Installing the Walls
Well, in keeping with the wall theme, here’s another post for you about the all-important home feature:
The walls. They’re kind of a big deal.
We were not anticipating how much time installing walls would take. It took us about a month. (Most of our work is relegated to weekends. If you have the flexibility or the energy to work on a project like this during the week, you’re bound to finish it sooner than we did – and we’re jealous of you.) I thought it would take one weekend. I was very, very wrong.
It requires accurate measuring, a lot of cutting, heavy lifting and then having 2 people at install – one person to hold the board and one to screw it in. Although, Adam completed the whole shower while I was out of town by nailing wood “shelves” to the studs to hold his cement board while he screwed it in. That’s dedication and ingenuity.
But before we could even get started with the sheetrock and cement board, we had to add new support for our new and rather large medicine cabinet.
This was added time I didn’t anticipate.
We also had to install our shower shelves.
And then things got annoying because we didn’t have studs where we wanted the cement board to end and the sheetrock to begin. That was a tad problematic. After a trip to Lowes for a few 2 x 4’s, we installed additional studs for our wall transitions.
Guess what? Then we had to re-route the wiring, unwire, and re-wire the switch so the electrical could go through the new studs. Ah… the beauty of home renovation projects…
Several hours later – or maybe days – we started to actually install the walls.
There was no cement board in here before – it was mesh and mortar behind the tile – so we added new cement board and we replaced nearly all of the sheetrock. There was some sheetrock that was salvageable, but most of it had some major dents, scratches, puckers, spackle scars, or years of dampness that needed replacing.
Once the curb was finished, we were ready to install walls: sheetrock for painted walls and cement board for tiled walls.
That meant installing cement board from the floor to the ceiling in the shower, on both sides of the knee wall and the top of it, and on the sink/toilet wall from the floor to 48” high.
And cut the cement board to frame them out.
The hardest wall was of course this one:
It has 3 cut-outs: 1) the vanity light, 2) the medicine cabinet, and 3) the outlet. I messed it up the first time. So we had to cut it again. Nice one, Meredith. It took us half a day to do that one piece. The second time around, we scored the cut-out for the medicine cabinet and punched it out after we installed the wall. This kept the wall strong and sturdy during its trip from the garage to the bathroom. It also allowed us to manhandle it into position without breaking pieces off of it. Once you cut out a big chunk, it really weakens the wall until you can screw it into the studs.
We cut all of our wallboards in the garage because they make A LOT of dust. The cement boards were cut with a masonry blade on the table saw and we cut the sheetrock with a utility knife. It took two of us to get the larger boards in position, one of us to hold it, and the other to screw it in.
Around the window and door, we pried the trim off to get underneath it. We were able to do this without breaking it, so we will reinstall it once it’s time.
We kept the sheetrock on the ceiling, though it needed repair work on the edges and around our new vent fan.
After 3 weeks of wall install, we began the tedious process of mud, sand, tape; mud, sand, repeat. Of course the sheetrock required more finesse than the cement board. It took us about a week and 3-4 coats of mud. Each coat requires 24 hours of dry time, so we sanded and mudded throughout the week when we could. Public service announcement #1: close your doors, stuff a towel under your door, open your windows and wear masks while sanding sheetrock mud. It is DUHHHH-STEEE.
For the cement board, we used thin set in the seams, metal mesh tape made for cement board, and more thin set. It didn’t have to be perfectly smooth since we are tiling over it. For the corners, screw heads, and around the shower shelves, we used silicone to create a moisture barrier.
With the thin set dry in the shower, we began waterproofing with a liquid water proofing membrane called RedGuard.
It’s very thick, but you can roll it on with the proper nap roller. It took 2 coats with 90 minutes of drying time between coats. Public service announcement #2: wear a mask, safety glasses, gloves, and ventilate the heck out of your room. This stuff smells like a nail salon spilled all of its acrylic – in your nostrils. It’s not for everyone – let me tell you. With a high nap roller, I applied the first coat of RedGuard in up and down motions and the second with side-to-side motions. It’s supposed to seal it off better.
This stuff looks like Pepto Bismol pudding when it’s wet, but it dries neon red.
I kept coming up behind Adam while he was looking at my finished work growling, “Red room, red room!” I was high on fumes.
There are a few decisions you have to make in this stage of the process that I didn’t really think about before-hand: where you want your wall tile in the shower to end on the outside edges and where you want your shower shelves.
Our wall tile will overlap the outer-edge of the curb and half wall by an inch or two. We figured that it would be easier to intentionally overlap it than try to line it up and make a mistake. We wanted to put the shower shelves opposite the shower head/valve and there was only one place horizontally it could go: between two studs. It’s not exactly centered on the wall, but that’s okay. Then we hung the shelves at a height that made sense for us and the potentially taller people that might buy our house one day.
We’ve started to put most of our tools away and we’ve run the shop vacuum about 20 times in the bathroom in preparation of the tile. Yes, that’s right. Our next step will be tiling the shower shelves and walls. I’m so darn excited about it. With walls and tile, we’re starting to picture what it will look like.