Saturday, March 30, 2013

KS Large Mouth Bass!

I had the chance to do some fishing while I was in Kansas on my co-workers private farm pond. The pond was muddy and small but had some very willing takers! The pics are of a 3lber (my co-workers guess) - he said if it had been summer, that fish would have been a 5lber. I have to admit I fished with a spinning rod and used a blue and black squid looking thing with a huge weight and an even bigger hook. Amazing what these frickin things will eat.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Bathroom Remodel

About a year ago I dreamed up the idea of replacing our master bathroom shower, countertop, sinks, faucets and floor tile. Of course I had multiple excuses NOT to start the project. In November last year I procured the services of my buddy Steffan to take Friday, Jan 18th off with me and start the project. My wife and kids were headed to Boston for Martin Luther King's weekend (which is also my in-laws Christmas when everyone can make it) so I had the house to myself.

The photos above are what the bathroom looked like before the remodel. As you can see, the formica countertops, standard above counter white sinks and ugly Highlands Ranch standard Moen faucets needed an upgrade. Also, the 32"X32" shower was a little tight and the huge oval tub was a bit of overkill in the bathroom. So we knew a change needed to be made eventually.

When considering a bathroom remodel, you need to plan way ahead as everything takes a while to fabricate, order and/or install. There are numerous steps to the process and making a list with estimated days to complete will help you line up your timeline of when everything needs to be ordered or scheduled. Not only from a product purchasing standpoint, but also from the colors, textures and styles planning.

The first thing Jen and I did was to stain/paint the cabinet faces from a golden oak color to this expresso color with the Rust-o-leum Refacing kit. It came out nice. From there we were able to decide on what colors we wanted the granite countertop, floor tile and shower tile to be along with the color of the walls (which we still loved the original colors) to the finish of the faucet and showerhead colors (brushed nickle - duh!). Sometimes doing the easiest thing first will allow for a lot of other parts to fall into place. The cabinets wer NOT easy, but help solve a lot of color issues we had.

Cabinet Refinishing = $60

Jen also went online and found the sink faucets and shower faucet she wanted. Going online is awesome (for price) and scary (because you can't see or touch it before buying it). The faucets and showerheads came in about a week later. They were great purchases far in advance of needing them and saved us probably $200 if we had got them at a store location. These accesories can be extremely difficult to decide on, luckily Jen fell in love with a couple of them very quickly, so it was an easy purchase.

2 Sink Faucets and Showerhead = $450

During the period of November 2012 and install date of January 2013 we decided to get the granite and sinks and faucets changed.  We did a lot of "window shopping" going to see a bathroom showroom and looking at tile, sinks, showers, etc., giving us ideas of what we liked for styles and colors.  Jen really liked a tiled shower style that had a granite ledge around the base.  We picked up a couple of Pfister undermount sinks that we knew we wanted.

2 Undermount Sinks = $300

Next, I started doing some research on shower pans to get the pan ordered and in before we started ripping. Researching a shower pan sounds simple, but it isn't. What size? what type? what did we want it to look like? what material? porcelin? cast iron? tileable?....on and on. The questions never seemed to end. I wanted to have the granite and tile on the shower pan to match, but that was easier said than done. Prior to Christmas I found a Tile-Redi shower pan that was 48"X48" that you could tile the inside base any style you wanted. 48"x48" was nearly twice the size of the 32"x32" shower we had and would align perfectly parallel with the half wall along the side of the vanity.

I ordered the shower pan from Lowe's and it took a week to get from Tile-Redi. Upon pick up, I noticed one of the tabs that butted the wall was cracked and broken and declined to accept the pan from Lowe's. Lowe's called back the next day and said they would re-order the pan, but the piece broken was easily repairable and could be hidden behind the tile. They were right, but more importantly, they took $100 off, so it was a no brainer.

Shower Pan = $700 - $100 = $600

The shower pan sat in my garage for 3 or 4 weeks. In early December I contacted our granite fabricator and they came out and measured the space and got the idea of what we were looking for. I had the granite guys measure the outside edge as I wanted to put a granite trim along the base that matched the granite countertops. Just another nice touch.

They told us the square footage of granite we needed to buy. In late December we went and picked out the slab from Granite Imports of South Platte Drive/Santa Fe Drive and contacted my fabricator (Utlimate Granite) to come and pick it up, fabricate it, cut out for the sinks, etc.

