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What to Require in Bath Room Renovation ?

I plan to have our (45-year old) in-suit Master & Shared Bath Rooms gutted & redone early next spring, and wonder what specifications should I require. My personal peeves are:

(1) I want threaded plumbing bibs where applicable because the existing compression fittings (wherever I lived) leave no pipe length for replacement.
(2) What should I specify to have a firm subfloor to avoid tile cracking.
The master is on the 1st floor which is on a "thin" concrete floor (over a walkout basement & side loading below grade garage). I have a few hairline tile cracks which I assume is normal for 45 years, even on a concrete base.
Anything to require, to avoid tile floor cracks or pressure on grout ?

The shared bath is on the 2nd floor, and also have some hairline tile cracks. Is it typical to replace the wood subfloor .. . should I specify that the subfloor be screwed in to joists. Even with "good contractors", leaving it to their professional standards can result in a wide range of results.

(3) The house has distinct trim & casing -- in other repairs & renovations, contractors got what Home Despot had which didn't match. A ACE store w/ wood milling said they can custom make most/any trim if we provide a sample (to set up a cutting bit).
I suppose I'll specific the use of the trim pieces.

(4) The previous owner put lipstick on a pig by using latex paint over oil on the master door (nice original solid core door) and other places -- feakin' redneck. Can I salvage the door ?

(5) The rest of my 2nd floor (original 1965 hardwood) has become very squeaky. There's some deflection in spots (I feel them rather than see the ponding), and I can feel the floor planks having some space between them (presumably due to wood shrinkage). Assuming no structual issue, I think the standard way to stop the squeaks is to screw the planks to joists, and putty over the screw heads.

I don't expect the Bath contractor to deal with this, but post in case someone can inform.

(6) In general, what "technical requirements" should I ask for in the Scope of Work ?

Re: What to Require in Bath Room Renovation ?

I can't answer all your questions, but as for a wood subfloor, most contractors will use a structural adhesive between the joists and the flooring. The adhesive is so strong that I don't think it will matter whether the flooring is screwed down or nailed, but screwing it down may bring the flooring more in contact with the joists so that the adhesive will be thinner, which will make it stronger.

I see a lot of older houses that used a 5/8" plywood and a 1/2" for a total thickness of 1 1/8". Today they use a 3/4" and that is it, but they will use a cement board on top of that that is about a 1/4" thick so the floor will match. I have heard that some people feel an extra layer of plywood would be preferable to the cement board as it is stiffer, especially if it is bonded with the 3/4" plywood with a structural adhesive.

Today, there are modified thinsets that are a little more flexible than the stuff of old and that may help keep the tiles from cracking. I don't know if that will help you or not because it depends on why the tiles cracked in the first place. If the tiles in the middle of the floor are cracked, then the modified thinset may be the answer, but if the tile around the edge where they meet the wall are cracked, than that would be due to a bad tile job in the first place.

As for the door, I don't understand the issue with the latex paint over oil based paint on the door. Unless you just didn't want any solid color paint on a nice wood door, which I can understand, a good latex over an oil based primer really is the best combination, if you want a painted door. But the paint can be removed but I'd suggest that it be done in a shop so that you don't have the toxic fumes in your house. It would be safer and healthier for everyone if it is done in a properly equipped shop.

Re: What to Require in Bath Room Renovation ?

1- Add to that use only 1/4 turn shut off valves. They last longer, are easier to use, and you can see when they are off or on.

2- All tile should have the subflooring as prescribed in the TCNA handbook. For natural stone, you need at least 2 layers of plywood totalling 1.25" thick installed according to this article. There are a number of other factors for ceramic or porcelain tiles. For all things tile, head on over to the John Bridge Tile Forum where you can read the extensive library which has a section all about plywood. How exciting is that?

3- My local lumber yard, Clark's Hardwoods, right here in Houston will make custom millwork and ship it to you. All they need is a sample to work from. You may find a local yard to provide the same service.

4- Yes with lots of cussing and labor. Adding wine or beer may help reduce the cussing.

5- The bath contractor MUST address deflection so the joists can handle a tiled floor. The John Bridge Tile forum has a handy dandy deflecto-meter you can use to determine if your floors are up to tile or figure out what needs to be done so you can tile.

6- Somewhere on the John Bridge forum is a thread dedicated to what a homeowner (HO) should look for when shopping for a contractor.

7- Hire a company that does all the work in house, you'll save money and get a quicker job. Get a warranty with teeth in it. Don't pay up front. Get a freshly printed copy of their insurance.

Re: What to Require in Bath Room Renovation ?

Try special bathroom tiles which are less slippery and strong.

For shared bathroom it will be better to change it and avoid the wooden flooring. It won't work out in a long run.

I think it is the best time to renovate the bathroom as well as the house. Get in touch with some nice contractors.

Re: What to Require in Bath Room Renovation ?

