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Archive for the ‘Remodeling’ Category

Kids’ Bathroom Remodel

Oftentimes, big remodels start off as something small. In my case, it was some chipped paint on the tub. I figured I could spend a few hundred bucks to have someone refinish this tub, which had been painted pink by a previous home owner.

But when speaking with the tub refinisher, he suggested that I just get a new tub. It’ll end up costing about the same anyway.

So that’s how it begins. New tub means new shower tiles. And if you’re going to replace the tiles, you might as well replace the floor tiles which means that the sink and vanity need to come out. New shower fixtures will need to get plumbed. And while I’m at it, I should add an electrical socket and a new light over the shower area. I can keep the toilet, though. It’s still in good shape.

It was time. The old bathroom was peach pink with cracking tile, chipping paint, and old fixtures.

So right around Mother’s Day, I began the destruction. I would start off in the shower area so the kids could still have a working sink during demolition. There’s no real trick to demolition other than wearing proper protection and having a strong back. Tile on top of concrete with chicken wire can get pretty heavy.

With the tub walls stripped, it was time to take out the vanity and tile floor. Again, plenty of heavy lifting, chiseling, and prying. When I got to the subfloor, I noticed some significant dry rot on both the studs and floor itself.

This damage obviously needed to get patched up, which I did.

These are the types of things that you can’t anticipate before the job but inevitably show up whenever you’re doing a remodel on an older home.

With the repairs done, I hired some plumbers to remove the old tub, install the rough-in for the new shower fixtures, and install the new tub. I then was able to start putting the cement board up around the tub area.

In this phase of the project, I realized how hard it was to work with 1/2 inch thick Hardie Backer boards. These cement boards are extremely difficult to score and cut and it’s not recommended to use power tools for cutting because the dust is really nasty. The floor was a bit easier because I used 1/4 inch cement board, which was easier to cut.

Next came the cutting of porcelain tile. There were a couple challenges here. First, the tiles we selected were really large: 17×39 inches. That meant they didn’t fit in standard tile saws. Second, it was porcelain, which is an extremely hard material. It’s harder than granite, so normal ceramic tile blades simply wouldn’t cut it. So I had to buy a special diamond-bladed wet/dry hand saw and set up complicated jigs to cut these tiles. Fortunately, since they were large, I didn’t have too many cuts.

I think the floor turned out pretty nice.

With the floor in, I was able to install the new glass-topped double sink vanity. This bad boy was extremely heavy so it was no easy feat moving this thing by myself. Since it was a glass top, I added some cool lighting inside the vanity so at night, you can see the light glow through. You can’t see that effect in these photos, but trust me, it’s cool. I also found some neat glass tile that I used for the backsplash.

Now that the vanity and toilet were installed and working, the bathroom was semi-functional for the kids.

Next came the shower stall tiling. We chose large-format white porcelain tiles with this cool cube texture. Again, cool look but a real pain to cut. I chose to run the tiles up to the ceiling. Here’s a close-up of the tile texture.

The trick to this part of the project was making sure all the walls were plumb. With an old house, 90-degree corners, plumb walls, and level floors are very rare. Our house was certainly no exception and I had to shim one wall almost half an inch to get it vertical. That was a lot of work. Here’s how it turned out.

I also installed a cubby hole which required a lot of odd-angle cuts and miters.

The Hansgrohe fixtures we installed are really slick. We love them.

In the end, this project took up most of my weekends from May through June but we’re really happy how it turned out.

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Stone Tile Veneer Facade

As many of you know, I like to do remodeling projects on my home. Last year, I had remodeled two of our bathrooms and this year, I put in a new front door.

Most recently, I just completed laying a stone tile facade over existing brick in front of my house.

The brick was in good shape but I just didn’t care for the brick look. Here’s how it looked before:

Brick face in front of the house

In addition to the two brick columns bordering the garage, I had a half wall of brick next to our front door.

Brick next to front door

So I purchased some thin stone veneer from RealStone Systems. Most of the pieces I ordered were corner units, as I had a lot of corners to cover. This stone veneer comes in 6″ x 24″ flat tiles and cost a little over $6 per square foot. Corners come in two pieces.

The tiles are over an inch thick, so I rented a large wet tile saw at the local Home Depot ($55/day) and bought 360 pounds of type-S mortar. (I also tweaked my back a bit lifting those 80 lb. bags.) What’s nice about these tiles is that you can apply them straight onto the brick. No scratch coat required. But with all the corners, there was a lot of cutting.

Here’s how it turned out. It took me and another helper two full days to complete the job.

Stone veneer next to the door


New stone columns


Stone close up

While there’s no grouting necessary, we did apply a bit of extra mortar to cover any gaps or large seams. One tip: make sure to keep a wet sponge handy as you apply the stone to wipe off any excess mortar. Once that stuff dries, it takes a lot more work to scrub it off the tile.

How much did this cost? Stone was a bit over $1,000 delivered + labor + tile saw + mortar = $1,500.

Let me know what you think.

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