Sunday, October 12, 2014

In Which Jo Has Doubts About Her Floor.


Some of you longer-term minions might remember when I bought Casa DogHair and renovated the bathroom. The shortest version, for those of you who haven't sobered up yet, is this:

The people who owned CDH before me were both of some size. They were also not good with maintenance. This led to the bathroom being entirely rotted out in vital areas, which in turn led to Then Boyfriend and I redoing it.

I should mention here that Then Boyfriend had a weird work schedule and I was working all the time, so I had very little input into the construction. I helped with demo, tiled the floor, and that was it.

So when I stepped through the bathroom floor a few months ago, it came as a bit of a surprise. TB had told me he knew what he was doing; in fact, I knew he had worked construction in the past. So I trusted that he knew how to install a bathroom floor, make the shower water-tight, all that stuff.

Instead, what I found was un-taped cement board in the shower that had been waterproofed on the wrong side, weird joints that weren't water-tight, and a floor that. . . .well.

Normally when one installs a tile floor, one lays a sheet of plywood down and fastens it to the joists. This provides a stable surface for what's to come after. Then, one lays a quarter-inch-thick layer of thinset mortar down and uses that to bed cement board. It's important, when you're laying tile, to have a deflection-free (no bouncing), solid (won't shift laterally), independent (not screwed to the joists) surface for the whole shebang. Plywood screwed to joists is layer one. Mortar-bedded cement board, screwed to the plywood bur not to the joists, is layer two. Properly done, the resulting monolithic surface should last a lifetime.

He had laid half-inch cement board over a vapor barrier and nailed it to the joists. There is so, so much wrong with this that I can't even. I had to liberate a fair two gallons of water from under the floor, atop the vapor barrier, where the weird seams had leaked.

Here's the deal: demo of a properly-installed tile floor of this size ought to take a solid day or day and a half of work. It took me forty-five minutes, and I didn't even break a sweat.

After I demo'ed the floor, I began to get the willies about the shower, so I started peeling tile off of the walls with my bare hands, no joke no kidding, and the whole project got exponentially bigger in about ten minutes. Shower tile should not be removable with one's bare hands. 

But it was and it was and here we are, with a plywood floor barely tacked down and shower walls covered in plastic.

Which brings me to the floor. All of the preparation for laying tile will result in a floor that's at least 3/4 inch higher than the floor outside the bathroom door.

The Boyfiend, who actually *does* know how to do this, has done it before, and is doing it right this time, floated the idea of lowering the joists under the bathroom to give us sufficient clearance to have a seamless transition between the wood floors outside the bathroom and the future tile within. Over dinner last night, he and his brother The Psychopath debated the various ways this could be done, with The Psychopath insisting in a querulous voice that we'd have to pull the tub (find me four strong and patient men and a space warp, dear; that tub is wider than the doorway) and jack up various bits and bobs of the foundation.

Boyfiend insists this is not a big deal. I have my doubts about that. As I told him last night, when I hear a man say "It's no big deal; it'll work out fine" I know that I'm gonna need three hundred bucks and a course of antibiotics, stat.

So I started thinking of alternatives and came up with a roll of rubber flooring in a coin pattern. It's exactly the same thing that Daniel used over at Manhattan Nest a gazillion years ago. It's cheap, totally waterproof, and there will be no seams.

And it's thin enough that we won't have to lower any joists or do any other major structural work.

Boyfiend is still snoring away, but I plan to hit him with this idea once he's up and has had some coffee. And we shall see.


JessicaG said...

As someone who recently had to gut her vintage bathroom that hadn't been redone since it was built in 1928 (except for some very, very crappy surface renovations by a shady property management company), I feel your pain as I shudder in horror.

Comradde PhysioProffe said...

Sounds like old boyfriend was lucky to be gone before his "handiwork" bore fruit.

Stefanie said...

Seems like a workable solution. Any colors other than black? Daniel's dog in the final pic was divine.

Jo said...

Stefanie, I know they make white, grey, and bright Crayola colors like red, yellow, and green.

I'm going with black. The original plan was to have a black floor anyhow (I'm sick of white; very hard to keep looking nice), so.

messymimi said...

As someone who lives in a home that was irresponsibly built and then irresponsibly maintained, and that would cost more to repair than it is worth, you have my sympathy and i hope this is the last major repair you have to make.

yrsis said...

Shit, can you return the tile you already bought? Or has the receipt expired on that? If so, maybe you can ... um ... do a tiling project on your dresser?

Unknown said...

First off, I love your writing style. Its so funny. "Long term minions" "The psychopath" Classic.

Good luck with the bathroom remodel. :) I'm definitely going to keep my eye on your blog in the future.

Anonymous said...

Black flooring shows dust and grime as well as white flooring does. Something dirt colored and mottled hides dirt the best. If the rubber flooring is cheap enough, why not try a daring color like sunshine yellow, or red? If a few years down the road you tire of it, you can always replace it at little cost.

PS I'm a big fan of sheet flooring; grout is not so fun to clean. And the sheet stuff is so much easier on your feet and legs than tile/cement/etc.

Good luck!