Bathroom Renovations for Dummies - Part II
February 4, 2016 5:53 AM   Subscribe

As a follow-up to this Askme I asked last year (with your great feedback), I've slowly made progress on our renovation and have had a lot of fun (and frustration) learning how to do this. I now have additional questions that I can't quite find the answers to regarding framing and eventually drywalling/tiling.

Since the original ask, I've managed to turn this bathroom into a halfway-demoed bathroom into a bathroom with relocated plumbing and new drain lines into a fully demoed bathroom now ready for framing.

We found and paid a plumber to dig out and put in new drain lines, and he'll also do the plumbing connections. I plan to find an electrician once the framing is done to get a quote.

The plan has changed slightly along with our "we didn't think of that before in our planning and now we must have its". Since the ask, we found and and restored a clawfoot tub, decided we're going to a heated floor, picked our mosaic tiles), abandoned the original shower in favor of a clawfoot tub with handshower, and decided we want to add a full length niche along the back wall.

A few questions:
* The entire back wall will be tiled. In the pictures above, it's the brick wall with some green paint on it. It will also have the niche running across the full length of the wall.

When I read about shower niches and tub enclosures, I see a lot of recommendations for kerdiboard or durock + kerdi membrane, but again those seem to be situations where a shower would be splashing water on the wall regularly. Here, we plan to put the clawfoot tub (with handshower) up against the brick wall, but will also have a as an example, a shower curtain around the tub for when showering is used.
If that's the case, how much waterproofing do I need for that back wall + shower niche? Can I just hang durock along the whole wall, membrane the shower niche only, and be done with it? Or does the whole wall still need to be waterproofed and I need to go with Kerdiboard?

* For the rest of the room, I am planning durock for where there will be tiling, but can't figure out whether I'm supposed to use moisture resistant greenboard or just plain drywall (with good paint) for the rest. What about the ceilings? drywall or greenboard?

* Lazy-jerk question: I've already hammerset a 2x4 on the floor and put up a top plate against the back wall in preparation for the framing back there, but my lovely wife pointed out that would make the planned niche pretty shallow. Do I need to rip that all up and replace it with a 2x6? Or can I just attach a 2x2 to the side of the 2x4 and make it a 2x6?

* Both our floor tile and wall tile is porcelain. Floor tile comes in long strips (not mosaic) and may have some curved cuts depending on layout to account for the weird exterior wall shape. Is it easier to buy a snap cutter (which I get the impression is easier for mosaics) or rent a wet tile saw?

* We're planning on putting in the kerdi-system of heated flooring. I get the impression that I need to put in self-leveling underlayment over the (really rough and slightly out of level) concrete floor. But how thick does it need to be?

* We can pick out the vanity fixture and but I'm at a loss of how to figure out recessed/spot lighting and how much we actually need for the room. The room is at most 50 square feet (probably closer to 45 after all the framing and tiling) and only 7 foot tall. I'd prefer not to go with a flushmount ceiling fixture because the room feels short as it is.

Any other tips you can suggest at this point would be helpful. Thanks!
posted by Karaage to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
* Both our floor tile and wall tile is porcelain. Floor tile comes in long strips (not mosaic) and may have some curved cuts depending on layout to account for the weird exterior wall shape. Is it easier to buy a snap cutter (which I get the impression is easier for mosaics) or rent a wet tile saw?

There was another recent tiling question here that might have useful answers for you. When I was doing some small tiling projects, I found that it made the most sense to buy a cheap wet saw and then sell it later. Renting gets expensive and puts time pressure that isn't helpful when you are a novice DIY person who is learning as they go.

I lived for quite a while in an apartment with a clawfoot tub with a surround curtain exactly like your link, and we have a similar setup currently as well. Especially if guests or children will ever be using this bathroom, I would plan for lots of splashing and out-of-tub spraying, because there are always gaps in the curtains and the hand sprayer will get aimed everywhere, including straight up. (It might be too late or too expensive, but if you have a way to put in a floor drain as well, it is worth considering.)
posted by Dip Flash at 6:03 AM on February 4, 2016

We redid our main bath just before Christmas.

You can go greenboard (it's supposedly moisture resistant) for walls that aren't going to be wet all the time, but it seems to have really fallen out of favour. See here for instance. For the piece of mind, we just used cement board. It's not that much more expensive, and you only want to do this once.

Absolutely rent the saw. I've used both and will only use a wet saw in the future. You'll want a pair of hand nippers for some of the curves (though a bit of creativity with the saw works wonders), but that's it. Saws are much easier and more accurate to use, IME, especially if your tile is thicker. Porcelain is really strong compared to the cheaper ceramic tiles and so harder to break. Cuts like a dream though.
posted by bonehead at 6:11 AM on February 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd greenboard the whole bathroom because of steam, condensation and stuff.

Note that 2x4 plus 2x2 does NOT equal a 2x6. A 2x4 is about 3.5 inches, a 2x2 is about 1.5, while a 2x6 is 5.5.
posted by LionIndex at 6:14 AM on February 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

I can comment on some of this but I prefer to refer you to the John Bridge Tile Forum, a really great place to get advice from pros.

The one thing I can give solid advice on is the tile cutting - you want a wet saw. A score-and-snap cutter and tile nipper will give you imprecise results. You can usually rent them from places like Home Depot or a local tool lending library if you don't want to buy one.
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:22 AM on February 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd prefer not to go with a flushmount ceiling fixture because the room feels short as it is.

My thing is to make certain the the vanity has really good lighting. 3- or 4-strip 40W equivalent across the top of the main mirror, with 1 or even 2 pots on either side of the same strength. Assuming you have straight lines from the vanity mirror to most other points in the room, that's enough, you don't need overhead light.

Incidentally, I like to keep bulb colour temperature higher, in the daylight range. If you're doing your face, having adequate light with real outside colour values is useful.

Another option is to do a combo light/extractor fan. That's an option mostly not for the main part of the room, but can be useful to keep the tub lit.

Finally, do discuss this with your electrical contractor. Many of them do do lighting design and are very used to dealing with these problems.
posted by bonehead at 8:38 AM on February 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Clarification question: Do wet tile saws work well with mosaics? I'd imagine pushing the mosaic through the blade can lead to inconsistencies since it's on a mesh and not a single piece that can be held in place, unless there's some technique I'm unaware of.
posted by Karaage at 10:13 AM on February 4, 2016

Nthing the wet saw. (Landlord, also do tile floors and bathroom tub surrounds and sink backsplashes.) For mosaic tile, you kind of steady each mosaic piece as you saw along carefully. It's tough to manage tiny mosaic pieces but for the 2" size, you can do pretty decently. I've not done the fancypants shapes like you picked, but standard 2" square floor mosaics on mesh cut pretty well with a wet saw. Tile saw cuts slowly and shouldn't take your fingers off. Do be sure to wear eye protection, though -- even with a guard for the blade, it throws little bits about.
posted by which_chick at 10:31 AM on February 4, 2016

You can use wide painter's tape or masking tape to keep the mosaic pieces in place while you cut- also helps with being able to mark your cuts on the tape rather than on the tile.

If the tile is extra fussy, you can peel individual pieces off the mosaic off the mesh, hot glue them to a spare piece of plywood or whatnot, and run that through the saw.

If the channel on your wet saw is too wide/deep, you can also use plywood to act as a 'stage' to cut the tile on.

Take care not to leave the mesh wet too long, as many glues are water-soluble. You can quickly dry off wet mesh with a towel, or use a hair dryer to dry them off.
posted by rachaelfaith at 3:47 PM on February 4, 2016

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