Here we go! The end is near!!! With the floor finally done we were able to start on the shower, reinstall the toilet and the vanity.
If you missed the first part of this saga check out part 1 of our bathroom remodel here. Here’s what we completed in the second phase:
- Demo the shower
- Repaired and painted the walls
- Reinstalled the toilet
- Reinstalled the vanity
- Waterproofed and replaced the cement backer board
- Repaired moldy ceiling …. Ew!
- Tiled the shower
- Installed the new shower doors
- Installed new baseboards and crown molding
First things first, now that the floor tile was done and freshly cleaned, we covered the floor with paper. This saved us a bunch of time when we started to wrap things up. Next up demo!
Since we were keeping the original shower pan, we wanted to be sure that we protected it. We covered it with an old blanket to keep all the tile debris from damaging the pan and to keep the finer bits from going down the shower drain.
Cole, my full-time husband and part-time demo expert, tackled this similarly to how he did the floors; with a chisel and hammer or rubber mallet. We decided to replace the cement backer-board to ensure waterproofing in the shower and its a good thing we did. When we started to pull off the existing backer-board we noticed that no waterproofing measures were taken when installing our shower originally. The existing backer-board was screwed directly into the studs… The good news is since we didn’t have to sand off the mortar and decided to totally replace the backer-board there was no dust!! The bad news was that whoever installed our shower used glue in addition to screws to suspend the backer-board. So we did have to chisel and sand down the strips of glue on the studs which was quite annoying. It was actually this glue removal that took up the majority of the time spent on the demo of the shower. The rest of the demo was pretty smooth sailing.
WATERPROOFING AND TILE PREP:
After all the backer-board and glue were finally removed, we were ready to get started prepping for the tile. Here’s what we used:
- Plastic sheeting
- Staples and staple gun
- Hardie-board cement backer-board
- Backer-board screws
- Thin set mortar and putty knife
- Fiberglass tape
- Red Guard
- Paint roller and roller cover
- Paint brush
- Circular Saw
- Safety goggles and respirator
To start off this part of the project we stapled black plastic sheeting to the wall studs. This is the first layer of waterproofing. We then cut the backer-board to size using a circular saw and installed it, starting on the bottom and moving upward, making sure to cut holes for the spigot and the on/off valve. **If you cut the backer-board yourself, make sure you wear safety goggles and a respirator. It has fiberglass in the boards and the dust can cause all sorts of havoc if inhaled. After it was installed we made sure to mud the seams using fiberglass tape and thin set mortar to ensure maximum waterproofing.
While we were mid-demo of the shower we noticed some black spots on the ceiling above the shower. Knowing that once we put up the shower tile it would be more difficult to repair, we inspected it and noticed that the drywall in the corner where the shower and the ceiling met was much softer than it should be; so we called in a professional. Other than minor repairs neither of us knew much about drywall repair. I’m sure if it was a wall we could have figured it out and hidden any blemished with wall art or paint…. but on a ceiling…. nope! We bowed out and let the Pro’s take over. Here is what we found when the drywall guy started cutting away at the affected pieces.
Yea! Gross! So apparently for whatever reason, we had two layers of drywall for our ceiling. We think that there was a leak from the whole that the vent fan runs out of in the roof. Every time it rained, water would travel down the pipe from the vent fan and would drip on to the drywall in our attic above our shower. Since there were two layers of drywall the moister ate through the top layer and then got stuck in between the layers and spread. We ultimately had to replace a 3ft x 3ft section of drywall. We were so glad we hired out this job. It added another $400 to the total cost of the project but his help was so worth it. Since I hate mold and I don’t mess around with that nonsense, after the drywall man had done his job and the mud had properly dried; I went to town painting all four walls and the whole ceiling with Killz. I should buy stock in that stuff! I HATE mold.
