Bathroom remodel – demolition and plumbing

Old vanity with man-made counter top

Old vanity with man-made counter top

Old acrylic tub

Old acrylic tub

Working on removing the tub surround

Working on removing the tub surround

Tub surround totally out

Tub surround totally out

Old lights and medicine cabinet

Old lights and medicine cabinet

Tub surround partially out

Tub surround partially out

Messy work area

Messy work area

Tub surround out

Tub surround out

Sink supply lines seem a bit corroded, but I think they should be ok

Sink supply lines seem a bit corroded, but I think they should be ok

Leftover linoleum tile underneath the cement board

Leftover linoleum tile underneath the cement board

water damaged plywood

water damaged plywood

ready for new tub

ready for new tub

Plumbing done and subfloor repaired

Plumbing done and subfloor repaired

water damage in plywood near the tub

water damage in plywood near the tub

New Delta universal rough fixture

New Delta universal rough fixture

Going to reuse the old tub drain assembly

Going to reuse the old tub drain assembly

Close-up of Delta universal rough fixture

Close-up of Delta universal rough fixture

Complete plumbing picture

Complete plumbing picture

I finally started remodeling our main bathroom several weeks ago. The first stage was demolition. Unfortunately, I forgot to take many before pictures, but that is life. I started off by removing the toilet. I got as much water out of it as possible through flushing, bucket, and towel. I took off the tank, and it is now downstairs. We like the toilet, so we will reuse it.

The next step was to remove the vanity, which was pretty straight forward. I took out the screws securing it to the wall, and disconnected the plumbing. There was one or two screws which were completely stripped, which I ended up cutting with my saws-all. Clare was kind enough to help me carry the vanity downstairs as well. I’m thinking of making it into a play bathroom for Spencer, since he really loves opening drawers and cabinets. So it is now filled with harmless everyday objects like cookie tins and egg cartons. I thought of filling it with toys, but it frequently seems that Spencer wants to play with “adult” stuff, not toys.

Once the vanity and toilet were removed, I was able to get most of the floor tile off. I pounded on the tile with an engineer’s hammer to break up the tiles. They came off fairly easy – much more easily than the floor tiles in the Spencer bathroom. It seems like there was not really much mortar on the tiles, so they probably weren’t installed very well.

I used a hammer and chisel and a pry bar to get off the tile around the tub surround. That was quite a bit of work, but it wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t exactly sure how it was attached. It turns out that it is attached to the walls with screws. I used an engineer hammer to get the tiles out, which worked really well. The added weight (compared to a claw hammer) really makes it more powerful. Once I got all the tiles off and removed the screws, I simply yanked on the surround to get it unstuck. I then did the same for the tub, and Clare helped me carry the tub out. It is currently in our yard. Last year our city had a throw away big stuff for free day. I’m hoping they do that again this year.

Once the tub was out, I could start removing the cement board. I considered trying to reuse it, but I didn’t think I would be able to get all the old mortar off it. I used the hammer and pry bar to get it up, and then had to remove the screws holding it down. It did not have any mortar between the cement board and the plywood, as I have been told to do. This is more evidence of shoddy construction, but it did make it easier to remove. Once I got the cement board up, I discovered some old linoleum tile underneath it. I worked a fair amount to get more of the tile off. I got all of the top layer off everywhere, but did end up leaving a bit of the adhesive layer in some parts.

After getting the cement board up and the tub out, I realized that part of the subfloor was rotten. This was not too much of a surprise, since we had noticed some leaks when we moved in. I had bought some extra plywood just in case this might happen. As it turns out, there was only a fairly small section which was rotten, and I was able to use a scrap piece of plywood to fix it. I cut a piece large enough so that I could screw it into three floor joists, to make sure it was plenty secure. The floor joists themselves seem to be in good condition.

The next step was to install the new fixture for the bath. We ended up going with a Delta Lewison. I really like how some of the Delta faucets have separate temperature and volume controls. We also had pretty good experience with Delta back in Indiana. I thought that the plumbing wouldn’t be too hard, since I already had some experience, but I was wrong. I guess maybe the third time it gets easier. I bought the couplings, elbows and connectors I needed, and decided to try to do some of the sweating before cutting off the old fixture. I think I have learned that this is not really worth it. I learned several more things from this experience:

  1. Solder can get old. The 30+ year old solder I had from the Spencer house did not melt very easily. New solder helped a bunch
  2. Solder both ends of a coupling at the same time. I tried soldering just one end, and some extra solder dripped down the coupling, make the other end unusable
  3. Dry fit first before applying any solder paste. I accidentally used one 7″ piece and one 6″ piece of pipe, when I had been intending to use two 7″ pieces
  4. Tighten any threaded joints with two wrenches. I initially used only one wrench, holding on to the mixing valve with the other hand. It ended up leaking, and I had to redo the whole thing

It took a bit longer than expected, but I did finally get the plumbing all done. I raised the level of the shower head by about 6″, so that it should be a bit nicer for tall people to shower.

The next step is to get the tub in and the floor tile.

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