Thursday, September 25, 2014

DIY Bathroom-Tub Surround


Ew!  Right?!


Our upstairs bathroom used to be pretty gross, so we decided to do something about it. Under the current circumstances, we couldn't afford to hire anyone to redo our bathroom, so my boyfriend decided to just do it himself.  I helped him pick out the tiles, and we discussed the design and decided on that together, but he did all of the work himself.  This whole project was his idea.  I'm not one of those women who needs a "Honey Do" list.  It's great!


The first thing he had to do was rip everything out.  Believe me--we were happy to see it all go!  There was a good amount of mildew behind the tiles, but once the wall board came out, damage to the studs was minimal, and the cinderblock was clean. He has replaced what the previous builders (whoever they were!) used with proper tile backing board (cement board, Hardie Backer, tileback, etc.) What was there before was green board, which is not as mildew and moisture resistant. He also added a sealer on top of that (Red Gard, I think it's called.) That should help a lot toward keeping down mildew in our tiny, poorly ventilated bathroom!

I'm currently sorting through the old tiles to see what's salvageable and getting them ready to give away or donate.  There are a lot of them!  So far, I've had them up on Craig's List and on my local Freecycle list, but no takers yet.  If we don't manage to give them away, we'll call around to some of the local salvage shops and see if they will take them.  We will do anything we can not to throw any of the good ones out! Most of them came out very clean.

Since we went from two faucet handles to one, we had to hire a plumber to come in and do the background work for that. We had a relative come and look at it first, but our setup is a little complicated, so he deferred to the plumber.  That job was done within just a couple of hours and for not too high a cost.  We'll be able to install the hardware now with no problem.

That same relative also lent my boyfriend his wet saw, which really sped the job up and made it much easier.  This whole thing has taken about two or three weeks. (Remember:  It's just been him working on it!)  There's not enough space in that bathroom for him to have had a helper, whether it was me or someone else, so I focused on trying to keep the rest of the house humming while he did this heavy work.

Being without a shower for more than a few days is not an ideal situation to be in, but we have managed.  We have a number of friends and family members who have allowed us to visit and use their facilities.  We probably won't be able to use the shower and tub for about another week, but we'll be fine.

Now, the surround is nearly done, and  it's coming along pretty nicely.  All that's left is one more layer of grout, grout sealant, and putting in the hardware after the sealant dries.  The next thing we will need to do is paint the tub. We couldn't afford to have it ripped out and replaced, so we will fix it up and make it do.


As he worked, he made two spontaneous design decisions that were really neat:  He went through some of the tile we have stored away (found and from earlier projects) and found one that was a slightly different color and texture.  He put that smack in the middle of the wall, and it looks really neat! The other element that blew me away was that when he ripped out the wall opposite the faucet, he decided to put in a recessed shelf!  That will be very handy, and it looks wonderful.

DIY is sometimes messy, and it takes a little longer to get the job done and see the results, but in the end, the rewards are many!  The best part, for me, is having control over the whole process:  Sourcing materials, handling and disposing of materials, and changing course midway without a lot of extra expense (though thankfully, we have not done that with any of our projects yet.)  I estimate that we have saved ourselves at least $5,000 by redoing our two bathrooms without outside help.  That's a gigantic reward!

Since we are not finished yet, I don't have the final "after" photos, but I will post them once we are all finished!  :)

All of this said, DIY is not for everyone. In my case, I don't have the time or the physical strength to do most of these projects on my own, though I'm always happy to help out where I can.  Some people are not good with design or project planning.  Others are good with some materials, but not others, and finally, some people just don't want to DIY, and that's all fine.  The key is to know your goals and know your limits.

I think our next project is probably going to be to replace our front door.  It dearly needs it!  We tried going the "using a pro" route a couple of years ago, and that was a fiasco, so we are going to install a new door ourselves.  Fortunately, the frame is fine, so all we need to do is replace the door itself and add a storm door, if we decide to go that route.  We really need to do this before Winter sets in, but I'm doubtful we will be able to.

Stay tuned and see what happens!