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Master Bathroom Reveal!!

The summer has come and gone and I have not updated my loyal blog readers once.  I’m sorry for the lack of updates.  From weddings to weekend trips to just being a little lazier over the summer, I was not ready to post a new entry. We also got so close to finishing the bathroom that I did not want to do an update until I was ready to do the big reveal with before and after shots.  Last weekend, we finally finished the last bit of the master bathroom.

Before getting to the bathroom – there were some minor house improvements we did during the summer as well.  One involved overgrown ivy.  This ivy took over our backyard fence and neighbors fence. We kept looking at it and thinking, “we should do something about that.”  Finally, in August, I got the hedge shears and went to work.  I would have gotten it all done in one day, but there were flowers on this ivy (maybe not actually ivy?) and there were a lot of wasps LOVING the flowers.  So I got about 75% of the way done and had to stop in fear of being stung to death. The next day it was drizzling and I decided it was my best time to attack the rest. I finished destroying the vines and we have a fence again!  Another small project was adding solar-powered lights along the front walkway up to the house.  I just had to measure out the locations and put in the lights. Easy-peasy.  I love the new look too.

Before 1

Before 1

Before 2

Before 2

After 1 (Look - there is a FENCE under that!)

After 1 (Look – there is a FENCE under that!)

After 2

After 2

The solar-powered lights in place!

The solar-powered lights in place!

View from the house

View from the house

Lights at night!

Lights at night!

Now – back to the bathroom. Since the last post, we have done a lot of little changes to the bathroom.  Most of them were uneventful, such as adding a toilet paper roll holder, a hand towel rack, a new landing strip and new blinds.  We fixed up the walls that were destroyed when putting the sink counter top in place and touched up the paint.  Jim put silicone along the edges of the shower, the toilet base, and the sink.  We added a new vent cover and sealed the granite counter top. We put the handles on the vanity in the bathroom and added the holder for the hand sprayer in the shower.  The shower door was also installed which really made the bathroom really come together. None of these would have made for very exciting blog posts, but were necessary for us to finish off the bathroom.

New toilet paper holder roll

New toilet paper holder roll

Knobs for the vanity

Knobs for the vanity

Hand towel rack

Hand towel rack

Holder for hand sprayer!

Holder for hand sprayer!

New landing strip

New landing strip

New vent cover

New vent cover

New blinds

New blinds

The biggest project we did over the summer was adding backsplash above the sink.  Jim did most of it himself because it is such a small space in the bathroom. In an attempt to make this an easier tiling experience, Jim bought tile adhesive sheets instead of mortar.  These are basically sheets of adhesive material that you up on the tile and then they stick on the wall.  This saves the step of mixing the mortar and fighting gravity to put it on the wall. You also don’t need to wait for it to dry.  The only problem ended up being that the adhesive was SUPER sticky. Overall, this is good because that means the tiles will not fall off of the wall once put in place, but it also that meant you basically can’t make an error. As soon as the tile was down, it was stuck.  Jim made an error that resulted in pulling part of the drywall off in order to remove the tile.  He learned his lesson and made no more errors.  He also bought already made grout to save some time as well.  This ended up being very hard to get off the tile (its only supposed to be in the joints).  Overall, the “time savers” didn’t save us much time.  It is unlikely we would use instant grout again. Now that we learned of the stickiness of the adhesive sheets, we might still use those for small tiling projects like a back splash, but never for anything big.  Once the backsplash was complete, the sink area looked awesome.  We picked blue tiles to add some color to the bathroom.

Another small project we did was add tiling and grout to a thin area by the window.  It lines the shower.  We needed to do this because the window was not installed straight.  Therefore, when we put the shower tiles in place and straightened them, them covered a little bit of the window. So Jim thought of the idea of putting thin tile along the window to fix the problem. It worked perfectly and one would never guess the problem we had with our crooked window.

Tile along the window

Tile along the window

Close-up of the tiling

Close-up of the tiling

The last project in the bathroom had to do with the exhaust fan.  The original bathroom did not have an exhaust fan.  We already installed the exhaust fan and hooked up the electricity, but there was nothing for it to vent into.  We needed to add a duct for the air to be sucked into and pushed out of the roof.  This meant going on the roof and cutting a hole.  Jim first went into the attic and drilled a nail through the roof so he would know where to cut the hole for the vent. Then we climbed out of the bathroom window onto the garage roof.  We brought the tools and the ladder.  At the peak of the garage roof, the ladder was able to be steadied and Jim climbed up onto the house’s roof.  I stayed on the garage roof, held the ladder, and handed Jim tools as needed.  Jim cut a hole in the roof the size of the vent. He lifted up the shingles around the hole so he could place the vent cover in place.   Once everything was in place, Jim used roofing tar to seal everything.  He did such an amazing job.  I couldn’t believe how brave he was to even try installing this on his own. While we were on the roof, we also removed an ugly satellite dish left on the roof by the previous owners.  Once everything was done, Jim had to go back into the attic one more time to attach the duct to the exhaust fan.  With that attachment, the master bathroom was officially finished!

The window in the bathroom out to the roof

The window in the bathroom out to the roof

Ladder on the roof of the garage

Ladder on the roof of the garage

Jim getting to work on the roof!

Jim getting to work on the roof!

View of the front yard from the roof

View of the front yard from the roof

Another view from the roof

Another view from the roof

Jim putting the vent cover in place

Jim putting the vent cover in place

Jim posing with his finished work!

Jim posing with his finished work!

The vent cover in place!

The vent cover in place!

Ugly satellitte dish

Ugly satellite dish

Jim undoing it

Jim undoing it

The dish is gone

Only the base is left

All gone!

All gone!

We have been enjoying using our brand new bathroom.  The heated floors, timed exhaust fan, and shower with different sprayers have been the highlights of the bathroom for me.  It is still on the small side, but it is the luxury side of small!

Time for before and after pictures:

IMG_0757

Before – wall near the window

After - Wall by the window

Now – wall by the window

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Before – old mirror and hideous light fixture

Now - Awesome backsplash with mirror, light fixture, and sink!

