Well done! You made it through the first part! And I promised you a saga, so here it is! Enjoy…
Fitting the bathroom
I think the first problem we had with the project, was that we thought, because Husband is a gas engineer and as such has done a bit of plumbing in the past, that bathroom installation would be easy.
Because of this ridiculous notion, we gave ourselves an even more ridiculous time-frame to do it in.
Because things like sealant and silicone say things like “don’t get wet for 72 hours after application” (but in more technical words) we thought it would be a good idea to fit the bathroom just before we went away on holiday, so it would have a fortnight while we were away, sunning ourselves and enjoying a friend’s big fat Greek wedding, to dry out and get all waterproof.
The only issue with this was that it meant we had to rip out the bathroom, get half of it re-plastered, tile half of it, lay the floor, re-fit the plumbed in bits and decorate, all in the 6 days Husband had off before we flew away. And I already had plans to be away for 2 of them.
The Plan – supposedly
- Day 1 – rip out old bathroom, plasterers to come and re-plaster bits of walls not being tiled
- Day 2 – Build frame for new cubby holes for toiletries behind the shower, plumb in the bath
- Day 3 – Lay the subfloor and lino. Start tiling
- Day 4 – Finish the tiling and apply pre-grout tile sealant. Undercoat walls to be painted
- Day 5 – Grout tiles. Fit sink unit and toilet
- Day 6 – Paint plastered walls. Apply post-grout tile sealant.
What could go wrong?! Hahahahahaha. Turns out, pretty much everything…
Day 1 of 6 began with the plasterers cancelling, just after we were already too far to stop, seeing as we managed to take half the plaster off the wall with the tiles around the bath and taking the PVC frame off the wall around the window exposed BIG GAPS in the walls around the window. Why the PVC was there made more sense after we took it off. Another interesting lesson in hindsight.
We were going to do full height tiles in the bath area only, but now we changed plan thanks to the lack of available plasterers and BIG GAPS. We filled in the BIG GAPS with a tonne of expanding foam and made a last minute trip to our fab local Topps Tiles shop to get enough tiles to go full height all the way round from the shower end of the bath, around the window, to the corner of the boiler cupboard wall. The boiler cupboard and rest of the walls would have to be left and plastered/decorated at a later date.
End of day one, and essentially we have this;
Exposed brickwork in the shower area anyone? Maybe it’s the next big thing!…
And the pre-arranged schedule is already out the window. Ah well. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” And in fairness, it wasn’t the best (most realistic) plan anyway…
Day 2 of 6 was spent by Husband (because by this point I was away for the weekend on a school reunion) batoning and plasterboarding the wall behind the bath/loo/sink and around the window to hide the fact we’d pulled half of it off the day before. Here, he also managed to baton out and use some waterproof board at the shower end of the bath to create the little cubby holes for toiletries. He used the wrong measurements however, so they ended up not central to the bath.
“Who’s gonna notice that?” He says. And breathe…
Day 3 of 6 was spent by Husband (I was quite drunk and blissfully unaware) taking up some floorboards to start the plumbing-y stuff for the bath and finding that the majority of the original pipework was a different diameter copper pipe to those you get these days, so the new fixings wouldn’t fit. A trip to the plumbers merchants and a bunch of fixings later and he spent a whole day changing pipework – which he hadn’t planned on doing at all…
Day 4 of 6 and I was home. Pipework was sorted and floorboards were back down, so essentially it still looked pretty much the same as when we started except there was no bath! We wrangled the bath into place, adjusting and re-adjusting the little legs for an incredible amount of time to try and make it level, on a seemingly very un-level floor! Husband plumbed that in and progress was being made!
We then laid some large sheets of 3mm hardboard over the floorboards to level everything out for the lino – what we didn’t do however, in our stress- addled brains is think about leaving any expansion gaps. That comes back to haunt us. Laying the lino was relatively painless, apart from trying to get the one big sheet of it into the right place to start with – and trying to line up a geometric pattern along a wall which isn’t square with any of the others is quite a challenge! We then started tiling in the corner of the wall by the boiler cupboard and it’s finally starting to look a bit better! Hooray! But it was taking us a lot longer than we thought it would to do the tiling… see a familiar theme appearing?!
Day 5 of 6 and I’m back to work. I get a phone call from Husband at about 9am asking me why I didn’t notice the water running down the kitchen wall when I got up. The bath had been leaking all night and in my stress-haze I hadn’t even noticed… Cue crying in the stockroom. The lino comes back up – luckily we hadn’t glued it down – and bath comes back out. Floorboards come back up. Leak is identified, fixed, floorboards go back down, bath goes back in, lino goes back down. Husband had a tiny mental breakdown. Understandable.
I get home from work. There’s a big brown mark on the freshly painted kitchen ceiling. Oops. We did some tiling – however, we were fairly limited on how late we could do this considering our very young neighbours and the almighty racket the tile cutter made! We almost got the wall with the window done, but still not great. About 2.5 sq m, out of the 15 sq m total!
Day 6 of 6 (hahaha) and we were both off work. We had until about 6pm when we needed to stop and pack our suitcases and leave for Birmingham to stay at the in-law’s before catching our flight the following day… Or so we thought!
