Archive for the ‘bath’ Category


Monday, April 9th, 2012
Before we get started, I apologize for some text and spacing issues the blog seems to be experiencing. Hmmmm. Can’t figure that one out.
So here’s what you missed since I got slammed with work:

The ceiling is now completely tiled in cork (click to biggify the grandness)…

ceiling is corked, yay!
Something about it says eco-chic luxury spa, doesn’t it? The planks will get a protective finish tomorrow and the floor will be prepped for cork installation after that.

I mentioned the other day that Rob has been busy giving us light. The ceiling fixtures are in now…

first lights going in
Best of all — they actually work! Illumination. I dig it.

Also ongoing: tiling the bathroom. Our friend and fellow remodeling pro Mark Cummins has been prepping the walls, furring them out (building them up with wood shims) such that the diminutive wall tiles we’ve chosen will space out perfectly and require no cutting. That required a good amount of mocking-up and measuring. (And patience.) Followed by much re-measuring and marking, just to be safe…

marking the tiles




















Once Mark was confident we had it right, the 1/2″ cement board went up. In the shower, it’s gone from this…

shower wall before




















To this…

walls cement boarded in shower




















That’s the hand-held shower pipe poking through on the right. There will likely be an inset section in that wall for setting soap and sundries… a complication but hopefully not an impossibility. After that, water-based waterproofing and then tiling.

At this rate we may actually have a functional downstairs by summer. Doh! I just cursed us, didn’t I? Fudge.

prepping the bathroom floor

Monday, November 7th, 2011

David Bettridge will now catch us up on the downstairs bathroom as he preps for tile. Try to contain your excitement, okay?


The majority of the downstairs floor is insulated and ready for flooring but the bathroom is its own special case. Way back in March, I removed the old tiles from the floor…

the floor during




















More recently, I removed the last of the thinset (tile ‘glue’, a kind of flexible mortar). A wide chisel bit in my trusty Bosch Bulldog made short work of it…

bathroom floor | bosch bulldog

The Bulldog is a light-duty rotary hammer that has settings for drill+hammer, just drill or just hammer. Hammer drills on the other hand only have settings for just drill or drill + hammer. The Bulldog drills into 40-year old concrete like a hot knife through butter.

Once the slab was clean and smoothish, I layed down 1” tongue and groove high-density foam insulation…

bathroom floor | foam insulation




















It will act as a thermal and moisture break between the new tile floor and the slab (and planet earth) underneath. This will hopefully keep the bathroom floor more comfortable underfoot and keep the basement dry. And it will help the bathroom be more energy efficient as well.

I layed 1/2” cement board over the foam and screwed it down to the slab underneath, using Tapcon screws…

bathroom floor | cement board




















Due to their special threads and lubricated coating, they actually cut into the concrete when installed into a pre-drilled hole. Technology, gotta love it. I used a lot of screws so there would be no movement under the floor tile, and therefore no cracking.

Some lucky tile installer will trowel thinset onto the cement board, lay Schluter Ditra tile membrane down before troweling on more thin set, then setting and grouting the floor tiles. The membrane acts as another moisture barrier but more importantly it separates the tile from the floor which lets things move a little bit before any cracking takes place. Again, technology at work.

Schluter will also be providing all the metal bits and pieces that allow tile to be installed up against other materials like cork flooring, wood cabinets, mirror, etc. A small prep detail but an important one. Like they say, do it right the first time.

running the plumbing

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

David will now show you how we’re getting closer to having a bathroom downstairs…


Things are really moving along down here. Once the bathroom framing was done, the plumber came in and ran all-new plastic pipe…


Rather than the traditional branch-style method of piping, with one shut-off for the whole house and individual shut-offs near some fixtures (but not usually all fixtures), we opted to have a manifold (think breaker panel for water) with all the piping in a home-run configuration. This means every fixture has its very own feed direct from the manifold and its very own shut-off…


Each of those little red and blue circles down the sides of the manifold is a shut-off. Eventually they’ll get labels so we know which is which.

There was just a sliver of space between our old, floor-mount toilet and the shower, so we’re going with wall-hung to gain some space back. That’s the precursor to our new Duravit wall-hung toilet on the left — its slim Gerberit tank (jah, German) hides away inside the wall framing…


The sink faucet rough-in with drain below is on the right.