Now – awesome backsplash with mirror, light fixture, and sink basin!

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Before – old ugly counter top and vanity

Now - new vanity and counter top!

Now – new vanity and counter top!

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Before – view from shower

Now - view from the shower!

Now – view from the shower!

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Before – old plain white bathroom

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Another view of before!

The NEW bathroom!

Now – the NEW, bright, beautiful bathroom!

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Functional Bathroom

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Since the completion of putting the tiles in place, we have made some big strides towards finishing the master bathroom.  The first thing we tackled was putting our shower panel in place.

You may remember that this shower panel gave us a lot of headaches with the permit inspector.  In the end, we won the battle with the inspector, so it was fine to put the panel in place.  We knew that the panel needed to hang on brackets that are screwed into the wall, so before we put the drywall up, we installed a horizontal 2 by 4 at the heights we would need to screw in the two brackets.  Now that the tile was in place, we need to drill through the tile in order to screw in the brackets.  Drilling through tiles requires a special type of drill bit.  We needed to do this in the last bathroom remodel when installing the pedestal sink. We bought the perfect size drill bit (a little wider than the screw because we learned through experience that tile does not give like wood does) and got to work.  Drilling through tile is long and tiring.  Jim did the majority of the heavy lifting while I sprayed water on the tile during the drilling (trying to recreate a wet saw type drill).  We ended up putting three brackets in place (two on the top, one on the bottom), so ensure the panel stayed in place on the wall.  We also had to hook up the hoses to the water supply and make sure there was no leaking. At first, we did this before screwing on the brackets (so we could see exactly where the brackets needed to be.  The problem was the panel had to be away from the wall while we drilled.  We came up with an apparatus to hold the panel in place.  After the first bracket, we disconnected the shower panel to screw in the rest.   The grout we used on the tile has a special grout boost that is not supposed to get wet for 10 days after installation.  Therefore in order to test the shower panel, we grabbed a bucket and a bunch of towels.  It worked!  Success!

The panel with all the knobs and body sprayers!

The panel with all the knobs and body sprayers!

Close-up of the panel!

Close-up of the panel!

Rain shower head

Rain shower head

Hand-held sprayer (we haven't screwed in the holder for it yet)

Hand-held sprayer (we haven’t screwed in the holder for it yet)

Most of the panel I could get in a picture (the space is limiting for picture-taking)

Most of the panel I could get in a picture (the space is limiting for picture-taking)

View of the shower - it just needs the glass door!

View of the shower – it just needs the glass door!

Last one!

Last one!

The next step towards a functional bathroom was installing the toilet.  We bought the same toilet we installed in the downstairs bathroom since we liked it.  Therefore, putting it together was pretty easy.  The only hiccup we encountered was that a regular size wax ring (what you put between the toilet base and waste pipe to make an air tight seal) was too short.  With the extra height of the mortar and tile, the wax ring was not sealing.  Luckily, Home Depot sells extra large wax rings which worked perfectly.  After a few easy steps, the toilet was installed and working!

Toilet all set up!

Toilet all set up!

We already had the vanity in place, but we needed a counter top.  We had decided on a vessel sink which we already had, so we had planned to get a granite counter top.  Since it was such a small space, we thought we could get a discount on the granite slab we needed.  If it was extra granite from a previous job, the company wouldn’t have much use for it.  We also believed we could install it ourselves, so all they had to do was finish one side and cut out two holes.  After going to two places and getting really high estimates, we went back to the place that did our kitchen counters (I’m not sure why Jim wanted to try the other places first since we had a good experience in the kitchen).  They gave us a granite counter top for more than half of what the other places quoted us.  We also liked the color granite better.  A few days after we ordered it, we were able to pick it up.  The literal picking up of the granite wasn’t super easy, but between Jim and me, we were able to get the granite out of the trunk of his car and up to the master bathroom.  Next came the hard part.  The available space above the vanity is 36 1/8 inches. Therefore, Jim had the granite guys cut the slab to 36 inches.  This gave us some wiggle room, but too much space that there would be a huge space between the wall and the granite.  Well…we thought it gave us some wiggle room. Turns out, an 1/8 inch doesn’t leave much room to wiggle.  The problem was that the walls were not perfectly straight, so the granite did not just slide into place.  It took a lot of effort to get the granite on top of the vanity.  The wall ended up taking a serious beating.  Every time we had to shimmy the granite one way, the wall would get ripped up a little.  The granite slab got stuck a few times, but Jim was able to dislodge it every time.  After about 30 minutes, we got the granite slab in place.  We had a counter top!!  The wall was hurting a little, but with a little TLC (spackle, sanding, and paint), it would be like new again.

The counter top on the vanity!

The counter top on the vanity!

Another view

Another view

Picture from up high!

Picture from up high!

The walls all beat up

The walls all beat up

Wall scrapped up on the other side

Wall scrapped up on the other side

Once we had a counter top, Jim was able to get to work installing the vessel sink, faucet, and sink plumbing.  It took some effort tightening the pipes under the sink to make sure there was no leaking, but overall, Jim didn’t have any problems.  The sink was now completely functional!

Installed!

Installed!

Close-up of vessel sink and facuet

Close-up of vessel sink and faucet

Trying to get a picture of the whole vanity

Trying to get a picture of the whole vanity

The sink with medicine cabinet and lights!

The sink with medicine cabinet and lights!

We are getting close to finishing the master bathroom!  Can’t wait for the final reveal!

I’ve Got Tiling On My Mind

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It has been a long time since I updated you on our progress in the master bathroom.  I am sure you have been eagerly awaiting an update from me. I promise you that we have not been slacking off but slowly…very slowly….making progress on the bathroom.
We finished applying the KERDI in the shower shortly after my last post, but it wasn’t done in one more go like I expected. In addition to applying KERDI on the spots we hadn’t covered yet, we had to apply the corner KERDI that covers all the edges where to sheets of KERDI meet.
The last of the KERDI

The last of the KERDI

Floor of the shower all waterproofed

Floor of the shower all waterproofed

The half wall finished

The half wall finished

The step waterproofed

The step waterproofed

View of the shower all KERDI-ed up

View of the shower all KERDI-ed up

Since it has been weeks since I wrote, a lot of what we have done has blended into one.  The smaller things such as painting the walls and ceiling (we had only primed the last post), testing the waterproofing, and adding the medicine cabinet were pretty uneventful. To test the waterproof, we stopped the shower drain and poured water into the base of the shower.  Jim marked the top of the water line and we checked 24 hours later. The water was still at the line which meant our shower was completely waterproof.  Phew.
The painted wall - we used a shade of white, so it is hard to tell the difference from the primer

The painted wall – we used a shade of white, so it is hard to tell the difference from the primer

The outlet, light switches, and themometer for the heating floor all in place!

The outlet, light switches, and themometer for the heating floor all in place!

Medicine cabinet in place! (we haven't taken the protective sheet off the mirror yet)

Medicine cabinet in place! (we haven’t taken the protective sheet off the mirror yet)

Water resting in the base of the shower for the waterproofing - all set!

Water resting in the base of the shower for the waterproofing – all set!

At some point in the past few weeks, we started tiling. We ended up buying a wet saw. If you don’t remember from the kitchen tiling, a wet saw is similar to a table saw except it shoots out water while you are cutting to prevent the tiling from cracking and prevent sparks/fire (metal against stone at a very high-speed).  We have rented a wet saw in the past when we have had to tile. In order to ensure we only rented it for one day, we would measure out all the pieces that needed to be cut beforehand and then just quickly cut them all in one evening.  This time, we had gravity working against us.  We could not dry fit all the tiles to see which tiles needed to be cut where since we were tiling the shower walls. In addition, the tiles we ordered were 24″ by 12″ tiles, which meant we had to cut the majority of the tiles. It made more sense to buy a wet saw so we could take our time and be precise about each measurement.  Also so Jim could have another cool saw to add to his collection.
Since I have already written about tiling before, you may remember the steps – 1) apply mortar onto wall/floor 2) apply tile onto mortar 3) level tile 4) insert spaces 5) repeat.  Once all the tiles are in place, the next step is applying the grout – 1) apply grout 2) smooth out grout with damp sponge that can’t have any dripping water 3) wipe tiles of any extra grout. If only the actual steps were as quick to complete as they are to write.
Instead of boring you with all the details about our weeks of tiling, I’ll just list a few highlights and lessons learned.
1) When tiling vertically, gravity sucks.  Not only could we not dry fit all our tiles, when applying mortar on the wall, globs kept falling to the floor.
2) Shower spaces are tiny.  Jim and I normally split up the tiling jobs – he applies the mortar and then I add the tile and work on leveling. In this instance, Jim had to do both jobs and I just handed him the tiles.  I felt pretty useless for a lot of this.
3) Tiling around built-in shelves is HARD.  We created three built-in shelves for our shower. With the bigger tiles, Jim had to cut out squares on the tiles so they could fit around the shelves.  We also had to add trim on the edges of the tiles since they will show on the shelves.  In order to keep everything in place, we needed to use clamps and let it dry. It took us a long time to finally get all of these tiles up and in place.
Tile cut for the inside of the shelves are resting inside

Tile cut for the inside of the shelves are resting inside

The bottom row of tiles had to be put on before the next row

The bottom row of tiles had to be put on before the next row

Mosaic tile for the back of the shelves in place!

Mosaic tile for the back of the shelves in place!

Dry fitting the tile around the shelves - luckily these all stayed in place

Dry fitting the tile around the shelves – luckily these all stayed in place

The trim for the edges are cut and ready to be placed

The trim for the edges are cut and ready to be placed

Success!

Success!

One day of weekend day of work...it took a while.

One weekend day of work…it took a while.

4) Blue tape isn’t strong enough to hold dry fitted tiles in places.  We lost two tiles this way…gravity sucks.
5) 1″ by 1″ mosaic tiles and 24″ by 12″ tiles, do not require the same amount of mortar.  We knew this going into tiling. We had to buy a special trowel for the large tiles since they require more mortar to stay in place.  The amount of mortar that is underneath a tile helps to level it to the tile next to it. Since you use the same trowel, in theory, the mortar is level so the tile will be level.  The problem is that we decided to put a row of mosaics along the shower wall. Therefore these tiles, which require much less mortar and therefore a smaller trowel, would not be level to the larger tile if we did not use the same amount of mortar.  Our first attempt at this problem was to try to put the mosaics on using the same trowel and to try to level it ourselves. The end result did not turn out well. From far away it looked ok, but from up close, you could see that all the tiles were uneven.  Jim scraped all the mosaics off of the wall – which was no easy task. Then he came up with the idea to use the left over KERDI to level the tiles. The plan was to apply three layers of KERDI under the mosaics to help level the mosaics to the large tiles.  Unfortunately, three levels of KERDI has to be done over three days since the mortar needs to dry after each layer.  Luckily, my husband’s genius solution worked and our mosaic lines up well with the large tiles.
Before getting to the mosaics, we tiled a lot of the walls in the shower

Before getting to the mosaics, we tiled a lot of the walls in the shower

Second wall done to the mosaics

Second wall done to the mosaics

The third wall (Jim is a master at cutting tile, look at that square cut out of the MIDDLE of a tile piece)

The third wall (Jim is a master at cutting tile, look at that square cut out of the MIDDLE of a tile piece)

Top of the third wall complete up until the mosaics

Top of the third wall complete up until the mosaics

Half wall done

Half wall done

Our cute shower step all done!

Our cute shower step all done!

The outside wall of the shower complete

The outside wall of the shower complete

A little cut out in the tile for the toilet water supply pipe

A little cut out in the tile for the toilet water supply pipe

All the walls up until the mosaic complete

All the walls up until the mosaic complete

We had to run the heating wires into the shower, it worked out pretty well

We had to run the heating wires into the shower, it worked out pretty well

You can see the wire going out of the shower

You can see the wire going out of the shower

Mosaics up!  Along with the sills for the tops of the step into the shower and the half wall

Mosaics up! Along with the sills for the tops of the step into the shower and the half wall

Close up of mosaics with the rest of the tiles around it!