Granite 1/2 Slab = $350

Two weeks later they came and ripped out the old countertops and sinks, installed the new undermount sinks and cut a hole by each sink for the new faucet. After a few hours of letting the bondo dry, I installed the new faucets, drains in the sinks and water supply lines and we had the below working vanity and sinks!



Granite Fabrication = $600
Misc Plumbing Supplies for Sinks = $25

Jen and I hit all the major tile shops in town, looking for floor tile, shower wall tile, accent piece in the shower and floor shower pan tile. We immediately found the floor tile - a great travertine looking tile that was beige with water marks in size 24"X16". The shower wall tiles were easy too - dark grey 12"X16" that we would subway style on the walls. Floor and Decor had great prices and we had the two biggest tile decisions done quickly. Now we needed to find the shower pan tiles, shower tile frame pieces and the accent pieces.

Shower Tile = $280
Floor Tile = $350

Another weekend went by and we found the shower floor pan tiles at Tile For Less -  Cabos sytle 2"x4" rounded rectangles of travertine natural stone. Cabos was a fitting name for us - dog and wedding place are both named Cabo.

Shower Floor Pan Tile = $100

The accent pieces Jen fell in love with were a white and grey side cut marble looking slab that was $22 for a 2"X12" piece and had to be special ordered from Tile For Less. They wouldn't be available for our rip out, and would take 10 to 14 days.

Accent Tile = $220

Day 1:
With Christmas and New Years filling the time, MLK weekend came fast. Steffan arrived on Thursday the 17th and we started ripping. The first night we worked from about 8:30pm until about 11pm when I got a voicemail from my neighbor asking if we were trying to wake up his newborn, and if we did, could he bring him over for us to deal with. He did have a point, it was late and we had been making a ton of noise with the window wide open.

We did manage to rip the tub, shower, trim and half the tile off the floor in those 2.5 hours. All of that crap was in the garage and ready for the trash pile. Amazing how fast the garage filled up as a staging area. Day 1 was a complete success, and the best part was it was not even on my schedule - it was an "extra" day.

We were exhausted, so we ended up drinking beer for a couple hours and headed to bed.

Day 2:
Woke up on Friday morning around 8am and had a very busy day ahead of us. We started by driving all over the place getting all of the durarock, drywall, mud, and other accessories to start the clean up process. We drove around to Tile For Less, Floor and Decor and Home Depot to get everything we needed, and were back home at 11am.

Drywall/Durarock/Mud/Accessories = $175

We made a run to the dump to drop off all the tile/durarock/drywall/other crap. Were back by noonish and we lugged all the stuff upstairs, cleared the last of the tile and durarock on the floor and started cutting the durarock and putting it on the floor.

Dump Run = $48

The scary part of this whole rip out was that plumbing for the tub was sticking up through the floor. I was expecting the water supply to be completely under the subfloor until it poked up through the subfloor to supply the tub.  But the water supply pipes were running out of the half wall to the vanity faucets above the bathroom subfloor, to the tub water valves and then dove under the subfloor. I was not expecting this - I thought it would all be hidden and we'd just have to cap the water supply to the tub below the subfloor and cap the drain and we'd be done - no such luck. Luckily my plumber buddy Doug was coming to help with the plumbing. He was supposed to show up at 4pm and we'd finish the durarock on the walls and subfloor replacement and we'd have a great day.

Doug didn't get off his call until 7 and worked from 7 to 9:30pm, which put a huge damper on our evening. We helped Doug by cutting up the subfloor so he could have more room to work.  Doug relocated the water supply under the subfloor, capped the vent below the subfloor, moved the showerhead over some, installed the shower valve, moved the shower drain over and added a better p-trap.  Doug did an AMAZING job - amazing he could make that mess of pipes all work in a little over 2 hours!  He got a lot of stuff done, but after he left at 9:30pm, we still had a ton of stuff to do - and we didn't have enough time or energy to close the walls with durarock, drywall the non-shower walls, set the shower pan, tape the drywall, mud the drywall or any other other odds and ends.  So we called it a night.

Plumbing Labor and Supplies = $225

We were exhausted again, but our days progress was awesome and we were excited at how much we got done.

Day 3:
Saturday started late again. We were up around 8:30 and knew we had Tom (my neighbor) as help. Steffan is a goddamn trooper - the dude woke up all broken out in hives and was exhausted from them, but he still kept going. He worked through the pain and fumes from cutting the durarock for the walls and he put the skim waterproof coating on the walls to seal the cracks - the stuff smelled like shit, but he did it all. Day 3 was all about getting the walls and floor ready for tile. We mortared and set the pan, durarocked the walls, drywalled the walls, taped and mudded the walls, sealed the seams, built the shelf into the wall and durarocked the floors. That was the most work we had accomplished in a day and it was only 3pm and time for Steffan to go home.

