Blog Post

Today I’m starting the remodel of our master bathroom. It’s going to be a few part series but renovations always start with an exciting part, demolition.

So, here’s a quick overview of what the bathroom looked like before I got started. As you can see the carpet was brown, yeah, that right, carpet in the bathroom.

Closets are separated out by the column in the corner, but we will be keeping the closet drawers I made for my wife almost a year ago.

The vanity carcass itself is not too bad and the plan is to put on a new top, but just refinish the rest. The mirror is a great size but I will probably paint the frame to give it a more updated look. And even though this light rack puts out plenty of light, it has to go.

The toilet and shower room was a disaster. Linoleum floors and a half working toilet were on the list. I even through down a q-tip and some TP by the garbage can to make it look worse.

The floor is pealing up around the corners and some water has been leaking out of the shower.

The tile is in good shape, just incredible ugly and dated. The door is flimsy and gross.

And finally, the light is not only tough to look at, it’s pretty dim as well.

So here we go.

My wife’s family was in town and we thought it would be fun to start the bathroom demo. It had been such a long time coming, we were itching to get started. My brother-in-law, Jake, and I removed the closet drawers so my wife and I would have a place to put our clothes during the remodel.

Then we moved into the shower and toilet room, removing anything screwed down, and then moved our attention on the shower.

The doors came off easily since it was just a couple panes surrounded by an aluminum frame.

The tiles were fairly thick and refused to break easily. This was because the installers had nailed down a sheet of chicken wire and covered it with a heavy bed of mortar and then smashed the tiles on top. It was incredibly sturdy, I’ll give them that.

Our strategy was to work from the edges and try to peal the wire and tiles away from the wall. Once the wire was loose from the wall, the tiles could be pounded off the sheet. Although it was very slow going, it did eventually come down.

My father-in-law also came to help us tear out the tile, and no, I’m not tiny, he’s just 6′ 8″.

Once all the tiles were off the wall, we had probably 20 buckets full of debris to take out.

Now that we had a better place to stand, we easily ripped off the drywall that was left on the wall.

The shower floor was one solid piece of plastic. I had always thought it was fragile and could break easily, but it took us about half an hour to get that thing out of there. We cut around the drain and then lifted it out before cutting the drain pipe clean. Success feels so good.

My demo help was gone but there was still a lot of work to be done. The toilet was next. I pulled it out, as well as the old wax gasket. You have to make sure to plug the drain when the toilet is not installed. The P-Trap is built into the toilet, so when not installed, sewer gasses will rise right into your house.

Now I could remove the old linoleum floor. It was glued down to a layer of particle board, which was nailed down to the plywood sub-floor. I was hoping it would come off in large chunks, but of course it was more like a thousand small pieces.

I pulled out all the nails and could now sweep up the rest of the debris.

The carpet was very quick to remove. Since the bedroom has not been updated yet, we will leave the carpet in there for now. I cut the carpet between the room and the bathroom.

I also removed the foam padding beneath the carpet. It comes up easily, but you have to find all the tiny nails and staples used to hold it down.

I needed to get all the way down to a flat sub-floor, so I removed the carpet nail strips along the outsides of the room as well as the closet thresholds.

The mirror was not hung like you might think. It was nailed in place with some giant nails. I wasn’t sure if the glass would crack while removed it, so I taped it to contain any broken shards that might come off. It eventually came off without breaking.

The space behind this column dividing the closets made for a huge waste of space behind it. We decided it had to go. I climbed up into the attic to double check that it wasn’t load bearing, and once I knew it wasn’t, I could cut it out.

I used my reciprocating saw with a carbide tipped blade to slice right through the nails. If you are ever cutting studs out to remove a wall and your blade binds up, stop. That means there is some load on it.

I saved all the trim as I would need it to re-trim the top sections to make it look like the post was never there.

Since we wanted to reuse the vanity, I carefully took off all the drawers and doors. I then ripped off the tile backsplash.

I disconnected the drain and water lines from under the sink, and popped it off.

The trouble came when I tried to remove the top from the carcass. The builder had glued and nailed a double top of ¾ plywood, then laid down a bed a mortar with the chicken wire in the middle. It was impossible to remove without breaking the carcass below. It was at this point I realized it wasn’t going to work. I decided we needed to just replace the vanity altogether.

I pried it free from the wall, and with the help of a dolly, took it out so I could break it down.

And just like before, floors, closets, vanity, mirror, shower, toilet. I was now ready to rebuild.

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