Close up of mosaics with the rest of the tiles around it!

All the walls completed!

All the walls completed!

6) These tile leveling clips are awesome.  We used them both on the walls and floor. They would have made our lives easier in previous tiling situations but we didn’t discover them until now.
7) It is super hard to cut 1″ by 1″ mosaic tile, especially if they need to be cut on a diagonal. The mosaic tile we used in the kitchen and first floor bathroom were 2″ by 2″, so Jim’s fingers were at as high a risk as cutting our new mosaics.  Jim needed to use a wrench to hold the tiles. We needed to cut a lot of mosaics since those are the only tiles on the shower floor.
Before we tiled the floor, we needed to put down the heating wires so we could have heated floors.  We super glued them to the floor in a zig-zag manner.  We also put them in the shower floor.  Other then one super glue incident (Jim leaned his hand on some steaming hot glue), the wires went down easily.  Now, we had a new challenge posed with the shower floor.  With such small mosaic tiles, the wires would throw off the balance of the tiles. This would make it unpleasant to step on the shower floor – not something we wanted.  We also want to keep the built-in incline of the shower base so water drains easily.  Jim decided to put a layer of mortar over the wires so he would have a smooth surface when placing the mosaics on the tile floor.  Since Jim is a perfectionist, this process took a few days. The mortar had to dry, then be sanded, then be tested for its draining abilities. There were some areas that didn’t drain as well as we would like, so more mortar had to be added and the process started all over again.  After about three tries, it was up to snuff.  After applying all the mosaics, all the tiles were in place!
Dry fitting the tile before we put the heating wires down

Dry fitting the tile before we put the heating wires down

Heating wires in place!

Heating wires in place!

The wires in the shower

The wires in the shower

Floors completed!

Floors completed!

We only need a few tiles under the vanity

We only need a few tiles under the vanity

Everything but the shower floor completed

Everything but the shower floor completed

The layer of mortar over the heating wires in the shower

The layer of mortar over the heating wires in the shower

Mosaic on the shower floor!

Mosaic on the shower floor!

The mosaic shower floor in place! (unfortunately, this is the best picture I got before the grout)

Another view of the floor and shower!

Our last step with the tiles was to grout – as always.  We kept our normal jobs of Jim applying the grout and myself smoothing it and wiping it away.  We were on top of each other when working in the shower, but we figured it out. Jim had to finish up some of the grouting without me since I went out of town for Memorial Day. In the end, all of this time and work was worth it.  The tile looks awesome.
Shower floor complete!

Shower floor complete!

The half wall and floor

The half wall and floor

Floor completed (with a lot of tools on it as well)

Floor completed (with a lot of tools on it as well)

View of the shower (I didn't take a full view picture because we started to do more work before I took the picture and didn't want to reveal the new work)

View of the shower (I didn’t take a full view picture because we started to do more work before I took the picture and didn’t want to reveal the new work)

Shower Prep

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Progress has been slow in the recent weeks with our bathroom renovation. This mainly had to do with conflicts in our schedules that made it difficult to work on the bathroom.  After my most recent post, Jim and I went to Rehoboth Beach, DE for a few days since it was my Spring Break from work.  It was nice to relax (even though it was cold at the beach) but it took away many days we could have worked on the bathroom.  We got back on Easter and celebrated the holiday with Jim’s family.

The Monday after Easter, we got back to work.  We needed to prime the new drywall.  We took to our standard painting jobs and that went off without a hitch.  During the week, we continued to work on the bathroom but were thwarted by volleyball, CPR certification, and dinner plans. One night Jim attached the light fixture above the sink – which looks great. Another night, we painted the ceiling and got the walls in the shower area ready for water proofing.

Light fixture above the sink!

Light fixture above the sink!

Ceiling painted and complete!

Ceiling painted and complete!

Close-up of recessed light covers

Close-up of recessed light covers

All primed!

All primed!

Another view with the ceiling

Another view with the ceiling

Wall primed and ready to go!

Wall primed and ready to go!

Friday night, we put together the cabinet for the sink.  Getting the cabinet has been an ordeal.  We ordered from a “ready-to-assemble” retailer online.  This is what we did for our kitchen cabinets and it worked out well, so we did not think it would be a problem. We did not go with the same company just because we liked a cabinet from another company better. We first ordered the cabinet at over a month ago (maybe two months). We started to put it together and the bottom piece of the cabinet did not fit into the grooves on the sides of the cabinet. Jim contacted the company and after supplying proof (pictures with a tape measure up to the grooves and bottom cabinet), they sent us a new bottom piece.  When the bottom piece arrived, we quickly realized it was the exact same size as the previous bottom piece – which did not solve the problem. At first, Jim was determined to shave the piece down to make it fit but I was able to talk him out of it.  He contacted the company again who said they would send us an entirely new cabinet (again after we supplied proof of the pieces not fitting). It took another week for the cabinet to arrive and it had the SAME problem.  We could not believe it. We were ready to just return both cabinets and be done with this company, but the woman convinced Jim to give them one more chance and promised they would check to make sure the pieces fit before sending the cabinet (that is, after we sent more proof that the cabinet pieces didn’t fit in the most recent one). We finally received the cabinet this past week.  Luckily, the pieces FIT! Turns out, the grooves on the side pieces were too small and the bottom piece was the right size.  The only problem with the new cabinet was that they clearly put the cabinet together beforehand and did not worry about scratches while taking it apart.  We did have three cabinets to choose from though so we just picked the best pieces out of the bunch.  Building the cabinet was relatively easy, although the directions left more to be desired. It was basically just a few pictures of the pieces of the cabinet going together. There was no text and absolutely no pictures of the 20+ different screws involved. We were left with about 8 screws at the end of assembly, but we are pretty sure we did everything right.  We did have to make a slight alteration of the bottom back of the cabinet to make sure it fit in place in the bathroom. Remember we pushed the wall by the sink back a few inches? Well the very bottom part of that wall is slanted, so the cabinet needs to be cut at an angle to go up against the wall. Jim is a math genius who figured out all the angles perfectly and cut the cabinet without issue.  We aren’t ready to put it in place yet, but it is now ready for when we need it.

