Tag Archives | bathroom

From 3 piece bath to 4

We didn’t actually add any features to our bathroom that weren’t there before…well, before February when we had a semi-functioning bathroom, but for the past 6 months (Yes, we’ve been working on this bathroom for almost 6 months. Insane, right??) the sink has not been functioning. Well, now the finishing touches are finally going in! Even though now we can’t technically finish the bathroom until August (we need new shower wall jambs but they’re on back-order until mid August), we really want to finish up everything else so that it looks a little more complete.

So over the weekend we decided we were finally going to tackle that 4th piece in our bathroom: the sink! What’s that? Guests don’t have to wash their hands or brush their teeth in the kitchen anymore? Hallelujah! Now that we have our final piece of granite and it’s sealed, we could install the faucet. Our faucet is by Delta and it’s an 8″ widespread, high-arc faucet. For some reason this one was anywhere from $30 to $100 cheaper than every other widespread, high-arc faucet. Not only that, but this was my favorite, too. I had a $25 Home Depot gift card, so the total after taxes came to $111.

Andrew installed the faucet and hooked up the drain… 

And finally for the first time since we tore up our bathroom we have running water in the sink!

So shiny, pretty, but best of all, functioning!

Then we installed the towel bar. Standard height for a towel bar is 48″, but we decided we were a little more partial to a 50″ height. I had Andrew hold up the towel bar (with towels hanging on it) while I looked from the door. When we finally decided where we wanted it, we made an X under one side. Then we used the template that came with it to help measure where to drill holes.

Once we decided where it should go, we leveled the template. 

And then it was time for the scary drilling! Scary to me anyway cause if you get it just slightly off, it can be really hard to adjust as you can’t drill a second hole too close to the first. But that’s why I have Andrew. 

Our studs were spaced properly so theoretically the towel bar would have been able to be mounted into studs, but we decided we didn’t like the placement of it on the studs. Since we decided not to screw into studs, we used the plastic anchors that were provided in the package for added strength. Let’s just hope we never decide to take this down, cause we know from experience how fun they are to rip out of the wall.

Then we screwed the metal mounting pieces into the anchors. 

And screwed the towel rod into those.

And voilà! We had a place to hang the super lush towels that have been sitting in a closet for a month! We decided to go with all Moen Banbury finishes because they matched the Delta sink the closest and we liked the aesthetic. Our shower faucet and showerhead, towel rack, toilet paper holder, and toilet flusher are all Banbury. It made the decision easier to just pick one design and we like the cohesive look (plus that way all the metal finishes are guaranteed to match).

 We even hung my DIYed paint chip art!

I think it turned out really well and I love the impact of a larger piece of art versus several little things in such a small space.

It’s so fun to work on this phase of the renovation cause all the finishing touches go so fast and are really starting to make the room look complete. Just a few small things left to do and we’ll have ourselves a mostly complete bathroom…until mid August when it can finally be complete for real, of course.

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Guarding against goop

Last week we finally got our third piece of granite for our guest bathroom vanity, and this time it was a keeper! But with all the problems we had, we’ve kind of started to question our choice. We know honed granite stains easily if anything oily is left on it for too long. Supposedly even soap left on honed granite for too long could stain…which could be a problem. Cause it’s a bathroom. So there will be soap. And probably toothpaste. And a whole host of other goopy items.

So to protect our precious (and pricey) hunk of rock from ominous goop, we sealed it again after it was installed. This company said they seal every piece before it leaves their shop, but we figured it couldn’t hurt to seal it again. First, I cleaned it with denatured alcohol to make sure there was no residue. (This is what the granite company uses).

It’s a pretty strong chemical with an intense smell, so it’s probably not the best option for every day cleaning. I feel like over time it might eat away at the sealant, too. A lot of things I read online (forums mostly) said professionals had ok’d it or acetone for routine cleaning. I also saw several things that said denatured alcohol is the same as rubbing alcohol. BUT here’s what the can said:

  • May be fatal or cause blindness if swallowed.
  • Vapor harmful. Use only with adequate ventilation.
  • Do not use as a general purpose cleaner. (Well, there it is!)
  • Danger! Poison. Flammable.
  • Avoid prolonged skin contact.
  • Do not spread this product over large surface areas because fire and health safety risks will increase dramatically.

And there were some other warnings, too. So if you want that in your house and around your children and pets, go for it. But I’ll probably buy Method Granite Cleaner for normal cleaning.

After cleaning the counter and waiting for the alcohol to evaporate, I sprayed DuPont Granite Sealer over the entire surface. It recommends you keep spreading it out to ensure it soaks in evenly, but I wasn’t sure what to use to spread it that wouldn’t absorb it. So I used the best tool I could think of: my hand! Don’t tell anyone.

