a couple of weeks just doing the backer board and tile as described in my OP. (I'm temporarily laid off from work, so I have have lots of time, not just weekends, but I'm a slow DIYer.)

I'm afraid if I did the tub and the plumbing and the tile, the bathroom would be out of service for a couple of months. We only have one other bathroom, and that would be OK while my kid is off at school, but once they return in late April and start taking two showers a day (or so it seems) that would be a nuisance. But, I guess there are worse things one could suffer. ;)

Nice compound. :smile: I just dabble a little in recurves since I only shoot targets.
I'd suggest checking out the new decorative shower surrounds if you gotta get it done in 3months. Tiling takes forever IMO heh

Maybe strip the walls and pay a plumber to come in an replace the mixer and the shower fixtures. That way you can put your time into tiling the shower/floor up before April. Having the lav sink down isn't that big a deal from my experience. Our master developed a leak at the bowl drain connection and my husband was working 3 jobs at the time and I'd sicked him on the kids bath remodel already so that master sink was down for ... wow probs a year before he got around to it. It wasn't too bad. I just cleared out a drawer in the downstairs bath for my toothbrush.

(My husband /still/ does his toothbrushing and shaving in the downstairs lav - he doesn't like the lighting in the master and he doesn't like the idea of the [now adult] kids being around his toothbrush unsupervised so he doesn't want it in that one :vs_laugh:)
 

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That Kerdi stuff looks really nice. I wish I'd seen it before we remodeled our upstairs baths (if they even had it, was about 10 years ago now.)

I'm kinda thinking to redo both of em up there in a year or two and I'm def. going to try to source some of the Kerdi boards.
 

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with Kerdi board, you can slap on the thinset almost immediately?

Depends on what you mean by immediately. You can tile to the surface immediately. However, you do have to tape the seams and cover the the screws first. But even that is done with thinset and you don't have to wait for it to dry. So screw on the Kerdi Board, seal the seams with Kerdi Band, and then tile right away. (You need special screws for the Kerdi Board by the way.)
 
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