Rub a dub dub, I’m reno-ing the tub

Of course I forgot to take a true “before” photo, so I’m settling with the hole-in-the-wall before picture. About a month ago I noticed some grout was missing in several places in our tub surround. I did not want to take the time and trouble to re-grout the much-hated pink plastic tile that I did not want to keep, so I decided to go ahead and rip ‘er out! You will notice that the tile is not only up to the ceiling, but on the ceiling too. I actually like this look (pink plastic covered ceiling…ok not that part.)

Tub Surround Demolition

Here is my inspiration photo, which I actually pinned on Pinterest 42 weeks ago, before I knew that we would own a home with a shower like this one, same-ish lower, tiled ceiling. So it was meant to be – and I have purchased the white subway tile and dark grey grout. I priced out a light in the shower, but it would have pushed our budget to more than we wanted to spend. As for the angled part of the wall – way above my remodeling expertise level (which is “beginner”, by the way).

Shingle style home in Hanover NH traditional bathroom

traditional bathroom design by burlington architect Smith & Vansant Architects PC

I have never done demolition before, much less with a small child and a nursing baby who is totally dependent on me for food and happiness. Jerod offered to make dinner and take care of the girls in the evenings for the week of demo (quite a generous offer considering he really has never cooked and that Madelyn turns hysterical when I’ve been out of her sight for 10 minutes). I made freezer meals ahead of time and left him detailed instructions. The demo took me three evenings, probably 4-5 hours in total.

Armed with a crowbar, a heavy hammer, a chisel, and a rubber mallet I went to work pulling out the old tile and drywall. I wore a mask and protective eyewear, and laid a few pieces of roofing felt over the tub to protect it. I have read that for better protection, a piece of plywood can be cut to size and laid over the tub. Since we plan to have the tub resurfaced I wasn’t overly concerned.

When I pulled off the tile I was amazed to find that the backing to the tile was drywall with no kind of moisture barrier. I did find some mold and mildew, but nowhere near what I would have expected for the poor construction of the tub surround. See the mold I found in the picture below? It was behind a soap dish that had obvious damage to the caulk and grout surrounding it. After researching a bit, I decided to take care of the bit of mold left on the studs by spraying bleach water onto them and letting them dry out. I did this four times. When the wood had returned to almost normal color, I wiped it down with wet rags to remove any remaining mold. I was careful to wipe each stud with a clean rag so as not to spread the mold spores.

Hailey wanted so badly to help with the reno, poor girl! She stood outside the door saying “What are you doing, Mama?” when she heard me banging away.

I opted to use cement board for long-term resilience. Building code requires a vapor barrier behind cement board. This can be plastic or another waterproof paper like roofing felt, which is what I used. I put the roofing felt on all the walls, and not on the ceiling (not required, as the water doesn’t really go up there). I stapled the roofing felt onto the studs, with a 4″ overlap at the horizontal seams, 2″ on the vertical seams. The barrier paper overlaps the tub lip so if there was any water dripping down the paper, it would in theory roll down into the tub. It seems to me that it would pool behind the caulking. But hey, I’m not the one who invented the rules, I just try to stick to them!

Yes, that is the baby bouncy seat on the counter. Madelyn sits there while I put my makeup on and do my hair.

The next step coming up – cement board!!


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