I don’t know wtf I was going for in the feature picture. I was going for handyman ninja, but not sure I pulled it off right.
I’m not a big Depeche Mode fan, and to be honest, I like Rammstein’s cover of that song better, but anyone who knows me well knows I like to pair song lyrics with events in life. In this instance I’ve been doing some demolition work on my condo so I can remodel it. For this I had to go HAM. Usually when I go HAM on my bathroom, it’s because I ate Mexican food or something of the like, but that is not the case this time. I lost a lot of the pictures, but I’ll use some of the ones I have to show what’s going on.
First, big shout out to my dad for teaching me how to do this stuff when I was younger. I hated it then… well I still hate doing this work now, but I’m thankful for the experience and knowledge that I now have that has enabled me to do this for myself. Plus I’m saving a bunch of dough!
The First Bathroom
In my place, I had a tub/shower combination that came with the surround and everything all made out of fiberglass. That was the hardest part to remove. Here is a picture of me removing the drain. I tried to do this with a pair of needle nose pliers at first and felt like I was breaking them so I went and got a drain removal tool from Home Depot for about $8 to get the job done. After that was removed I could remove the rest of the tub.
Here is the plumbing for my bathtub. On the cold water valve to the right, the screw got stripped and broken off when I was trying to remove the knob so the knob was stuck. I tried to use a screw extractor to no avail, but this wasn’t a big deal in my case, because I knew I was replacing all of the plumbing anyways to work with a single handle tub faucet, so I took a drill bit and drilled into the screw until I could remove the knob and the screw is still stuck in there.
Here is the tub spout which I couldn’t remove fully by twisting off, but like I said, the plumbing was being redone anyways so this wasn’t a big deal.
Here’s what it looked like after the tub was completely removed.
Here’s the new tub after it was installed. This is the only part I didn’t do myself because I’m not a great plumber at all. I got the American Standard Ovation acrylic tub which is a standard sized 60″ tub, but is a little wider and pretty deep to give you more room to soak. Getting this tub was a pain. I originally ordered a different model tub and it showed up at my place cracked 3 different times in the same spot, so I ended up getting this tub with a HUGE discount and free shipping and everything.
… and the new plumbing. I raised the shower head a few inches because it hits me right in the middle of the forehead and I actually have pinched nerves in my neck a few times from having to lower my head just to wash my hair.
For the kitchen, there was a thin tile backsplash that destroyed the drywall underneath when I tried taking it off, so I ended up having to replace the drywall so I cut sections out of the walls where the backsplash was, exposing the frame, plumbing and electrical.
On one side of the kitchen there were 2 layers of drywall, I imagine to reduce the noise coming from the unit adjacent to mine. When taking the first layer of drywall off, I accidentally damaged the second layer as you can see to the right of the right most electrical receptacle.
On the side with the exposed wall I discovered something… if you don’t know what the brown specs are on this light switch, then good for you. It’s actually roach poop. None of it was present inside the wall or on the frame which was a good thing. I decided to replace all the electrical outlets and switches in the kitchen. The one below controlled the main kitchen lights. All of the recepticles in the kitchen are 15 amps on a 20 amp circuit, so I replaced them with 20 amp recepticles to give a blender, juicer, and garbage disposal some extra juice!
More roach poop. I decided to completely replace this electric box with one of the newer blue plastic ones.
Here is one of the GFCIs in the kitchen that never worked. There were 2 of them on the wall which was unecessary. I replaced this one and since the load end was wired to the other one, I used a regular recepticle to replace the other one since a GFCI offers protection for anything connected on its load side. I ended up having to borrow a friend’s electric meter to figure out why the 2 recepiticles on this wall never worked. It ended up being because the neutral wire was tied into a neutral wire on another circuit so the GFCIs were automagically tripping themselves because it was reading different currents on the live and neutral wires.
I ended up replacing both of the light switches for the kitchen with dimmer switches. I’ll be removing the fluorescent tube lighting and going with recessed LED lighting. The one on the right controls the main kitchen area and the one on the left controls the breakfast nook area.
Here’s the main lighting area. I’ll be getting rid of the inlay and making the ceiling flat and replacing the lights with recessed LED lighting.
Before I covered the walls I fumigated the whole area and filled all gaps with this foam stuff in a can called Great Stuff. It comes out thin and stringy and expands very rapidly. Make sure you wear gloves when you use this stuff! It’s a pain to get off of your skin. Take my word for it. I ended up cutting it down after it had cured.
I also filled gaps and holes inside the wall and the framing.
There was a huge cutout in the cement for these drain pipes. I filled it with foam.
To cover the walls back up, I used 3’x5′ 1/2″ thick Hardiebacker which to my surprise wasn’t even 1/2″ thick. More like 3/8″. I also had another dilemma. On one wall, the drywall was 5/8″ thick and on the other wall it was 1/2″ thick. So I had no choice but to shim the cement board on both walls. If you go to Home Depot, you can get paint stir sticks for FREE! They come in 2 sizes. The small ones are 1/8″ thick and the larger ones are 1/4″ thick. I needed both. I ended up going to 6 different Home Depots to get all the ones I needed. On the last one, instead of being sneaky about it, I just sucked up my pride and asked them if I could take a bunch because I was using them for shims for a project and they let me grab as many as I needed. Also, in the picture below, you’ll see my Timerland boots which I’ve had since I was 16… I’m 30 now. You do the math. Also, I didn’t use Elmers glue to glue on the shims, I used Liquid Nails which comes in a caulking tube and can hold denchers in your mouth… FOR LIFE!
The open wall was the side with 1/2″ thick drywall so I had to use the smaller 1/8″ thick paint sticks to make up for the gap to make the cement board flush with the drywall.
Here is the first piece of cement board up on the open wall.
… and with all of the boards up.
and the very important part which is taping and mudding all of the seams! This is very important, because if you don’t do it and you lay your tile on top of it, it will cause the tile to crack. When you tape and mud the seams, it joins the board together and makes them move as one piece. Otherwise your foundation will be like the Earth’s tectonic plates where they grind past and drift closer and away from eachother which causes a lot of stress on the tiles once they’re set. Also be sure to use fiberglass corrosion resistant tape and not the regular stuff that you use for drywall, and mud the seams with mortar or acrylic tile adhesive. I usually use mortar for the floor and the acrylic tile adhesive for walls.
Here’s the other wall with all of the cement board up.
and with the seams taped and mudded.
Stayed tuned for more! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.