The cabinet!

The cabinet!

Saturday morning we went to pick up the tile we ordered.  It did not take too long and got us prepared for the rest of the day’s work – prepping the shower for tile. Since showers are often wet (I know, you learn something new every day), you need to waterproof the walls of a shower. There are different methods of doing this like using cement board, etc, but we decided to use the Schluter-KERDI Shower Systems.  There are different materials you can order from the company. We got the shower base which already has a built-in slope to the drain, a shower step (think of that step you always have to go over when entering a shower), and its polyethylene waterproofing membrane (a big orange waterproofing sheet). The shower base also come with a drain as well.  In addition to adding the KERDI, Jim made sure to apply silicon to all of the sections the KERDI won’t cover (the tile redi built-in shelves, the shower step, and water supply valve box).  In order to keep the KERDI in place, you must first apply mortar to the drywall and then spread the KERDI on top of the mortar.  We knew we would need a step stool to get to the top areas of the shower and did not want to put the step stool on the shower base. The shower base is made of this unusual material – sort of like a very strong styrofoam.  Therefore, we started with the top walls of the shower and then installed the base.  It was relatively uneventful although Jim quickly discovered that applying mortar to a wall is not as clean as on a floor because gravity takes the mortar off of the trowel and brings it to the floor.  Before setting the shower base in place, Jim connected the last bit of PVC pipe to the drain and shower waste pipe.  Everything went pretty smoothly.

First section of mortar

First section of mortar

Smoothing the KERDI in place

Smoothing the KERDI in place

Again

Again

First day of KERDI in the shower

First day of KERDI in the shower

Shower base in place with the KERDI on it

Shower base in place with the KERDI on it

The step going into the shower - no KERDI on it yet.

The step going into the shower – no KERDI on it yet (that hole in the wall is for the shower step we are going to add).

We stopped working around 4pm on Saturday because Jim needed to volunteer at the Rescue Station that night.  He had not been feeling well that day or the night before so he decided to take a nap before his shift.  While napping, he took his temperature and saw he had a pretty high fever.  He called in sick to the Rescue Squad and has been recovering since. Yesterday he went back to work (the paying kind) so last night we got back to work on the bathroom (our own self-inflicted kind).  Jim did the majority of the work on his own because I was weeding and planting some dahlias in the front yard by the mailbox.  Jim almost finished the rest of the KERDI. We will definitely be done at our next opportunity and then we all ready for tile!

The view of the shower (see the shaving step we added? pretty cool!)

The view of the shower (see the shaving step we added? pretty cool!)

Inside the shower - you can see the water supply lines that are ready for the shower panel

Inside the shower – you can see the water supply lines that are ready for the shower panel

Another close-up shot of inside the shower

Another close-up shot of inside the shower

Building Walls and Laying Floors

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Spring has sprung, except no one told the weather. Since our beautiful day two weekends ago, the weather has been getting colder instead of warmer.  Just yesterday, we even had the biggest amount of snow fall this year!  With the weather being uncooperative, we took a break from working in the front yard and moved our focus back to the bathroom.

Part of the plan for our new shower is to have glass doors instead of a shower curtain.  We wanted to build a half wall to close off the shower and also allow for a place for the glass door to be connected to. We measured out how long the wall should be and Jim cut out the wood.  He nailed together the frame of the wall and then we screwed it into place, drilling a hole for the water supply line to come through.  We have a pipe coming through this wall since we plan to put the toilet up against the wall and it needs access to water.  We put up one side of drywall on the wall.

Jim nailing together the frame

Jim nailing together the frame

The wall in place with one side of drywall up!

The wall in place with one side of drywall up!

The view from the other side (standing "in the shower")

The view from the other side (standing “in the shower”)

The next day, before we added the rest of drywall, we had to do a little plumbing.  The water supply line need to have a 90 degree turn so that it came out of the wall.  Luckily, with all the practice we have had so far, Jim added the turn in the pipe without much trouble.  I continued to cut the pieces of drywall while Jim worked on the pipes.  We also wanted to make sure the wall was sturdy even at its point further away from its base, so Jim added a cross beam in the frame.  With the extra beam and drywall support, the wall turned out to be very sturdy.  The last step was to add the rest of the drywall.

Cross beam in place

Cross beam in place

New turn in the pipe - perfect and ready to go!

New turn in the pipe – perfect and ready to go!

Drywall up!

Drywall up!

Wall complete

Wall complete

We started this weekend with a trip to the tile store.  We used the same store for our kitchen floor tile and backsplash   We really liked them and their selection of tile, so it was a no-brainer for us to go there to find our bathroom tile.  We needed tile for the floor and shower. We weren’t sure if everything would be the same tile or different.  We ended up being at the store for over 2 hours (mind you, this is a small store, not a big warehouse), there were just so many decisions to make.  We got tile that we are both very excited about and it should be here in 5-7 business days. Phew.

Sunday started off with us focusing on the floor.  We needed to put cement board over the subfloor so it would be ready for the tile when it arrived. We did not plan to put cement board in the shower area because we bought a base that is meant to be tiled over. That area of the bathroom will need to be water proofed and down differently than anything we have done before. Luckily, placing down cement board is old news for us.  We cut out the pieces and laid them down.  We had to cut out a hole for the waste pipe for the toilet. I measured where the hole should be on the cement board and got to work cutting it out.  When I put the cement board back in place, I saw that I measure to the wrong section in one area and the hole was about 2 inches off.  I was able to fix my error, so it was no big deal in the end.  That is why you measure twice and cut once people!  Jim prepared mortar for us to put down to keep the cement board in place.  Once he spread out the mortar, we put down the cement boards and screwed them in.  We also needed to put mortar in between the joints of the cement board and put this special tape over it.  Once it dried, there was one more layer of mortar, then the floors were  all done!

