Projects - Master Bath Remodel

Our Master Bath Remodel Log

It's finally time to do the master bath. The walls are falling apart. I suspect mold and various fungal matter, but we're not there yet - stay tuned.

5/4/10 - We got the tile from Floor and Decor. They helped with the design and pointed us in the right direction. I spent about 10 hours in Google's sketchup to produce the images below. It really helps visualize.

So, I picked up the tile and supplies Sunday. BTW - the frame of the expedition is supposed to be the same of the F150 - the suspension clearly is not. The tile dropped the rear about 4". I also managed to add a few knots in my left shoulder blade. I might learn one day (yet we're going most of this alone).
So after realizing there is only a 30 day return policy on unused tile, I kicked in into gear. Made the immediate to-do list, drew all over the walls with the marker and started ripping down the light "valance". Took the cabinet doors off and started the trash pile. Called the electrician, Xiang has finding the plumber job tomorrow.

We're going to have to time the demo with the plumbing, electric and the vanity since we're going to add a water heater somewhere. Kinda waiting on input from the plumber.

We're going all travertine.

5/5/10 - Day 1 of destruction - Just tore out one of the vanities. Trying to ease into it...
5/8/10 - After a couple of days of demo, we are finally close to the studs. Or what's left of them. We knew the house had termites before, but wow. Most of the studs have been chewed on quite seriously. We can see where they replaced several studs with pressure treated lumber too. Since we are taking it down all the way, might as well fix it right.

Xiang did a great job of taking up the floor and the majority of the shower. We have to get a bigger sledge, the curb for the shower was solid concrete. It turned out they actually used a shower pan, but it was installed incorrectly. The bench also was almost completely gone from termite damage. The only thing keeping it intact was the mud job. The wall under the window, the mud under the shower floor and part of one of the walls are still wet.

Picked up some purple board for patching the ceiling and the corner away form the shower. We've had 2 plumbers in, haven't gotten any estimates yet, but it's not going to be inexpensive. We're probably going to have to have the drain moved, the floor (shower) re-sloped and the hot water issue is still unresolved. Get this, the supply for the room comes in under the shower head. Good. For some inexplicable reason, they decided to run hot & cold lines over the ceiling and down a wall on the other side of the shower to the valve, then back over the ceiling to the shower head. ???
Termite Damage
5/9/10 - Finished off the tile removal in the shower today. They may have installed a shower pan, and I'm no expert, but I would think you are not supposed to put nails through it. The floor under the pan was just completely soaked. The inside walls also are positioned halfway over the shower area, the difference was mudded in, but the shower pan did not cover the wall in the slightest bit. Can't imagine why the bottom of the walls were wet.
I'm pretty sure we're now looking at replacing every single stud as well. Although, I'm leaning more towards a half wall, and more glass (at least the glass doesn't rot!). Either way, more $. Now that the real heavy work is done (except for the remaining debris removal), time to move on to replacing termite damages wood and working on the walls and ceiling.

5/12/10 - I've been working on ripping out the ceiling over the shower. Every single piece of wood (except for the rafters) has major termite damage. I was weighing replacing the drop, but after getting the plumbing sticker shock, I've decided just to make it even with the rest of the ceiling. It'll make it look larger anyway. I also have to replace every single stud in the walls around the shower as well. They're all toast from the termites.

We got the plumbing estimates, they are ranging from $1500 to $2800. The majority is going towards a new shower floor. I really have no desire to do it myself. Of course this doesn't cover any fixtures.

5/20/10 - Spent the weekend (4 days) in Vegas, obviously didn't get anything done. About broke my arm before we left though trying to remove a very stubborn board in a corner. All but one board has been removed now. Had Monty (Kaylor) come over to take a look at raising the window in the shower so we can get the right size. By raising the window, water will have less of an opportunity to pool there. Also won't have to get opaque glass.
Just waiting on the plumber to come by and give me his 2 cents on where I can place the new wall. The old wall actually split the slab and the mud, wasn't covered by the pan, so it acted like a wick to suck up any moisture that got back there (you can see in pics above). I'm thinking placing the new wall even with the edge of the slab. Also need to know where he wants the electric for the hot water supply pump. Can't order vanities until that's done too. Got to know how long they will be.

5/23/10 - The demo is now 99% done. Spent the afternoon yesterday taking up old thinset. About broke my toe. Thank goodness for hydrocodone! Still having trouble getting out one furring strip - it's halfway between the closet and the shower. I've managed to split it trying to get it out. I will say this much, they knew how to sink concrete nails in 87.
Spent the weekend shopping around the web for lighting and plumbing parts. American express is going to love me this month. We still have to procure a valve for the shower (we're doing a wall head and a rain head), cabinets (waiting on plumber to tell me where the best place to put the wall is), mirror frames, sinks, granite, faucets, a toilet, a fan and who knows what else.
Everything is kinda waiting on wall placement. I'm trying to figure out if it's better to move the wall flush with the slab or replace it where it was. I thought where it was inviting moisture problems - it hung halfway over the shower and the edge wasn't covered by the pan, so it acted like a wick for moisture in the wall. Once that is settled, I can (re) build the walls. I'll hit HD to day for new furring strips and tapcon screws to put in new furring strips. I should at least get that done today.
5/27/10 - Rick and his son from Thunderbay Plumbing started on the plumbing today. Really nice guys to talk to. Rick is really good with all my questions and patient. They got the sink plumbing set and the old one capped off. Also got the drain moved. Got the valve from today. I expect it'll get installed tomorrow and the floor should probably get sloped as well.

I spent Wednesday night arguing with a 1 x 4 and some dull masonry bits. Turns out the board is bowed and tapcon bits suck. So, I went to HD tonight and got what appears to be a "true" board. Also picked up can lights, new masonry bits and a couple of spare 2-bys just in-case. I went to Lowes after work, their lighting section was a disaster. It's amazing, for some reason I still go to Lowes and 9 out of 10 times, I walk out wondering why I bothered wasting the gas. I NEVER get any help, let alone see anyone to provide any. I go to Home Depot, and 9 out of 10 times someone at least says hello, and I ALWAYS see someone in orange that's not behind a register.

The plan for this weekend is to re-stud the water supply wall, secure the vanity wall and get vanity cabinets ordered.
5/29/10 - Plumber set the shower supply yesterday and moved the drain. Still have to slope the floor and install the pan.

So, this morning I installed the newest 1x4, it turns out the wall (a cinder block wall) is not even close to vertically straight. Whoever built this house obviously was not terribly skilled. For example, the window itself is 48x48. The hole was laid 1/2" too short. So the wizard who installed the window actually chiseled out the inside of the block on one side to make it fit. Quality work. So I used liquid nails and 3 tapcons to install the 1x3. Seems to have worked. I'm going to have to get some shims for when I out the new furring strips in. I will say, tapcon masonry bits really suck. They are $4 each. They're worth $0.10. I bought a pack of 5 Vermont American for less than $5, they cut through the cinder blocks with ease. Go figure.

After taking a break, I went to work on reinstalling the 2x4s in the supply wall. Somehow the ladder managed to go sideways on me and gravity took over from there. I landed on the ladder leg, gained a few scratches and turned my ankle really bad. Off to get x-rays I went. Nothing broken, but I can't walk or stand worth a damn. We'll see how much I can get done the rest of the weekend.
6/2/10 - Spent most of the weekend on the couch with the foot elevated. Got some work done Monday. mostly securing walls and some cleanup.
Spent Monday installing cross members to attach the new ceiling to.
Tuesday, I bought a new ladder :p. I installed the new fan and cut the drywall for the ceiling. What a pipedream that was. Measured 3 times and at least it was close. The biggest failure of my one piece fantasy was trying to wedge this in, over our heads, in a corner, with a partial wall in the way. After arguing with this piece of drywall for 20 minutes, I cut in half and dealt with it half at a time. My measurements were about 1/4" too large. At least I erred on the right side. Tomorrow I'm going to try to install the can lights (not wired, just cut holes and drop in. Plumber should be back Friday to slope the floor.

6/4/10 - This is classic - installed the new exhaust fan Thursday evening. When putting the duct on, the top fell off from the roof deck. S#$t. So, I climb up there Friday night after dinner to evaluate the situation, fully expecting a major PITA, and find that the hole was felted over when some moron re-roofed this place. I climb up on the roof outside, both bathroom vents were removed and covered over for some reason. No wonder they never worked worth a crap. No signs of water damage, just laziness I'm guessing. So, I'm planning on running new ducts to the sofits instead.
6/5/10 - Installed cans today in the main area. Also picked up a new duct for the fan. Not sure about the bulbs I picked though.
6/9/10 - My foot is still killing me - maybe even worse since I won't stay off of it. Electrician came yesterday and did 95% of what needs done (the rest after drywall), plumber came today and did the sloping for the shower floor.
I'm using Thunder Bay Plumbing, and I'll say Rick has been extremely helpful with answering all my questions and patience on waiting for me to get things done. If you're in the bay area, I would not hesitate to recommend him. Thanks for your patience Rick!
Since he was coming this morning, I installed the ceiling and cans over the shower last night (maybe why my foot is not any better), can's might a tad underpowered, we'll see. I'm taking tonight off to give my foot a rest, but the ball's in my court now for the time being.
6/14/10 - We spent Saturday hanging drywall and got the first layer of mud going. Had to stop frequently to let my foot rest. Sunday, I decided to replace the studs in the 24" wall.

