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. After that, they rushed through the rehab and basically put “lipstick on a pig.” Perhaps the biggest offense was in 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 just has a sink and is only about 43” wide and 5’ deep. It has no 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 through cracks in the tile/grout, and mold started to grow 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 in early 2018 had me convinced to delay it. This year, with the help of my now-retired dad, we tore into the bathroom. My parents live in Indiana, and I live in Florida. Pretty self-explanatory why he spends about a month each winter down here to escape the cold and snow.
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 small bathroom left a lot to be desired. The tile floor was bland 12” x 12” terracotta tile. The shower had no shelf of any kind and the finishes all just seemed cheap and out-of-date. I decided to include a niche for shampoo bottles and some more stylish tile and fixtures.
Shopping for supplies
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 looks like Carrera marble, but is a porcelain tile with mostly white background and some gray streaks. It looks awesome, but the tiles were huge at 16” x 32.” They were heavy and bulky 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.
We covered the walls outside of the shower with the same 16” x 32” tiles that are inside the shower. Those go up to a height of about 30 inches up from the floor, with a decorative basket-weave pattern tile on top. Brushed nickel trim pieces finished off the shampoo niche and the outer edges of the shower to cover the exposed tile edges.
The final touches were to install the shower door kit from Delta. This was an interesting kit where you pick out an option for the track, the glass doors, and handles. The hardest part of the install was getting those big, heavy doors up the stairs. 😊
Part II: sink room
We tore out the existing vanity and built it up by constructing a frame of 2x4s underneath it. Since I’m 6’5” tall, this has been a nice upgrade for me. I don’t have to bend over so much to use the sink. As a result of building it up and away from the wall, I gained some 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. This looks good against the existing white cabinet and white sink. A new faucet completed this small space (for now). I might buy a nicer countertop remnant at a later date.
We had already installed a new light fixture and quiet fan last fall, plus bought a new toilet a couple years ago. I initially reused my existing shower head, but the cheapo didn’t do the trick. A couple weeks after “finishing” the bathroom, I went and bought another one MUCH more to my liking. Now the bathroom truly feels like the spa retreat that I was hoping for!
Recap and final pics
Total cost of all the tools and materials needed for this job came to $2,614.95. Dad brought a lot of power tools down with him from Indiana. With his help, I saved several thousands of dollars doing it ourselves. My dad’s perfectionism only cost us a few extra bucks in materials. The whole project took 26 days from start to finish.
In conclusion, this was a very worthwhile project and I am so happy it is done. I could not be happier about the thousands of dollars saved. I’m probably even more ecstatic getting to start each day in a shower I enjoy. Special thanks to my dad for all of his hard work!