For the faucet above the sink, we also chose wall-mounted. You can’t resist playing with it when you open the box, it’s so cool….

playing with the sink and faucet



















Modern. Simple. Not a bunch of fuss.

Then there’s the shower. Remember what it used to look like? Now we’re going for a much more minimal look. No more tub and the shower will have a partial glass wall with an open doorway for stepping in.

Brook wants a teak grid in the shower, so we went with this for the floor below it…

shower pan by Maax




















The shower pan will save us big over having to create a tile shower floor. Comes already sloped for drainage…




















The plan is that the removable teak grid will sit inside the pan and look somewhat like this…

shower with teak floor, cary bernstein architect |

shower with teak floor, cary bernstein architect |
















In fact, that’s pretty much the same idea we’re using for the glass wall, too. Should look very swank when it’s all said and done. Speaking of which, I should probably get it said and done right now!


thurs progress report

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

CLANG CLANG CLANG! Flying shrapnel. CLANG CLANG CLANG! Flying shrapnel. And so on…

the floor before

the floor during

what a mess

If you try this, be sure to break out your riot gear. You’re going to need it.

full-on riot gear


tubby tuesday

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

And so the day ends. With ear-piercing sawing action, the satisfying scent of warm fiberglass, a rift…

the first cut is the deepest

tub cut... no, really, it’s SUPPOSED to look like that

guess there’ll be no showers down here for a while

almost all gone

Now the plumber has to disconnect the plumbing. Why should David have all the fun?

tues progress report

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

When we left off last week, the new column went in downstairs. Since then, David bolted the column to the metal bracket that was cast into the newly poured cement…

bolts now secure the new column to the floor

The ceiling came down everywhere…

the ceiling is down

Destruction began in the bathroom. The sheetrock is now gone…

bathroom walls are down

Our dark secrets are fully apparent to all as you can easily see past the sink and toilet into the storage closet under the stairs…

wall gone

When David pulled off the sheetrock along the rest of the north wall where we discovered past termite activity, he revealed more. Ewww, so much more…

termites have been busy little buggers

They ate the paper backing right off the sheetrock, the hungry little buggers. No live termites apparent. (Almost done with my post on how we’re going to deal with this.)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, tearing out the wall uncovered a mouse nest…

mouse nest

Ralph the Mouse is no longer with us. He died in an untimely motorcycle accident last fall…

unfortunate mouse accident

I’ll alert Beverly Cleary.

a dual-flush toilet for $20?

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Sure, you could spend $200 on a shiny, new dual-flush toilet. But it turns out that you don’t have to. Ima let David tell you why…

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I was reading about the new 1.28 gallons per flush toilets the other day. They’ll probably become the new standard at some point. That got me thinking about how much water our original, raw-liver-colored, 1971 American Standard toilet has wasted during the three years we’ve been talking about renovations.

Since 1994, all toilets sold in the US have been limited to using 1.6 gallons per flush. Dual-flush toilets, invented in Australia in 1980, lower that usage further by using no more than .8 gallons for #1 and 1.6 gallons for #2 (some use even less).

While researching all this and looking for attractive toilets that meet our water-conservation needs as well as fit our tiny downstairs bathroom, I came across the HydroRight

hydroright |

Starting at around $15, it converts any toilet into a dual-flush — in fact, it looks remarkably like the mechanism in Kohler’s dual-flush toilets.

Our upstairs toilet had been leaking last year, so I replaced the entire mechanism. That involved removing the tank from the bowl, a job I wasn’t looking forward to again. But the HydroRight doesn’t require anything so drastic to install. It simply replaces the rubber flapper that dumps water into the bowl when you flush, and it replaces the handle with a two-part button system.

If your toilet has a float controlling the water level, you’ll need to replace the fill valve. That’s the tower thing on the left inside your tank. The HydroRight folks have a number of fill valve options starting at about $10. It requires some tools and a little bit of mess to install, but it’s still manageable.

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Thanks, honey! I just want to add that the HydroRight has picked up a number of innovation awards this year, which lends it some pretty solid street cred. If you want one, Amazon and Home Depot are just a few of the places you can find it.

  • A corporate video on the product.
  • A video on installation on Good Morning Arizona.

My favorite thing about HydroRight, other than the water we’re already saving: the flush button.

hydroright flush

1 for pee. 2 for poo. Makes me smile every time.