Many of our friends — who have been kind enough to lend us their showers repeatedly over the last couple of weeks — know that we’re renovating our bathroom.
I discovered that the caulking around our bathtub had gotten loose. This adventure started as a simple weekend project for me to remove the old caulking and replace it with fresh new silicone.
Then I discovered wood rot in a corner of the floor by the tub, and I discovered rotten and mouldy drywall. This is when I decided to call for professional help.
The project: replace the floor and bathtub surround.
PART ONE: The Contractors
You’d think that in this day and age a project like this would be easy to do if you hire a contractor, yes? I mean, you call them up, give them a deposit, let them in to do their work and pay them when they’re done. Right?
I wish it were that easy.
The project started out well: to save money I arranged with the contractor that I would do the demolition myself. My good friend Jeff came over to help and together we took down all the old tiles and ripped out the old drywall. By the way, did I mention that the old drywall was NOT greenboard? Apparently that’s how they rolled in the ’70′s when my house was built.
When Jeff and I removed the old trim and then the linoleum flooring, we discovered that the corner where the wood rotted had been “fixed” once before, as there was an obvious square patch of subfloor there. I guess they fixed the symptom but not the cause, eh?
I fear this is going to be a long post. I have already written a post-project report as feedback for the contractors I hired. Why not go read it here:
Post-Project Report (3 page PDF)
I laid this report out in a way that I felt would best provide my contractor with feedback. I include it here because I feel it also does a good job explaining how the first part of my bathroom renovation — the second part of which is still not finished as I write this half a month later — has gone.
Please, make with the clicky-clicky and go have a read. Come back after you’re done and we can go over what’s happened since then.
PART TWO: Toilet Troubles
Last time on Bathroom RENO Adventures! our Intrepid Bathroom Hero was left to install his own toilet. The following items were left on our to-do list for me to complete:
(*) Put some caulking around the drain in the tub;
(*) Get a new toilet from Rona and install it.
Two things. Should be pretty easy, no?
I should also point out that while I was being given the scheduling run-around by Chris the plumber I bought some TSP and I cleaned and rinsed all the walls. Then I put down some fresh coats of paint, especially the bit that will be hidden behind a toilet later.
I point this out in case anybody playing along at home is keeping track of how much work I personally have put into a project that I paid a professional company to do.
Speaking of extra work, we have discovered that the bathtub refinisher guy did not do such a great job around the drain. We will have to put some silicone around the drain as a result.
PART TWO POINT FIVE: An Aside Regarding the Re-Enameling
Actually, we’re not terribly impressed with the re-enameling job as a whole. Nor with the guy who did it. I was expecting a nice smooth finish, but this enameling is bumpy with scratchy bits stuck in it. Mah Hunnybear is not happy with how the tub feels against her skin when she bathes.
Maybe that’s just how it works when you re-finish a tub?
Skin Irritating Tub Texture
(click for original image)
There is also this unsightly wrinkle where the enamel must have been sprayed on too thick:
Wrinkley Drippy Tub Edge Bit
Still, the tub looks much better than it did before. In this video I posted to YouTube you can see how our tub looked before. NOTE: it’s probably best if you right-click on it to “Watch on YouTube” so that you can see the full YouTubeHD version. That way you can, you know, actually READ my little pop-up captions and stuff:
PART TWO POINT FIVE ONE: Stop Digressing
Look, you and I both know that this post has been a long read so far. Let me summarize the rest of how things have gone in point form for you:
(*) I went to Rona and bought the basic model toilet. While walking outside one of the handles on the box ripped apart and the box dropped to the ground. When I picked it up I heard noises you don’t want to hear from a box with porcelain inside it;
(*) I took the toilet to Customer Service and explained what happened. They got a replacement box for me;
(*) I took the new toilet home and installed it that night;
(*) The next day while I’m at work Mah Hunnybear, who has come home early because she doesn’t feel well, tells me that (a) the toilet keeps running; and (b) there is water on the floor. Take a guess at how I feel about this project at this moment. I decide to head home, fix the problem and work from home for the afternoon;
(*) I get home and it turns out the toilet runs because the chain fell off and got stuck under the flapper valve. Easily fixed: reattach the chain to the flush handle and crimp it so it can’t pop off again;
(*) The water on the floor is a small leak coming from one of the bolts holding the tank onto the bowl.