Since the cement board was down, we could now add the toilet flange.  A toilet flange is needed in order to screw a toilet into place. At first, we had a flange that would not fit well as is.  It was too long and therefore would not rest flat with the floor. Jim was able to find a different toilet flange that fit perfectly. It needed to be attached with the primer and glue like the other PVC pipes and then screwed into the subfloor, after that, it was all ready to go!

Jim spreading out the mortar

Jim spreading out the mortar

Cement board in place

Cement board in place

Cement board in place 2

Cement board in place 2

Close-up of the toilet flange

Close-up of the toilet flange

The last thing we needed to do was cut out part of the corner of the shower for our “shaving step.”  This is a little step in the shower that is designed to make shaving your legs in the shower easier (how awesome is that ladies?).  We forgot to put it into place before we put up the drywall originally so we would have to cut out part of the drywall. We had to put the shower base down so we knew the exact height of the step.  I cut out the drywall but realized there was not a good place for us to screw the step into place, so I let Jim take over.  He opened the hole in the wall a little bit more and added some 2 by 4’s behind the wall so we could screw in the step.  Due to a slope in one of the walls (something we dealt with when putting up the drywall that I forgot to mention), it created a very frustrating situation in adding the step. It needed to be level with the wall with a little slope on the top so water would not pool on the step. Jim tried many times to get it perfect.  In the end, he got it as close as he could. We plan to even it out with mortar when we put up the tiles.

IMG_0971

Shower step!

Today, we have a drywall guy at the house.  He is flattening our textured ceiling. Since we already are hiring him for that, we also told him to connect the drywall joints for us as well.  It is a longer (and therefore more expensive) job than if he just did the ceiling, but it will ensure flat and even walls throughout the bathroom.  This is really becoming a room!

One last shot of the texture ceilling

One last shot of the texture ceiling

The room before the drywall guy came

The room before the drywall guy came

The FLAT ceiling after the drywall guy was done!

The FLAT ceiling after the drywall guy was done!

Finished walls!

Finished walls!

Inspection Impossible

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I have been seriously slacking on updating the blog in the past two weeks.  My ending sentiment on my previous post was a hopeful send off of passing our inspection Monday morning.  Well, things didn’t go quite as planned.

The inspector approved all the electrical, plumbing work, and water supply, but had a question about the shower panel we planned to install.  He claimed that if the panel did not have the performance standard ASSE 1016 stamped on it, then we would have to install a mixing valve with the supply pipes.  The point of the mixing valve and the ASSE 1016 is that it prevents the hot water from scalding someone when taking a shower. Jim and the inspector searched our shower panel and could not find the ASSE 1016 stamp. It was clear there was a stopping mechanism so the shower could not get too hot and the manual stated the maximum temperature to be 100 degree Fahrenheit, but that was not enough for the inspector.  He failed us based on the shower panel (not ANY of the work we did).  He told Jim that we could install the floor and put up drywall in other areas of the bathroom though, since all of the work we did was in compliance.

So Monday night, Jim installed the subfloor while I started to measure and cut out pieces of drywall.  Jim also added two by floors in between some wall joists so we would be able to hang up the shower panel when it did get approved (we were determined to come out on top in this situation). Tuesday, we did a little bit more drywall installation. Wednesday, we both had the day off due to the “snow-quester” storm.  We only received about 2-3 inches of snow, but finished installing a lot of the drywall.

Our failed inspection turned into a much bigger deal than we had hoped. After calling the company who makes the shower panel, Jim found out it did not have the ASSE 1016 certification, but it did in fact prevent hot water from getting pass 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is what the inspector needed to know.  Jim started looking into adding a mixing valve with the supply pipes in case we really needed them without the ASSE 1016 certification.  The first time the inspector came out, he had told Jim that he could take some pictures of the shower panel and ask around to other inspectors what they thought of the stopping valve and if that was ok. Jim therefore prepared the shower panel to show it could not get hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (he took off the knob to show the stopping mechanism). We scheduled another inspection for Wednesday, which was cancelled due to snow, and then rescheduled for Thursday morning.  I had a delayed opening for work, so I had the opportunity to meet with the Inspector while Jim went to work.

My goal was to kill him with kindness so he wouldn’t want to fail us. I tried to charm him, but shortly after his arrival, I realized that was not happening.  He came and continued to look for the ASSE 1016 label again. He mind was single-tracked and it was as if he had never told Jim that he could ask around for other people’s opinions on if it would be ok. He told me there was no way he could pass us with a shower panel without the label. I asked about the mixing valve he previously mentioned and then he told me he was wrong about that and we could not even add a mixing valve behind the wall because that was against code. That meant it was the ASSE 1016 or bust. Apparently, NO ONE in Fairfax County VA could have this specific shower panel in their bathroom. Nothing was good enough for this guy.  Then, while looking at the shower panel, he noticed the 6 small body sprayers on the shower panel. He stated he hadn’t noticed those before and any shower with 3 or more shower heads needed a 3 inch shower drain.  We had installed a 2 inch shower drain.  Now he was going to fail us because of that.

Please keep in mind, that Monday he had told Jim that we could install the floor and drywall in most areas of the bathroom because nothing was wrong with our work.  As I stated, we already did this work prior to the inspector coming out. This is all that we did:

The new subfloor in place with two hole cut out for waste drains!

The new subfloor in place with two hole cut out for waste drains!

Jim added two by fours so when we need to hang up the shower panel, we will have something to screw into

Jim added two by fours so when we need to hang up the shower panel, we will have something to screw into

One wall in place! (The drywall is blue because it is a special "mold resistant" drywall)

One wall in place! (The drywall is blue because it is a special “mold resistant” drywall)

Wall number 2 (the brightness of the snow is messing up this picture)

Wall number 2 (the brightness of the snow is messing up this picture)

The top view of wall number 2

The top view of wall number 2

The extension of wall number two

The extension of wall number two

Wall number 3 with tile-ready shower shelves! Nothing to bang your head on in this shower!