As you can see, the progress was staggering - all the walls and floors were durarocked/drywalled, the pan is set and we were ready for tile.

As always, there was a problem brewing that would put the project on hold. Steffan left and gave us instructions to mix the epoxy and set the floor tiles in the pan. Tom and I were ready to go at 5pm, we mixed the epoxy and were ready to set the floor tile. We had run to Home Depot to rent a saw and Tom was manning the cutter and running up and down stairs. We cut the frame tile of the floor and the travertine floor tiles and mixed the epoxy and were setting them when we noticed an issue. The shower pan floor actually sloped upwards from the outside edges to the center drain - a HUGE no-no for a shower pan. It was too late to rip the shower pan out, so we needed a better plan. I had already set the frame tile in place and could tell there were some low spots sloping away from the drain, so I tore all the travertine up and rinse it off under hot water to remove the epoxy. I needed professional help to fix the shower pan slope.

Basically we gave up at around 10pm, there was nothing we could do that night to fix the shower pan and I told Tom to go home. But, I still had the saw for 24 hours and the floor tile needed to be finished. So I started cutting. The issue with the floor is that you need to think through the geometry before you start laying tile. Specifically, you can have a sliver of a tile near an entryway where you step and it will crack (lesson learned from the last tile I put tile in this bathroom exactly 10 days after we moved in on Dec 20, 2004 and completed the tiling on Jan 1, 2005). Also, you want the tile to be square to the wall and corners, which isn't easy when the walls aren't square.  Squaring up tile is not as easy as you may think when the walls you are squaring it up to are not square!

I called my neighbor next door to see if the noise from me cutting on the tile saw in the garage was disturbing him, but he told me that he had five 6 year old girls having a slumber party and he couldn't hear a thing. That gave me a few hours of confidence to complete the cutting. It took me 3 hours to get the first row of tiles cut and mortared by the wall on the door side and after that it went quickly. I cut until 2 am and mortared until 3:30 am and finished about 1/2 the bathroom floor.

Day 4:
I went to bed around 4 am and to say I was tired the next day was a joke, I was up at 7:30 and ready to go. I still needed to cut all the difficult tiles and had a ton of work to do. Luckily, Tom came over and was my cutter all day. I would draw the piece on a sketch pad and he'd go down and cut it for me. He did this all day, and he kicked ASS!!!! By 2pm on Sunday we had the whole thing cut and mortared and we were done with the floor. It looked AWESOME!!

I know this picture doesn't look like much changed, but we cut all the pieces against the sink, around the door to the bathroom, around the toilet drain and all the doorways. All were mortared and we were done with the floor - just needed to let the mortar dry and we were ready for grout. The part at the top right of this picture is the bench seat that I was building in order to store towels, etc and have a place to sit in the bathroom.

There is a reason for having the water pipes under this bench. Doug was afraid to reroute the pipes out of the vanity straight down under the subfloor because the area from the wall to 2 feet from the wall has the garage under it and the pipes might be more prone to freezing. So, he left them above the subfloor, ran them over to the floor joist and then dropped them into the subfloor on the house side of the floor joist. This left them above the subfloor, so the 2"X4" that you see here is located just after the pipes drop down into the subfloor on the house side of the floor joist. This actually worked out, because I would just build a bench seat into the wall and have a false bench floor built in to accomodate the raised pipes. We are still a ways off from seeing the final bench seating.

Day 4 was a success, although it didn't look like much and I needed to find a contractor that knew how to use epoxy. I returned the saw to Home Dept just before deadline at 5 pm and asked the guy at the counter if he knew any contractors that had epoxy experience. He did and he gave me a guy's card - I called on the way home. He was available and wanted to stop by on Monday (the next day) - I agreed.

Tile Saw Rental = $80

Day 5:
I was at work, but my wife was home and she showed the contractor the epoxy work that needed to be done and also asked him to quote the tiling of the shower wall, the pitching of the epoxy on the base, tiling the base and finishing the mud/tape/texture of the drywall on the exterior walls.  He did a quote and sent to me the next day and it was a good price. 