Because of the leak with the vent fan pipe, we decided that it would be worth our while to make sure that we don’t run into this issue again so we sealed all the way around the vent and decided to upgrade our fan. **Side Note: Not all vent fans are created equal. Each vent fan has an average square footage of the size room that it should be used in. Turns out that the old vent fan we had was not rated for the size of our bathroom so it was pretty ineffective. It actually worked out well because the old fan had yellowed and was going to stick out like a sore thumb in our new bright bathroom.
Next in our waterproofing game we applied Red Guard, which is a waterproofing and crack resistant membrane. You paint it on just like regular wall paint but when it hardens it is almost like rubber. Due to this fact, if you get it on any fabric or clothing it will have to be trashed. The same goes for the roller and the brush that we used for application. It was awesome and it sure did add a temporary pop of color to our in progress bathroom.
PAINT AND REINSTALL:
Im that kinda kid that really enjoys painting an empty room, so I wanted to get the walls painted before we reinstalled the toilet and the vanity, and started on the shower tile. Because our house is older there are almost always dents and dings on the walls. There were a few that we created too when removing the vanity and the molding. So using spackle and a putty knife I got started repairing the walls. After the spackle had dried I gently smoothed any bumps out with drywall sand paper. I quickly wiped off the walls with a lightly damp rag to ensure that the walls were clean; then I was ready for paint. I chose a Benjamin Moore paint color called Grey Tint. It’s very subtle but gives you just enough contrast to tell it apart from white. When designing how I wanted the bathroom to look I thought I wanted white walls, with white subway tile, dark grout and dark tile on the floor, but I am a sucker for grey. Give me a good grey and it’ll win every time!
Installing the toilet:
With the walls freshly painted we reinstalled the toilet. We started by scraping off the old wax ring with a putty knife and getting a new wax ring from our local hardware store. We were able to use the same mount and screw that were there originally so it made install pretty easy. We placed the wax ring around the mount in the floor and then lowered the toilet down over the hole making sure the screws came up though the holes on either side of the toilet. We used the preexisting nuts and tightened them to the toilet base so that they were secure but not so tight that the base would break. We then connected the water supply line and slowly turned the water back on. We made sure that all the existing gaskets in the joints didn’t leak. If yours do turn off your water supply and check out your local hardware store for new gaskets. Ta da! We have a toilet!
Installing the vanity:
Next up, we installed the vanity. This was actually pretty easy since we didn’t have to outfit the space for a new vanity due to the fact that we repurposed our old one. After putting the vanity in place, we attached 3 drywall screws into the back and side supports where the vanity meets the wall. Next we reinstalled the faucet to our new counter top. The drain and the faucet slip down into their respective holes and are tightened using the slip-nut included. We then added a bead of silicone adhesive to the top edge of the vanity. We lowered the new counter top down onto the bead of silicone and pressed firmly. Most silicone has a dry time. Check the label for clarification. After the silicone was dry, we reconnected the drain, and the water supply lines, making sure not to get the hot and cold water lines mixed up. We finished off the install by caulking the seems where the vanity meets the wall and turning the water supply back on.
SHOWER TILE INSTALL:
This shower is what made our bathroom. It was the focal point… no pressure for us, beginners who had never done this before and had only seen how-to videos on youtube….
Here what we used:
- Subway tile
- Thin-set mortar or tile glue. We got ours from Home Depot.
- 5-gal bucket
- Rubber float for applying grout
- Damp sponge
- Spare towel or rag
- Thin-set and grout mixer paddle. Highly necessary; otherwise you would have to mix the mortar by hand.
- Tile cutter; we rented one from Home Depot.
- Tape measure
- Patience and lenience
The first thing we did was position our ledger boards, which are the pieces of wood you see around the tile in the video below. We had two across the bottom and one on either side. We made sure that each one was perfectly level and nailed them into the wall. Then ready set go…. the tile marathon was on! We made sure to triple check our measurements before cutting and we used plastic spacers to keep out lines uniform. Here is a quick timelapse of our hard work.
