Thursday, September 1, 2011

Major Project Update - Too Much for Facebook!

Project 2 - The Shower Project - Part 2:  The rest of the project.  (how's that for a title?)

I originally had this post titled Part 3, but I went back and realized that I never wrote a Part 2.  I guess a whole lot has happened since then, so I will try to keep it brief, yet fulfilling. (mostly pictures)

To start it off, here is a pre-part 1 photo that I never included as part of the project.  I was showing off my awesome drywall mudding skills that I had learned through many years of previous experience (thats for you dad).

Next of course, came the daunting task of fixing the huge hole that I cut out of the floor.  It was actually alot harder than it looks in the picture below.   I had to add new supports to nail into for the new floor replacement piece, so I cut them and squeezed them back into the hole where they needed to be.  I had to use screws, because there was no way to hammer underneath a floor and in-between a bunch of pipes.

And voilà, the floor was complete! (if only it had been so easy)

Note - You may notice that some of my pictures appear out of order if you can catch the details, but thats only because I took them out of order.  They are actually presented in order of construction

Now, at this point in the project, we decided that we should just go ahead and redo the whole bathroom rather than just the shower unit.  Since we were going to completely revamp the room, we decided that it needed a new paint job.  We picked a shade of blue.

Here is us trying out the color on the wall:

And of course, the lovely assistant (Marn) did the majority of the painting. 

The completed color change looked like this:  (Marn added some graffiti in the corner)

Of course, Im sure you would have guessed at this point that we decided to do some work on the door by scraping all the old flakey paint off, filling in the holes, sanding, and repainting it.  Here are some pictures of that:

We decided to also spruce up the old rusty hardware that was on the door with some fancy spray paint.  It was supposed to make it look like antique brass, but it just ended up looking like gold spray paint.  Since then, it has actually been painted to match the locks on our house and looks pretty good, if I may say so.  Its a much darker color, almost black, with the gold showing through barely.

Next, we made a run to Lowes to pick out a new sink that we had been thinking about getting for about a year.  I wanted to test fit it to see how it would look.

Finally back to the shower.  The shower unit we picked was designed to be installed against studs rather than over drywall, but due to the way the last unit was, we just decided to place it in the existing location.  Thanks to a house that is over 100 years old, the next time consuming task was leveling the shower pan.

I know what your thinking.  "How un-level are we talking here?" The answer is about this much:

For those of you that dont know how to read a level, skip to the next picture.  The floor ended up being a grand total of one nut and a washer out of level, or equivalent to 3/8 inches from the back wall to the corner.

 That of course, was not at all what I was expecting.  The first thing that popped into my mind was: how on earth do you measure for shims underneath a shower pan?  My ingenious plan that I came up with involved Google SketchUp and a tape measure.  I quickly threw together a 3D model that allowed me to draw out the slope of the floor underneath a level base.  I sketched out the where the support grid was, so I could then get an approximate measurement of how thick each shim needed to be.  Come to find out, SketchUp only will give you a measurement of 1/16th of an inch, so I had to do a little guestimation.

After the computer work, I headed out to the table saw.

I sliced myself up a few shims, about 24 or so.

I then proceeded to not take any pictures till after I had test fit the shims, nailed down the shims, mixed up a bag of mortar, spread out a bunch of mortar onto the floor, and finally squished the shower pan down into the lovely mortar bed and finishing the installation of the shower pan.

After installing the pan over a mortar bed, I shimmed and secured the sides of the pan to the wall.  I also stuck a few shims under the edges of the bottom just for support.

So by this point, if your still reading, your might be thinking - wow, it cant get worse than having to level a shower pan - or you might not.  If you did, you were thinking the same thing I was until I test fit the shower receptor.  This is where the wonderful 100+ year old house likes to show off its curves, curved walls that is.

This next picture shows the first solution I had to the problem.

It turned out that it ended up not lining up properly with the shower door when I test fit it, so I switched over to a set of shims cut similar to those I used for the shower pan.  The next picture shows the wall properly lined up ready for measurement.

 To cut the shims for the wall, I had to make measurements at each drill location (they were pre-marked) accurate to 1/32 of an inch.  I then cut the shims accurate to 1/32 of an inch, or at least I tried.  The picture below shows the shims in a pile ready to get installed.  The largest shim I cut was 1 3/8 inches, and the smallest shim was about 1/32 of an inch.  Those were some curvy walls.  You can also see my second nifty 3D model I made to help me keep track of my measurements in the picture below.

After I finally figured out how to get the walls to be level and secure, I had to reinforce the back of the walls with some shims.  I also had to cut a huge hole out of the wall so that I could pull the shower handle out far enough to reach the back of the receptor.  Marn wasn't so excited about that part.

Here's a picture of the construction zone.  I dragged everything I needed to finish the project upstairs that day.

Finally,  I got the walls square, and secured to the wall.  I stuffed some insulation in behind the wall to help with sound control.  I didnt want the shower to be an echo chamber.

Next I had to measure about 30 points to cut continuous shims for the trim.  I painted everything and tacked it all up with some finish nails.

After that picture, I finished mounting all the trim, caulked all the cracks and gaps, filled all the nail holes, installed the sink permanency, installed the glass door, and called it finished!

Here are some pictures of the finished remodel.  Since then, I have hung a hand towel rack by the sink and a picture above the toilet.  Marn is going to take care of the rest of the decorating.


  1. The newly remodeled bathroom looks wonderful!! More than I could have hoped for!