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  • Bathroom Upgrade - Ideas?

    <first off, the changed settings on the forum are a bit ... new ... to me. Am still finding my way to posting pictures and all..>

    I have two full bathrooms. I want to upgrade both, but first the smaller one is being planned now.

    This is a 9' x 5', with a single vanity/sink, toilet and bath-tub. I want to pull everything out, replace the tub with a shower enclosure, put new tiles on the floor and on the walls all around (just halfway high - the walls are 14 feet tall!).

    Click image for larger version

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    For this, I have engaged a small time handyman who did outstanding jobs with three of my acquaintances (a close friend, and then couple of his work colleagues). He has the experience, the skill and the work-ethic, but he wants me to buy all the fixtures, which suits us too.

    This brings me to choosing the vanity/sink (among other stuff). The current vanity is 33" wide, which is not a regular size. I think a 30" should fit there. I want one that has a few drawers and some other storage options. But I want to be sure the plumbing does not come in the way of that. The plumbing looks like this (the 2nd picture). The distance of the output hole from the left wall is around 27.5 inches.
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    Please ignore the patch-up job I did when I fixed a leaking pipe recently. I think it can be neater, without the flexi-pipe.
    That said, the current vanity does not have any drawers; will the pipes here pose a problem?

    I was thinking of picking something like this 30" variety of this vanity :

    Click image for larger version

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    (Ignore this link below please; I'm unable to delete it)
    Last edited by radhak; 05-27-2016, 06:19 PM.
    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    - Aristotle

  • #2
    You'd have to do some measurements to be sure but it looks like those drawers would hit the shutoffs. But possibly they do not go all the way back? I'd do some measurements at home and then on the vanity. The valves can be moved but it means opening up the wall. If it's plastic supply lines, they shouldn't be too tough to move but you might have to go to the other side of a stud which would require access from below (assuming that is how the supply comes in). If it is copper, it takes a bit more time but still may not be very difficult. For that vanity, the supply needs to be on the right side of where the vanity goes. Yours are not now, it's a question of how difficult it is to move them. If you have access to the lines below, it shouldn't be too bad. But it means a bit of drywall work which will lengthen the job.

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    • #3
      Thanks Jim - that's a lot of food for thought!

      I need to check the measurements of the drawers - maybe they only go half-deep.

      I am hoping not to disturb the plumbing too much - even if it means selecting a different vanity...

      (BTW, I was finally able to embed the images directly into the post...whew!)
      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
      - Aristotle

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      • #4
        That bathroom actually looks pretty nice, at least from the pic.

        What is the second pipe that goes up on the right for? A vent? Does it then go back inside the wall? Seems odd to me to have a drain go back up, and also odd to have a vent that starts inside the cabinet.

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        • #5
          Removing a tub and installing a shower can be quite a chore. If you choose a 1 piece fiberglass or acrylic shower you will find it impossible to get in the bathroom without removing walls. If you build a shower in place it gets pretty complicated. I don't know that I would trust just any handyman to installing one. It doesn't take much water leaking due to a not perfect wall joint or drain fitting to ruin the ceiling under it or if unseen rot out the whole wall. Others here can testify to that. Having had several tile shower stalls and having installed 6 acrylic 1 piece shower units myself I have come to like the 1 piece units over the tile. Tile is a ***** to keep clean, the joints crack and it's hard to clean. I buy the biggest 1 piece shower unit that will fit in the bathroom, remove walls to get it in, finish it out and tell momma that's all she gets! I've never seen a multiple piece fiberglass shower that I liked, it always creeked and popped.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by capncarl View Post
            I've never seen a multiple piece fiberglass shower that I liked, it always creeked and popped.
            I must have hit it lucky with my multi-piece. But in all fairness, it is a third shower for this house in the laundry room. I tore out a then 50 year old tile shower with thick heavy concrete like walls that had cracked and destroyed the flooring. Got a cousin who was a house builder in some upscale neighborhoods in the Memphis area to find me a good shower. I put it together and basically overbuilt it, as I tend to do with most things. One thing in its favor is that it is an occasional use shower when kids and grandkids show up, and then it is usually just me or LOML using it. It doesn't creak, crack or pop. It was fairly heavy duty and not the kind I see at warehouse/depot places.