Wall number 3 with tile-ready shower shelves! Nothing to bang your head on in this shower!

Wall number 4

Wall number 4

Little fix in the ceiling where there wasn't drywall before.

Little fix in the ceiling where there wasn’t drywall before.

Wall number 5 - the area above the sink

Wall number 5 – the area above the sink

Wall number 5 continued

Wall number 5 continued

The bottom of wall number 5...I know it doesn't look finished but since it will be behind the vanity, it does not matter that there are openings

The bottom of wall number 5…I know it doesn’t look finished but since it will be behind the vanity, it does not matter that there are openings

Now he is trying to tell us that if we were able to get this shower panel approved, we would have to rip up the floor and redo all of our plumbing pipes so we could have a 3 inch drain for our multiple shower heads. It did not matter to him that the same two supply lines were all that was going to be providing the water. Without adding MORE supply lines, the shower panel would be limited to how much water could come out of it. He stated that in the future, someone could install a water booster and more water would come out and the shower would overflow (of course if someone did this in the future, THEY would have to get a permit and inspection and he could fail them then, but that didn’t seem to matter to him).  I got his supervisor’s information and updated Jim about the inspection.  To say Jim was displeased would be the understatement of the century.  Let’s just say it was probably good that I was there with the inspector and not Jim so brawl was avoided.

Jim called the inspector.  After a “heated” conversation that did not end well, Jim called the inspector’s advisor.  The advisor was much more willing to work with us. In the end, he told Jim that if the company that makes the shower provided written confirmation about the mechanism to prevent water from getting too hot AND confirmation that a 2 inch drain is acceptable for that shower panel, then we would pass the inspection.  The company was happy to give us that confirmation and after a lot of unnecessary stress, we officially passed our inspection.  This made Jim especially please since the inspector had told him repeatedly over the phone, “I am not passing you.”

One thing that the advisor seemed to realize that the inspector did not, is that we are DIYers.  Every time we have applied for a permit, it has been because of self-reporting.  We are good, honest people who want to do right by the county and ensure the integrity of our home, so we want to follow the laws and get permits but there is nothing to stop us from not getting a permit.  The county would not know when and if we made improvements in our home and they are not about to start searching every home for DIYers who don’t get permits.  The county makes a profit every time we get a permit and if the county is going to make us jump through unnecessary hoops in order to pass inspections, we will stop getting permits and the county will stop making a profit. Luckily, it all worked out in the end, but I do think we need to request a different inspector for the next time.

Last night, we finished the last of the drywall.  It has been a week since we passed the inspection, but we got side tracked by another project (update to come on the blog).  The bathroom feels like a real room again!

The drywall in place in the ceiling

The drywall in place in the ceiling

Last wall up and in place!

Last wall up and in place!

The Monster in the Attic

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We have been busy with electricity this week.  Monday evening, Jim ventured into our attic so he could get a look at the wires currently in place in the bathroom.  The thing about our attic is that it is not an area meant for people to be moving around in.  There is no floor, so you have to walk from joist to joist so you don’t step through the 2nd floor ceiling. Also, when I say “walk” I really mean hunch over or crawl because the attic is not big enough for someone to stand in the space. The space gets smaller the closer to get to the front or the back of the house because the roof is slanted downwards to form a triangle. There are also nails coming out of the roof from the shingles being nailed on to it.  If that wasn’t bad enough, it is full of insulation that gets everywhere. Insulation is dangerous to breathe in, so Jim has to wear a face mask and goggles when going into the attic.  Oh and there are no lights up there, so it is pitch dark except where you shine the flashlight.

Knowing that we (that is a loose “we,” I have never been in the attic other than sticking my head up there to get a look and take a picture) needed to venture in the attic, Jim had the idea to bring some pieces of plywood up there to lay between joists. These sort of acted as a subfloor and allowed Jim a path to get from one side of the house to the other. Of course the master bathroom is all the way at the front of the house. So as Jim got closer to where he needed to be in the attic, the less space he had and he could no longer use the plywood to help him.

A picture of the attic - all the floating specks are put of the insulation

A picture of the attic – all the floating specks are put of the insulation

Trying to show how much the roof slants in and how little space Jim had to work

Trying to show how much the roof slants in and how little space Jim had to work

Our first course of action was to find the electrical box above the shower.  We planned to remove it and had two recessed lights above the shower instead. Since the electrical box was covered in insulation, I stood in the bathroom while Jim was in the attic and we were knocking on the ceiling to indicate where each other were.  After a little confusion and redirection, Jim found the electrical box.  At one point while he was moving around up there, I heard a noise and insulation began to fall down on me. I moved out of the way as part of the ceiling came hanging down. At this point, I started to fear Jim was going to fall through the ceiling and come crashing to the floor in front of me. We both came to the conclusion that maybe we should just cut out that part of the ceiling and then put new drywall up after the electrical was complete.

The ceiling hanging low after Jim was in the attic, it is a little hard to tell in the picture but if you look at both corners, you get a better idea of the slant

The ceiling hanging low after Jim was in the attic, it is a little hard to tell in the picture but if you look at both corners, you get a better idea of the slant

We still did not want to remove all of the ceiling though, so there were a few more things we had to do. Since we plan on installing an exhaust fan, we needed a spot to cut a hole in the ceiling for the fan. We needed to make sure there was a joist nearby so there’s somewhere to attach the exhaust fan. We had measured out about where we wanted the exhaust fan to go and put a nail into the ceiling. Jim had to try to find the nail below the insulation. This actually went by faster than the electrical box search. The nail happened to be pretty close to a joist, so we just moved it over slightly so it was up against the joist. Now we had the location of the fan planned out.  Our last step was to check out the wires near the light switch and electrical box above the sink. Since we are pushing the sink area back slightly, we also need to push back the ceiling in that area.  There was a two by 4 that was originally at the top of the previous wall that now would be in the way of the new ceiling and it had to be removed. Jim moved all the insulation out of the way so when we took it down, we wouldn’t be covered in insulation (he also tried to do this over the shower where we planned on removing the ceiling). I also needed to drill two holes up into the ceiling so that new wires could be put into place.  After this, we were thankfully done with the attic.

