Monday, March 17, 2008

This Olde House - Bathroom Demo Part Two

Oh, where is Kimmer when I need him? I thought removing the tub from the small (5' x 7') bathroom was going to be the hardest part of the project. I thought wrong. Terribly wrong. As it turns out, removing the old tile was far harder! And took much longer!! And created an exponentially larger mess!!!

But, a man has to do what a man has to do. So I did it. I took the entire bathroom down to the studs and prep'ed it for a complete makeover.

Pictures: The first is a picture of me, AFTER the tiles were down and the mess was on the floor. I'm actually sitting on several hundred pounds of tile and stucco. The second is my spectral bride, lending a hand by cleaning up the dirt under the debris I was just sitting on. The third is a picture of the exposed piping for the tub. The fourth is a picture of the exposed piping for the sink.

Time Spent: Six hours of destructive labor plus six hours of clean up labor. Not enough hours spent resting.

Tools Used: For the demo, my new girlfriend, the Demo Hammer was the main weapon of mass destruction. I also made extensive use of the FatMax Extreme Fubar, a claw hammer, a 10lb sledge, and a prybar. For the cleanup, Cindy and I used a wheelbarrow, two shovels, a shopvac, and a lot of sweat. For protective measures, I used some heavy gloves, kneepads, a weight lifting belt (for my back) and filter masks. Even with those measures, I still got all cut up on my hands, arms, shins, thighs, and knees.

Process: The first day, I rented a 35lb electric demo hammer and hammered all the tiled walls down and cleaned half the mess. I initially tried to get the drill and/or claw hammer behind the tile and pull them off without damaging the rest of the wall. That was a really stupid idea and wasted a lot of time. Tiled walls back in the sixties were prepared by nailing steel mesh between pieces of wooden lath and then applying several inches of concrete-based stucco to the mesh. It is like a vertical concrete wall, very heavy and very sturdy. But it cracks like crazy if you whack it enough, and there's no going back once the first cracks appear.

HOWEVER, the stucco (usually with tiles glued on top) doesn't ever fall out of place. It is completely hardened around the steel mesh. Firmly in place, completely unyielding. And that mesh is nailed every couple of inches to wooden lath, which is on the studs. Layer upon layer upon layer of material to remove.

So after I started seeing cracks everywhere, I figured out it would ALL have to be removed. This meant I had to carve through the tiles, through the cement-based stucco, and through the steel mesh with the demo hammer. I tried to get close to the studs. And when I'd sectioned off a strip of it, I'd pull it loose from the nails (in the studs) and let it collect on the floor. But this stuff weighs a ton. Only a couple of square inches weighed a pound. So I had to work in small sections, going as high as seven feet up, and hammer out manageable pieces. It took about four hours of pure grunt work to get the tiled section down. None of that first day was spent on the sheetrock or the floor. After the tiled walls were down, I cleaned up half of the mess (three wheelbarrows full) and called it a day.

The second day I cleaned up the second half of the mess, with Cindy's help. Three more wheelbarrows full of tile/stucco/wire debris. Then I jacked up the floor. About an hour there. It was much easier because I found the right angle to hold the hammer and found the layer where the tile met the slab and edged along it. It came up quicker and was much lighter than the walls. Finally, I removed the remaining sheetrock. (At first I was going to leave it. But a) it is nearly 50yrs old so it isn't mold or fire resistant, and b) there was NO INSULATION!)

Then we cleaned, cleaned, cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned. Very dirty job. Lots of small pieces. Many surprises. (Including, the two boxes of antique razor blades hidden in one of the walls!

What's Next: Aside from a lot of sleep? I still have to remove hundreds of nails (some supporting the steel mesh and others supporting the drywall), put in insulation, put in concrete board (on the walls and floor,) then get a pre-fab tub/shower unit, put in tile, put in new drywall, and put in all the fine hardware I bought (including the vanity, medicine cabinet, vent, and dual-flush toilet.) And it is on to the next job!

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