I have no idea how I pulled this off. I’m not a plumber or a carpenter or an electrician. I am, however, a Gaulard and this is what Gaulards do. They figure things out until there’s nothing left to figure out. About a month ago, I made up a saying. It goes like this: You know you’re a Gaulard when you go into the bathroom to get something and you end up spackling the ceiling. I mean, it’s the truth and my entire family knows it.
Anyway, I am proud to announce that I put the finishing touches on the downstairs bathroom. This has been a five year project that was long overdue to complete. I’ve actually been dreading it, but something stirred in me a few months ago that got me off my butt. I’ll need to find out and remember what that was because I must say, I was quite productive. Perhaps it was that basement project I got myself involved in. Who knows.
I’ll start this post off by telling you that this bathroom was a mess before I even touched it. The paint was terrible and it wasn’t insulated nearly to the degree in which it needed to be. It was allowing cold air to blow inside and because of that, many of the water lines were freezing during the very cold nights. It was also freezing the rest of the house out because it was like someone left a window open. Not cool.
The bathroom isn’t huge. It’s also got a seven foot ceiling, which is pretty low. The reason it’s only seven feet is because the house we live in is post and beam and those posts and beams tend to get in the way when installing drywall. Since I saw no other way to keep the height I would have liked, I simply imitated what the previous installer did. So what. It looks good.
Okay, let me start off with some “in process” photographs. These were pretty difficult to take, so please be forgiving.
As you can see, I was at the point of framing out the ceiling and walls. The tub was plumbed and installed and I had to place some lumber behind it, because it wasn’t long enough to reach the rear wall. I was a bit intimidated about that, but after thinking about things for a while, I did a very nice job. I also did a nice job framing out the ceiling. Trust me, I surprised myself in both of these areas. I had no idea how I was going to do either of these things for the longest time.
Also, since I insulated the outer walls with rigid foam and then sealed that foam with spray foam, I had lots of fiberglass insulation left over. I used some of that on the interior walls and then used up the rest in the ceiling. You can’t see any of that ceiling insulation, but I can tell you that it’s packed. Here are the photos.
This next group of photos shows my genius as it relates to hanging drywall. Again, I have no idea how I managed any of this. I guess my ruler, t-square and knife did most of the work. All I did was measure things and screw them to the walls and the ceiling. One thing I did learn was that the smoother you apply the joint compound, the easier it is to sand. This wasn’t a challenging project at all when it came to that.
My initial thoughts were to pull the sink out and replace it with a pedestal version. The problem with that was that the current sink was built in and after about an hour of removing screws, it didn’t even begin to budge. I couldn’t get the damn thing out, so I replaced the screws and embraced it with all my heart. Now I love it. By the way, the reason the drywall is purple is because this is the moisture resistant version of the regular stuff.
Are you ready for the final reveal? I really shouldn’t say it’s “final” because one day I’d like to paint the door white and install some blinds or a curtain, but at least I was able to put away all of my tools. There will be no more hammering or sawing. Just little odds and ends here and there.
Before I show you the photos, let me rattle off some prices. I’ll see what I can remember off the top of my head. I was so thrifty when it came to putting this bathroom together. Beyond all the plumbing and all that, I paid $45 for the entire vinyl sticky floor, $129 for the toilet, I had the paint leftover from another project, $30 for the ceiling lights, $30 for the wall light, $39 for the mirror and some other things I know I’m forgetting. Nothing was outrageous and I saved tons of money by doing this all myself. Oh yeah, the sheetrock was $16 per sheet and I think I used five or six of them. This, of course, is all beyond the sink faucet ($60), hoses ($8 each) and tub plumbing. If I can remember anything else, I’ll add it here.
Let’s get to some photos! These were taken with the lights off.
Here are some additional photos of the new bathroom with the lights on. Love lights? We’ve got plenty. I mean, plenty!
PS – Please check out my trim work. I am quite proud of that. Also, with all of these lights on, we’re only using 90 watts. That’s the power of LED bulbs.
Well, what do you think? Can you believe that something that once looked so ugly can turn into something that looks so…well…usable? What a transformation. I nipped away at this bathroom for five years and I am so happy it’s finished. I really don’t want to do something like this again, but I have a feeling more room remodels will be in my future. Thanks for reading!
Bathroom Insulation is Done
A previous post…same bathroom.
I finished up the bathroom insulation yesterday. That’s not to say the bathroom looks good, but I’ll tell you what – it’s a heck of a lot warmer in there. As a matter of fact, the entire house feels warmer. I’m not sure if it’s my imagination or not, but it sure seems that way.
I’ve been going back and forth in my head for a few days about what to do with the ceiling. I was going to leave it bare wood because that looks good. Then I remembered that we were dealing with a bathroom here and any warm, humid air is going to condense on that cool wood. I don’t know how good the insulation is above it so I was kind of uncertain. Then, I was going to frame out a ceiling structure and insulate it with fiberglass. I really didn’t have a good feeling about that because of the “droopage” factor involved with fiberglass in ceilings. It was also be a pain to install that – you know, fiberglass falling in my mouth and such.
Finally, I remembered that I had three and a half more sheets of rigid foam in the basement. Ah ha! There was my solution. It’s only an inch thick, which is perfect to stop the air from touching the cool (not cold) wood and it’s thin enough to hang some sheetrock over with regular sized screws. After I came up with that idea, it only took a few minutes to make my cuts and hang the rigid board. It’s so easy dealing with that stuff. I just wish it was cheaper. I would do all my insulation with it.