I freaked out just a wee bit cause it looked like this.

And I started to think that maybe I was ruining our countertop.

After 20 minutes I wiped it off and freaked out even more. It looked so streaky and uneven and I really thought maybe I’d ruined it. But I waited the recommended 30 to 40 minutes before applying a second coat, left it on another 20 minutes and wiped it off again.

It still looked a little streaky, so I sprayed a small amount of sealer on the countertop and wiped it off after about 30 seconds. This is recommended if it looks like the sealant left a film on the granite. After that I was able to breathe again because the streaks were gone! Here’s what the counter looked like before we sealed it.

And here’s after.

It’s hard to really see the improvement, especially with the glare from the lights, but in person it’s a big improvement. It deepened the color just a tiny bit, added a hint of sheen, and most importantly gave our counter some added protection. It’s recommended that you reseal granite each year, but since ours is honed I think we’re planning to seal it every 6 months. We’ll see if it really helps though. We have yet to put a soap container on the counter since the sink isn’t working, so that first blob of soap may just do us in!

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Worth the work? I say yes.

So finally last week we got our new granite countertop. This time it wasn’t stained or overpolished like the previous two (here and here).

Since we only needed a small piece for a vanity, we had to choose a remnant piece instead of buying an entire slab so we didn’t have many choices. We fell in love with a 3 cm black honed granite (granite countertops come in either 2 or 3 cm thicknesses) but most granite backsplashes are 2cm granite. In my opinion the 3 cm granite looks much more high end as a countertop (since you don’t have to have the plywood underneath for support or the seam where two pieces of granite are glued together to make the edge appear thicker). But on the reverse, I think a 3 cm granite backsplash/sidesplash looks a little clunky, especially in an already small space.

So we improvised. We decided that we wanted to inset our back/side splash into the wall. I looked online to try to find an example of something like this and found nothing. So I thought maybe we were being crazy, but the first granite company we worked with said they’d done it before and it wasn’t a big deal.

Once they got the slab in place, they pushed the back/side splash against the wall, cut and removed the drywall around it, and pushed the pieces into the wall until they were snug against the studs. It really worked pretty well, except then we were stuck with small gaps all along it.

They said all we needed to do was tape along the granite, mud the cracks, and paint. So we taped.

And we mudded.

And we textured. We have a hopper that we used to texture most of the bathroom, but it’s a pain to get the right consistency of mud, find the right size texture, cover everything, bring the compressor inside, and clean out the hopper just for a small section. We had a spray texture in a can that we got for free from a friend, so we tried it instead. It worked well and it lets you adjust the size of the texture so you can match it to what’s already there, but beware of the fumes. With a hopper and mud there’s no smell, but this was terrible! We turned on the fan in the bathroom and closed the door, but the smell lingered for most of the day. No wonder it says to use in a well-ventilated space. If  your space isn’t ventilated I guess you’re outta luck.

We also used this opportunity to texture and paint the area around the outlet that Andrew had to move and a few other “less than optimally textured” spots on the walls. Then we sanded, primed and painted, pulled off the tape, and felt like crying. Because it looked just like it did before. The tape pulled off some of the paint and caused some of the mudding to crumble. Sad day. But luckily we were no worse off than before, so we gave it another go.

Andrew cut off and sanded all the peeling parts so we had a smooth edge. Then he filled a tiny plastic syringe (that we just happened to have lying around??) with mud and squeezed practically microscopic amounts into the cracks. Once it was dry we sanded it lightly and then taped again. This time at Andrew’s direction I left a tiny gap between the wall and the tape.

I chose a craft brush with a really straight edge and stippled paint into any remaining cracks and painted along the entire edge. I did it in small sections and took the tape off as I went so I didn’t have any peeling paint. Then I took a toothpick to clean up any paint that had bled under the tape (while it was still wet so it didn’t peel), which there was a bit since this is the worst tape ever.

Word to the wise: Buy 3M Scotch Blue, not Duck Clean Release painter’s tape! It bleeds a lot and there is no “clean releasing.” If you put it over paint it tears it off even if the base paint had ample drying time and you didn’t leave the tape on for very long.

Since I left a tiny gap between the wall and the tape I was essentially painting a very thin line on the granite. I wasn’t sure about this at first, but after seeing the result on the first section I did, I was sold. It took me over an hour to do all of it and my legs were definitely cramping at the end from my strange stance, but it was totally worth it.

Now it looks like it’s just backed up against the wall, and there’s no gap! Let’s look at a before and after, shall we? Before:

After!!!

