I bought my townhouse in April 2006 from a husband and wife duo; she was a Realtor and he was a contractor. They would buy properties together and flip them. This property was one they initially bought for their 19-year-old daughter to live on her own for the first time, but that only lasted a few months. Rather than taking their time to get all the upgrades right, they rushed through it and basically put “lipstick on a pig.” Perhaps the biggest offender was my master bathroom.
The master bathroom is actually two small rooms, one 5’ by 5’ that contains a walk-in shower and a toilet. The other small room is only about 43” wide and 5’ deep, but is sort of an offset from the bedroom, without a door, and leads into the shower room and my 5’ by 5’ walk-in-closet.
The shower had been hastily refurbished, with cheap 4” x 4” tiles and a frosted glass shower door on a chrome track. Somewhere along the line, water started seeping into the walls from cracks in the tile/grout, and mold started to form behind the walls. After a while, the drywall became flimsy and crumbled, leaving small holes at the base of the wall behind my toilet.
This was a project I’d wanted to do last year, but job uncertainty at the beginning of 2018 delayed me out of budgetary concerns. This year, with the help of my early-retired dad (he left the factory 1 day before his 63rd birthday), we tore into the bathroom. My parents live in Indiana, and I live in Florida, so he has spent about a month each of the past 2 winters down here with me to escape the cold and snow, since he no longer MUST be there for his job.
Demolition began on his first full day here, the Saturday of MLK Day weekend. Since I work in government, this gave us 3 full days to get started by demolishing all of the old bathroom materials, planning what we would replace everything with, and buying some of the materials he would need to get some work done while I was at my day job on Tuesday-Friday that week. It took the full 3 days to demolish the bathroom, especially since this is an upstairs bathroom. We had to put everything in contractors trash bags and I personally hauled it all down the stairs and out the front door. We tore everything down to the studs and bare concrete floor.
After ripping the walls out, we cleaned out all the mold, double-bagged it, and cleaned the 2x4s behind the mess. Then we replaced the missing drywall with a waterproof cement board called GoBoard that came in 3’ x 5’ panels that felt like they were lighter than air. They were the perfect size for the shower room, since the shower was exactly 5’ wide and just under 3’ in depth, and they were small enough that dad could handle them by himself, versus a 4’ x 8’ drywall product that is just too bulky to try handle on his own.
My house was built in 1981, so the bathroom left a lot to be desired. The tile floor was basic 12” x 12” terracotta tile, there was no cubby hole for shampoo bottles or a shelf of any kind inside the shower, and the finishes all just seemed cheap and out-of-date. I decided I wanted to include a shampoo box (is that the actual term? I’m sure you understand what I mean and can see it pictured above) and some more stylish tile and fixtures.
I selected the floor tile for inside the shower first. These gray penny tiles were an easy solution for trying to create the proper slope of the shower floor (the drain wasn’t centered within the space, so we couldn’t buy an off-the-shelf solution), and they gave me plenty of opportunity to mix & match with other tiles for the walls and floor outside the shower. Up next was the wall tile, which is a Carrera marble-looking porcelain tile, mostly white background with some gray streaks. It looks awesome, but the biggest problem with it was the tiles measured 16” x 32” which made it bulky to handle and difficult to cut. Looking back, I would have chosen something much smaller, or even a simple subway tile.
The floors were kind of a combination of the two other tiles. The gray shower floor had some blue hues mixed in, so we went with a 12” x 24” ceramic tile with gradients of blue, gray and some light tan – it feels very beachy.
The walls outside of the shower also got the tile treatment, with the same 16” x 32” tiles that are inside the shower, but only to a height of about 30 inches up from the floor. On top of the wall tiles are some decorative tiles in a basket-weave pattern to give it a finished edge. Speaking of finished edges, the shampoo box and the outer edges of the shower got a brushed nickel trim piece to cover the exposed edges of the tile.
The final touches were to install the shower door kit from Delta. This was a very interesting kit, since you could pick out an option for the shower door track in Step 1, the glass doors in Step 2, and handles in Step 3. The hardest part of the install was getting those big, heavy doors up the stairs. 😊
We tore out the existing vanity and built it up by constructing a frame of 2x4s underneath it. I’m 6’5” tall, so this has been a nice upgrade for me, so I don’t have to bend over quite so much to use the sink. We also built it out from the wall a couple more inches to give me some more precious counter space. The countertop got the same treatment as the floors, so it’s the 12” x 24” tiles that are on the floor of the same room, which looks good against the existing white cabinet and white sink. A new faucet completed this small space (for now).
We had already installed a new light fixture and quiet fan in the shower room last fall, and a new toilet a couple years ago, so those were cost-saving measures. I initially reused my existing showerhead, a cheapo that I bought in September last year after the water heater debacle caused a bunch of sludge and grime in the pipes to render the old one useless. Well, the cheapo didn’t do the trick, so a couple weeks after “finishing” the bathroom remodel, I went to Lowe’s and popped for another one, which is MUCH more to my liking. Now the bathroom truly feels like the spa retreat that I was hoping for!
Total cost of all the tools and materials needed for this job, aside from the actual power tools my dad brought down from Indiana with him, came to $2,614.95. We saved several thousands of dollars by doing it ourselves, and my dad’s perfectionism only cost us a few extra bucks in materials (when something wasn’t cut quite right) and probably some delay in time (took 26 days from start to finish). There’s still a bit of touch-up to do, which he will knock out in no time flat once he gets here later this month for a week. Things like spackling nail holes in the new door trim (we removed the doors altogether and put up new jambs), and touching up paint where I scuffed it carrying the big heavy tiles (19.2 lbs a piece, and did I mention bulky?)
This was a very worthwhile project and I am so happy it is done. I’m also ecstatic about the several thousands of dollars I saved and the huge improvement to my mood by starting each day in a shower I enjoy. Special thanks to my dad for all of his hard work!