The Master Bathroom project I’ve been talking about recently in the blog is actually the second bathroom we’ve remodeled over the last year. Prior to this project, we tackled and completed The Main Bathroom Remodel Project. That project was completed before the blog was up and running, so I thought I’d take the time to recap that project before we complete the next one!
It’s a long tale…you’ve been warned.
It all started when we bought the house six years ago. The bathrooms were outdated, but we loved the house. All the bathrooms were functional, so we didn’t let the 70s-style stand in the way of our buying our first home. We made a mental note to remodel the bathrooms “sometime in the future.” Well, fast-forward about six years, and we really wanted that “sometime” to be now.
The original plan was simple: 1. Fix some tiles in the Main Bathroom, so that we could use that bathroom while remodeling the Master Bathroom. 2. Gut and totally remodel the Master Bathroom. 3. Remodel the Main Bathroom at some point in the future.
In staying true to every single project that we’ve undertaken in this house, what we planned was not exactly what happened.
In trying to fix the tiles in the Main Bathroom, we discovered a huge mold problem that had been caulked over and hidden by the previous owners. In our defense, we never really used the bathtub/shower until Claire’s arrival. We’ve always personally used the Master Bath, and our guests use the Guest Bathroom downstairs. With Claire’s arrival came the need to use that bathtub. All of a sudden, we had a glowing spotlight on a problem we didn’t even know existed.
What we thought would be a $30 fix to one bathroom suddenly became the focus of the project. Our priorities shifted, and the Master Bathroom Project was put on hold.
Well, we knew we needed to remove the tile from the walls, and rather than install tile, we’d found these really cool “shower surrounds and bathtub” combinations. And, since it comes with a tub, and the cast-iron tub had a patched spot, we may as well remove that as well. And, if we’re going to remove the tub (how hard could that be, anyway?), we may as well replace the vinyl flooring with that tile we’d found. And, if we’re going to tile the floor, we may as well re-finish the cabinet and if we’re doing that, we may as well install the new sink and countertop we’d been eyeing.
Do you see where this was headed?
So, we knocked out the tile, drywall and insulation, all the way down to the studs. The mold had been such a horrible issue that we even had to replace some wall studs!
Both of the bathrooms have a fully functional window smack dab in the middle of the wall. This is great for ambiance and airflow, but quite a challenge when it comes to bathtub/shower surrounds. We would have to cut a hole for the window into the surround, and that was a daunting task. One miscalculation would be devastating to the surround and the budget. Great! Have fun! No pressure!
My hubby is a rock-star when it comes to projects, and together we measured that thing SEVEN times. We made the cuts, and they were perfect. It fit the window perfectly. Of course, the walls in our bathroom aren’t square. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone…you don’t notice unless you’re insane like my hubby.) So, there was a lot of shimming that had to happen, but you really can’t tell with the finished product. We did discover that the product is extremely fragile until you get it installed, and it’s rather difficult to install. Our frustrations with that product are what led to our decision to tile the walls in the Master Bathroom.
But, before you can install the surround and the new tub, you have to remove the old tub. Have you ever removed a built-in cast-iron tub? Well, it’s much worse than you can ever imagine. All the internet sites make it look so simple. Right. It’s simple if you have no walls to contend with, and have two or three burly men at your disposal. (Unfortunately, that wasn’t the reality we were dealing with.) After much finagling, we got it out of there. Needless to say, I never want to remove another bathtub. Ever.
So, we’re ready to tile the floor. We’ve never tiled a floor. How hard can it be? Actually…tiling a floor wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d imagined. Here are some handy tips we learned while tiling the floor that we made sure to use when we started the Master Bath Remodel Project:
1. Use this website. It’s a tile estimator website that will allow you to put the dimensions of your room into the program, choose the size of tiles, the pattern you want, the size of grout line, and with the click of a button, it will give you a printable map of your floor and tell you how many tiles and pounds of mortar and grout you’ll need! I’m still amazed that this is a free site, so use it while you can!
2. Once you print the map created from the above website, lay out your tiles. You’ll need to dry-fit and cut the entire floor. You’ll need to adjust for the reality of your room (i.e. rooms aren’t square in our house. Go figure.) It’s easier to shift a row of tiles down a smidge than it is to cut that smidge off of a row of tiles.
3. Number each tile on the map, and then transfer those numbers onto the tiles you have dry-fitted on the floor BEFORE MOVING THEM to put down the mortar. This may seem tedious, but believe me; this step is so much easier than hiring a divorce attorney, splitting up your belongings and selling a house with an unfinished bathroom. Trust me. I love maps and details, so this part made me happy. If you don’t, you’ll need to learn to embrace it. No one told us to do this step, and it took a few stress-filled moments full of screaming at each other to realize it. It seems so simple now. It won’t at the time.
4. Once you have a map of your floor, including numbered tiles, you’re ready to mortar and grout! We used a special grout that doesn’t require an extra sealant. This grout is expensive, but the result is awesome. If you’re using this kind of grout, there are detailed instructions on how to clean the tiles after you’ve grouted but before everything has hardened. (There are many cleaning stages, which is what you get in turn for not having to deal with applying a sealant.) As ridiculous as these directions seem, they are imperative. The better job you do cleaning the tiles in that Initial Cleaning, the better everything will be. It’s okay to be aggressive with the cleaning process even though you’ve spent what seems like hours putting in the grout. We learned this the hard way. There are two “shiny spots” on the bathroom floor that only the insanely perfectionist people like my hubby can see. Because I’m more of a casual perfectionist, I’d like things to be perfect, but it doesn’t ruin my day if they’re not. I don’t even see these spots, and I can’t show any examples to anyone, but I’m sure they blind my hubby every morning.
And, after we installed the floor tile, we finished the cabinet, installed the new sink and countertop combination. My hubby and his father framed the huge mirror, and my hubby replaced the horrid original light fixture with track lighting on the ceiling.
As you can see by the pictures below, we chose a really bold color for the walls. We’re not afraid of color, and he found the color on a paint-chip, and I found it in a magazine. Imagine our surprise when comparing our notes that Spicy Cayenne matched both! The really funny thing about all this was that it almost matched the color of the original countertop….the countertop we hated when we moved into the house. Apparently, after six years, that color had grown on us and infiltrated our psyches.
Because we went really bold with the walls, we used a bone color for the counter and a white for the cabinet. The floors are Rialto Beige with Antique White grout.
So, there ya have it. Yes, we just remodeled a bathroom. Yes, it seems like we’re still remodeling a bathroom…because we are! We took one month off between projects and jumped right in again. I can’t wait to write a re-cap of that project! The end is in sight, so stay tuned!
Here are some pictures of the finished Main Bathroom Remodel Project:
View from the sink
View looking in
View looking out
The curved shower-curtain bar
The track-lighting system
Here’s a good one of the window and tiled floor
Bathroom artwork, of bathrooms (how appropriate!)