On that subject - don't ever try to use wet pressure treated lumber for your walls. This stuff warped, bent and twisted every which direction. Everything I put in is useless. So, off to HD to get more studs. I spent most of the day replacing the studs. Once I had them in, the electrical boxes were not cooperating (turns out one is smaller than the other). I quit around 3. My foot was tired. sore and I needed at least a couple of hours of rest.

Tonight, I hung the drywall for the 24" wall and started mudding the ceiling areas.

6/20/10 - Spent the last few days fretting over getting the window replacement started, a leaking cinder block and some severely out of plumb walls. did I mention really crappy pressure treated lumber?

Let's start with the window. Have had it for a week and nothing has gotten done. I've gotten a verbal that it'll be started on Monday (6/21). Not much else gets done until it's done.

Leaking cinder block. About a week ago, I noticed a stain on the wall right above the slab. It was clearing leaking water. There didn't appear to be plumbing nearby, so it we dug up everything outside looking for cracks for seepage. Nothing obvious. So, I called the plumber and he came and looked, nothing he could find. Finally, a friend suggested the window sill over the years may have drained down the wall into the block. Then after a short investigation, I noticed a crack running down the wall from the window area - and this is really the only thing that makes any sense. Probably started seeping out when I pulled the nails out. It's still dry...

Walls. OMG. I think a blind monkey, possibly drunk, did the masonry work on the house. First, the window width issue. The window was a 48", yet they made the "hole" 49". Whoever installed the window version of making it fit, decided that knocking out the side of cinder blocks to make it fit would be ok. Idiots. As you can see, I had to shim the new furring strips quite a bit, and they're still not plumb. This is so much fun!

Lumber - I've now replaced every 2x4 PT I put in and some of the old ones they used to "fix" the termite damage some time ago. They're all crap.
6/25/10 - Got a few hours in during the week, mostly spent "detailing" the drywall. Mostly the ceiling. Actually attempted texturing the ceiling over the shower with a "pro" can of texture. 125 sq feet my ass. I couldn't even get 24 sq ft textured worth a damn with this stuff after letting it sit in hot water for a while to over pressurize it. I borrowed a texture gun from a friend (thanks George) and a compressor from another (thanks Jeff) and set to texturing the entire room today.

After spending an hour trying to get the mix right, the pressure, the nozzle, etc all in tune with each other (in 95 degree 2pm weather), I set upon this adventure. First, the mixing instructions for the "batter" were pretty lame. I was using the texturing mix off the shelf of HD, only $12 a bag compared to $16 a can of the ready to go stuff. The instructions were 1 to 1 1/12 gallons of water per bag. This wasn't a big bag of mix, which made for a pretty wide range of mixing. So I started out thick. Made a thorough mess. After trying different mixes and nozzles, it finally dawned upon me to read the instructions of the texturing gun. Amazing - had the pressure settings, trigger pull and everything. Except for the mix - "a little thicker then latex paint"???

So I turned the pressure down to 35 and thinned the mix down to more of a "pancake batter" thickness and looks good enough to drag it inside and give it a go. Half hour later, done. Some spots came out a little heavy, but all in all, looks fairly good. I will say, I thought I did a great job on the ceiling (patching wise), really have to look to see it had a lot of seams.

Also spent many hours working on the furring strips. The north wall is so out of plumb, I can forget trying to make it so. I'm now going to concentrate on making each strip vertically the same. this way, I won't have to use 3/4" shims. The plan is to get backer board up this weekend.

