Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bathroom Remodel Part 4: Shower Tile Prep

Part 1: Demolition
Part 2: Plumbing
Part 3: Material selection and Floor Tile

With our floor tile in, it was time to focus on the daunting task of doing up the shower walls. Let me just preface this post by saying that if there was ever a time to hire out a job, this would be it. There is just SO MUCH engineering that goes into this tiny little corner of the room that it's impossible to learn every detail as a first-time-bathroom-remodeler. And it's not just that the details are numerous; it's that they're all important too! Omitting any of them could result in disaster (in the form of leakage, rot and mold). For this reason, I'm going to try to include as many tips (in blue) and nuggets of information in this post for any of you out there trying to find advice. Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional, so if you want a professional's expert advice, consult a professional. I repeat, I am not a professional.

The first thing we had to do was build out the underlying structure to give the cement board a solid and immovable foundation. We added 2x4s in between the existing studs (and probably went overboard) for the Hardibacker to attach to. Here you can see my niche structure with a few of the added 2x4s. You'll also notice the Hardibacker attached to the right. That was a mistake. I'll explain later.

I rerouted the wiring for a guest-bedroom outlet to go around the new niche. Back in the day, electricians liked to wire things pretty tight, which meant I had no extra slack to work with. I had to feed new wire in, which required me to explore our attic for the first time! It was kind of exciting, but mostly hot, cramped, dark and scary. Also, I think I left some needle-nose pliers up there on accident.

So back to the Hardibacker cement board. Hanging this stuff was quite the ordeal for several reasons. The first was that the material is a bitch to cut; no matter what we did score-and-snap would not work, we couldn't use high-speed power tools because it kicked up ridiculous amounts of cancer-dust (and dulled the blades), and it melted most of our jigsaw blades.

After destroying many tools to cut up the biggest boards on the back wall, I thought, "there has GOT to be a better way". I don't know why we didn't look sooner, but I found this video that changed our lives. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bathroom Remodel Part 3: Material Selection and Tiling

Part 1: Demolition
Part 2: Plumbing

We're still putzing along with our little bathroom renovation, moving at the speed of almost-frozen molasses. For this post, I'm going to take you back in time (November) to where we installed the tile flooring, which has surprisingly been the easiest part of this whole adventure thus far (but certainly not without it's own set of issues).

At this point I had been in the interior design field long enough to know that I should have ALL my finishes and paint colors selected before starting on anything. I went to a local tile showroom and grabbed way too many samples (tile samples are heavy, ya'll!).

I had also designed a cast concrete vanity and shower niche, so I made some concrete samples with increasing amounts of white portland cement to figure out the color we wanted.

Ratios of concrete to portland cement from left to right: 1:0, 3:1, 1:1, 1:3

Basically what you want to do when you've got all these samples is lay them all out along with your other bathroom elements. You can see we've got a sink, a brushed nickel pipe, concrete, and a brown wood tile as our teak-wood stand-in. It may be overwhelming to see it all at once, but here's the trick: rather than trying to decide what you like best, start by eliminating the things that aren't working for you. Hopefully this gets you to a manageable place where you can start making decisions. Of course even with this method, we still debated the choices off-and-on for an hour or more. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm Going For It! *Creating With the Stars 2014*

You may or may not have heard of this little reality series that exists in our blogland called "Creating With the Stars". It's a fun and quirky competition not unlike Dancing With the Stars, except with less dancing in sparkly costumes and more spray paint and power tools.

The 12 contestants are initially chosen based on a single project entry from their 2013 or 2014 repertoire. From there, they are paired off with 12 "celebrity" bloggers who will coach them through four weeks and four rounds of eliminations.

I normally pass on this sort of thing just because I'm not sure I even have enough energy to make it through one week/project (and uhhh, our bathroom is still "undergoing construction"). But one thing got my heart pounding about it this year, and that is the CELEBRITY judge....

MARTHA. My idol.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bathroom Remodel Part 2: Plumbing Adventures

Previously on the Bathroom Remodel:

Before we could put any new walls up, we had a few plumbing adjustments to take care of. Nothing too major, which is why when we got some quotes from local plumbers (coming in between $500 to $1000), Boyfiancé decided this would be a good time for him to pick up a new skill.

The new tub is wider than the old one, so everything needed to be moved over a couple of inches. We also wanted to move that shower head up because apparently everyone in the 60's was either really short, or really enjoyed squatting to rinse their hair.

Old plumbing

Then there was the issue of the new tub plumbing, but let's put off that very painful memory until later.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

One Year Housiversary!

First order of business: Cheers! Happy New Year! Gong hay fat choy!

2013 was a big year for us! We came barreling into it already under contract to buy our very first house, which we totally managed to do! It's kinda weird to think back on this night a year ago, where we sat on the floor of our new house eating burritos by the light of a couple lamps and surrounded by ant bait poison. Ah, memories.

We haven't done a whole lot in the way of renovations, but we have managed to do a few of the important ones (and yes, the ants are gone now).