            On the other hand, very soon I will need to replace the one piece tub/shower off of the master bedroom that was installed in the mid '90s. It was not over built as I tend to do, and has lots of popping and creaking. To me, who ever installed it did not do sufficiently spaced wall support. Done right, there shouldn't be flexing, IMO. it is a pain to install that way, but that is part of the work, IMO.
            Hank Lee

            Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

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            • #7
              Most builders just slide the fiberglass or acrylic tub in an opening and fasten the top to the wall with roofing nails, kinda like kicking luggage in a a closet. It will last until their warranty is expired so they don't care. The biggest complaint is the bottom of the tub flexes. The manufacturer says to pack under the tub with concrete but I've never seen a builder do that. I did all of mine like that, it took a little time with a push stick to get it packed in but it has no flex and should last longer than I will. My pet pieve with 1piece showers is the manufacturers lack of prep to allow grab rails. You have to plan on the rails you want and add supports in the wall to accept the rails or the future addition of rails, and document where the supports are so you can install the rails after the shower install. None of the handrails that I have found have the mounting spacing that matches existing wall studs, so it is hard to retrofit an existing bathroom. Attaching a handrail to drywall or a fiberglass tub wall ain't going to get it! Plumbing planning is also important, try to get the plumbing installed on an inside the house wall , preferably backed up to a closet or non living area so that WHEN not IF you have to get to the valves or piping for repairs or 10 years later to update to a nice frilly unit you don't have to rip the whole shower out. . You might have to stand your ground because if momma wants the shower head on an outside wall you gotta man up and say NO! In my last house I had to tear out 8 feet of living room wall to rip the whole shower out because the builder installed the plumbing on the outside wall, and I wasn't gong to tear out an outside brick wall to replace rotten wood and old plumbing. During the demolition my wife finally understood what I was talking about. Now the plumbing is accessible through a hall linen closet.
              cpancarl

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              • #8
                Originally posted by tfischer View Post
                That bathroom actually looks pretty nice, at least from the pic.

                What is the second pipe that goes up on the right for? A vent? Does it then go back inside the wall? Seems odd to me to have a drain go back up, and also odd to have a vent that starts inside the cabinet.
                Thanks, but after 15 years of life, the bathroom tiles have cracks, and the vanity's particle-board is showing. Any excuse to upgrade :-)!

                Yes, that pipe on the right goes into the wall for sink's "out", and it also has a tall vent. Came with the house, so I ain't sure of the logic behind it...
                It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
                - Aristotle

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by capncarl View Post
                  Removing a tub and installing a shower can be quite a chore. If you choose a 1 piece fiberglass or acrylic shower you will find it impossible to get in the bathroom without removing walls. If you build a shower in place it gets pretty complicated. I don't know that I would trust just any handyman to installing one. It doesn't take much water leaking due to a not perfect wall joint or drain fitting to ruin the ceiling under it or if unseen rot out the whole wall. Others here can testify to that. Having had several tile shower stalls and having installed 6 acrylic 1 piece shower units myself I have come to like the 1 piece units over the tile. Tile is a ***** to keep clean, the joints crack and it's hard to clean. I buy the biggest 1 piece shower unit that will fit in the bathroom, remove walls to get it in, finish it out and tell momma that's all she gets! I've never seen a multiple piece fiberglass shower that I liked, it always creeked and popped.
                  Whoa - that's a lot of caveat I need to pay attention to!

                  I talked to the guy today. He's no general handyman - he's a licensed bathroom installer professional, seems to know all there is to this task. I will be talking to the references he has worked for before.

                  I was planning on buying custom-made shower-doors and they install it too, which makes it 'build in place', I guess. Now I need to ensure this does not implode in anyway!

                  It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
                  - Aristotle

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                  • #10
                    When I read that you said your handyman was a licensed bathroom installer professional I got a good chuckle. I'm a state licensed erosion control expert with all the papers to prove it but I'm no means an expert..... Maybe this guy is good though! Ask him how long it will take him to install your shower and the materials and what the install procedure is and post it here.
                    In my last job I had to inspect the plans for 100 bathroom barracks and 2-3 br private quarters, and rejected most every one of them for one reason or the other. (They built them anyway) and lots of them failed final inspection.

