The Rest of the Story

With the tub reglazed and moving into a house without a functioning kitchen or bathroom it was time to crack the whip on the 1st floor bath.  I had to resume working on the tile around the tub so that I could at least take baths.

Since a few days had gone from when I started the walls, when I went to resume I quickly noticed that the tiles on the long wall were not lining up with the shower head wall.  The bottom row is the only row I had to cut to size and at some point I did not pay close enough attention to keep them aligned.  The American Olean 4×4 had built in spacers, loved that about them, but I knew if I didn’t correct alignment by the time I got to the top my chair rail tile wouldn’t line up.  Thankfully I had bought 1/8″ spacers, so I used them to slightly widen the space until the corners lined up again; four rows with spacers meant I was 1/2″ off.  So fortunate to catch that when I did.

The first real challenge I had was the soap niche.  I had never done one, but YouTube and a few visits to look at tile shop displays was all I needed to feel comfortable with moving forward.  Planning the location of a soap niche is very important.  I purchased pre-fabricated soap boxes for both showers, which had to be screwed to the joist before the cement board.  I measured up approx 22″ from the tub, which is where I thought five, whole pieces of the 4×4 plus the 2×6 bullnose border would fit.  Missed it!

First, the tile actually measured 4 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ and I didn’t know before I started that the bottom row would not be a whole piece, so I actually needed a 3″ wide border.  I was stymied for a couple of days until I had another one of my MacGyver visions.  I had initially bought the wrong cove base, but hadn’t returned it yet.  It was 4×6 with a bullnose, so I cut it down to the 3″ I needed.  The mitered corners were easier to measure and cut than I thought they’d be.  10 days after moving in I took my first bath; no more inconveniencing friends and former neighbors.

Once I got passed the soap niche and tub area I turned my focus back to the floor.  I had grouted the white area, but not the black as I wanted to do it with the soap niche.  In hindsight I should have chosen a neutral grout color, like gray, and used it on the floors 20181225_175135and walls, but noooooo my mind/vision was fixed on black on black, white on white.  Before I could apply the black I had to use my Dremel tool to clean out the grooves where the white grout had gotten into the wrong areas.  I was on my hands and knees for hours.  After getting all the areas cleaned out I vacuumed and applied blue painters tape around the edges in hopes that would be enough to stop the black grout from bleeding into the white areas.  Theory and reality did not match on this occasion.  When I pulled off the tape the “rug affect” looked like a hot mess and I cursed myself for thinking I could pull that off.  At least the soap niche turned out alright.

Fixing the bleed over was more hours on my hands and knees using my Dremel tool to clean out the black.  In some areas I had to mix more white grout to touch up, but amazingly, given my amateur status, the “rug affect” was a success and I could turn my attention to finishing the rest of the walls.  All tile work was completed on January 8, over three months from the day I started.

My birthday gift to myself was going to be the completion of the bathroom by installing the toilet and sink.  Unfortunately my Signature Hardware hardware fixtures, purchased in Spring of 2018 did not allow that to happen.

I started with the sink.  I really wanted a console sink, but I decided to be prudent given the master bath extravagance and save the $400.  I got the pedestal base in place and set the sink on top and placed it against the wall.  It did not lay flush.  I thought for sure it was my tile job, so I pulled out my leveler and it was not the wall.  The sink was defective; there was a hump in the middle.

I turned my sites to the toilet only to find that one of the two tank bolts were missing.  I was PO’d.  So much for that birthday gift.  I called Signature Hardware, had to send them 20190112_193101the pictures and video above to prove the sink was defective, but once received they agreed to replace the sink.  Fortunately for me I live about 15 minutes from their warehouse, so I didn’t have to wait for delivery.  I returned it myself and was told they had to open four boxes before they found one that was flat across the back.  Apparently they had gotten a bad batch from their manufacturer.  I got a new pack of tank bolts too.  This cost me another week.  When I was able to work on the bath again I started with the toilet.  Easy, peasy, I had it connected in about 30 minutes, flushed it once all was well.  Back to the sink.  I had to connect all the faucets parts first and as I was working on that, the toilet started to run.  Long story shortened they sold me a toilet that had been returned/defective.  That was why there was only one bolt originally.

