Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Shower...Part I

After just under 2 weeks (13 and half days to be exact), our new shower is finished!  

We barely recognize it!  Gone is the plastic shower surround.  Gone is the mildew.  Gone is the leaky shower fixtures.  We chose a warm beige/brown porcelain tile called piedmont noce from Lowes.

The plastic surround came off surprising easy.  It was never really properly installed in the first place and you could feel the sides weren't firmly attached to the wall.  We scored the edges and pried the three sections off the wall.  

Next, was the task of breaking through the drywall.  We enlisted a small team to help with this phase of the demo and was finished quite quickly.  

After the drywall was gone, this was all that remained.  Our house was built in 1933, so the construction of the walls is rather old.  It was rather thrilling to see everything removed and down to the bare bones of the shower.  We'd been talking and planning this renovation for almost a year and it was finally taking shape.

After the drywall was off, came the long process of measuring, cutting, and drilling the cement backerboard.  This is the only screw I believe I drilled during the whole process.  It really took a lot of pressure to get the screws in.  This task was left up to Kinsey and his father.  This essentially ended day 1 of the renovation.   

Day 2 involved beginning to tile.  We chose 12 x 12 inch tiles for the back main wall with a single row of 6 x 6 inch tiles about half way up.  The smaller two walls were 6 x 6 inch tiles the entire way.  This was our first attempt at tiling.  We went to a tiling workshop a few months ago at Home Depot and took diligent notes so we had a pretty good idea about the process.  The hardest part is setting the first row of tile to ensure everything is straight.  We mapped most of the tile out and tried our best to avoid unnecessary cuts.  Around this time, we also realized it might be handy to pick out our shower fixtures, which we failed to purchase yet.  We didn't want to cut holes around the plumbing that wasn't large enough.  So Kinsey and I headed off to Lowes, while Kinsey's mom mapped out the tile placement.

A few fixtures purchased and one special order placed and we were back to the shower.  Once we got the hang of laying the tile, the job went pretty fast.  We finished one wall.  And then another wall.  And finished about half of the last wall when we ran out of thin set adhesive.  So we took a break and headed back to Lowes for the second time that day.  

We managed to tile about 90% of the last remaining wall, and then our tile cutter broke.  And then it broke in a second place.  And then it broke beyond repair.  Granted, our cutter wasn't a very good one.  We bought it on clearance for under $15.  We later found out that porcelain is really hard to cut with this type of cutter.
Of course, every tile remaining needed to be cut.  So we checked the clock and returned to Lowes for the third time that day (30 minutes before they closed) to see our options.  We didn't really want to buy a new cutter.  The cheap ones aren't very good (especially for porcelain) and I really didn't see a need to spend $50 or $100 on a tile cutter we may or may not use again. 
 Lucky for us, the friendly guy in the tiling department told us that because we bought our tile there, they can cut our tiles for us!  For free! Not lucky for us, there was no way we could run home, measure the cuts that needed to be made, and return that night.  So we'd have to wait until the next day.  We were frustrated to have to wait to finish when we were so close, but were exhausted.

Day 3, began at Lowes (no surprise there) and we got the rest of our tile cut.  By the afternoon, our tile was all up and the only thing left to do was to wait.  The next step, grouting, couldn't be done until 24 hours after the tile was set.  

Part II coming tomorrow.....

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