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                    • #11
                      Few yrs. ago I remodeled a bathroom for my handicapped MIL, used a Sterling 4pc. 60" shower base & surround w/ grab bars model 72290103. Had a rough time installing the base, had to cut out the drywall on both end walls to get it in. The surround wall all snap in place no caulking of the seams. Replacing the drywall was easy. I hate tile because of maintenance issues. If you want a high end look, I would suggest a custom corian seamless shower no mildew/mold issues like tile. Also I used a chair height elongated toilet, so much more comfortable and easier for a handicap person to get on or off. If you want to go high end with the toilet get a Toto with bidet function only thing you will need to wire in an GFCI outlet by the toilet. Toto toilets are from Japan, if you ever visit japan it's in all of the Hotels and most homes. They are good toilets, conserve toilet paper and the environment.

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                      • #12
                        I've installed two tub showers and one 4' one piece shower. The tub showers got tile over concrete board. They all worked fine. I need to do 3.5 more in this house. My wife likes the separate bases for showers and tile walls above that. So at least one will probably be done that way. It isn't a high end look but it is simple to install and should hold up fine. If you want to make it a bit nicer, a builder buddy goes to a local supplier who will make a similar base out of the fake rock stuff you can use on the walls. They slope it to the drain, obviously, and put in ribs so it is sturdy. You can put the base in and do the walls in the same material for a more one piece look.

                        The fancier way to do the shower is to tile the floor too which requires a built up base. Traditionally it is made of "mud" - concrete without aggregate and has a metal pan within the concrete to get the water that goes through small cracks in the concrete and tile. I need to replace one and I am pretty sure they used galvanized steel. That is cheap but doesn't last. If they had used copper, it would still work. The newer way to do this is to use a Styrofoam system. It looks neat but I don't know much about it.

                        I don't love the idea of tile floors in a shower. I'm sure it can be done where it doesn't leak but the floor is always going to be a lot more prone to leaking than a vertical wall. I put fiberglass mesh tape in the corners and seams of the concrete board and then bury them in the thinset when I install the tile. So there is a continuous concrete wall behind the tile. No leaks so far. There should never be any. For a wall, I think this is good enough.

                        I put drawers in a small vanity I put in one of the bathrooms I did. I made the vanity so it was made to fit around the plumbing. I had a shorter drawer where I had a shutoff valve behind it. The other stuff was behind the door. I prefer to make the vanity myself when I have the time

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                        • #13
                          [QUOTE=JimD;n827790

                          I don't love the idea of tile floors in a shower. I'm sure it can be done where it doesn't leak but the floor is always going to be a lot more prone to leaking than a vertical wall. [/QUOTE]

                          Hi Jim, mud floors now typically have a membrane and the mud goes on top of it, that way as moisture migrates through the grout joints, it finds its way to the membrane and eventually to the drain. Mud floors of this type are constructed in two layers of mud. The picture will explain better than I have.

                          The website cabindiy.com/how-to/ - was used for the photo - they show a wooden curb, radhak should stay away from that as he is in Florida and IIRC had carpenter ants or termites attack one year? A concrete curb is what my uncle always uses, he forms it and pours it in place then does the first base sloped layer of the mudpan.

                          Attached Files
                          I think in straight lines, but dream in curves

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                          • #14
                            I'm familiar with the mud bed with membrane with approach. I have one and we can't use that shower because it was done with galvanized metal that has failed where it connects to the drain. With better materials (copper or plastic) it should work. But when it fails, you will not see the failure until you see the damage. I personally don't really want to take the chance that it fails. But if we end up with a large (3x5) shower, I will probably do it anyway. But if your shower is the size that you can get a pre-made base for, and you are OK with the look, you don't have to take the risk.

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                            • #15
                              Finally, after so many days, I can report that this upgrade is done! I did benefit from the discussion here, as I was able to make sure the contractor did not take any shortcuts.

                              The guy proved to very, very good with his work - this particular job was done in 4 days. He worked relentlessly from 8am to 6pm, barely pausing.

                              The shower doors are the Enigma line from HD.





                              It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
                              - Aristotle

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