If your plumbing stubs are too short, you can replace them once the walls are open or lengthen them. Then you can install threaded, soldered or compression angle stops, your choice. 1/4 turn angle stops are fine, but I've seen some fall apart and fail. If you solder the angle stops, use only 1/4 turn (they contain no plastic parts and stand up to the heat).

A. Spruce
Re: What to Require in Bath Room Renovation ?

1 - Install blocking as per ADA spec in shower and at toilet. IMHO, this should be a code requirement, yet it is not. The reason is simple, there will come a day when you may need to install grab bars, either for convenience or necessity and you're not going to want to tear open those walls to do it. It costs pennies to do it during the remodel and can cost thousands of dollars later in repair/replacement costs.

2 - Absolutely NO silicone caulk! It fails as fast as latex, regardless of what the label or anyone else says, and you can't clean it out and replace it because nothing, including more silicone, will stick to it. Latex caulks can be maintained or removed and replaced with relative ease.

3 - The suggestion of threaded 1/4 turn anglestops is excellent for the exact reasons stated. The biggest plus is that they do not get hard seals in them, so you can turn them on/off as much as you like without failure or leakage.

4 - Make sure your electrical requirements are being met, that may mean a dedicated circuit for each, just depends on how crazy you get with appliances in there. Also, if you factor that many people have electric toothbrushes, you may want more than one outlet installed for the items that need to stay plugged in and yet still have room for other items. As an example, in my shared bathroom there are three electric tooth brushes, a water pic, and a table top fan. In addition the girlfriend also plugs in a curling iron and/or a flat iron. As you can see, a single outlet just wouldn't cut it. The more people that use the bathroom, the more need there is for available outlets.

5 - Instant hot water heater. Depending on the distance you are from the hot water source, a point of use heater may be in order, at least for the sink faucet. This will increase the electrical requirement in the bathroom.

6 - Exhaust fan - regardless of having a window in the bathroom, you should have an adequate exhaust fan to vent shower moisture and toilet odors.

7 - If at all possible, choose either cast iron or enameled steel for bathtub. They are the easiest to maintain and last the longest. A fiberglass shower pan will last ok with proper care. I would also recommend either tile or solid surface surround with glass doors. If you have hard water you'll want frosted doors for ease of maintenance.

8 - When choosing plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, tile, flooring, paint colors, etc, choose something that is a classic design and color. The worst thing you can do is use products and designs that will be out dated before the contractor leaves the house. You will never go wrong with the classics.

Re: What to Require in Bath Room Renovation ?

Guys (gals too), these are great reminders. I have several follow-on questions:

(1) Both my Bathrooms don't have fan ventilation. The master bath is on the main level, and it has mold spots in enough places to say there's a mosture problem.

(i) Installing a fan ? The master bath is under a 2nd floor BR, which is a "Cape Cod" style. I can't see an easy way to install a fan vent. Wall ventilation fan ?? the house is brick, all around, and as far as I can tell, NOT brick facade (1964). Would it take an experienced guy a lot of time to chisel out an 4-6" hole to vent.
(ii) Other moisture symtoms -- there are water condensation streaks near the A/C wall register (summer), and generally during the winter, when all the walls are cold. There are water stains on the ceiling outside the shower (the shower has 4 heads that are NOT individually controlled so a lot of steam is put out even for a 2 minute shower).
It seems I should make several fixes -- insulate the A/C register (how ?), re-do the shower heads so it's not a steam bath, etc.
Any other thoughts ?

(2) The (small) shared Bath is on the 2nd floor and part of the dormer ("Cape Code" style). The roof slope intrudes inside the closet and is a little noticeable at the wall/ceiling intersection. Generally, the bath room has the normal 8 feet height.
(i) I have the design idea of opening the ceiling to follow the roof slope -- the additional height would provide more "airiness" to the small room. I have concerns that this will be beyond the skills of Kitchen/Bath remodeler (a 3-store chain) I'm considering, and a poor job would creat a lot of problems later on, or if done right, I'll have sticker shock. TOH has tons of "attic" projects which would include raising the ceiling.
(ii) As mentioned, it has no ventilation fan (but the room is used for bathing only 2 weeks when the mom-in-law visits). Can a Kitche/Bath remodeler handle piercing the roof to install a fan vent??
I have nightmares about silent water damage from roof issues -- at the back, roof is 2 1/2 stories high and I'm the sole wage earner, so no climbing on roofs.


Re: What to Require in Bath Room Renovation ?

I don't have answers to all your questions, but I have an idea for the spare bathroom. Since it is used so little, what about a dehumidifier. Do you have room for one? After a shower, you would need to run it for several hours, then go empty the holding tank in it. It would be inconvenient I know, but it might work.

Re: What to Require in Bath Room Renovation ?

Proper venting is a must for all bathrooms. We highly recommend the Panasonic vents as they are whisper quiet. A decent fan starts at $120.

You can drill a hole through brick in less time than it takes to set up the ladder. A diamond core bit or carbide bit will do the job. These can be rented at any tool rental shop. Make sure the bit is large enough for the duct to pass through.

Removing the drywall from the bathroom ceiling should give you the access you need.

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