I just can’t stop staring at it. It turned out way better than I was expecting, and in the end we’re positive we made the right choice. We love that the backsplash looks like a thinner granite. But we also realized that the granite wouldn’t have been flush with the wall if we’d chosen the traditional method of backing it up against the drywall. Our walls are far from square, so there would have been gaps behind it. Most people choose to caulk along the edge to solve this, but caulk leaves serious stains on honed granite and sticks out like a sore thumb (since it’s shiny and the granite’s not). In the end, this really was the best option.

Sadly, I think this is what I’m most proud of in our bathroom. It came out so great, and there’s nothing I would change about it. I’m a complete perfectionist, so this is rare that I’m satisfied with the end result! It almost makes me want to dance. And I do NOT dance.

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How (not) to install glass shower doors

We finally did it!! We got these stupid glass shower doors out of our living room and into our bathroom! We’ve had the doors for several months, but we didn’t want to install them before the granite was completed. The bathroom is so small and it takes two guys to get the granite in, so we just wanted to make sure nothing could break in the process.

Here are the installed doors. Aren’t they pretty?? (Minus the stickers telling you which side faces out.)

But it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Actually there were no rainbows or butterflies. Installing a shower door is not an easy task and in fact, I think it’s safe to say that installing our shower door was harder/more time-consuming/more confusing than installing the actual tub. This is why people hire professionals to do this kind of stuff. Go figure.

The first issue we encountered was the lip on our tub. Our tile wasn’t as thick as the lip on the tub, so we had to cut the wall jambs to make them fit around the edge of the tub. Once we’re finished all the edges will be caulked so you won’t see a gap or any rough edges.

Andrew used a piece of cardboard to make a template for each side and then traced the outline onto each wall jamb. This was our first mistake, but we had no idea it was going to be an issue at the time.

Then he cut the jamb using an angle grinder. It makes a nasty noise, but it was way faster than everything else he tried. And of course, safety first!

Then using a pencil we marked where on the sides of the shower we wanted the jamb.

There are three holes on each jamb for screws, but since there’s a hollow space behind the holes, a pencil wouldn’t reach the tile. So we improvised and got a paperclip with a little dab of paint on the end to mark where to drill.

Then came the actual drilling. I was so worried that the tiles would crack, but luckily this part went smoothly. Just remember you do need a special drill bit for tile! Andrew actually changed the drill bit 3 times to get through the tile first, then the hardi backer (using a masonry bit), and then the wood.

Here’s the first jamb in place. The two brown things are bumpers for the glass door.

Next we had to install the piece that runs along the edge of the tub to keep water in and serve as a guide for the doors. This piece is made slightly longer than a standard tub so that you have room to cut it down to size. We measured the size it needed to be and cut it with the angle grinder.

After we were sure it was the right size, we caulked along the little half circle ridge on the bottom of the track.

This part of the track goes on the outside and the caulk will keep water from getting out of the tub.

Before we put the caulk on the track, we marked where we wanted it to go so we wouldn’t smear caulk all over while trying to reposition the piece.

Next was the second wall jamb. We messed up the holes on this one and had to drill a second hole. I’m going to go ahead and take full blame for this one. Curse my indecisiveness!

But Andrew reassured me that he could drill a second hole and fix it. And fix it he did. Ta-da!

The top piece is also made to be cut down to size. Then it just slides down on top of the jambs and the weight of the doors holds it in place.

Then we attached the door hardware and hung the doors. We left the stickers there because we actually have to take some of it apart and the stickers tell you which side is coated and which isn’t (non-coated side is supposed to face out).

So now for the sad part. The wall jambs are shaped like an H when you look at them from the end. One side of the jamb is deeper than the other. We didn’t realize that the deeper part of the jamb is supposed to face out and the shallow side is supposed to be against the tile.

When we made the cuts on the wall jambs to go around our tub and tile, we made the cuts on the deeper side of the jamb thinking that way we’d have more than enough room for the cuts. But what we didn’t realize was that then the glass doors wouldn’t go as far inside the jambs when they were closed. With the shallow side facing out, the bumpers almost stick out past the metal so the glass doesn’t close very far.

If the doors are on the right sides, they do barely close. But since nothing is ever perfectly square or level (like the walls) we had to make the doors slightly uneven to make each door hit both the top and bottom bumper. But this means when you push the door to the opposite side from where it’s intended to be, it doesn’t close.

We would know which side to keep each door on, but guests wouldn’t and we would hate for there to be a gap where water could escape.  So, it’s back to the beginning. We sucked it up and ordered two new wall jambs online for $20 each. When those arrive we’ll just need to make the same cuts for around the tub (but on the shallow side of the H), screw them into the predrilled holes, replace the top piece, hang the doors, and then caulk. Needless to say, it was a long, frustrating process. But even after the frustration and the now over $400 price tag, we’re still really glad we went with the glass doors. We just hope we don’t have to install another one for a long time!

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