The new hole I drilled with the wire through it. You can also see the two by four in front of it with the old holes that we need to remove

The new hole I drilled with the wire through it. You can also see the two by four in front of it with the old holes that we need to remove

Jim back from the attic - he is covered insulation

Jim back from the attic – he is covered insulation

His back has it the worse

His back has it the worse

Striking a pose for the picture

Striking a pose for the picture

After Jim changed out of his covered-in-insulation clothing, he continued to do a few more things in the bathroom. It was getting late, so I went to go make dinner.  He took off the two by four we no longer needed, hooked up an outlet, and then decided to remove the part of the ceiling over the shower.  As I was about to get started on dinner, I hear Jim calling my name and saying he needed my help.  When I came upstairs, this is what I saw:

Even though Jim moved away as much insulation as he could when he was in the attic, so much of it can crumbling down when the ceiling was removed. Good thing Jim changed out of those dirty attic clothes...

Even though Jim moved away as much insulation as he could when he was in the attic, so much of it can crumbling down when the ceiling was removed. Good thing Jim changed out of those dirty attic clothes…

We both started to clean up all the insulation we could. It took longer than you may think. First we used our hands, then the broom, and finally the shop vac.   After all the cleaning, we called it a night.

Jim trying to get out any more insulation that may fall before we cleaned

Jim trying to get out any more insulation that may fall before we cleaned

The ceiling all gone above the shower

The ceiling all gone above the shower

The outlet Jim set up

The outlet Jim set up

He also connected the wire into the outlet box

He also connected the wire into the outlet box

The extra two by four all gone

The extra two by four all gone

Tuesday, we continued to work on electricity. We attached the last outlet box we will need (for the thermostat for the heated floors) and Jim put the housings for the recessed lights in place. I also cut out a spot for the exhaust fan to go.  I didn’t draw the exact square, just in estimate, so don’t judge my cutting job – it isn’t pretty.  Of course, when that part of the ceiling came down, so did a lot more insulation.  We only worked until about 7 because Jim had a volleyball game later that night.

Recessed light housing in place!

Recessed light housing in place!

Spot of the exhaust fan - I know it is not a square...it will be when the exhaust fan is going in though

Spot of the exhaust fan – I know it is not a square…it will be when the exhaust fan is going in though

All the electrical boxes in place and ready to go

All the electrical boxes in place and ready to go

Wednesday night called for another trip to the attic. Jim realized later on that there were some wires we still needed to run and/or move around.  There are a lot of wires that need to connect in a certain order. I think I have a pretty good grasp on it, but it isn’t worth trying to explain to you lovely readers (especially when I may explain something wrong). Jim went back up into the attic while I feed him specific wires from the bathroom.  It luckily did not take very long and Jim could come out of the attic quickly.  Jim got to work wiring the recessed lights housing while I did a few things to get the other wires ready for him. I stapled the wires already in place to the wall, pushed the wires through the electrical box, and striped the wires so they could be easily hooked up.  Once everything was in place for Jim, I stepped out of the way and let him do his thing.  About an hour and a half later, told me to turn on one of the circuits and come upstairs.  He had the recessed lights in place and working and all the electricity running to the right places. He did it perfectly. I was very impressed.  We called it a night at this point.

View of all the wires leading to one another

View of all the wires leading to one another

Light switches complete and working! Electricial box for the thermostat all wired up and ready to go!

Light switches complete and working! Electrical box for the thermostat all wired up and ready to go!

Light above the sink all ready to go

Light above the sink all ready to go

Wires ready for the exhaust fan!

Wires ready for the exhaust fan!

Working recessed lights!

Working recessed lights!

Thursday night, we did the last of the electrical work before Jim went to the station for the night.  Jim hooked up the exhaust fan and put it in to place (we have not set up the ducts for the fan yet, so we can’t turn it on to “vent” it, but electricity wise, it works great). While Jim worked on the fan, I did a few small things, such as attaching the wires for the heated floor to the thermostat and securing wires into place with nails.

Wires that will go to the floor for the thermostat in place

Wires that will go to the floor for the thermostat in place

Exhaust fan in place and wired up

Exhaust fan in place and wired up

Exhaust fan complete!

Exhaust fan complete!

We got to work almost immediately on Friday.  We were headed to NJ Saturday morning so we could go to a Jim Gaffigan show and we wanted to get the last of the plumbing done.  Jim scheduled the inspector to come on Monday to give us the ok on all our work, so all the work had to be done.  The last thing we had to do with plumbing had to do with the shower.  We bought a shower pane for our future shower. It has a rain shower head, a hand washer, and 6 body sprayers on it.  It attaches differently than a traditional shower head, so we had to set up the supply pipes to be able to attach to the new shower head. We bought a washer box for the supply lines to poke out of. The box ensures water proofing (an important factor in the shower).  We needed to move the supply lines closer together so they fit in the box.  This job should have taken us about 2 or 2 1/2 hours.  We started working at 6pm and thought it would be an easy job.  Of course, it did not work out that way.  The solder was acting funny when Jim was attaching the new pipes to the supply lines. It was not staying on the pipes and instead falling to the ground.  The solder was at the end of its roll so that may be why it was acting strange. Jim applied the flux paste with his fingers because we were out of brushes and the flux was burning making the pipes look black.  After a frustrating amount of time, the pipes appeared to be hooked up.  I went to go turn on the water supply and heard Jim screaming to turn it off.  Our first unsuccessful pipe soldering…I guess it was bound to happen.  We started all over.  We rethought a few things and changed our plan a little bit. We ended up working until 10:40 pm, not even taking a break for dinner.  Luckily, the second time was the charm and the pipes worked perfectly.

In the middle of our first attempt, supply lines are cut and read to be re-done

In the middle of our first attempt, supply lines are cut and read to be re-done

Completed second attempt - working perfectly now!

Completed second attempt – working perfectly now!