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Master Bath Makeover

Updated on April 7, 2020
Richard Hampton profile image

I have been doing home remodeling and handyman work for over 30 years. I've also built 2 wood strip canoes and restored an old wooden boat.

Demolition is The Necessary Evil of Every Remodeling Project

Let me break down the steps for the demolition process of bathroom items that had to go.


  • First, the enormous, 4-person, Garden Tub had to be removed. One can remove most tubs by simply extracting them from the work area through a doorway. This tub had to be demolished on-site before removal to the trash dumpster. Being made of some sort of composite quartz material, I had to break apart with a sledgehammer. If you have a similar problem tub, be sure to wear protective eyewear. Chips were flying everywhere during this process.

  • Next, I had to remove the shower enclosure carefully. This shower set-up was an old-style, full-panel glass shower. The glass was trimmed in gold-colored clad aluminum and was almost more than the eye could bear. These panels were anchored at the base to a tile ledge, which all had to come out. Trying to coax a glass panel free at its bottom and corners is tricky, not to mention dangerous, so take your time and wear leather gloves as well as safety glasses.

  • Lastly, the tile floor would have to be broken and chiseled up. This process is extra labor intensive and back-breaking, requiring some specialized hand and power tools.





Plumbing Issues First

As stated earlier, the Garden Tub was oversized and hard to deal with, but before I could begin demolition, there were plumbing issues that now needed attention. The bathtub had a Jacuzzi-type pump with hoses around the perimeter that delivered pressurized water into the bathing area through jets all around the interior. Hot and cold pipes coming up through the floor had to be cut and capped before moving it around.

When I began work on the shower, it was just the opposite. I had to remove the glass enclosure and wall tile before dealing with the plumbing. It was necessary to turn off the water to the entire house must first be turned off before any of this can occur.

So with the tub and shower removed, let's move on to floor tile demolition.

Tub and Shower After Demolition

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tub and shower removedPartial rebuild of ShowerTub plumbing exposed after demolition
Tub and shower removed
Tub and shower removed | Source
Partial rebuild of Shower
Partial rebuild of Shower | Source
Tub plumbing exposed after demolition
Tub plumbing exposed after demolition | Source

To Remodel or Not To Remodel, That Is The Question

Which Room In Your Home or Condo Would You Most Like To Remodel?

See results

Removing Floor Tile Is a Real Challenge

Whether you remove tiles by hammer and chisel or use power tools, it's still a ton of work. When I did this work, I never explored the power tool option. For some reason, it didn't even cross my mind to check it out. I simply grabbed my mini sledgehammer and stonemason chisel and began pounding tiles.

It was months later that I watched a video on how to use a hammer drill, a tool which I have owned for years, with a chisel attachment to do the work. With this tool or a rented commercial tool, one can complete a job like mine in just a few hours. Doing it my way took my wife and me several days to complete. Granted, we were not in a hurry and took plenty of rest breaks, but using the power tool could have put us days ahead on our project.

Tips For Floor Tile Removal

The Hard Way (which is my usual way of doing things, duh)

1) Break up the first tiles with multiple hammer blows.

2) Use the chisel to chip away the remaining broken pieces.

3) Break up numerous tiles at a time and remove it with a floor scraper. ...

4) Remove the mortar from the underlayment by hammering.

The Easier Way

Buy or rent a Hammer Drill (a power drill that has an impact feature) with a chisel bit to break up the tiles. Using this power tool is a much easier way.

An Easier Way to Remove Stubborn Floor Tiles Using a Hammer Drill.

Now Is a Good Time to Inspect the Floor Drains

After you remove the floor tiles and have the area ready for tub placement, make sure your drains are properly situated and inspect for any leaks. Most drains lines are now PVC, and they are susceptible to joint breaks. If you find they are leaking water, it's the perfect time to repair while accessible. Living in the southern US there's always the threat of termite infestation, so I applied a generous amount of Taurus to the soil around the drain pipes

Tile Removal

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Breaking up tiles and chiseling out tilesTiles up exposing the bare floor
Breaking up tiles and chiseling out tiles
Breaking up tiles and chiseling out tiles | Source
Tiles up exposing the bare floor
Tiles up exposing the bare floor | Source

Starting the Rebuild

We had decided to remake our shower enclosure completely. This process required several steps from start to finish.

Step 1. The newly framed walls for the shower enclosure needed to be covered. We would use sheetrock on the outside of the shower and concrete fiberboard on the inside. Both materials are adequate to hold tiles to the wall, but the concrete wall covering on the shower side will be water and rot-resistant.

Step 2. I needed to contain the water at the bottom and direct the flow to the floor drain. This step requires that I lay a waterproof membrane on the floor and a hole cut out for the drainage pipe. It also needed to extend up the sides eighteen inches to ensure that if any water seeped through the floor tiles, it would be directed to the drain and not up the walls.

Step 3. Before covering the walls and screwing the wallboard in place, be sure to mark the location of the studs. I had plumbing pipes running horizontally along the rear wall and vertically to the faucets on the sidewall. Marking the stud locations will ensure that you drive your screws into wood and not into water lines.



Waterproof Wallboard Attached to the Inside Shower Walls

Shower wall with concrete fiberboard attached to the inside walls.
Shower wall with concrete fiberboard attached to the inside walls. | Source

Needed items: What, Why, Where

Tools You'll Need
For What Purpose
Where to Buy
Hearing Protection
Protect your hearing. With all the banging, it gets pretty noisy
Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes
Protective Eye Wear
With tile removal, chips fly everywhere
Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon Ebay
 
 
 
Hammer, Sledge Hammer and/or Mini Sledge Hammer, Stone Chisel
For breaking us and removing floor tiles
Lowes, Home Depot, or Garden Supply
Power Saw, Framing Lumber, Screws, Level, and Carpenters Square
Building the framework for shower and tub. Be sure to keep things level and square
Any of the Home Centers above, Amazon or ebay
Tub, Tiles, Mortar, Grout,
You'll need to pick out the style of tile and color of grout to accent your tub and shower
Home Depot, Tile centers, Lowes
 
 
 

This is not an exhaustive list of supplies but should be enough to get you started and on your way to your custom bath makeover.

