The bathroom floor is done and the penny tile is in

The bathroom floor is done and the penny tile is in

Well, we managed to put in a whole new bathroom floor this weekend, although we still have lots to do to put our bathroom back together.

The penny tile looks great, and more importantly, there's nothing disgusting, smelly, moldy or rotten lurking underneath our toilet. That somehow trumps the tile.

If you'd seen what was under the press-on tiles, you'd understand.The smell - I can't even describe it, although I'll try. When I worked as a lifeguard, the worst part of the whole deal was cleaning the urinals. Imagine that smell, soaked into plywood and then left to steep for decades. Yucky, yuck, yuck. The plywood was rotten and had the consistentcy of a sponge, and several parts were cracked.

We also discovered that we had a leaky toilet supply line, which probably contributed to the rot. Rob and I ran to the hardware store to buy replacement parts (we try to only DIY when the store is open, for this very reason).

Larry Sutton, my carpenter brother-in-law who was helping us, arrived before we got home. By the Blog Phototime we got back, the rotten plywood was gone. I didn't have time to snap a photo, which is never a bad thing. He used a pitchfork.

Soon after, Larry took a rare photo of Rob and I pulling nails in the tiny bathroom. I think that's the only photo I have of us DIYing together. Please forgive my grubby appearance.

The boards underneath the plywood hadn't rotted, which saved us the time and hassle of replacing them. Larry and Rob measured and cut the treated plywood in three sections and installed them from north to south across our bathroom. They attached the pieces with subfloor adheasive and 2 1/2-inch triple coated deck screws.

Then, they cut the cement board, laying it west to east to stagger the seams. I never would have thought about that, and it was one of many times Blog PhotoSaturday I was so glad to have a professional helping us. It took about four hours from the time Larry arrived to finish these two layers. It was incredible.

Rob later marveled at Larry's skill in measuring and cutting the pieces, especially the gaps for the toilet and heating vent. Rob said none of the pieces had to be taken back outside and trimmed. They were all perfect on the first attempt. That's the difference between a professional and a DIYer, or at least us as DIYers. Rob is incredibly handy, but sometimes things take a few tries. In this case, having Larry on hand allowed us to stay on schedule for finishing the floor this weekend.

After the cement board was in, Rob and I dry-fitted the penny tiles. They were pretty easy to arrange in our bathroom. We just cut the mesh they came on to make them smaller and fit around corners and the toilet's soil line. I nipped a few in half with nippers, but we didn't use many of those.

Then, we mixed up the mortar according to the manufacturer's directions and installed the tile. We used gray Mapei Ultraflex 1, which has added polymers. It needed to dry for 16 hours and since we live in a one-bathroom house, we stayed with Rob's parents for the evening.

Yesterday morning, we came home and Rob did all of the grouting. We grouted with Mapei Keracolor sanded grout in slate, which is the same color Rob and his dad grouted our shower with.

It also needed to dry for 16 hours. With work looming today for both of us, we stayed at home and made many gas station and grocery store trips to use the restrooms. I'm pretty sure those grocery store employees think I don't have a bathroom of my own. Which, I guess, is sort of true, for now.

Blog PhotoAnyhow, I'm hoping things will soon be back in order. Rob used something called a PVC Spacer Closet Flange Spacer kit for the soil line, because we raised the height of the floor with plywood, cement board and tile.

Rob also needs to make a threshold for the door, for the same reason. We didn't need to trim the bathroom door, because our barn door's track runs over the hallway floor, not the bathroom floor. Larry said it will be easy enough for us or the next owner to trim the bathroom door to make it work in the space.

Rob will also need to re-install the trim, and I'll probably have to touch up some paint. (I thought about painting the spaces behind the toilet tank and vanity, but I sort of like seeing the progression of colors, from the '70s avacado to that yellow that covered almost all our walls when I moved in, to the navy I painted, lavender primer and eventually, the bright white I added early this year.)

Blog PhotoWe're having company Thursday, so that's an excellent motivator for both of us. I'll post more photos when it's done.

I'm honestly exhausted today (although with two men working on a 17.5-square foot space, I didn't actually do much), but this project will be so, so worth it.





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Julie Wurth wrote on December 10, 2012 at 10:12 am
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Oooo, I love it! Can't wait to see the finished product. And I wish my brother-in-law, who is equally talented, lived closer.

Meg Dickinson wrote on December 10, 2012 at 10:12 am
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I bet Larry would tell you we live just close enough to each other (about 30 minutes). He can help us with the big stuff, but he's too far away for, "Larry, could you come fix this tiny thing?"