When we moved into our house 8 years ago, there were some broken tiles in the master bath. When we did the inspection, we didn’t ask for them to be taken care of, because it was small stuff, and we could do it. No biggie.
It was such a non-issue that we didn’t get around to it at all in all that time, but fixing it was near the top of my project list now that I’m home, and frankly, I was afraid of what 8 years of neglect had wrought. Would I find the entire wall rotted out behind it?
I hammered and chiseled out the damaged tiles, and of course there was water damage behind them; the drywall crumbled when touched. They’d been installed on green board, a type of drywall that was supposed to be water resistant, but by no means waterproof. Bathroom tile isn’t really supposed to be installed on drywall, but back in 1980 when the house was built, cement backer board was new-fangled, if it had been invented at all yet. I reached up into the wall to see if I could determine how far the damage went, and it seemed to be about 2-3 courses of tile in either direction. It was kind of a mess when I opened it; I found little roots in the wall that must’ve creeped in from the outside somehow. And dirt. Where’d the dirt come from? Also? If I’d known I’d find mouse turds in the wall when I opened it up, I might not have been so quick to stick my hand up into the dark unknown spaces between drywall. Ignorance really IS bliss.
I sent photos and details to my brother, who knows about these things, and asked him what I should do next. He said the two words I feared the most: “Gut it.” He said that unless I opened it up, I wouldn’t know the extent of the damage, and since I was planning to cement over the works, that could cause problems down the line. As it turned out, the damage WAS extensive (and probably would’ve been much worse if I didn’t live in a desert), and I’m glad I took it all out and watched it be put back together. Now I know what’s there, and it should last the rest of my life.
Demo began soon after, and it has been a work in progress for I don’t know how long now. (Since January 26th, says my Flickr account.) I don’t know how long it’s been, because I’ve moved into the portion of the project where I’m wiped out, tired of thinking about it, and just want it done. I start all these DIY projects with a fair amount of enthusiasm, but a month in, the hopefulness inherent in the dream of a new bathroom gives way to the reality of ruined shoes, a cough that won’t go away, grit between your toes every time you go into the bathroom, and general exhaustion, because despite it being a small bathroom, the amount of work to do it over is, evidently, endless.
I can almost see the end from here; I still have to finish texturizing the walls, then paint them, complete the plumbing in the shower (my brother did the hard stuff, bless his little tool-wielding soul), and tile the floor. Pix in progress here (if you click the “Show info” link in the upper right-hand corner, you’ll get the captions, too); I’m hoping to unveil the finished project by next week’s blog, but I am beat, so we’ll see what happens. That said, I’m pretty proud to have done this all myself, but for the cement and glass block work that I hired out to professionals. (I know my limits.)
Anybody else DIYing it up?