I am now beyond PO’d.  My track record with my Signature Hardware fixtures up to that point was not good.  I had already dealt with two bad drains, two bad aerators, the sink, missing bolts, and now a defective toilet.  There customer service with each call was stellar, they always replaced parts quickly and without question.  For my inconvenience with the sink they refunded me 10% of the purchase price, a whopping $21.99.  In a previous blog I had talked about ordering sink faucets with the wrong reach that they would not let me return, so needless to say I wanted a manager to explain how I got a returned toilet.  I wasn’t overly irrate, but I listed all the issues I have been having with their products and shared I had never had problems like these when purchasing from Home Depot or Lowes and that they were supposed to have a high end product.  I told him I regretted ever buying from them and that I feared connecting the fixtures in the master shower (the only items of theirs left to install – 10.16.19 update the master shower system is a complete disaster).

He asked me what he could do to make me happy, as my experiences weren’t a true reflection of their workmanship and quality.  He opened the door and I burst through it.  I asked for the console sink I really wanted and he gave it too me with no hesitation.  I’d rather have things work right out the box as the time lost, translates to money lost, and the value of the console doesn’t equate.  It took another two weeks before my schedule allowed me to put everything in, but on February 9th I had a fully functioning bath.

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The towel rod, and toilet paper dispenser are American Standard TR Collection and the sink and shower faucets are American Standard Hampton Collection all ordered from Build.com.  The original tub filler that came with the shower set I had to swap out for a longer one, Delta 7″, as when I filled the tub about half of the stream went directly into the overflow due to its cup design.  That also came from Build.com.  Next to Amazon that is my favorite online store to shop for my house.

Trying to be a more positive person is something I’m seeking on this new journey, so that is the inspiration behind my decor.  It is a tribute to all the positive people that have come into life keeping me sane and motivating throughout this restoration journey.  The wall paper that line the shelves in the closet and the back of the medicine cabinet is called Dream Big from Wayfair.com.  The shower curtain, filled with motivational quotes and hooks, double sided so curtain and liner don’t share a hook, were great finds from Amazon.  My other accessories: soap dispenser and trash can came from Bed, Bath, while the paper hand towel dispenser  and linen like paper towels came from Amazon.  All complimenting my black and white color scheme.  I may have mentioned this item in an earlier blog about the electric, but I absolutely love my exhaust fan/light.  Purchased from Build.com the fan comes on automatically whenever it senses humidity in the room.

I still need to touch up some areas with paint, hang the doors and medicine cabinet, but the functionality is complete.  Of all the things I’ve done in this house, I think I’m most proud of this bathroom.  My goal was to restore it to its original look and I think I accomplished that.  I see the flaws, but I also marvel every time I walk in it amazed by what I accomplished with no assistance.  I actually tell myself I’ve done good.  I’m giddy, excited, to get the medicine cabinet complete.  It will be an inspired by DIY/HGTV project with salvage material.  Check back often to see the COMPLETELY restored bathroom.

 

September 28, 2018 – February 9, 2019

I should have made post as this project went along, so you may want to get some snacks to get through this one.  September 28, 2018 was the first day I started laying tile in the first floor bathroom, with the goal of having one fully functioning bathroom before I moved in.  February 9, 2019 was the day it officially became a fully functioning bathroom.  I still need to hang the doors, finish the medicine cabinet and touch up paint, but I no longer have to chose between the upstairs or downstairs toilet when I’m on the first floor and I no longer have to use the kitchen sink to wash my hands.  Heaven on earth.

With the exception of letting a plumber connect the shower diverter and drain in tub and having tub professionally reglazed everything else you’ll see I did by myself.  It truly is the most ambitious tile project I have ever undertaken and it tested my resolve, patience, and stretched my skills to a whole new level.  Pinterest can get a DIYer in trouble.  The idea to create a rug affect on the bathroom floor came to me via a picture on Pinterest.  I started with a very easy step, applying the RedGard to the floor and walls

The original floor was all white 1″ hexagon.  It was filthy, but otherwise in great shape.  I hated tearing it out, but the floor joist where really compromised from years of water leaks, so I had no choice, but remove.  I got the floor tile from the Tile Shop in Oakley.  I found a great sales person in Cari Branden.  From there I did a dry fit to make sure the black tile was centered and balanced.  I didn’t lay out the entire floor, just enough to

to know I had cut the mosaics to the right lengths and widths.  It was early in the project, so my confidence was high.  I put together my new Ridgid wet saw and got started.  I had the first row of white and the upper black down and at that point had planned to do all the outer white and then all the black, so I could grout the black.  In hindsight I should have used gray grout for entire floor, but I had my vision set on white on white, black on black.  Things weren’t lining up with the thinset as they did with the dry run as I realized the sink wall was not straight.  I abandoned the idea of laying all the black and just started laying rows, backing my way out the room.

Next was the white grout, trying to be careful not get any in the areas meant for the black grout.  It was November 12th when I reached this stage.  I had sold my house and was packing for my November 17th move.  I turned my focus on the walls (still had not done the black grout) as I had Miracle Method scheduled to refinish the tub on November 15 and they said I needed to have the tile work around the tub finished before they could do their part.  I had already rescheduled them twice.

Followers of my blog have read this statement many times.  My goal was not to renovate, but restore.  The orignal bathroom had 4×4 white tile and tile chair rail on all four walls.  Originally it only went up about 4 feet as there was not a shower, just the gorgeous, deep cast iron tub.  I’ve never worked with a chair rail or cove base tile and they don’t make now as they did back then.  All the wall tile came from Lowe’s, American Olean.  Just before I started this project I got to go to a training at French Lick Resort and stay in their West Baden property.  I had heard so many wonderful things about that property and it did not disappoint.  Highly recommend.  The bathroom had the same chair rail and 4 x 4 tile I had purchased.  I asked management and they told me it was American Olean.  I got geeked (did I just age myself).

I was taught to start in the center and work your way to the sides, so that each corner has the same width tile.  With the corner round I had to start on the outer corner.  It amazingly was easier to work with the corner pieces than I thought.  Even the beveled cuts for the chair rail went off without a hitch. Since I added a shower, my tile went up 7′ around the tub and it seemed like the boxes of tiles were multiplying as I was laying them.  After a full 8 hours I hadn’t put a dent in the tub area, but I had done enough to keep the tub refinishing appointment.

Miracle Method reglazed my master tub at my former house.  My friend Joan had used them and was happy with the outcome, so I didn’t shop around.  They did a good job on Inner Circle, so I became a repeat customer.   They started right after I had my bad 20181115_120545experience with Roland Hardwoods where I didn’t speak up when I knew the work wasn’t right.  For the plumbing rough-in I had to put a drain in for the water test.  Since that tub was going to be reglazed I bought a cheap one from Home Depot and it was still in place.  The young man doing the work was adamant he was not allowed to remove the drain, even though I told him it was temporary.  I knew there was rust under it, but he insisted that area didn’t need to be treated and I could remove it later.  I let it go, as I had to leave due to fumes, but when I saw the tub the next day I knew I was

right as could see that once I removed that drain it was going to compromise the edges around the drain.  I called their office and raised a fit and he was instructed to remove the drain and treat the area underneath.  Instead of buffing and finishing in 2 days he had to retreat the area and I held off the final, buffing, until after my move.  SPEAK UP is the important lesson I learned when your gut tells you something is not right.

Several people told me I could have gotten the reglazing done cheaper, they charged $650, but the final product looked awesome and I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if one process is better than another.  I would use them again despite lower pricing elsewhere.

Since I’m through about half the pictures, I will make this a two-parter.  Stay tuned as you haven’t seen the hard part yet.