A New Jacuzzi-Style Bathtub Will Complete the Fixtures

Installing this spa tub was a 4-step process.

  • After taking accurate measurements, the first thing to do is to build a frame to enclose the tub. I was replacing a six-sided bathtub that was designed to fit into a matching room, at least on three sides, with a rectangular tub. Filling that gap along the back wall meant having a shelf on the backside of the tub.

  • Setting the tub requires a special process to ensure that the fixture rests solidly on a firm foundation. To do that you must mix up a large amount of mortar and spread it on to the floor before you put the bathtub in place. The mortar mixture needs to be wet for this operation so that when you drop the tub down and fill it with water it will settle into place until the mortar dries.






Jacuzzi type tub full of water setting in the wet mortar to form-fit the base under the tub.
Jacuzzi type tub full of water setting in the wet mortar to form-fit the base under the tub. | Source

Tile Layout Is Key

It may not seem like much of a decision, but the layout of tiles is critical at this point. You can't change (at least not easily) after they are stuck down and grouted.

As you can see, we chose to have tiles in a 'diamond' pattern instead of being viewed as square rows for the visual effect when entering the room. It's a little more work because it requires more cutting of the tiles, but worth the impact from our point of view.

The same goes for the tile pattern on the shower walls and tub surround. I elected to keep the shower walls in square rows (not diamond pattern) because of the decorative strip of 2-inch tiles dividing the larger tiles on the walls, as you can see for the pictures below. Had I arranged the larger tiles in a diamond pattern, it would have added additional cuts that I was averse to doing this far along in the project.

Start With the Floor Tiles, and Then Work Your Way Up

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Starting your tile layout is an important first step. Next step was tiling the showerTiling the tub surround
Starting your tile layout is an important first step.
Starting your tile layout is an important first step. | Source
Next step was tiling the shower
Next step was tiling the shower | Source
Tiling the tub surround
Tiling the tub surround | Source

Tiling on Vertical Surfaces Presents It's Own Set of Challenges

Installing floor tile is a breeze when compared to setting them on the walls. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete this operation and try not to rush the process. If you're the only one doing the cutting and tile placement and you're not a professional, like me, take this in small steps. For instance, don't mix up a large amount of thin-set, or it will start to dry out before you can finish the job. Just try to complete one short row until you get the hang of it before increasing the amoun

It Was a Lot of Work, but Worth Every Penny

Halfway through the project, you may wonder if the work and expense are worth the benefit. It was a lot of hard, back-breaking work, and having the bathroom in disarray for a few weeks is also very inconvenient, but I think you'll agree from the pictures. It was money and time well spent.

The Finished Job Was Worth the Effort

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Stand-alone Tub all set, hooked up, and ready to useFloor, tub, and shower tile finishedMakeover complete
Stand-alone Tub all set, hooked up, and ready to use
Stand-alone Tub all set, hooked up, and ready to use | Source
Floor, tub, and shower tile finished
Floor, tub, and shower tile finished | Source
Makeover complete
Makeover complete | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Tim 

      13 months ago

      Interesting article! I agree with some of the other comments; it wouldn't have been the same without the pictures. I may need to talk to you about a remodel at my dad's!

    • profile image

      James N. 

      13 months ago

      Very good step by step article. I enjoyed your friendly style of writing. I probably won't be re-doing my bath, but if I should I now know what I would be getting into. I am looking forward to more of your writing.

    • Richard Hampton profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard 

      13 months ago from Texas

      Thanks enormously. It’s very encouraging to have excellent writers give the thumbs up

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      13 months ago from Houston, Texas

      No wonder it costs so much when hiring a professional to renovate a bathroom! That is a lot of work! At our age, there is no way we could do that kind of work, but I certainly admire your efforts. The before and after photos are impressive.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      13 months ago from Central Florida

      Richard, you did an amazing job. Your bathroom is gorgeous!

      I really enjoyed going thru the process with you. You engaged me with your humor and conversational tone.

      I first became aware of you on one of Bill's Mailbags. You mentioned that you're new to writing, so I wanted to check you out. I've seen you grow from the first article to this one. By, George (or Richard), I think you've found your voice!

      You should try your hand at one of Bill's photo prompt challenges. They're a lot of fun and you just may surprise yourself. I feel your confidence building.

      This was a great article and love the photos!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm exhausted just looking at that much work. I'm seventy-one for God's sake. No way am I doing this, but I can stand and applaud the job you did. Great article my friend, and nice job!

    • Richard Hampton profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard 

      13 months ago from Texas

      Zulma,

      Your kind, positive comments are such a blessing to me. It gives me such a boost of confidence. Thank you!

      We have re-done our kitchen counter top twice and added a coffee room since we bought the house, but I don’t have a single picture of that. I don’t think it would be very interesting without photos to document the process. I still have two more articles to write before I can pass the HP requirements for writers.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      13 months ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Richard.

      Let me start off by saying you're developing an engaging voice as a writer. It's like listening to a friend. Nicely done.

      Your bathroom looks amazing and has given me ideas for my own when the time comes to redecorate that. We have a kitchen to deal with first. (WilI you be doing a hub about that anytime soon?)

      I applaud your tenacity for sticking with this job. It must have been difficult and frustrating. Here's a pat on the back for you for a job well done. (pat, pat)

      Have a good week.

    working

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