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:
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.
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.
On Wed, 2 Dec 2009 06:49:39 -0800 (PST), "hr(bob) email@example.com"
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.
None of it is rocket surgery. There are plenty of sources of good info to do it
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.
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.
On Wed, 2 Dec 2009 20:34:19 -0800 (PST), Michael B
Ok, as requested elsewhere, pictures:
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:
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
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
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.
Sure you can. Just take out everything that doesn't look like a stud,
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
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
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.
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
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.
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).
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
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
Are you putting in new lighting, outlets etc. too?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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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