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Bathroom Progress | How to renovate your only bathroom

April 15, 2017

Hi there! Our bathroom is finally finished and I’m here to share some of the progress. This was our second time renovating the sole bathroom in a house and we’ve figured out a few things since then. The first is to have a plan, a REALISTIC plan <– this is key, because if you over shoot what you are reasonably capable of then you’re really stuck. We planned our bathroom remodel to take place during Christmas break, primarily because we both had time off and I was feeling heaps better after making it through the first trimester. Then we broke it into phases which I will detail below.

All in all, there were 7 phases, and while we did this one slightly differently than our first -you can read about that one here, and here, most of how we structured it was the same.

Phase 1 | Demo shower + Re-frame exterior wall + install window

When we moved into the house we immediately noticed that the window in the shower was scary. Not only would it not close, but because the sill was tilted TOWARDS the window, once water was on the sill it would drain into the window and make it’s way down the wall instead of dripping back into the shower. We knew that when we did the bathroom we’d have to tear out this window and possibly reframe most of the wall, which is exactly what ended up happening.

You can see here that most of the sections under the window and the framing was rotten and crumbling.

Below you can see an exterior view of the house and this window specifically.

Pretty gross! There was probably a larger window there at one time and when they replaced it with a smaller one, instead of reframing it and appropriately sheathing the exterior they just threw a piece of wood and plastic on the outside and called it good. Below you’re able to see the new window after Nick re–framed the wall. We went with the Andersen 100-series for our entire house, with a black composite on the outside with white inside to match the trim.

So much better! Check out the view from outside…

Phase 2 | Install tub + Concrete Board + Waterproofing

This was a big phase! But remember, we still have a sink and a toilet to use and we’re only three days in. We had all the materials prepped and waiting in the shop and since this was our second time doing this Nick had a good idea of what he need to grab before we started.

Our Second Use tub waiting in the shop.

And now in the house! Sage seems to like it. Next comes the concrete board… And the new can that nick wired for over the shower. We put it on the same circuit as the fan so you can tell when the fan is on! Pretty nifty I think.

Next came three coats of waterproofing, it’s pretty delightful color – it was fun to paint a room pink and know that you wouldn’t actually have to live with it very long.

Phase 3 | Tile & Grout Shower

If anyone is reading this and you’ve tiled a shower you know it’s not small potatoes. Especially when you choose 2×4 subway tiles…. I know, I could have made it easier on myself but I couldn’t help it. I love some clean white subway tile.

We did the back wall first and then moved onto the side walls. We used a level on almost every tile which is labor intensive but if you start going crooked it can really mess you up when you’re planning on tiling all around the room.

Nick picking off the second wall.

Working on the niches….

The tile we used was a 3×5 textured subway tile, it looks handmade which makes it a bit more rustic than your average tile.

Beginning to grout… The trick is to not get ahead of yourself. If you put more on than you can clean you can be in some serious trouble – take it from someone who has made this mistake. Initially I was bummed because the white grout makes our tile look more gray. Because of this I would recommend going with an antique white if you want your white tile to really pop. The bright white was too bright for our tile to compete. After tiling we sealed the grout with three coats of seal, it’s tedious and it smells but it ensures that our grout will stay bright white. They recommend re-sealing your grout every couple years to maintain the waterproof membrane it provides. 

 And just like that the shower is finished! Below is a picture where Nick filled the tub to make sure the plumbing was all good.

After caulking the joints and corners the shower was back in service. After only 6 days! Not to shabby for only having evenings and weekends to work on this project.

Phase 5 | Move Toilet + Plumbing + Tile remaining walls

In the process of making the layout of this bathroom more efficient we ended up moving the toilet from the north wall to the south wall. We found that if we hadn’t done this, every time you went to use said toilet you would knock your knees on the vanity. This ended up being quite a bear of a project because if you recall when we re did the guest room we had to re-do all the plumbing in the basement in order to eliminate the huge cast iron vent stack that ran through the wall. So here we are, ripping out brand new plumbing to move it over to the other side. I truly have the most incredible husband, handyman. He hardly batted an eye when I told him we had to move it – that’s trust people!

After the shower was back in service we removed the sink, reworked the plumbing for the vanity, switched the toilet over, ran the electrical for the new vanity light and started tiling the South wall of the room.

Hi Scout!

Nick working on the South wall of the bathroom. We decided to bring the tile up to chair rail height because we have 9 ft. ceilings and we didn’t want the shower when it was completely tiled to visually throw off the rest of the room.

So pretty! Even the door has new trim.

The North wall all finished!

Phase 6 | Installing heated floor mats + Tiling the floor

We decided to install heated floor mats because tile can be so cold on your toes! Additionally there is no heater vent in the bathroom so it can be pretty cold in there in the winter time. We also installed a heated towel warmer to help warm things up. Nick installed the floor when I was gone for the weekend with the help of our dear friend Phil. Who is amazing! The guys were up past midnight working on this bathroom so I could come home and have a finished space, they did some incredible work.

Heated mats going in…

And the beautiful mosaic floor tile! Ahh it’s so pretty, I can’t believe how great it turned out. And those neat little clips? They are self-leveling when you snap them between two pieces of tile. Phil had used them for his bathroom and laundry room and man were they helpful.

All grouted and ready for seal!

Phase 7 | Fixture installation

This next phase took a long time. Since we had a working shower and toilet we felt like we were out of the woods for the most part. We weren’t having to run back and forth from the neighbors to use the shower and the toilet, so we felt like living without a sink in here was the least of our worries. The next item to go in was the medicine cabinet and the vanity light. This was quickly followed by the towel warmer and the vanity.

This thing was no fun to wire, but it’s really lovely to have on cold mornings, I mean… Every morning!

My dad built us this beautiful custom vanity. The final reveal will be next, I promise! Writing this post was a big undertaking and really made me feel how big of a project this was. Stay tuned for all the pretty photos!

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