Day 6:
With the contractor not due until Thursday, this left me plenty of time to grout the floor and install the toilet, making the bathroom useable. The grout went down easy.   The bathroom was useable, we just needed to shower in the kid's bathroom.

Day 8:
He was ready to start on Thursday and was looking everywhere for the epoxy, but couldn't find it - so we called Tile-Redi.  They had no product in Colorado and could only ship it out.  Of course it was a "hazardous material" and it had to come by UPS Ground for the following Tuesday delivery.  You can't make this shit up.  So basically we were at a standstill for 5 days until the epoxy came in.

More Epoxy = $140

Day 9:
Three days wait after laying the grout, I sealed the grout and cleaned the sanded areas making the bathroom floor tile complete.  I did some clean up work and kept busy, but there wasn't much I could do.

Grout and Sealer = $30

Day 10:
Jen and I were at Tile For Less and I found the perfect "framing" wall tile to go around the shower wall tile - of course I had to return some other tile I had already bought from Floor and Decor, but we made the right choice.

Frame Wall Tile = $100

Day 14:
Contractor shows back up and starts working on the epoxy. Hoping to pull up the tile frame I had already laid, he calls the company.  Basically nothing breaks down the epoxy and he has to lay down another layer of the epoxy over what is already there.  Problem is, after laying the new layer and putting a new tile frame around the inside of the pan, he is out of epoxy and needs more to set the travertine shower floor tiles and as an adhesive for the ranite ledges and shelf.  I have to order more epoxy.  I call Tile-Redi and it is too late to get it out that day, of course since it has to come by ground, it won't be here until the following Tuesday.

Even More Epoxy = $110

Day 15:
The contract, who is ProWay Services, is back and cutting the tile for the first two rows just above the pan - the epoxy takes 12 hours to dry and set.  The first couple rows are the base of the entire project.  Because these tiles are 12"X24" they are heavy and getting them set and level will make the rest of the tiling go smoothly. Because they are so heavy they tend to sag, so you can only do a couple of rows at a time and let them set up and dry.

I have also asked the contractor to help me by cutting a hole in my basement ceiling and capping the water supply that is tapped into the copper pipe in the ceiling of the basement that connects to my refrigerator water supply.  My fear is that eventually the clamp or copper tubing would fail and it would leak through onto the ceiling and create a huge mess - better safe than sorry and have him cap it.  I would run a new line from my kitchen sink to the fridge.  The contractor completed this as well.

Day 16 & 17 were the weekend.

Day 20:
The epoxy got delivered on Tuesday afternoon, so on Wednesday the contractors returned.  Eager to get the pan done, they spent most of the day laying more wall tile and grinding down the epoxy to slope it to the drain. 

They added a couple rows of tile, let it dry, grinded down the epoxy, laid another two rows of tile and went to lunch.  Notice something about the top picture?  Yeah, Jen sent me this text and I asked where the accent tile was?  Oh, yeah!  They forgot and had to yank off that top row of tile and add the accent tile (see bottom photo).  The good news is that we were making visual progress - finally!!

Day 21:
The contractors finished up the tiling, including the frame around the outside edges, and most of the shelf.  They also grouted the tile and it looked great.

Day 22:
Finishing touches on the shelf, more grout, and lots of mud and sanding on the drywall.


The contractor also managed to get the shower pan tile laid in the epoxy.  It looked great as well.

This is a close up of what the accent tile looks like.

The contractor is done.

Contract Labor with Some Light Supplies = $1,450

Day 23:
I grout the travertine shower floor pan tiles with bone grout - only a 20 minute job.

Shower Floor Grout = $10

Day 24 (Saturday):
We hit Home Depot for some odds and ends and especially for paint.  We figure out the base coat, the lighter color and then the darker accent colors to sponge on.  I get a bunch of painting stuff to help with the process.  Jennifer starts her painting, the base coat needs to be done in order for me to start building the bench.  She paints every inch of this herself, which was pretty amazing.  I caulk around the drain in the shower pan.  Jen does amazing work, but she's not even half way done!

Paint and Painting Supplies = $100

Day 25 (Sunday):
I start the morning by hitting Home Depot to get the parts for the water supply to the fridge - the guy at HD is awesome and gives me everything I need for the project in one trip (amazing!) - basically 25' of 1/4" hosing, 2 pressure fittings and a nozzle for connecting it to the water supply under the sink.

