Must I gut the bathroom?

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The house is around 70 years old, an 18' rowhouse. The bathroom is 5' x 11'. They built it with a stall shower and bathtub and the plan is to get rid of the shower and use the tub for both. That frees up space for a nicer sink/vanity which is a popular idea with a certain other member of the household.
Two contractors gave estimates for gutting the whole thing, and both are over $15k which is too much for us right now. The wall and floor tiles need to be replaced. Using the tub as a shower means more tiles around the tub, but does the whole thing really need to be gutted to the studs and floorboards?
As for the tub, it certainly has lost its shine, but reglazing (or rather, repainting) seems like a decent option:
http://homerenovations.about.com/od/bathrooms/a/artrefinishtub.htm
Are the pipes going to the tub likely ok? It really hasn't been used much in the last 30 years or so, but it will be now. I'd hate to reglaze and then find that the thing needs to be ripped out to fix the pipes. I suppose that can be done from below (kitchen) anyway.
The wall tiles are stuck to what appears to be cement - it looks sort of odd, each 4" tile is stuck to around 3" of cement with gaps between the cement surfaces. The floor is just some stick-on 12" vinyl tiles stuck onto the original tile floor. I don't see why the vinyl stuff can't be pulled up and nicer tiles put down on the original surface.
The original sink, right now between the tub and toilet, would have to be removed and the pipes blocked off. The existing shower pipes would provide the basis for the new sink/vanity.
I know it would be better to just gut it, but money is quite tight right now. We're looking to retire in 10 years or so.
Any comments greatly appreciated.
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Repainting a tub is the cheapest way and usualy has some peeling within a few years, tubs can be relined with a plastic, but for a big remodel and at that price just get a new tub, tubs are not as comfortable to use for a shower as a real shower. 70yrs old, 15000 , new plumbing is part of the job. What if the half rotten plumbing leaks in a few months, it will cost 4x as much as it would when its all opened up now.
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Can't you do any of the work yourself??
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On Wed, 2 Dec 2009 06:49:39 -0800 (PST), "hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net"

I can take up the vinyl tiles - I put them down 15 years ago. I can pull the tiles off the walls - they're pretty much coming down on their own. I can probably take a sledge hammer to the old shower taking care not to muck the pipes. But putting stuff back up takes skill - not to imply that ripping things down doesn't.
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dgk wrote:

None of it is rocket surgery. There are plenty of sources of good info to do it right.
Too many people never learn to do anything for themselves because they never take the chance to try.
I'm about ready to tile after my third major bath renovation. The second included my first mudset shower pan. I got most of the info for that from internet sources, and it turned out great.
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I think you're wrong, if you're willing to learn new skills. I redid mine for less than 1K. Actually more like $500. Big deal was the tile. The grout is the weak link. I took the wall out, filled the space with Styrofoam panels between the studs. Three different thicknesses to bring it to EXACTLY the same point as the inner faces of the wall studs. Then I used Greenboard, because it was not going to get wet, anyway. I used pure white silicone, because it's not paintable, resists staining and mold. I used a tile style that matched the silicone (Arctic Ice, no longer available, but similar ones are). I struck a line perfectly level the size of a tile plus an eighth inch. I put a 1x6 along that line, installed the tile up from that. Silicone squiggled on the back, and silicone at the sides mating to an already installed one, as well as silicone along the mating edge(s). Put it almost in place, wiggle it in that direction, let the extra silicone get squeezed out from between as it's being pressed firmly against the wall behind, rake off the extra with your finger and put it on the back of the next tile. Mine is over 15 years old, still looks as new as when I put it in. Scrubbing Bubbles does nicely on soap scum.
Oh, reason for starting a tile height above is that it is very rare for a tub or shower unit to be perfectly even, easy enough to ease a little off with the angle grinder and cement blade when you're easing in the bottom row, instead of trying to hide the errors further up.
Total cost of the shower surround, including the glass blocks that replaced the window, less than a hundred dollars, and the tiling went very quickly.
Plumbing? Hey, with Copper-Bond, I don't use my torch any more. And how about the water wall? Added some 2x2's to the existing 2x6's, made narrow shelves where wall had been, found 12 cabinet doors for cheap. Lets us use a pedestal sink. Which is located in a way that mirror glass on three of them, with the door row at the room corner having the hinges on the left, lets it work like a 3-mirror cabinet you could buy, but for a lot less.
We got a 5 ft double seat shower base from Lowes, set it into wet cement so it didn't wiggle, all kinds of other stuff, such as using a 5/8 inch grounding rod with a plastic cover for the shower bar.
Tiles on the wall? Rent a chipping hammer, use an angle grinder with a steel blade for the expanded steel backing, roll those tiles right out.