The tiling took for absolute ever!! Definitely a lesson in why maybe a ceramic tile would have been a better/easier choice… We had to use special adhesive for natural stone tiles which we had to mix by hand, was quite thick and heavy, and went off super quickly, so we had to make it in really small batches. Each tile that needed cutting had to be marked, taken outside and cut on a diamond tip tile cutter. Although we had thought we’d set the bath to a height which meant there would be a full depth tile at the height of bath, the floor obviously really wasn’t level, so every tile around the bath had to be trimmed.
We did get quite a good system going, where I would mix the adhesive and affix the tiles to the wall, while Husband would mark the tiles to be cut and go and cut them. And repeat. The novelty wore off far too soon, but we did actually get all of the tiles on the walls before leaving! Small victory!
However, it really was a difficult time, and by far the worst part of our whole renovation. I remember crying whilst tiling, not being able to feel my fingers anymore because they were so sore and barely being able to mix the adhesive by the end of day with such tired arms.
We left Cardiff at 11pm, after non-stop tiling for 14 hours. All of our holiday stuff was in black bin bags on the backseat and our suitcases in the boot as we didn’t have the time/energy to pack! We got a KFC at the service station on the M4, but even that wasn’t very good.
I realise it really does sound pathetic, but it was the most exhausted and stressed we had ever made ourselves! With pretty much every step of our plan going wrong in some way, in conjunction with the feeling that we were massive failures because of how much we still had left to do by the end of our self imposed timeline.
We did have a wonderful holiday – mainly consisting of sunbathing, naps, beer, wine, cocktails… you get the drift! But the story obviously doesn’t end there, with a less-than-half finished bathroom! But I’m aware this post is getting longer by the word (!) and seriously lacking in pictures – who has time for pictures with all this horror going on?! – so I’ll round up relatively quickly;
- Get home from holiday and it looks like a crime scene. The whole house is covered in a fine covering of tile adhesive powder, because no, we didn’t bother to mix it outside! So we have to clean everything (even the sofas) before we can sit down
- Clean the tiles and apply the pre-grout coat of sealant.
- Next day, I spent 7 hours grouting the tiles – again it was a special product for natural stone tiles which, again, I had to mix by hand in really small batches, so it was a constant battle between getting the whole batch onto the wall before it dried up in the bucket, and working around behind myself getting it cleaned off the tiles before it dried up! Good for the guns, but a soul destroying day none the less!
- Went to the public swimming pool for showers
- Husband plumbed in and fitted the sink unit and toilet relatively painlessly, but the shower caused various issues, and given that the pipework by this point was behind a layer of waterproof board and tiles that I was no way taking off and doing again, was a tad stressful. Eventually he got it sorted, but we couldn’t use it because the sealant round the bath needed drying time – remember the plan?!
- 3 weeks later, the plasterers finally grace us with their presence and the other half of the room starts looking more finished.
- A couple of weeks later and it’s all painted, a blind is fitted, a mirror is put up, a light is installed and we finally have a bathroom!!!
So, the 6 day plan turned into a 9 week saga, but here it is in the form of some ‘before and after’ shots…
The main views – before and after – was it worth it?
The view into the bathroom from the top of the stairs, and the giant cupboard doing an excellent job!… no colour coordinated towels as yet…
What I like to call ‘botanical corner’ finished off with a couple of pages out of an old book of flowers found in a charity shop, in some Ikea frames, providing the essential touch of yellow!
And finally, to tie this all in with Part 1;
What I am most annoyed by
- We didn’t leave expansion gaps around the hardboard floor, so now it bounces and makes a little knocking noise when you walk on it which is quite annoying.
- We didn’t quite know how to fit the bath panel so, occasionally, it pops off!
- The toiletries cubby holes AREN’T CENTRAL TO THE BATH – by 0.5cm but still!! Argh!
- I didn’t do an excellent job of tiling/grouting, mostly because a) I hadn’t done tiling on this scale before, so obviously wasn’t going to get a perfect finish and b) I was so knackered I didn’t care enough by the end of it, and that fact annoys me now.
- We pre-drilled the holes in the edge of the bath for the bath taps. We didn’t think about the depth of the tiles around the bath, so there is barely a gap between the taps and the tiles. By pure luck, we can still turn the taps fully on, however, it’s very tricky to clean the sealant behind them and it annoys me that we didn’t consider this first
- Venetian blinds are a pain in the ass to clean. I knew this, and still I bought one
- Our towels aren’t colour coordinated with the scheme, but we can’t afford new towels just now.
So there you have it. We do have a lovely bathroom now, but I don’t think we’re in any rush to do it again. My advice for others (as if anyone will take my advice after reading this haha) ??
Don’t think it will be straightforward and don’t try to do it on a tight deadline – there are way too many things which could go wrong/take longer than expected, and you won’t know until you start. But essentially, the feeling of accomplishment when it is done, is pretty cool.
So, what do you think? Worth the effort (P.s – any negative comments are still likely to send me over the edge)!! Thanks for reading guys. Now, definitely time for that