I’ll post a few pictures below. Just so you know, the pink insulation was already here and the brown stuff is what I bought from Campbell’s Building Supply. Of course, I’ll have to build something out to cover those drain pipes in the ceiling, but at least we’ll be able to maintain some height in there for the rest of the space.
Re-Insulating the Downstairs Bathroom
Flashback – This is how it all began.
Funny story here. The story’s not actually over yet, but I think I’ve got a handle on things.
A few nights ago, Laura and I were talking. We were kind of chilly and our discussion revolved around the next evening’s low temperature of -24 degrees. Apparently, much of the country recently went through some huge wind chill. Since we’re pretty North, we got hit hard. Nothing really out of the ordinary, but still quite cold. And just to let you know, after it gets below zero, you really can’t tell the difference in temperature. All that changes is the length of time it takes for you to freeze solid.
As we were talking, the issue of heat came up. For the past few weeks, we’ve been trying to decide which is better, a wood burning stove or another pellet stove with a backup generator. I already have a generator, but if we were to rely on an electric appliance to give us heat, I would need a backup. Anyway, as we were discussing the heat thing, I kept wondering why it was so cold in the first place. Not outside, but inside. Why was it that when the temperatures outside hit below zero, the pellet stove would have a tough time keeping up. How was the cold getting inside?
Since we arrived here, we noticed something funky going on with the bathrooms. They are always cold, which leads us to keep the bathroom doors closed, which leads to frozen and burst pipes. It was a catch 22 – either leave the doors open and freeze out the rest of the house or close them and have to clean up a mess in the morning. No matter how good I’m getting at sweating pipes, I’ll tell you it gets old after a while. It hasn’t yet (because I love doing it), but I’m sure it will soon.
Tip: To help avoid frozen pipes, turn the main water off. Then, open a few faucets and close them again. This will release the pressure in the system and give the expansion somewhere to go.
When there was a pause in the conversation, I walked into the downstairs bathroom, which was about 30 degrees. The door was closed and the temperatures outside were falling fast. I grabbed a chair, pulled down the plastic I stapled to the ceiling after a previous pipe burst and stuck my head up in between the sheetrock and the wooden area between the lower floor and the upper one. I shined the flashlight around and noticed that the cobwebs were blowing in the wind. I think my head turned blue because it was so cold in between the upstairs floor and the downstairs ceiling. I told Laura right there that I was a little tired of dancing around the issue of the bathrooms. I was going to fix them.
See, the house we live in is post and beam construction. These types of houses are notoriously difficult to insulate. This one is pretty good, but the rooms with sheetrock in them are really terrible. Where there’s sheetrock, one must insulate and insulate well.
That night, I pulled down a small chunk of sheetrock behind the bathtub. I had a feeling the trouble was coming from back there. I was right, from my vantage point, I was able to see the corner beam of the house and all the gaps between us and the outer wall. It was almost as if nothing was between us at all. I’ll tell you – freezing.
Let me start off with a few before pictures just to get you warmed up.
Well, as it turns out, by pulling down the last remaining hope of warmth in the bathroom and keeping the door closed all night, I accidentally froze each and every thing in the vicinity. Even though I turned the water off to release the pressure in the pipes, I ended up having to replace five broken ones the day after (yesterday). That little treat took up about three hours of my life.
The good news of this whole thing is that starting yesterday morning, I tore the entire bathroom down and insulated it. You can now keep the door closed all night long and it will only drop a few degrees. It’s utterly amazing.
I’m going to give you a short photo sequence below. I’ll write descriptions after the photos.
This is what happens when you keep the door of a cold room closed. To avoid the room and plumbing from freezing, insulate correctly.
Silly me. In an attempt at heating the bathroom in the morning, I used a kerosene heater, which warmed the toilet unevenly. After a while of heating, I heard a “clunk.” It was a piece of toilet hitting the floor. I wanted a new toilet anyway (not). But seriously, I had to change the gasket underneath. That doesn’t mean I wanted to replace the toilet though. I may actually try to epoxy it.
For future reference, it’s actually a terrible idea to run a heat source that relies on the movement of water through a house in Maine. If you were able to guarantee that the power would never go out, your generator would always start up and if the boiler was to function 100% of the time, I’d say go for it. Otherwise, it’s a very risky endeavor, unless, of course, you enjoy pulling down walls and repairing frozen pipes. If you live in a cold climate, do yourself a favor and rely on a heat source that doesn’t have the potential of freezing. This is a picture of what one of the baseboards looked like after I cut it out of the bathroom.
This window had no draft, but we realized it had no insulation around it. I remedied that by filling the gaps with “Great Stuff.” Now it’s fixed.
This is what I look like when I’ve had enough and I start pulling apart the bathroom.
And this is what it looks like after it’s done.
Much of the insulation issue stemmed from faulty insulating of the board and batten siding. Each piece of the “board” is only about eight inches wide. In between each piece is a gap, covered by a batten. This is air leak central as you might imagine.
The way to fix this is to use one inch rigid foam insulation, sealed with “Great Stuff” and then covered by R-19 fiberglass. Add a moisture barrier to that and you should be good.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much warmer the bathroom is. I keep going in there to see if it’s really true – and it is. The drafty corners were the issue, but the entire bathroom got an update anyway. And this will hopefully lead to many years of unfrozen pipes.
In this one pipe alone, there were two breaks. One in between each wall stud. There was another one in the wall next to it and two more upstairs, behind the tub in the that bathroom. That’s getting a makeover next.
I’ll add more photos and posts as I make my way through this bathroom update. I’m looking forward to posting as much as I’m sure you’re looking forward to reading!