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On Wed, 2 Dec 2009 20:34:19 -0800 (PST), Michael B

Ok, as requested elsewhere, pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27610982@N03/?saved=1
I find that by the third time I do something I get pretty good at it. But this is the first time and it's my bathroom.
I do have a Home Despot not far away and can find out how to do some of this stuff, but that is one reason for the "do I have to gut the whole thing" question. This is all going to take time. If the thing has to be gutted, then it has to be done by someone who isn't learning along the way because we NEED a bathroom. There is a toilet downstairs but no shower. We can go to the nearby Rec Center for a shower, but that isn't a long term solution.
The first thing I thought I might be able to do is put in a shower body. Take a look at picture 100_0385. One thing I read was that for an older house with galvanized steel pipes I'm better off getting a plumber who'll have the tools to cut and thread the pipe. I have no idea what kind of pipes I have.
Or take these instructions:
http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-install-a-body-shower/index.html
I should remove the cover plate to expose the valve body. I don't have a cover plate. I have tile and cement. What I will do is bust off a few more of those tiles and see what it looks like behind it. No matter what, that will need to be done. I expected some kind of plasterboard and got cement. This house is weird. Every time I do something I find out just how weird.
So the plan is to get rid of the stall shower and put a nice vanity, sink, and towel closet there. I have no plans to move that toilet - it sits over the big pipe and will likely have to stay there unless we really gut the mess. The place taken up by the current sink (19" or so) will likely end up as a litterbox area. That means getting rid of the drain pipe which sticks out around a foot, as well as caping the water feeds.
Removing the shower is also going to leave me with a shower pan instead of a floor. That needs to be taken care of. I do not know how to replace a shower pan with a floor.
Then there is the electrial issue. Right now, the only outlet in the bathroom is from the light above the medicine cabinet. I have an external GFI outlet attached to it, and all the varous electrical things feed off that, but I'm sure not going to be the one who installs new outlets. I'm willing to play with water but not electricity.
Of cousre, if I can't just refinish the tub, or it's likely that the pipes will need to be replaced, then it's also a total gut job. I can't pull out that tub.
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dgk wrote: (snip)

and how to get the tub out will be obvious. It was the first thing to go in there, and it is the last to leave.
Like the others said, at this point, a gut job is the only logical way to go.
And if there is an open basement ceiling below, this is an ideal time to replace the old (probably semi-clogged iron) pipe as far back as you can, and run a dedicated breaker and circuit for modern electrics. Only adds a couple hundred to the cost, and they will be good for fifty years then.
-- aem sends...
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If you are dealing with an OLD house that may have gone through several minor updates over the years then you are probably better off to gut the bathroom and build it up from scratch replacing and or repairing the plumbing in the process. The benefits to this are many starting with updated plumbing, insulation, walls, and possibly even the replacement of rotten studs and flooring.
The gutting operation is something that you can do yourself without a huge effort or expense. Just be careful to not damage anything that you may want to keep in the process. I would recommend (and have done myself) just planning on removing everything down to the studs and bare floor. If the studs are OK and not suffering from rot, check and replace the insulation with new or supplement as needed. Repair and/ or replace the plumbing which may require some help from a professional depending on code requirements.
Next, use a plastic liner on the walls to seal them before putting up a good concrete backerboard on the walls and floor (depending on floor material). I know you could use gypsum but why in a bathroom that is as small as yours? Its just not worth it when the concrete backerboard will provide much better service for a very long time. Use screws to mount the backerboard. Once this is done, you can proceed to do as much of the remainder of the remodel as you are comfortable with or hire someone to do it.
It is time consuming, dirty, and a pain in too many places to mention but if you take your time it is probably something that YOU can do yourself and do a really fine job at. The amount of money you can save depends on how much you complete yourself.
Good luck and have fun with it.
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Before I did the remodel, I talked with Home Despot folks. They endorsed breaking up the tub with a sledge hammer. Well, when I was doing it, the sledge just bounced, and I could swear the tub smiled at me. I used an old pick. The kind with a point on one side, and a flat end on the other. An old one, with plenty of heft. I hit the tub with it, made a pointed fracture, followed that fracture line along, and had that tub outta there in an hour. I ended up bringing a 4"x4" piece of the tub back to the HD guys to encourage them to mention using a pick the next time someone asked.
And hey, have you been to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore? I wanted a comfortable tub for a second bathroom, one that I could almost stretch out in. Found a Jacuzzi-style one, with its jets and all. Price had started at $250, but it had been a month, so the price had been cut to half of that. It's deeper, so I can comfortably take a soaking bath in spite of being fairly tall (6' 5"). If you have a ReStore you could rethink some of your concerns.
Oh, and that window in the photos. Glass block, and a vent fan would do so much for you. I took a humidistat, wired it backwards so that it came on with humidity rise instead of fall, and that's what turns on my ceiling vent fan. It runs till the humidity drops in the bath area, then turns itself off. Worked so well, the A/C is being controlled with the same arrangement.