Got the window done Monday. Monty did an outstanding job. In one day too. Really cut down on more light than expected. Not much I can do about that now. I do have to comment on American Craftsman windows. I have used them on all the windows so far, and I have now gotten 5 windows now with at least one weep hole upside down. Some with one upside down, some with both. Who is putting these things together (same guy that laid my cinder blocks?)? Where is the quality control? I've gotten screens that don't even cover the openings too. Really poor quality control here.
6/28/10 - Spent the weekend painting (Xiang) & priming and putting up the backer board. I don't care what anyone says - fiberock does NOT just score and snap. If you are using it and the score and snap method, expect some rough edges. So I resorted to using the jigsaw - not too messy, not the straightest either, but lots easier. Especially once I figured out which side is up (after installing the 1st 2 pieces). Sure seemed to get heavier than when I unloaded it.

7/4/10 - Spent most of last week doing my best to make my walls somewhat plumb and finishing off the backer board. Plumber came in Thursday and installed the pan, so I had to stay out of the room that night due to the fumes from the the glue he used.

I have to say once again, I'm very happy with the ceiling and the wall texturing/patching (strains arm patting self on back). I had to hit Floor and Decor (the tile store) once again for 2 more pieces of fiberock and while I was there, I picked up some floor "mud". The guy I spoke with was extremely helpful with discussing my project and tips on moving on to the next phase. I also picked up some concrete blocks for the bench. I wasn't foreseeing a lot of board cutting with the forecast for rain.

I spent all afternoon finishing up the boards between showers. Got them all done except for the window frame and one wall edge. After dinner, I moved on to installing the bench.

For the bench, I used 4 - 8 x 8 x 16s, 5 - 4 x 8 x 16s and 6 - 2 x 8 x 16s. The extra 2x8s were for "fill rubble" if needed. I tried to follow John Bridge's instructions from his site. Good source of info you are like me and figuring it out as you go. I leveled every block side to side as I put them in, and kept a slope from back to front as I went. Got tired mixing mortar in the rain and had to stop prior to finishing off the front, but I'm happy with it so far.

Here's a bunch of pics form the last week. I also redid the sketchup so I can get a good idea of where we stood on tile.
7/8/10 - I've finished off the bench, removed the remaining old thinset and did the mud bed. If I never do another mud bed, it wouldn't bother me a bit. However, if you have a healthy back, enjoy mixing 55lb bags of mortar very dry (in 90 degree temps) and hauling in to your project area then spreading it, it might be for you. Not me. I tried the "goof" strips, they gave me a decent guide to go by, but unless your shower drain is perfectly centered, it could come out uneven as mine did on the first attempt.

Of course, I was 1 bag of mix short, and had to go get another one. As I was getting ready to actually start tiling, I've determined that I'm going to "mud" the side of the slab (curb) for extra rigidity for the tile. I can't see thinset holding up for years directly on the pan. But that brings up a new problem - I built the wall to be flush with the slab without thinking about this issue. I'm leaning towards adding a couple of backer boards to bring the thickness into line with the mud I put in. My mud bed also comes right up to the backer board bottom and I'm concerned about it wicking. I think I'm going to remove them and trim them up a bit.
7/10/10 - Ended up using some 1x4's and installed them on top of the backer board in place on the wall in question. I then added backer board to it. Overall, added about 1 1/4" to the wall. I then cut a 2x4 to length along with some shorter pieces to hold my "mold" in place. Mixed up half a bag of mortar and packed it into the "mold". Made it a little on the wet side to make sure there weren't any air pockets too.

I also removed the bottom row of backer boards along the wall and cut off the bottom 1" to prevent any wicking, since they were behind the mud base. Why chance it?

This window sill will NOT leak!
7/12/10 - Started tiling yesterday, got most of the first 2 rows up. I have discovered getting large travertine (16 x 16) even is a pain in the ass. Got a wet saw from a friend at work today, this shall make it a tad easier considering how many cuts I need to do. I spent the first 2 hours cutting, then I got most of rest of the second row and some bullnose up.

7/18/10 - Busted my rear all day Sat and Sun taking my time getting the niche and the window done. Used a lot of bullnose, gonna have to buy some more to finish. I'm not really liking the shower valve - looks crooked. Got the sinks in, we'll get to the cabinets very soon.

We also had to rethink the mosaic, with the window change, we had to go one row higher on the 16 x 16. Otherwise the mosaic would of been to close under the window. We started to have some doubts about the "trim" being too high. We went with 4" instead of 6". Looks like it worked out good.
7/25/10 - Got on a good roll this week and got the shower tiled for the most part. Did the floor today, not 100% satisfied with the job, but it's going to do. We got out of line somewhere along the line and never fixed it. But, it's done. Now have to do the bottom row of tile.

