I really didn’t mean to abandon this blog, especially when I was doing such a good job of posting nearly every day. But my mom came in town last Thursday and all things Thanksgiving and Xmas shopping related have consumed my life ever since.
And of course, there was the Great Guest Bathroom Redo – Part Deux. Let me show you it.
Here’s what our guest bathroom looked like when we bought the house:
Ugly cast iron tub and ugly old blue tiles with moldy grout. Actually, these two things were the only “original” items in the house.
A jack hammer, four grown men (husband, FIL, grandpa, and step-dad), a hole in my wall, and a couple of months later, we had a handicap-accessible bathroom for the cost of about $1,000. (side note: My MIL has MS and can’t walk, so we needed a handicap-accessible bathroom that she can be wheeled into for showers so they don’t have to stay at a hotel when they come to visit.)
So here’s how it looked after the first renovation:
At first glance, it looks fabulous. But if you look closely and remove the blue rug, you would see the tile floor is not level and the grout lines are uneven. None of the corners match up, and the tiles around the toilet are a botched job of piecing together a couple of broken tiles to make it all fit. So when my in-laws came back the next year, and my FIL rolled my MIL into the bathroom on a 400 lbs contraption that picks her up and sets her on a seat (in the shower), it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that one of the tiles cracked in two places under the pressure.
So what do you do when your bathroom floor looks terrible? Well you tear down the wallpaper and repaint of course!
But then you eventually realize that if you’re ever going to be confident in selling your house, you better have the floor redone. So we went to Home Depot in hopes of just paying someone to remove the old floor and reinstall the new one for a reasonable price. It’s a small bathroom, so it should’ve only cost about $450 for everything. Except when the contractors came to tear up our old tile, they said the subfloor was uneven and that they had to tear that out (it’s concrete) and re-pour it. And that would cost an additional $600. We talked it over but decided to cancel the job and finish it ourselves. So we paid $175 for professionals to remove the old tile floor and deliver our materials. Not bad I suppose, since the removal was the part I was worried about most.
The contractors left us with an uneven slab of concrete. Fantastic. Of course, not their fault. I actually blame my husband and FIL for not leveling it out when they poured the concrete subfloor during the first renovation. Note to anyone planning to install their own subfloor: LEVEL IT OUT!
So I went to work with the chisel hacking away at places that were too high and then used patch and level where the floor was too low. This was pretty much trial and error for a few weeks – waiting for the patch and level mixture to dry and realizing I needed more in some places and less in others. Oh, and I had to do this BY MYSELF since my husband was out of town for work at that time. So that was fun.
When he came home, it was time to lay the tile. Except, the bathroom is kind of small and it’s hard for two grown people to fit in a space smaller than 25 sq ft. So I ended up spreading the Quikset and laying the tile while the hubs went to get more Quikset and cut the tiles. I’ll say this about laying tile: It is tedious, time-consuming work. Your measurements need to be precise, your Quikset needs to be spread evenly on the floor (sort of like frosting a cake to perfection) and you MUST USE SPACERS in your corners to make sure each corner comes out to a perfect cross. This is especially difficult if the space you’re working in isn’t a perfect square or has walls that are not at a perfect 90 degree angle.
Sometimes the toilet and edge pieces need to be cut by a professional because a regular tile cutter just won’t do the trick. So one stormy night after work, I took three pieces of tile with my measurements drawn on them to Lowe’s for cutting. The Home Depot near me does not cut tile but the guys at Lowe’s were kind of enough to cut my tile FOR FREE even though I didn’t buy my tile there and even though they don’t like to do that because if they break it, they can’t replace it. But I begged them and promised that if they broke it, I would not complain and I would just go grab another one from my massive stack at home for them to try again. Lesson learned: buy your tile from Lowe’s. Or wear a low-cut shirt and do some sweet talking.
So here it is pre-grouting:
And post grouting:
All that was left for my husband to do was put up the wall base border, put in the threshold and put back the toilet and sink. Since I was going to see New Moon on Saturday with the girls, he had a few hours to accomplish these few simple tasks. I expected him to be finished when I got home, but instead, I found a GIANT cardboard box with a picture of a porcelain toilet on the front and a very grouchy, sweaty husband.
“Don’t ask,” he said. So I didn’t. Instead, I peeked into the trashcan that had made it’s home in my living room to find my beautiful old toilet in pieces. The cursing from the bathroom made it pretty obvious. Apparently, in his struggle to put the toilet back on the pipe and wax ring, he dropped the tank and it shattered. Also apparently, tanks aren’t often sold separately, and the few that are, don’t fit our particular toilet bowl. So he had to buy a brand new toilet. Except it wasn’t quite as nice as our old one, which I probably shouldn’t have pointed out so soon after seeing it, because that did nothing to help the stream of cursing from the bathroom.
But you know how sometimes, some people are just sort of…accident prone? Think Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation? That’s how my husband is when it comes to this bathroom. In addition to the broken toilet, he dropped a screw down the sewage pipe, which he had to dig out. Then he hit his head on the towel rack, knocking it into the water of the open toilet tank – twice. He also managed to get wax from the wax ring seal ALL over the bathroom. I’m pretty sure he thinks this bathroom has some sort of vendetta against him. I’m pretty sure I agree. But we finished it. And with a minor toilet seat upgrade, we decided not to take back the smaller, cheaper toilet. So the guest bathroom is now complete.
A word about the tile and grout choice: In the first renovation, we went with a gray/white tile and gray grout, thinking it would match the blue tiles in the shower better than a cream-colored tile. We didn’t want solid white since that’s so hard to keep clean. But the problem with gray grout is that it darkens the room and if you have any imperfections at all with your tile work, gray grout makes it that much more obvious. This time, we went with a cream/off-white colored tile and “alabaster” grout – which is basically off-white. Though it doesn’t quite match the blue and white decor we have going on in the rest of the bathroom, it matches the hall tile just outside the bathroom, the kitchen tile, and the upstairs bathroom tile. So we just continued the theme throughout the house. Plus, I think it makes the bathroom a little brighter and less like a cold dungeon. We still have to seal it to make sure the grout stays nice and white, but it’s ready for our Thanksgiving Day guests. And it’s one less thing I have to worry about when the times comes to sell our house.