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Drewski's 1916 Bathroom gut rehab

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Old 02-20-2013, 09:24 AM   #1
Drewski [OP] Drewski is offline
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Drewski's 1916 Bathroom gut rehab

For your entertainment... my DIY bathroom rehab!

We own a 100 year old brick two-flat on the NW side of Chicago. This is a very common building around here: two 3 bedroom apartments with the same layout, including the standard 5'x8' bathroom. Super solid and heavy construction - It was built back when they built stuff to last, not like today. Builders from back then would roll over in their grave if they could see how houses are built today; I know, I've had a couple... Anyway, some DIYers in the early 70's befouled, err, rehabbed the bathroom which resulted in this delightful abomination:







Nice, eh? Nothing says "DIY" quite like a drop tile ceiling and a garage fluorescent light fixture in a bathroom.

We dealt with it for a couple years, mainly since I was taking my sweet time with the monster project of rehabbing the kitchen and one bedroom on the first floor, while we lived upstairs.

After the kitchen was done, we moved downstairs to enjoy it and started using the bathroom on the first floor. I eventually noticed a couple of the tiles were loose on the window sill/shelf area in the shower. I temporarily sealed off the window area with plastic and duct tape until I was ready to poke around in there (we had an exchange student living with us until September.) So in early October I pulled out the questionable tiles, and found wood and drywall with a clearly *not* impervious ton of thinset on top of it. The drywall and wood had of course turned to mush. So once I started pulling on the thread... you know how that goes.



Floor to ceiling lizard scale tile, glued on to drywall. Sweet!



Can you say, water damage?




Nice hack job soffit over the tub.



My hope was to just tear down the old drywall and put new drywall over the old plaster; tearing that stuff down is horribly messy.




But, echoes of my dad's voice in my head from all those times I helped him rebuild his houses were in my head... "Do it right the first time!" So I went ahead and took it all out. Note the faux subway tiles. They just cut the shape of tiles right into the plaster.



I wish I could have at least saved the original porcelain mosaic tile. I love how that looks.



Unfortunately, the previous DIYers had ruined that idea for me in a couple places, and I was sure water had leaked through those areas, so it was time to gut down to the planks / joists. That was fun. I estimated a good 1100 lbs of concrete there - 2 inches thick!



The subfloor planks ended up being in remarkably good shape. With the exception of the wood around the drains, it was all very solid. I opted not to remove the planks (mistake! But more on that later), other than the sections that needed replacement.



While I had the walls open though, I figured it was a good opportunity to replace the 100 year old plumbing. Having seen the inside of the feed and waste pipes from the kitchen rehab, I thought, "better safe than sorry" and pulled all the metal in the wall and replace it with copper and PVC. (The PVC in this picture are for the kitchen.)



They don't make 'em like this anymore! (well, maybe still in China.)





More in the next post...
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:24 AM   #2
Drewski [OP] Drewski is offline
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You may have noticed the old glass block window with that oh-so-leaky jalousie glass vent in the middle. That was destined for the scrap heap too. Lucky for me, that window was framed for a standard 32"x32" kit. Those are easily available at any of the big hardware stores, which I affectionately refer to as Blowe's , M'nads, or my favorite, Home Despot. A quick tear-out and a little mortar later... tada! New window.



Next, it was time to fill in the planks that I replaced. And then build up the floor to previous levels with an additional 2 layers of plywood. No OSB here!



(Oh, and in case you're wondering, I pulled that 300+ lb cast iron tub out of there by myself and threaded it out of the house and onto the back porch. I was channeling Magnus ver Magnusson or someone, because I sure as heck do not remember how my skinny ass did it.)

If you remember from my previous post, I said it was a mistake to not remove the planks. Of course, they used these huge (up to) 14' planks as subfloor back then, so I figured it would save me a good bit of work to leave the planks I could, rather than cutting them on the joists, up against the walls. I replaced all of the planks when I gutted the kitchen, but I forgot why. After installing the plywood floor (glued n screwed) I remembered why. The middle of the house had settled a bit. Like 1.5 inches. So, I removed all the kitchen planks to sister up the joists to level. Forgot about that. Ooops. So in the bathroom, the floor actually slopes away from the brick wall, about 1" in 8 feet. But that's not the end of the world. Back to the rebuild. I'm already a month or so into this project and it is getting old, fast.

I didn't end up removing 100% of the plaster. There was at the top of the tub area. I was building a new wall to leave some room for plumbing and electric, not to mention the original bathroom wall was so haphazardly put together; it was really the worst thing I have seen in all the work I've done in the house so far. The kitchen and bathroom walls actually held each other up; they were barely connected to the ceiling joists.



Anyway, I also opted to not tear out the ceiling. 1) I was bringing the ceiling down a foot anyway, to allow room for the ventilation fan. 2) The ceiling was plaster over old-school wire mesh. The small cutout I made in order to get at the plumbing on the 2nd floor was easily the most difficult and messy part of the rehab I had done so far. So I just sealed it off. I'm sure my dad wouldn't have given me crap about that. Besides, including the concrete floor, I've removed an estimated 2000 pounds of debris, just out of the @$&ing bathroom! And that doesn't include the fixtures. Yeah, they built shit heavy back then.



OK, enough delay. Back to the rebuild! Framing is pretty easy, and the hiccups in that process weren't to big of a deal. Next was the lowered ceiling, ventilation fan, window frame out, and walls.







Note the opposite 8 foot wall. In the back corner is the chimney, at the opposite corner (not pictured) is a linen closet accessible from the hallway. And in between is the cutout in the dining room for a china cabinet. This wall was also plaster over that evil wire mesh. No room to mess around here!





Luckily, for my sanity (but unluckily for my liver), a friend was hosting her 40th birthday blowout, and I was ready for a break. Needless to say, I didn't get too much done that weekend. Still, I needed a break.






On to the next installment: ready to prep for tile!
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