Today all the news is about the bathroom. Here’s a reminder of what I started with in the only bathroom in the house.
This room needed a lot of work. The maple cabinets didn’t fit the style of the house and screamed “bog box, cheap” to me. The purple walls had to go and that floor tile….it was gross.
Not only did they install unglazed tile in a bathroom but renters had let dogs use this room, as well as the living room, for their toilet. The urine smell was god-awful and no amount of cleaning eliminated it.
As my disability is a progressively worsening type I knew any remodel of the bathroom would have to take in to account physical limitations not only now but down the road. The biggest problem was that I have no idea what those limitations may look like when considering the best layout for the bathroom.
I’ve talked to my kids many times, running ideas past them but we all kept coming back to the same problem. Unlike many people who are wheelchair bound yet living independently, I don’t have the upper body strength to make transfers easy or safe and it will only deteriorate from here.
Some of the ideas I toyed with included moving the plumbing for the tub to the back wall next to the toilet and having a built in bench;; removing the vanity with a smaller model and eliminating the tall storage cabinet to move the toilet into that corner of the room and adding grab bars along the wall which would eliminate the need to move the tub plumbing and still allow for a bench seat in the shower.
I was close to choosing the first option, moving the plumbing in the tub and adding a bench seat where the exiting plumbing is.
While I considered my options I did what I could and painted the floor with a white porch and floor paint to at least seal smell and eliminate the gross factor of touching that floor.
The floor held up nicely until a week ago. I blamed it, privately, on my son, but in a way it is his fault. 🙂 My son had arrived Friday evening (September 30th) and stayed until the following Sunday (October 9th). I was grumbling to myself each evening after his shower that the bath mat was soaking wet. Why couldn’t he dry off in the shower as I’d taught him as a child? Was he not closing the shower curtain properly? No the mat wasn’t wet in the right spots for that to be the case. His toiletries were all over the sink even though I cleared a shelf in the storage cabinet for him and his dirty clothes were often left on the floor. I was not in a good mood that week. I know myself well enough to realize complaining that his level of tidiness was getting on my nerves would do nothing but make for a bad week.
I did what worked best for me. I ignored the bathroom until Monday morning when he was gone.
The grout on the floor was discolored, which was unusual. I considered it was just dirty, construction demolition is dirty work, but closer inspection showed the grout was coming out. No surprise there, the grout had been falling out when I moved in because the DIY owner installed it improperly. But now the grout was wet. There was a bigger problem here.
The person who sold us the house tried to hide a crack in the tub by having the tub refinished. Didn’t work. The material was peeling off the crack in the tub before we ever turned on or had water touch it. I wasn’t ready to replace the tub right away because I wanted to live with this space to see what worked best with my limitations before tackling this job.
Instead we tried patching the crack in the tub. When commercial products didn’t work I used silicone caulking sold for both interior and extoterior applications. This worked and bought me time.
Other than the bath mat feeling wetter than it should other things were nagging at me towards the end of last week. The paint was lifting up off the tiles.
The paint held unless you applied pressure, by walking on it, then it came up stuck to the bottom of your foot. This shouldn’t be happening as this paint holds up on exterior walkways, decks and so on. Even if my son wasn’t drying off before getting out of the shower the paint should have held up fine.
Still I ignored this while my son was here. This kind of situation is where having another person in my space for too long causes me to pull inward in frustration. It was bad enough that I was having to pick up his things, yes a passive aggressive move on my part but it kept the peace, but now he was soaking the bathroom floor badly enough that it was causing damage to the painted tile, or so I thought at the time. It’s a good thing that when something really bugs me I hold it inside until I can discuss it calmly or I might have snapped at him over this when it wasn’t something he was doing on purpose.
Being that I must use a shower chair I don’t put any actual weight directly on the crack in the tub, but my son does. As a result, he inadvertently cracked the base of the tub further which, it turns out, allowed massive amounts of water to get underneath and soak the sub floor.
Now that I knew what was causing the water problem I needed to get a much closer look.
The grout lifted right out without effort. Worse was the subfloor seen above between the tile and the kitchen flooring. If this is how wet the subfloor is where it is exposed to air how bad is the subfloor under the tub?
Wanting to know just how wet things were in this spot I carefully used a fingernail to see if the tiles were still holding tightly. Sadly, a fingernail was all it took to remove this tile furthest from the tub.
An immediate remodel is necessary.
So much for all the ideas I had for this space. Now it’s come down to making the necessary repairs as quickly as possible.
I called my son who called one of his more trusted contractors, he’s very cautious who he sends to my home, who will be here Tuesday for what will be a two and a half day project.
The subfloor will be cut out and replaced. If the previous owner who installed the bathroom didn’t use the proper materials behind the shower, my concern is that they used regular drywall or what some call gypsum boards, the wall will be ripped out and brought up to code with waterproof panels. There are signs that lead me to believe drywall was used throughout.
The tub will be replaced with a shower enclosure. This was a big deal for me. I have no idea how long I will be able to live here and with this being the only bathroom replacing a tub with a shower base could making renting the house more difficult. Yet, as time goes on lifting my legs over the edge of a tub gets harder. My son vetoed my concerns for the rental value and the shower base I need is going in.
For the moment I’ll continue to use a shower curtain but before I have the grandchildren for extended stays I’ll install sliding doors. At the moment I’m being partly stingy not wanting to spend more money while the other part of me wants to plan for any surprises we might encounter that could push the cost of the job upwards. When I do this is the style of sliding shower door I will use with the oil rubbed bronze finish. It will complement the dark cabinetry on the opposite side of the room.
The floors… I had dreams of hexagon tiles, or sometimes called penny tiles that would tie in with the period of the house. Tile would have added considerably to both the cost of labor and time to complete the project. I do like the ease of transition from one room to the next by having used the same flooring from the kitchen through to the living room and opted to go with the same flooring Trafficmaster Allure Laminate planks.
I decided on a Gray Travertine pattern instead of the cherry used in the other rooms to better highlight the dark cabinetry.
This cappuccino is much more pleasing and rich looking than the maple they originally were. I used Rustoleum Cabinet Restoration kit left over from my son’s kitchen to update them. Here’s the cabinet in the original maple finish, and yes, the hardware is the same on both cabinets, see how much it pops with the darker finish?
Finally, the toilet will be replaced with a high rise model that will eliminate the need for an extra riser to make this handicap height for ease of use.
Thinking all was set and the contractor hired my son threw a wrench in things when he called and asked if I’d considered a shower stall (half the length of the existing tub). That was one option I hadn’t considered. After sketching it out and considering how that layout would work I rejected it and stayed with the plan above.
Keep your fingers crossed that we don’t run into any more problems than what I’ve tried to anticipate.