As I have stated many times, we purchased out house 7 years ago from a house flipper and the quality of the work she and her contractor did was, to put it mildly, subpar. Case in point is the 2nd floor bathroom.
It looked nice-ish when be bought the house. Clean, usable, new tile and no obvious problems. But a few years of use and things fell apart. I mean that quite literally–things really did fall apart. The first sign of trouble was cracks appearing in the grout joints, followed by tiles beginning to “push out” from the wall.
While I had hoped to put the project off a bit, the timeline got bumped up when the tiles began to separate from the wall completely. I actually heard one fall off and land in the tub. So, demo had to begin….
Demolition revealed what I had expected. The flipper stuck ceramic tile to the plaster walls using mastic that was not suitable in wet environments. Plaster is also not a suitable substrate for a shower stall. It is clear that this tub was only ever meant to be a tub and not a shower as well. The wall beneath the tile was saturated down to the framing.
To properly turn this into a shower/tub combo I knew I had to rebuild from the studs up with a suitable backer. Ditto for the floor which needed new tile. I took it back to bare subfloor (thankfully the cast iron closet flange was in pristine condition).
The floor was sloped so I covered the sub-floor with birch ply, Red guard waterproofing, wire mesh lathe, and then poured leveling compound. After tiling the floor I measured final heights and cut out the old plaster and replace it with a vapor barrier and 1/2 inch backer board.
Old medicine cabinets used to have a razor disposal slot in the back of them. When opening up the walls in an older bathroom be careful!
Because of all of the outside corners in the shower (owing to the gambrel roof) we opted for marble tile so that the color went all the way through on the exposed edge cuts. The secret to a good tile job is prep and patience. Agonize over the minute details and make your walls and floors are as flat, straight, level and plumb as possible–not always easy to do in an older home! That and a good tile saw will yield good results. Also, if you are using marble be sure and choose a thinset mortar that will not “show through” or darken the tile.
I’m not a terribly experience tiler but I read a ton and asked a lot of questions at the tile store and triple checked I was using the right materials. The results exceeded my expectations. All told this project took me a month and a half of nights and weekends but moving slowly and carefully was key.
Very pleased indeed. The last thing I did was to install a vent fan (there was none before) in the ceiling which is vented out the roof ( I hate heights and installing the external vent in the roof was saved for last because I dreaded it). This will help with moisture problems in the winter when it is too cold to pen the bathroom window.