This week… we demo’ed the bathroom. Everything functional about it is gone-zo. Cleared out. Sayonara. The old bathtub sits in the driveway, the toilet in the basement, and the sink in my living room. This has left me brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink, using the cold basement toilet, and, um, not showering (we can borrow other people’s bathrooms of course, but without a doubt, there’s a major effort taking place to get our new bathtub installed ASAP). Self-imposed inconveniences aside, gutting a room can be great fun.
Like any previous demolition either of us has undertaken, there are always bound to be snags in the plan. Abundant snags (we’re still working to find some solutions, too).
To remind you what the bathroom looked like before we got to tearing the room apart, here are some photos:
Taupe fiberglass tub and enclosure:
Economy-style vanity and sink. And an awkward storage unit that tilts to the left. And amazingly inexpensive and poorly constructed baseboard and window trim.
Worn out vinyl tiles:
It goes without saying, I was eager to start smashing things with a hammer… after I removed the fiberglass shower, of course. The goal was to work on this renovation at a good steady clip so we didn’t have to borrow showers for too long. Fortunately, there’s a spare toilet in the basement that we fixed up last winter. Clearing the belongings out of the bathroom made it look more like it did when I moved in originally, very stark and bare, except gray and not teal.
First, I removed the baseboards and shower enclosure.
Not surprisingly (based on the other questionable construction decisions made in the bathroom), the tub was attached to the studs with 2 nails on the right end and 5 screws in the other, so it came apart quite easily. I spared nothing at the opportunity to tear it to shreds while I blasted music and let the dog watch on. (If it was remotely salvageable, I definitely would have been more careful and donated it, but this thing was gunky and junky.)
A few surprising finds from the tub demo:
The old lath and plaster walls that were used in the old tub surround were never removed when the room was last renovated. In the blue of this photo, you can see how with the original construction, the plaster was stamped to look like tiles mocked in position for the tub surround.
The undisturbed original house walls were still full of insulation (1 wall is an outside wall, 1 wall faces a gold attic space). No need to install new insulation (the room has held it’s temperature nicely during the demo to-date).
There was NO MOLD. I would have lost big if I were a gamblin’ girl. A little bit of water damage, yes, but nothing severe, and considering there were cracks like this next one I photographed, I’m quite surprised.
The vanity came out easily once the plumbing was disconnected, and hopefully, I’ll be able to sell it online (if not, donate pile!) because it’s still in reusable condition. The wall behind the vanity, however, not nice. But it’s nice to be starting fresh.
The floors in the bathroom always seemed a little wonky (hence the leaning tower of towels on the rack in a previous picture). As we began to pull up tiles and underlayment, we began to see why it was like that. It seems that the sink vanity used to be hooked up in a different location, and when it was moved the floor wasn’t correctly evened back out (and according to our level, it was a 7/8″ dip over 4-feet!).
I’m hopeful that we can leave the floor closed up because perhaps the most exciting find of demo day happened while we were busily prying underlayment beneath the tiles was the original hardwood floor, continuing in from the hallway.
The hardwoods were nice when the house was new, I suspect (the 1940s) but over the decades, it has been affected by layers of tile, adhesives, and hack jobs. This made us change our plans a little bit – instead of trying to find the original joists beneath the bathroom and level the floor, we stopped at the hardwoods and left them intact.
Me, sad face, wish I could have a hardwood bathroom floor (though it doesn’t seem practical).
Clean-up entailed a lot of staple pulling, but we managed to get the floor in good shape on Day 1. It’s ready for a new layer of underlayment and new tile.
Side note: I was aware where electrical lines and plumbing ran inn the walls, and because we didn’t end up pulling up the floor entirely, there was little concern about accidentally breaking a pipe. Be careful when you demo.
The only totally unexpected event of Demo Day was that we removed the toilet. I hadn’t planned on replacing it, but the marble block that the toilet was well-caulked to has really seen its day, so we decided that we’d try and cover up that marble with underlayment and tile up to the base, meaning we had to remove the toilet to get access, and it was easier to remove the toilet and clean up that part of the room in step with the rest of the floor.
So, this is what we’re stuck with right now: A gutted, barren bathroom (the only full bath in the house, too).
Wish me luck as I continue on my first bathroom renovation journey.
To read more stories about this renovation: