Bathroom remodel before, during, after

October 3, 2011

I spend many many hours, days, weekends, months working solo on large home remodel projects which I document with photos in the hopes of someday sharing them with others once I’m done.

Well I usually move on to the next project without ever sharing the photos of the previous project, so I never feel a complete sense of accomplishment or a sense of closure.

So on my latest master bathroom remodel I spent a ton of time digging through the pictures I took along the way and organizing them in some order.

I tried to group them in the same general orientation in a before, during and after order.





I started this project in February and just finished in September, only working after the kids’ bedtime and on weekends.

The room was only 6 years old but was built really poorly: The floors, walls and ceilings were so crooked and sagged that it felt like you were walking into a funhouse. The toilet leaned so far forward that the kids seemed to fall right off their perch on the seat. The shower leaked so bad that we had to put a trashbag over the door threshold just since the day we moved in. Even so, it still leaked so bad that the ceiling of the room below completely caved in.

Nice, right? So I basically had to completely gut the room, sister the old floor joists where they sagged the most on one end of the room, and chisel away an inch or so on the high side of the room.I had done a few small tile projects previously, but nothing of this size. I learned almost everything I needed to know from reading the johnbridge forums. It was there that I found out about the Schluter Kerdi shower membrane that will guarantee my shower to be completely water tight.

I also learned a good deal by bugging Craig at Mark Galdo Tile in Landsdowne, PA.

The middle picture below shows where I had to cut curfs in the joists then chisel and hand plane them to bring them level:

I didn’t change the footprint of the room or the shower but you can see from theses pictures I removed the front wall of the shower. I was able to leave the copper water supply to the two shower heads intact.

This shows the Kerdi membrane, which is mudded with thinset directly to the drywall:

My 5 year-old son helped me remove the old tile. My father helped with the pvc plumbing to the sinks, which we had to replace because the 2″ pvc that ran the length of the room was pitched UP hill. Morons. He also helped me wrestle with the heavy plywood subfloor. I paid a contractor to install the door, which cost me $1,270, with $500 of that labor. The rest I did myself.

I got $200 for this cheap Home Depot vanity thanks to craigslist.

This shows the pvc and the joist sisters:

I shouldn’t diss Home Depot because that’s where I got this vanity, along with the matching cabinets and mirrors. They are all from the Pegasus collection. It was half the price of most vanities, and actually better looking that a lot of the more expensive ones. I really dig the furniture legs.

I got the granite top from some place under the el on north Front St. It was cheap but I had to carry it up 3 flights of stairs and install it myself:

The top light fixtures are Ikea. The middle sconce is Home Depot. They were the least cheezy lights we could find:

The frickin ceiling was even crooked… and the funnest part of the entire demolition was tearing out the ceiling tile and drywall. Why? for the obvious reasons, like debris and dust filling every orifice, but squirrels had made a nest directly above the shower, so the debris also included chewed up insulation and rodent shit. Fun!

Here’s another shot of the rot. Only 6 years and some of the 2x4s were rotted through. Hire a hack to do a job and this is what you will eventually be left with:

This was definitely the hardest part of the job. The hacks had used solid concrete, but you are supposed to use a lighter “deck mud”, which is basically sand, a very small amount of portland cement, and water. Again, I learned everything from the john bridge forums.

The Kerdi drain cost $116 but was a dream to install:

The can lights from the room below just fit into the floor void, so when I lowered part of the floor the protruded above the joists. All I had to do was take the top off, cut an inch off with tin snips, and re-attach the top. It was actually pretty easy:

Here’s how I levelled the high part of the floor joists. I also had to do this to the warped wall studs. I hand-planed them after cutting and chiseling the curfs:

The Kerdi membrane in the shower had to be installed with thinset, which really isn’t all that “thin”. The seams had to be covered with a second membrane, which means a lot of overlap and buildup, and also means no more perfectly flat wall and floor. In order to keep my tile edges nice and flat, I bought a grinder and shaved off the back of the tile whenever they layed over a seam, which was quite often, so you can imagine how tedious this was:

All said and done, it took me 7 months, and cost me exactly $5,984.51. I also drank 110 beers while working. Yes, I kept track.

Here’s a few more “after” pictures:

Again, part of the Pegasus collection:

These outside corners were tough:

Now I have to patch the water-damaged ceiling below this room and paint the master bedroom, then the house is done done.



  1. Wow….I just can’t even imagine doing that amount of work after work! Here in Germany there are lots of good craftspeople to do this sort of thing and yes people surely do DIY but I don’t think I know anyone who’s done this amount of work “after work”! Respect! Enjoy your new spa and wipe that shower down with apple cider vinegar now and then to keep the soap film at bay.

  2. Really high quality job, man. Wow…ton of work…and bathrooms are no fun because there isn’t typically a lot of room to maneuver. Very pretty work.

  3. Thanks people. And thanks for the tip!

  4. I think I might do the same thing. As soon as I’m done with the basement waterproofing. You did a great job — looks fantastic.

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