Here is where I discover one of the design flaws of this toilet. The tank is insulated; it comes with styrofoam glued to the inside of the walls. The glue is applied at the factory by a trained monkey who paints it on so that the glue line goes right across the bolt hole.
The bolt has a rubber washer that should keep water out, except the glue line is thick enough that water leaks out along it despite the rubber washer.
(*) I try tightening the rubber washer down tighter, and re-set everything;
(*) No luck, water still leaks slowly out the hole;
(*) I curse the monkey and make derogatory comments about its simian ancestry and its parents’ discretion with respect to choosing a mate;
(*) I detach and dry out the tank. I put the rubber washer back but with silicone under it. I tighten the bolts back onto the tank and leave the silicone to dry;
(*) I made a silly mistake; I left the tank lying on the edge of the tub to dry. When I come back in later on to check on the silicone, I knock the tank into the tub where it scratches my nice new enameling job;
(*) I sheepishly curse my own simian ancestry, &c;
(*) The silicone has cured. I put the tank back on the toilet. VOILA, NO LEAKS!
(*) I caulk around the base of the toilet;
(*) I caulk around the tub drain;
PART TWO POINT FIVE TWO: The Return of Part Two Point Five
I phone up Mr. Barefoot of Barefoot Bathtub, the guy who did the re-enameling. He says that he could certainly stop by on the weekend with a tiny bit of primer and enamel mix for me to patch these scratches. Awesome, right? He says he’ll call before he stops by.
He does not call or show up on Saturday. I call on Sunday, but he does not answer. I left a message asking him to could call me back. He does not call or show up on Sunday.
Since then I have tried at least five times to reach him from my cell and work phones. No answer; they always ring through to voicemail.
Call screening anyone? It looks like this Ripoff Report on Barefoot Bathtub Refinishing is accurate at least with respect to trying to get ahold of the guy.
I have since added my own experiences as an additional report on that site.
PART THREE: Not Quite Finished
Last night, tired of continually imposing on friends for showers, I made little silicone caulking patches over the scratches in the enamel.
I am SO looking forward to having a shower in my own tub. With my luck, the little patches will rub off and the whole tub will rust before spontaneously igniting and burning the house down.
I guess my next step is to phone a bathroom supply store and find out how much it will cost to buy a small bit of primer and enamel to cover these scratches.
Assuming my little patch job takes, this won’t happen soon so in the meantime let me leave you with this video showing what our bathroom looks like now:
(captions coming soon)
UPDATE: This bathroom reno is officially giving me nightmares. You can read about it over here.
UPDATE 2: SOLD
Mah hunnybear and I sold this house and moved to one with a nicer bathtub.
While staging the house we bought a tub mat / liner thing. You know, rubber mat with suction cups on the bottom. Figured it would look nicer than silicone patches. After we had an offer on the table, I took up the liner to remove the patches and fix the scratches.
First things first, don’t buy those liners. They do nasty things to enamel. Fortunately in our case we only had it for a month or so. No noticeable damage, just early signs of bubbles forming in the enamel.
Second thing: silicone on enamel makes a GREAT patch for scratched tubs. Those silicone patches lasted through our daily wear and tear with no problems, and I had a helluva time removing them. It took a razor blade, lots of elbow grease and some sandpaper to remove ‘em. NOTE: sandpaper is not ideal for removing silicone from anything, but it works with enough brute force.
The problem, of course, is avoiding damage to the surrounding area while sandpapering the tiny scratches free of silicone. I managed it, though.
I bought some enamel touch-up to fix the patches properly. Guess what? There are 20 different shades of white. I got the wrong one. After building up layers of enamel to fill the scratches and sanding them level, though, you had to look hard to see where they were.