Part of my plan for 2004 was to work on my house. Now, my "son's bathroom," which some of you who have been to my house have used, is... yellow. You can no longer use it because there was a lot of slow-term seepage that occurred because the toilet was cheap, the bathtub leaked, and the wallboard reeked. Those who visited that lemon-mint oven chamber might recall that it was not... a pleasant place to do business. I'm not sure which happened in what order, but here's my view on things.
The house was built in 1970. It had one set of owners until 1984. Apparently, according to the next set of owners, these original owners really made the house close to being condemned. I have stories here and there about their legendary past, but today's entry will focus on this bathroom. The next set of owners supposedly "fixed up" the place, but their type of jobs were far more... quick-fix practical than "let's strip it down and build it right," my approach to all repairs. I can't say they "ruined" that bathroom, because I am guessing what they had to work with wasn't so good. It smacks of something that "looked a lot better than before," which is one way to approach home improvement, I guess. The second set of owners (we're only the third, BTW) had one solution to ugly walls: panel it! I am serious. The paneled almost everything. Most was a fake wood paneling, but in some places, they had paneling in forms I never have seen before. In my son's bathroom, it was faux tile. No, really, it's a thin wood veneer covered with a rubbery tile-esque coating. It's the kind of stuff you find in cheap mobile homes. Like a vinyl flooring for your walls. Now, they just GLUED this stuff on the existing wall. They didn't repaint, sand, or even strip the pre-existing wallpaper, for god's sake. They just covered up whatever was there before with this paneling. With glue. Glue that was apparently not heat or moisture resistant, since it buckled out pretty quickly.
"Not a problem!" the second owners must have said, "We'll just screw those back in with drywall screws!"
Of course, where the screws were not put into wall studs, they stripped out of the drywall, and then moisture got behind there and made the walls a bit funky, especially near the shower. Well, after the toilet broke, we closed off the bathroom, shut off the water, and left the door closed. What we didn't know was that this bathroom gets REALLY HOT due to some funky airflow issues with the duct system. So this winter, the room got hot enough to dry fruit. And the paneling buckled off the wall so far, I was able to pull off two panels with my own hands, and they came off in perfect sheets with a bit of gooey adhesive behind it. The previous wallpaper was not that bad. Dated, yes, but it was a small and simple tiled print of multicolored berries and leaves. Some of you girls out there might have had the same exact print on your undergarments in the 1980s. But I could see the damage behind the walls. here's what we have to do now:
- Plan overall "theme" to the bathroom, so we know what colors of everything to get.
- Totally strip down the bathroom to the bare studs. All the drywall has to go. Rip up the floor, and survey the water damage on the subfloor. Replace if needed. Toss out all the mint-yellow fixtures: sink, tub, and toilet.
- Put in new bathtub. Something much deeper, possibly a little wider. It's the old tub in the house. Since we'll have no drywall, we can also take this opportunity to fix the plumbing: test for the leaks, fix leaks, and attach them to the studs. No, really, the bathtub plumbing is free-floating in the wall. When you turn water on, it rocks back and forth. I suspect this is where at least one of the leaks is. I might need a real plumber for this part.
- Re-tile the floor. Something nice, like wide stone tile.
- Replace wiring, put in ground-fault receptacle. Right now, there's a combo dual switch/plug that you can turn on and off by whacking the wall around it. No, that's not a fire hazard...
- Put in drywall... I think this time we'll splurge the extra $5/panel for the kind rated for moist areas, like bathrooms. My god.
- Put in cabinet and a nice countertop (like the kind rated for moist areas, like bathrooms. I am sure the "buckled Formica" look is passe by now.
- Put in lighting, a wider cabinet/mirror, and nice, sturdy fixtures. Not the $19.95/pair they have now, which the "Hot/Cold" labels have fallen off, and leak when you turn them.
After much discussion over sushi, we went to Home Depot today and checked out prices of stuff. Prices are significantly cheaper than I expected. I will easily be able to do this work for under $1000. The tub is the most expensive cost. I got a crowbar to help me remove the tile to see the subfloor damage, and a new tape measure.
Now I know these projects can "be from hell" sometimes, but I watched a lot of "Do-it-yourself" shows over the years and have a few remodeling books, so I have a good idea what I need. I have also done repair work before, and I am pretty good with building and repairing stuff, but I also know I have never taken on a project at this scale before. I will also ask my friends who have done this before for their advice (Travis is going to look at my floor to help me assess floor damage). Then I will plan this out, on paper, and give my self a LOT of time for learning and try and learn some patience. I will make mistakes. But I can't learn if I don't make mistakes, so this will be a good thing to do in general.
I also finally got a new office chair. You might remember I broke my last one. I had some gift cards from Best Buy I have collected from birthday and Christmas, so I used them to get a chair that's really nice. It's made from a "microweave," which is a cloth that feels like suede. It's very soft, and sturdy; it doesn't rock side to side, or heave me to the floor if I lean back too far. I hope this chair stays friendly.
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