Water Supply Parts = $13

After vacuuming behind the fridge, cutting the old copper water supply, drilling holes through my cabinets to run the water line and connecting it to the sink water supply, I was done with the fridge project.  It had been on my to do list for over 7 years!  As a bonus, my wife got a new fridge - the water on the door worked again and as an added bonus, the freezer started making ice again!!!

But, it was back to Home Depot for some more stuff - paint glaze, 2"X3"s, mdf, plywood, trim pieces and a few other odds and ends. 

Wood and Trim = $60

Jen started on the sponge faux painting on the walls with the darker color and I stained and poly'd the trim pieces.  I then framed out the bench and cut the false floor for the bench. Below is the first layer of the paint, a little darker before the top coat.  You can also see the frame of the bench taking shape.

Jennifer took a couple hours off for the first layer to dry and right before bed she did the second coat sponging the lighter color on to make it all blend in.  As you can see the color is more blended and looks AWESOME!

Day 27:
Bored out of my mind and hating trim work - I hate trim work because it never seems to end and because it looks so easy but takes so damn long - I started on the trim and got most of it done while Jen and kids were at swimming.  Of course I was 4 feet short and had to go buy and stain and poly another piece.  Sorry no pictures, but trim is pretty boringn anyways.
Day 28:
More framing the bench and getting the plywood on the front and the top ready.  Just needed some paint and some hinges and it would be complete - unfortunately, Home Depot does not have any "nice" hinges and Jen wasn't sure what color to paint the bench.  After repeated calls to my granite fabricator - who promised they would swing by and finish the granite around the shower pan and shelf, I called my contractor to come and finish the job.  He would be there on the next day (Thursday) for about 30 minutes of granite cutting and epoxying.
Day 29:
The contractor comes back, trims down the granite pieces 1/2" on each piece, trims each side of the shelf by 1/8" and sets them in epoxy to adhere to the pan and shelf.  30 minutes work max.
Contractor Labor = $125
The enclosure is done - well, some minor caulking after the epoxy dries and it is done.
Day 30 - 32:
Spent in Grand Lake skiing and tubing with the wife and kids.
Day 32:
Home from Grand Lake by 2 pm, finished trim, finished rounding bench top edge, clean up, wipe down.
Day 33:
Ken Caryl Glass company stops by to measure for the glass shower enclosure - the final piece of the puzzle.  This about what the channel will look like in the new European style, frameless, satin etch, 76" tall shower enclosure.

Day 34:
Stopped at Tile for Less to get some gray caulk to caulk the underside of the granite on the shower pan and the shelf.  Took about 30 minutes to do.
Caulk = $18
Still need the hinges to put on the bench seat and then lots and lots of painting and touch up painting.  I order the box hinges from an online store - the hinges hold the bench seat open at 70% and allows it not to slam.
Hinges = $18
Day 38 & 39:
Jen paints the bench seat, and I install bench hinges over the weekend.  We are now officially done and waiting on the glass.

Day 51:
Ken Caryl comes to install the glass.   Takes them about 1.5 hours from start to finish.  I installed the drain cover and towel holders and we are FINALLY done.

Glass Cost = $2,870
Due to several delays due to the shower pan being not sloped correctly and having to get extra epoxy twice, and the granite company never calling me back and the standard wait for the glass to be fabricated and installed, this project took 6 weeks.  That is twice as long as I had expected.  But, without the contractors help, I would never have gotten this done.
We are very happy with how it turned out, even if it was $1,000 and 3 weeks over budget.
Total Project Cost = ~$9,000
I would not suggest undertaking such a large project without the help of some very handy friends, a tile saw, a great plumber, tiling skills, a great project plan and a lot of patience.  You can do this project yourself, but understand that there will be delays and unforseen issues, but it will be greatly rewarding.  Knowing what this bathroom looked like prior and what it looks like now, it makes me feel proud of what I accomplished, but makes me realize that I have to upgrade the rest of the house.
Thank you to Steffan and Tom for putting up with me, working your asses off, breaking your back and dealing with my misery.  Thanks to ProWay Services for helping get the project to the finish line.  FU to Ultimate Granite for leaving me high and dry for promising me they would finish the last 20 minutes of work.  Thanks to Ken Caryl Glass for a beautiful shower glass installation.  Most importantly thanks to my beautiful wife who for 6 weeks put up with 1/2" of dust on everything upstairs, showers in the kids bathroom and listening to me bitch about the bathroom.  I might bust my ass to get stuff done, but I can be a pain in the ass to have to deal with - I guess that is a trade off with me.
If anyone has any questions about this process, feel free to email me at