Sunday, February 27, 2011

One step closer to a new bathroom

We completed the demo of the shower and put up the cement board today. Whew! Some mis-measuring on my part (and take out for dinner) made it a fairly long process. But we're done and ready to start the actual tiling, yay! 

I'll give a brief way-too-long run down of the steps, but I recommend the familyhandman website for a more complete tutorial. It helped me keep track of the steps so we didn't miss anything and has really helpful pictures. 

First, we squared off the edges of the existing drywall so it would fit flush with the concrete board. We used a drywall saw ($8 at Home Depot). The saw made demo a lot easier and for $8 I highly recommend it.

Then, we scraped the old caulk off the tub using putty knives. After that and a little shop vac action we were done tearing apart and it was time to put back together. 

We nailed on some extra 2x4 backing studs to give ourselves an easy place to attach the cement board. We thought the corners of our tub were pretty good so we only did this at the outer edges of the tub (if I did it again I'd put extra backing studs in the corners too).

While Matt was installing the backing studs, I cut the cement board to the sizes we needed (we used hardibacker brand). First, I measured our tub surround and drew a picture of each piece of cement board we'd need and wrote down the length of each cut I needed to make. To make the cuts, I put the cement board on a desk in the garage, measured the length, and attached a 2x4 with metal clamps. 

I put a 50 lb bag of thinset on top of the board to hold it steady, but after a few times of sliding it back and forth a little thinset started coming out of the bag. So it was a good idea in theory, but another heavy object would have been better.

Then I scored the cement board where I wanted it to break.

And scored. And scored, and turned it over and scored some more. Eventually by putting a little weight on one side I could cleanly break the cement board. I only bloodied my knuckles twice during this process, and I only made one two mistakes :)

See that corner? I tried to muscle the cement board into breaking before I scored it enough, so I tore too much off. This corner won't be under tile (we'll paint this part) so I'll just patch it like drywall.

My other mistake was measuring the cement board without leaving room for 1/4" spaces at the bottom and 1/8" spaces between each board. This meant the cement board was a bit too long and about 3/4" needed to be removed from the top.

Much more difficult than breaking off 20" pieces. I recommend being more patient than me and drawing out your diagram in more detail with all spaces needed.

After the cement board was ready we put up the vapor barrier using a staple gun. Be sure to leave the vapor barrier hanging over the tub lip a little bit.

Now its (finally) time for the cement board! A 1/4 inch gap is needed between the lip of the tub and the cement board (to leave room for tile and caulk) so we used wood shims we already had.

Once the cement board was in place we Matt screwed it into the studs.

We used 1 5/8" screws that are made just for hardibacker. Certain screws are needed depending on the brand of cement board, but it says right on the label which ones to get, making it easy.

To cut holes for the plumbing, we measured the width of each fixture and how far away it would be from the edges of the cement board (this time we remembered the spaces!). We used spade drill bits to drill the holes. Now we need new drill bits :) After just a few minutes of cement board those things were completely dull!

After a few mistakes and lessons learned, we finally have a clean, properly installed wall to tile.

The next step is putting mesh tape and thinset on the seams to seal them, but its past my bedtime. I'll try to seal the seams this week after work. If I'm feeling really ambitious I'll also organize the tile, cutting the pieces I need so next weekend we can start tiling right away.

Some lessons learned from our first renovation (so far):

1. This is obvious but before you start ripping things apart, plug up the tub and the sink. I don't have a plug for my tub so I used the one for the kitchen sink and taped it down. We also should have protected the tub a little more with a sheet or drop cloth.

2. Warn your partner that the living room is on the other side of the wall and that all muscle isn't good all of the time :)

3. Slow and steady wins the race. I was getting frustrated that I couldn't just rip the damn drywall off but with a little patience my pace went a lot faster - I removed the tile first and then used a reciprocating saw to remove the drywall. In the end it went a lot faster than trying to use arm muscles (because let's face it, I don't have those).

4. Safety goggles give me more confidence with power tools.

5. Draw out detailed diagrams including all spaces needed so cuts are made right the first time.

If you made it to the end of this post, give yourself a high five! Thank you for reading about our adventures in babysitting homeownership (please tell me you remember that movie).

I hope you had a great weekend. Any great projects that consumed your day?

PS. Here's an update on our bathroom progress!

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  1. I remember that movie and I read the WHOLE post! You guys are doing great, keep up the home renovations!

  2. Phew! What a task! And what a fantastic tutorial. Thanks so much for linking up and sharing your know-hows!

  3. That is awesome, thank you so much. Can't wait to start getting going on my bathroom.


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