Bathrooms Home Improvement

Master Bathroom-Reconstruction (part 2 of 3)

In my previous post on the master bathroom I left everyone (including my husband) hanging, with a dusty, dirty, demolished bathroom.  There are probably a few other “d” words my grandpa might have used, but lets keep it clean.

After all the dust and destruction stopped, I was suddenly faced with the daunting task of putting it back together again.  This is where I started to panic and called Cath several times for reassurance.  (Sorry Cath for waking you up on several mornings.  Your “of course you can do it” encouragement is always helpful.)

The first problem I ran into were some electrical surprises in the wall.  Surprises are a natural part of any remodeling project and need to be considered in the overall plan.  This particular surprise was a no-no in the electrical world.  Wires had been spliced together, nutted, and wrapped in electrical tape, but they were free within the wall.  They should have been in their own junction box for safety.  This means my kid’s bathroom now has a new outlet, but that is the subject of another post.

Once the electrical was addressed we could move on to plumbing the shower head and valve.  Since we weren’t taking out the tub we could just use the same drain.  (Thank goodness because I don’t particularly like sewage lines.  They’re kind of icky.)  Using PEX, I teed off the hot and cold waterlines of the roman faucet and ran them up the wall to the new valve.  We used PEX connections here as well.  I really enjoy doing PEX.  It’s quite fulfilling.

PEX parts artistically arranged on concreteDSC05110

Once the plumbing was done I started the prep work for the surround by putting up DensShield.  At first I went to that big box home improvement store and got cement board, but quickly realized it would be impossible for me to work with it on my own for the simple reason it is heavy as sin.  It took two men at the story to lift even a single 3’x5’ sheet.  Problem!   Starting to freak out again, I quickly called the Bathroom Whisperer aka Dad (should have done this first) and he told me about DensShield, a gypsum product coated in fiberglass made for tile and stone.  The “big stores” by me don’t sell it, but you can easily find it by calling a drywall store.  It cuts and hangs almost like sheetrock except you get little fiberglass itchies sometimes.  It is more water resistant than cement board, tons easier to work with, and very easy to tile on. (Note: Choir of angels singing in background here.)

This picture was taken after I put up all the DensShield and siliconed all the seams.  You can see my exciting new valve and the protective plug for the shower head poking out of the wall.

I set up shop in the garage since it was still cold and randomly snowy here.  A tarp behind the wet-saw kept the water from spraying everywhere. Thanks to grandpa’s old drill, which I received as a hand-me-down, (see note*) I had a drill with enough strength to mix my little batches of thin-set using my newly purchased 1/4″ mixing bit.  I’m pretty sure my little battery powered drills would’ve pooped out with this task.  (*Note: Tools are my favorite hand-me-downs.)

As a mother, doing little batches of thin-set was the only way to go.  It would be a shame to be pulled away to watch Nickjr with The Missies and have a large batch go to waste.


Other Important Note: Anyone who knows my kitchen, the measuring cup that has “Not for food” written all over it is once again really NOT FOR FOOD!

Finally, super thanks goes to my wonderful husband for letting me take over his parking spot in the garage…again.  He seemed more happy about it this time.  Probably because he’s really excited to get his own shower.

The actual tiling.  Nothing says AWESOME quite like real stone.  There are lots of wonderful tiles out there, but once again I have expensive taste.  This is one time when I could get what I want and stay within budget.  I chose 12”x12” travertine stone tiles for the majority of the shower surround.  The store I bought it from directly imports stone from all over the world and as a result their prices were a lot better than other places I went.  In the end I got the travertine for $2.75 a square foot.  To add interest I picked out 4”x4” tumbled travertine tiles to add as a decorative row for $3.15 a square foot and then I splurged on 5 little stone mosaic flower tiles that were $5.00 a piece.  (For a full breakdown of all the cost see part three of this series.)

First row going up


Cath and I tiled her tub surround a few years ago using white, porcelain subway tiles all the way to the ceiling.  Compared to that, this actually went rather quickly and smoothly.  Travertine isn’t as scary as it sounds.  It may rhyme with Wolverine, but that’s where the similarity ends.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a ton of time and work and I had a serious case of “man hands” by the end to prove it, but overall, not too difficult.

About half way done…and a long way to go.DSC04565

Of course there is always a certain level of mess involved in these things.   By the time it was done I just threw away the two pairs of pants and two tee-shirts I wore while tiling because I didn’t want to send them through the washing machine.  Projects like these are why I don’t immediately get rid of those pants that make my backside look large or that fit well when I first put them on but look awful by the end of the day.  It’s far more satisfying to completely destroy them first…then throw them away.

To see the results of all this torture watch for the next installment.