1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Let the Dust Fly

This morning when I left for work, I noticed the toilet glistening with dew on our back patio. Some might think this could be a Halloween prank, but you, Noble Houseblog Reader, YOU know this can only be a harbinger of bathroom demolition.

I predicted on Friday that this weekend would be a weekend of great accomplishment. For once, my psychic aspirations were realized.

In fact, I have so much to show you that I must resort to thumbnails.

Recall the bathroom before and more before this weekend. One sliced finger (mine), a bit of blood-splashing (mine), and many hours of labor later (mostly Darwin's), all the tile in the main part of the bathroom is gone, bashed out and carted away to the garbage bin. The aforementioned toilet is on the patio with the tank cleaned. All that gray stuff you see on the floor? Yeah. That's concrete. It's all over the walls, too, behind the tile. But I'll get to that later.

After Darwin finished bashing the tile, he was pretty tired, but I wanted some more action. There's a cabinet in the corner of the bathroom that I've known would have to go from the beginning. The bathroom is too teeny and compartmentalized right now, and we (okay, I ... Darwin actually could not care less) want it to be more open, so the clawfoot tub will be more visible.

I applied the same inefficient tools we used on the tile - two hammers - to the wood frame and drywall. I admit Darwin had to help me, especially at first, because the embarassing fact is I had no idea what I was doing. Demolition looks so easy on TV! Of course, they usually have handy things like crowbars and sledgehammers.

But eventually, over the course of Saturday and Sunday, the closet succumbed to the wrath of Kristin.

After that, to Darwin's horror, I still wasn't ready to quit. I enticed him from his position on the sofa by banging on stuff with hammers until he couldn't stand it anymore and had to come see what I was doing.

I wanted to remove the tub, but Darwin wasn't sure how to deal with copper plumbing. Turns out, though, that he only had to remove the faucet and stuff and didn't actually have to turn off the water or mess with the pipes.

Then he laid into the wall between the former closet and the tub. Apparently, the way to tile in the '60s was to attach concrete slabs - reinforced with steel mesh - to the studs, then lay tile on top of that and drywall above. After much finagling (aka, hammering and sweating and struggling), Darwin got the whole section of concrete/tile to break away from the studs. Hurray!

But oops. We still couldn't get the tub out because the concrete/tile rests on top of the tub edge, and there are still two more walls of tile to deal with. We were hoping to salvage these walls, but from the looks of it, they'll have to go. I guess we're going to just play it by ear on the rest of the wall tile. I still need to look for matching tile at Home Depot and/or Lowe's because if we can't find a match, it's a moot point anyway.

And there's something else to consider. When we demolished the wall between the closet and tub, we discovered beadboard on the wall behind it. To Darwin's dismay, I did a little cutting on the moldy drywall in the back of the closet and found beadboard behind there, too.

So if we have original beadboard behind the drywall in the whole bathroom, all the way up to the ceiling (and it sounds from knocking on the wall like we do), maybe we wouldn't have to tile the walls at all. Hmmm ...

I know beadboard in the bathroom is sort of popular now. Does anyone know how well it holds up to shower areas? Of course, the clawfoot tub would have a shower curtain all the way around, but some water always leaks through.

By the end, we were both too worn out and sick of inhaling drywall dust to make any decisions, so we gave it up. On that bathroom anyway. We moved on to the half bath, and I framed some photos and scraped paint and baked cookies, and we cooked ourselves another real meal where we had to chop things.

All this in spite of the fact that Darwin was coming down with something and ended up with a fever last night. My husband is a hero.

And me? I'm tired today. I'll tell you more about the half bath tomorrow.



halloweenlover said...

WOW! You two are machines! I am really impressed. You have also gotten me excited because we also seem to have those concrete slabs of tiles and I have been dying to take them down, but assumed it would be impossible to do. Did the top of the tiles kind of curve to meet the wall? That is what ours look like. If I could tear those down without ruining the wall underneath, I'd be soooo happy.

Congrats on all the work! Hope your finger is feeling better.

10:56 AM  
Kristin said...

Turns out I mispoke in the post ... the concrete isn't on top of the drywall. The concrete is attached directly to the studs with drywall only on the top half of the wall. We had to break the top curved tiles to loosen up the concrete. You can get the concrete/tile part off and just re-drywall or cementboard/re-tile the bottom half of the room with little damage to the top half of the drywall.

12:15 PM  
derek said...

sounds like you need some tools... a small sledgehammer and a prybar aren't too expensive. To save the tile around the tub, an angle grinder with a diamond blade would work, maybe you can rent one. I wonder what condition the bead board is in. My son's room had bevel board (almost the same thing), we kept it on the ceiling, and did drywall on the walls. It you take everything down to the studs, then you could reuse the bead board for wainscotting maybe.

12:43 PM  
John said...

Bead-board would probably be fine in your bathroom. You'll probably need to seal it with something (paint, etc).

Our entire house (walls & ceiling) is made of bead-board. Most of it is in great shape, but high humidity can cause it to mold (Arkansas, like most the South, maintains about 80% humidity for the summer). Our kitchen was starting to get moldy this summer. To cure this, we scrubbed the bead-board down, primed it, and painted it. Since then we haven't had any problems.

Also, I agree with Derek. Y'all need to get some prybars and a mini sledge. I'd recommend a pair of prybars, sometimes you need some extra leverage to get things loose. You should be able to buy all this for less than $30.00.

1:56 PM  
Kristin said...

You're right, Derek - we definitely need some proper tools. Our many well-outfitted neighbors have also offered to lend tools. We just keep forgetting what we need. It's the old go-to-Lowe's-and-can't-remember-what-you-need syndrome.

1:58 PM  
Greg said...

I have beadboard in my bathroom and it is original to 1895. Mine only goes 4 feet up the wall. I have a tub and no shower in that room so I oiled it and then shellacked it. That was the original finish in 1895. It has only been about 6 months since I refinished it but it looks just as it did 6 months ago.

8:09 PM  
Patricia W said...

Congrats on the lucky find!!!! I love beadboard. I too found it behind some horrible faux marble wall boards in my downstairs bathroom and have every intention of finsihing it. I have a small 4 lb. sledge and it works great while not being too huge and heavy. I packs a good whack and I've taken down many walls with easily. I'll probably paint my beadboard.

5:17 AM  
Chris said...

I LOVE demolition!

our entire house is made of beadboard under the plaster walls. Unfortunately we were not able to salvage it in any of the bathrooms.

Btw, I do the exact same thing to get my husband involved in projects that he would rather not take on at the moment. he can't stand to hear me hammering without coming to see what I am doing and then do it himself.

8:07 AM  
halloweenlover said...

Kristin, you've made my day. I am going to see if I can convince my husband to attack the tiles. HURRAY!

1:57 PM  

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