By the time we reached the top the first few rows of tile had started to dry. At this point we removed the bottom ledger boards, taped off the shower pan with painters tape and added the first row of tile that was to go over the lip of the shower pan. We secured these tiles with painters tape while the thin set dried. After tiling we had to wait a full 24 hours before we could grout it.
Once we were ready to grout we removed all the spacers. We decided to go with a dark grout. A lot of the research we had done suggested that we use a grout cleaner tool which looks kinda like a toothbrush but has a metal file on the end of it. It is typically used to clean out excess mortar that seeped into the grout lines inhibiting your ability to apply grout appropriately. So we used the tool just to clean out a few gunked up areas… I wish we hadn’t. The tool scratched the tile and after applying the dark grout on the bright white tile, the dark pigment seeped into the scratches so now we have black hairline scratches all over a bunch of our tiles. It really sucks that that happened and I wish that it hadn’t but I was not about to take them all down and do it all over again…. So for us, we love it! It is leaps and bounds better than it was and it’s waterproof!!! Its really not noticeable to anyone else unless they inspect it. I just know I will never use that grout file ever again…
We used unsanded grout because our grout lines were less than 1/8 of an inch thick. For our bathroom floor in Part 1 we used sanded grout, because the grout lines were thicker. Sanded grout allows the grout line a little bit of flex which is not needed in smaller grout lines. We mixed our grout according to the package instructions, by putting the powder into a 5 gal bucket and adding the requested amount of water and using the grout mixer paddle attachment to our power drill. When the grout is perfectly mixed it will be the consistency of peanut butter. Once our grout was mixed we used a float to apply it to the tile. Grouting is kind of like using a spatula to even out brownie batter in the pan before you bake it. You use a kind of push/pull method to make sure all the grout is even and that it gets where it needs to. It was kinda fun but crazy messy. Make sure you make quick work of it because if you take your time your grout will start to harden and you will have to stop where you are to start cleaning the surface, regardless of if you are finished grouting.
To clean the remaining grout of the tile use a damp sponge and wash away the excess. Rinse your sponge often. Then let your grout set. Tomorrow you will have a brand new shower.
While I waited for the grout to dry I installed our new mirror that we picked up from our local Home Depot.
Next up, shower doors. We ordered ours off Amazon and we hired handy men to install it for us. We decided after the ordeal with the scratches on the tile, handy men are insured… if they mess up the tile, they can pay for us to have someone else redo the tile. 😉 They did fine and we would highly recommend hiring out this part of the project…. too much pressure.
Lastly, the molding and the finishing touches. We were able to keep the crown molding throughout most of the room except the walls that the shower is on. We decided to use 3 1/4″ plastic composite baseboards and quarter round to avoid any chance of mold in the future. We rented a nail gun from Home Depot and got busy. This composite material is white to begin with so thankfully they didn’t require any painting after install. Aside from filling nail holes with silicone putty and caulking the seams where the molding met the wall and the quarter round , we were good to go. With the last nail and the last bit of caulk, we were done! We have come a long way…
BEFORE & AFTER
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? We started demo on this project on December 15th and we installed the last bit of caulk on February 7th. We spent around $3,500 on this project which was significantly more palpable than our lowest estimate of $9,000 and our highest of $18,000. It took us almost 2 full months, required long nights after work and took up a lot of our holiday season, but we were able to save $5,500-$14,500. We are better off for doing the work ourselves and we are so proud of how everything turned out.
I added some decor including this awesome ladder that a friend, a metal worker and sculptor, made for us! I absolutely love it! Make sure to check out his awesome work! We also added a frame from Ikea and a shelf from world market.
We absolutely love how it all turned out. We felt so accomplished when we finished. This bathroom was a lot of firsts for us; first time tiling, first time remodeling, first time refinishing cabinets, all in our first house. With this behind us we feel like there’s nothing we can’t do! Let us know what you think and if you have any questions!