Went to put the cabinets in and discovered I measured the placement of the lights without thinking of the sink placement. So, now the lights are off center by almost 8". I started to correct his this afternoon by promptly shoving a fairly new, sharp screwdriver into my hand. Lot's of blood. After all, it's been almost 2 months since I seriously injured myself.

The priority this next week will be lights moved, cabinets installed, shower tile completed and grout done.
8/5/10 - The wrap-up of this last week...

Spent a few nights doing the bottom row of tile around the shower floor, then we had fun doing grout!

Got the lights moved without any more blood. Next time, we'll get everything a little more thoroughly panned. Got the granite installed on Thursday, it's a tad darker than we were thinking, but it looks great. I'm not sure about the seat in the shower though. Wish they would of cut it with the grain matching the counter. Sigh.

The sinks are really heavy, there seems to be some concern over the weight. I'm not touching them, I hope he used enough of whatever he was using to glue it with. Which raises the issue of the poor silicone job around the edges.

Xiang and I worked on the floor Friday night and Saturday. Ended up 6 pieces short, so we'll have to finish on Sunday, grout Monday, plumber Tues or Weds.

Getting closer...
8/16/10 - Over the last week, we've finished the floor, sealed everything (twice), put up all the trim, replaced the door molding. now we're waiting on the plumber to come finish up.
8/22/10 - Plumber came yesterday and we now have water!!! Love the new Danze faucets. No aerators, which allows the water to flow nicely. Still appear too have a flow restrictor, but it's perfect. As far as the shower heads go, We got a Danze 8" rain head and a 3" multi-function for the wall. The 3" for the wall is not very good. The regular spray is way to wide to be effective. The massage seems ok, but then again, I've never been a dig shower head massage guy.
As for the rain head, at some point, we'll going to be going bigger. It's not big enough to get that "drenching" feeling I was after. But it works for now. Now it's time to get the handles on the door and argue with glass guys over pricing for the glass doors we want to put in.
Almost forgot, we had a recirculating pump put in to give us hot water quicker. This morning's test failed, but it did seem to provide it quicker than what it was before. But for $350, I'm not satisfied...yet. Will probably have to play with the settings a bit.

We still need to; 1) install glass doors, 2) install cabinet handles, 3) get mirrors re cut and installed, 4) add towel racks/hangers, 5) paint/replace door. I'm sure there are more items, but most are small and there is no rush at this point. I'm tired.
10/8/10 - Been a tad lazy with the site lately, so I thought I'd drop a few notes.
  • We still don't have glass doors. The $5 curtain is fine for now. Thought I'd pay down what we already spent a bit (which I haven't been brave enough to calculate yet).
  • The recirculating pump is clearly not worth the cost. When you figure in rebates and a new electrical line, it probably would of been a wash for an instant water heater. It is better than what it was before without it though.
  • Got the drawer pulls installed. I tried to be very methodical, there was no fix if I mis-measured somewhere. I'll detail the steps for those of you who are wondering how.
  • Mirrors are installed. A lot easier than I though it would be. Granted, I was a bit nervous after letting go, but nothing crashed in the middle of the night.
  • I retrofitted the door. I painted it, installed new hinges, a handle and tower hangers. Certainly a lot better than trying to chisel out hinge "spots".
  • I swapped out the Danze 3" wall head with a Water Pick 4" with 8 functions. This head kicks butt! With both shower heads going, it's the most awesome showers I've ever taken.
I can now make the following observations from this project:
  • Do not buy tile until you are ready to install it. Especially stone. Things change during demo and build out.
  • Using Google Sketchup takes a little work, but really helps with knowing how much tile and 3-D ideas. When planning, actually use the cabinets (measurements) you plan on using.
  • Pressure treated 2-bys suck. A Lot.
  • If you are re-using your mirrors and may cut them, waiting until you are ready to put them back in before getting them cut down. Things change.
  • Spend them money if you want faster hot water and get an instant hot water appliance.
  • Get the high end exhaust fan. Clears out the steam fast.
  • When setting the first row (or any for that matter) with large stone - TAKE YOUR TIME AND DO IT RIGHT! The rest of the project will show any errors.
  • I highly recommend the rain shower head. Get the largest you can afford. We got an 8", and I'm thinking 12" would be perfect.
  • A 10 "power" toilet is awesome.
  • A niche looks cool, but it's borderline whether it's a) useful, b) worth the tiling fun you will have putting it in. If you choose to use one, go with the single (we had a "double").
Here's some pics:
10/17/10 - We added some LEDs for under the cabs last week that we got from Ikea.