redoing another shower


Tom King

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In the rental house.  It's a cold rain here today.  BIL and SIL came back wanting to help with projects, so we decided to tackle this since it's supposed to be so cold this week.  We got by with this last season for the rental house 3rd bathroom, but I've just been putting this off.  Tear out will be the worst part of the job.  This green fiberglass shower barely had enough room in it to turn around, not to mention how ugly it is.  It's probably from 1974.

The plan is to turn that whole end of the bathroom into a shower, with no door or curtain.  It's a thick mud bed with metal lath in it.  It took BIL and me all morning to take out the tile surrounding the shower and that end wall.  I'll wait until I get it all out, including that part of the floor out from the shower before I take more pictures.  We're going to run the tile all the way to the ceiling in the shower and on that end wall.

We're not likely to get any renters now until April, so it won't matter that it's torn up for a while.

The ceiling in that bathroom is the last bad one left, so it will get covered with beaded board and crown molding.

 

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I noticed on that Amazon page that about half the reviews said that it broke.  I think they were hitting the chisel too hard.  I was just pecking with it and it cut the hard stuff like butta.  I had always just thought that the carbide would mainly last longer than the steel masonry chisels that I have used forever, but it cut like a different type of work.

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Looking good! I’m amazed at how well those mats work. I either picked up a second one after my last plumbing job or meant to. Will have to check before I work on anything else. 
 

How do you keep them in place? I threw some thumbtacks in my plumbing box but they tend to get a bit distorted. 

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This morning all I accomplished on it was setting the new drain to the proper height and level.  The vertical drain pipe under the fiberglass shower was not anywhere close to being plumb.

I had wanted these things before, but the USA made versions have always been high dollars and I got by without them.  This cheap from China one worked like a charm for getting the old pipe out of the trap hub.  It left a perfectly sized hole for a new pipe to go into, but that would have still left my pipe coming up out of plumb. 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CMCNST86?ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details&th=1

I cut the 2" pipe the length I needed and glued it into the drain fitting.  After taking the drain screen out I clamped it to a sawhorse outside the shop and reshaped the pipe stub with a metal cutting burr on a die grinder.

The glue smells so strong that I couldn't stay in there to do more work on the shower today.  Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow.

UPS usually shows up around five, so if the fittings I need come today the pressure test on the water lines will be done tomorrow.

 

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Finally back on this for a little while this morning.  To have something to register the outer perimeter end of the screeds on, to get the taper down to the drain uniform and level all the way around the outside:

I ripped some 1" wide strips of Masonite type hardboard.  Mixed up some bedding mortar pretty soft, and put some around the perimeter one side at the time. A strip of hardboard was tapped down on top of the soft mortar using a cheap plastic level to the height I wanted it relative to the old tile floor.  Each wall was run like this using the level to get the next run down to the same level as the last.

The drain is adjustable in height by the part attached to the grill being scew adjustable for height.  

The next step will be to lay the bedding mortar all over the floor for the tile to be laid on that using thinset.

The hardboard strips are taken up after the bedding mortar has set up some but not enough to bond to the strips.  Any squeeze out was trimmed away before the strips were taken up.

I hope that makes sense.  It goes along pretty fast if the mortar is made the right consistency.  Without this to guide the screeds it would be a big job to get the next step poured just right.  Without the hardboard strips it would just be a mess using only a level and pulling it up without messing up the mortar and keeping the level clean.  This makes it easy.

 

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Tom, I’ve been following this but perhaps not close enough. Your last post, second pic, there seems to be a sub-floor and an area below. What I called the sub-floor resembles sheetrock which I’m sure is not. Just curious to how that will be treated? I bet if I stick around long enough, it will become obvious. 

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On 2/9/2024 at 7:41 PM, wtnhighlander said:

Do I understand correctly, the strips help establish a flat curb at the desired height, which you use to guide you screed for the actual floor? I assume one end of the screed rests on the drain, and the other on the curb?

That's exactly correct.  This is not something I invented, but the way they used to do tile work thick mortar beds before they came out with the sheets of backer board.  They would use such strips of Masonite in the vertical corners in a too thick bed on the whole wall, tap the corner strips in plumb, and screed the excess off from top to bottom producing a perfectly flat wall.

There is a strip under that level in the picture. It's tapped down to the level I want it with the hammer, and trimmed up with the margin trowel.

It's really very easy to do.  Without the strips the level would just make a mess.

This level is a cheap plastic level I bought from Lowes as four feet long and cut it down to three feet for the 3' x 5' bathtub conversion job I showed a picture of earlier.  The plastic cleans off the wet mortar easily with a sponge and bucket of water like you keep all the other tools clean as the job goes along.

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On 2/9/2024 at 9:18 PM, Coop said:

Tom, I’ve been following this but perhaps not close enough. Your last post, second pic, there seems to be a sub-floor and an area below. What I called the sub-floor resembles sheetrock which I’m sure is not. Just curious to how that will be treated? I bet if I stick around long enough, it will become obvious. 

No subfloor.  This house was originally some kind of farm building with a very rough concrete slab floor.  They knocked a big hole in it to get the plumbing drains in when it was converted into a house when the lake was formed in 1963.  No one left now knows any more details than that. 

The depressed area is where they broke that hole to get the shower drain in.  The DWV lines were filled in around and under them with sand.  I put some surface bonding concrete (the dark gray) in the hole to give the mortar bed more support.  Surface bonding concrete is not made for this type of job but it has fiberglass fibers all in it, and I use it for all sorts of things it wasn't intended for.

The insulation you see in the picture is dirty because it had a thick mortar bed over it with metal lath nailed to the studs.  

The 2" PVC trap you see in these pictures is from when I redid the washing machine drain from one that didn't work.  The laundry room is on the other side of the wall behind the shower.   

 

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This place is proving a pretty big hit with rentals.  At first we thought it would only rent in the Summer.  For the coming season we're booked solid all the way back through April and May, and even back into March.  I went to Vrbo and AirBnb and blocked out February so no one could book it while I'm working on that shower.  Before the bookings coming in this week, I didn't think of that as a possibility.

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It's a good excuse for me to not do the last one this Winter too.  I don't really dislike doing this, but it's not enjoyable work either.  Now I can wait until next Winter to redo the harvest gold bathtub without having to hear anything about it.  It might push too close to someone wanting to rent it.  I have to work this sort of thing into everything else that I have to do and don't want to get in a hurry to do anything.

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