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On Sat, 05 Dec 2009 11:30:03 -0800, Michael B wrote:

Shhh... don't tell everyone ;) Those places are just awesome... I usually end up visiting ours at least once a month and picking something up. Helps to know prices though as some of their stuff can be a little high (e.g. we saw some security lights there a while ago, but the same ones could be had new with warranty elsewhere for only a couple of $ more).
cheers
Jules
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On Wed, 02 Dec 2009 08:28:57 -0500, dgk wrote:

Hmm, I take it you don't want to be doing much - if any - of this yourself?
I think you need to replace the bath; painting won't last and if it's old the whole faucet mechnism's probably seen better days too (I take it your bath has a built-in fixed shower, which is why you're happy to lose the separate shower unit?).
1) Buy a new bath & faucet, get a plumber in to sort that out. That same plumber could chop the pipes to the shower and (temporarily) cap them, then you can rip the shower out yourself (saving a few $$).
2) Buy the new sink and fit it (or pay someone to do so), call plumber back to hook it up and remove/cap pipework to old sink. Pull out old sink and haul to the dump.
3) Pull up floor tiles, and/or remove wall tiles yourself.
4) Call in someone to fit new floor/wall tiles (skimming walls etc. as necessary)
Tile prices vary a lot (same for sinks, baths etc.), but $15k seems kinda high, so there's probably a lot of labor cost in there. Even if you're not comfortable with fitting new stuff, I expect you can handle some of the removal work yourself and save some cash that way; just sort out quotes and dates in advance so you don't end up with half a bathroom for months :-)
Are you putting in new lighting, outlets etc. too?
cheers
Jules
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On Wed, 02 Dec 2009 09:00:02 -0600, Jules

No, putting in a shower body is step 1 but I figured that would be realtively easy. I'll pull of a few more tiles and look at what's behind there tonight. http://www.flickr.com/photos/27610982@N03/?saved=1
First picture is the current shower - no plate, just tile and cement.

If by new bath you mean ripping out the old tub and putting in a new one, that is a bit of a job. I was sort of hoping I could just refinish the current one. Having read more, I feel less confident that this is a good solution. Ripping out a tub apparenlty means total gut of the bathroom.

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From the looks of things, you will be better off gutting and starting over. Electrical isn't that hard unless you have to use conduit. Just turn off the power at the fuse/circuit breaker box before you do anything. Also, don't you have any handy neighbors? Where I live we have all sorts of non-white-collar-desk types who help each other out with plumbing, electrical carpentry, gardening, etc.
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dgk wrote:

You are probably going to have to re-do the tile in the tub area. If you are doing that, you might as well replace the tub. It'll look and last way better than a refinish job, and maybe cost less if you do the work.
You could re-do the tub first, then take out the shower, which will solve the no-shower problem.
The window in the tub area will be a problem for a shower there. Shower spray and windows don't necessarily work together. I finally installed a second shower curtain over the window to solve that on my rental house.
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wrote:

Thanks all. The more I look into it, the more it looks like a gut job. The question becomes who should do it - I really don't think I'm the one. Maybe if I was retired and had lots of time.
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As Smitty Two says......
it CAN be done DIY, it just takes some reallocation of time & effort, some planning and learning some new skills.
There is a guy on this newsgroup who proposed digging an additional 3' in his crawlspace to improve working access, I estimated the job in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 days of hand digging. He developed a process (with some craigslist equipment) and eventually got it done. A hard dirty job but accomplished with continuing effort.
Success or failure on this project will be determined mostly by whether or not your wife has total "buy in" or just says she does and then becomes unhappy. :(
My buddy & I have re-done a couple kitchens and in our experience the lady of the house gets grumpy after a certain number of days of inconvenience....depending on the level of inconvenience (no tub is minor, no shower is worse, no toilet is a problem)
I've nearly completely gutted a kitchen & the ajoining laundry room; per my wife's request.
BUT all major functions still work; stove, sink, fridge. I've removed layers of linoleum & plywood down to T&G fir sub floor, modified the plumbing, gas & electricity such that she can get a feel for the new increased floor space & try out (full scale prototyping) different but fully functional layouts. The stove & other pieces are on wheels and can be moved around at will. She's pretty happy with the current fully functional but still gutted layout.
My point is, if you can demo & still maintain function ..... you can stretch the job out. Which is helpful for a novice DIY'r and easier on the pocket book. Just take a some time after every effort and clean up.
Your bathroom space is tight, so you have limited design options. I'm guessing that there was a pedestal sink originally? The stall shower, toilet location and tub don't leave much sink space so I can see your desire to "lose the stall shower".
You a finalized bathroom layout...imo the window in the tub (soon to be tub / shower) area is a bit of a PITA. :( You might consider (from the door) this layout along the plumbing wall; tub, sink, toilet. Relocating the toilet might be a problem but its current central location limits design options.
You might be able to hire an experienced person on an hourly basis to provide help & guidance.
cheers Bob
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On Fri, 04 Dec 2009 12:50:54 -0800, Smitty Two

There is a 1/2 bathroom - toilet and sink. But the main one has a separate stall shower so all work on the tub area can proceed at leisure for a time.
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dgk wrote:

I'm already retired. A full bathroom renovation was my introduction to DIY. It was in my first house. Would have been well over 30 years ago.
You take one step at a time and live with the mess. All you really need is a working is the toilet. You don't even need water at the toilet, it can be filled with a pail or temporary hose. You can take a bath without plaster on the walls. Remove everything else all at once or only as you need to. I helped my son renovate his bathroom two years ago. It was completely gutted and replaced. Every fixture moved at least 6'. He was only without a working toilet for the time it took to remove the old cast iron drains and replace with new PVC.
The biggest problem is likely to be your significant other.
Ldb
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No, I need a shower. We can use the downstairs toilet if need be.
I'll continue the thread here since it seems to have fragmented a bit.
I'm looking at the bathroom thinking about what needs to be done and what I can do. I'm sort of afraid to swing a sledge hammer at a wall and end up in the bedroom - that might be ok but being an attached house I'd rather not end up in the neighbor's bathroom (wet wall side).
I didn't realize I could remove the cast iron drain for the toilet and use PVC - that does mean that moving the toilet is more possible than I thought. I'm not sure it needs to be moved though - we need to plan that out.
The tub is the starting point though. I'd rather not end up in the kitchen. The tub is blocked by the vanity - not a big problem, but also by a radiator (steam heat) that is less than six inches from the tub and sticks out about 6 inches from the wall. I'd like to recess the radiator into the wall when this is all done if feasible. If not, I understand that I can take it to be standblasted and painted with a high heat aluminum paint. Or I just buy a new radiator.
Ah, the drain from the vanity sink goes into a large solid pipe coming out around a foot from the wall. That's going to make it tougher to remove the tub as well.
Maybe first I look into the shower body. That's hiding behind cement that should be fun to bust up. I'd like to get the tub out, a new one in, and get the shower part working. I can line the walls with plastic for the moment. But I don't want to damage the new tub doing the rest of the stuff.
What's the problem with a window by a shower? I had one in my old apartment and it was not an issue.
Maybe I should get in a plumber for a consult.
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