Updating Bathtub Fixtures

triplevertubdrain
courtesy of This Old House – click on graphic to go to TOH page.

Overflow drain proj I updated the bathroom but left the tub fixtures as they were, knowing I would need a plumber. I tried to do what I could. The old overflow cover’s lever no longer remained either up (to hold water in the tub) or down (to drain). This is a simple fix any homeowner can do, especially because the drain itself was in good shape. The overflow  part is sold individually for about $10 at most home repair stores and requires few tools. The old cover is unscrewed and when it is pulled forward, the old lever’s attachment pulls the linkage mechanism forward also. A clip on the new overflow connects the new lever to the existing linkage. The new overflow is then screwed into place.

The diverter I tried to replace myself but the old nipple had to be rethreaded. Given that, swapping out the spout is as simple as unscrewing the old one and screwing on the new one. An adapter is included with most diverters to suit most plumbing.

20141005_19431020150205_171326The faucet itself is a bit trickier. I knew to shut off the water and unscrew the old handles and the collars. From there it took a plumber, who removed the valves within and replaced the whole thing with a new assembly. It is very important here to either replace the unit with the same brand or be prepared to pay for replumbing to retrofit a new brand. I guessed, after living with my dad, that the old one was most likely a Price Pfister, and bought that brand for the plumber to replace.

The whole thing needs cleaned up a bit, but here are the before and after shots.

Replacing a tub spigot would be easy for anyone but me

20141005_19444420141005_195153When I was redoing the bathroom, I found an extra tub spout, with adapter. It sure looked better than the old one! So last night I decided to make the swap. It’s a threaded kind, so if I had a charmed or even normal life, it would be a matter of unscrewing the old, wrapping the threaded connection with teflon (or plumber’s) tape, and screwing the new one on, as shown. Unfortunately, neither the original threads or the adapter’s threads matched my connector so now I just have an empty spout sticking out of my wall until I can find the right spout at BigBox (if it exists) or get a plumber in to put a standard connector onto my copper plumbing. I tried to put the old spout back on, but it was so corroded that it literally fell apart when I took it off.20141005_194355

Fixtures and Finishing Touches

This blog’s focus, two little words: install. lighting. Cost: $50. Total cost for the bathroom: slightly under $200 with some leftover materials for the next room.

20140824_161002My weekend started early; Thursday night Andy was busy with the girls and a friend chatted me to see if I was ok. JD was in our circle of friends in high school and we reconnected right when my slide down the slope of divorce, death, and job changing started. He checks in every once in awhile via text just to see if I am alright. I told him I was, but he insisted on stopping over just to make sure. At that point I was in my PJs and had found a leak in the bathroom plumbing. I tried to deter him but I suppose when some people care about you, it’s a good thing. I changed back into clothes and let Andy know I’d be visiting for awhile during our regular phone time. JD and I decided the marine sealant I used on the flooring was good for the leak – it was in the sink drain and all parts were secure except one soldered vertical piece. We sat in the midst of my disastrous house and caught each other up on the last few months.

Even a surprise visit from an old friend can’t stop the inevitable. The bathroom called. I was lucky enough to find some brushed nickel wall sconces at a reasonable price at BigBox but finding the help during daylight hours was the challenge, thus they are last. I am decent at wiring; once you recognize that the wiring either works or it doesn’t, and as long as you don’t use your body as a conductor, it is safe. Andy came over Saturday with tools and equipment, to knock it out with me.

20140824_171619If you know my dad, you know that no project is standard. He loved to create from found objects and scrap, and for the bathroom wiring, apparently he used salvaged industrial wire that had four strands. So not only did we have an extra strand to cap off, but what was coming from the wall was as unmoving as the rock of Gibraltar and barely fit in the box. Additionally, he somehow tied the ceiling fixture in to the left sconce wiring, so there were an extra full set of wires. We did not get the lights up Saturday.

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Left, Before
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Left, After

Andy came back Sunday with more tools and equipment, and after another 2 ½ hours, roll of electrical tape, and 17 different types of pliers, we got them up. Something is loose somewhere in the wall that if the lights aren’t a certain way, they don’t work. Or one of them does. They look beautiful, however, and Sunday night I finally got, and left them, positioned to both work. Monday morning, neither of them turned on. At least I got up early enough to spend 15 minutes wiggling them around so I could light my morning. I finally got them positioned properly and hope no well-intended OCD guest tries to helpfully straighten them that last millimeter.

I am including before and after pics just because it’s so satisfying!

Coming up will be my “gimme” week. I will sit back, enjoy a more open flow in this tiny space, and add the fun stuff: roll the towels and add the accoutrements. When we talk again, you will find me starting to tackle the laundry room, which is the most disgusting room in the house. It is next because it is how all of the visitors enter the house and I really need to be glad when people arrive, rather than cringe. Even though this room is also small and has no wallpaper, I know better than to call this job “easy.” I will be cleaning it out, cleaning it, and repainting ceiling, walls, and floor. Sounds simple, right? Hah! Five tasks, five weeks. I suspect that my one-year deadline for the whole house will not be met.

I will be featuring the pink hard hat but using the disposable gloves, knee pads, and coveralls, as well.

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Right, Before
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Right, After

~BS

Rag Rolling

20140810_093358 Now that hockey season has started (if you have kids that seriously engage in the sport, you know it requires about 13 months and billions of dollars a year), I will have some weekends to myself as Andy travels or hosts for hockey showcases, championships, and tournaments. Lucy plays while Gracie values the dad-time. Sometimes I go, but sometimes I need to sit out to allow their full bonding time. This weekend, Andy had two hockey dad house guests for a weekend kickoff to camp. I was hoping to get the walls and floor done with my copious spare time. Ha!

20140715_201112I have heard two schools of thought on stripping wallpaper: those who think it’s a nightmare and those who think it’s relatively easy. My opinion is somewhere in the middle but I will tell you, my mind has been changed about stripping all the wallpaper in the house. I heard about a secret weapon called a paper tiger but I couldn’t find one, so I just peeled, squirted, peeled, wiped, rinse, repeat. Because this job alternated tasks and I am doing this alone, the tool belt from SafetyGirl was really quite essential for keeping my screwdriver (scoring) and cleaning rag right near where I was working.

As I was stripping, one of the wall sconces fell off the wall and nailed me in the forehead. Luckily the wires remained nutted and the bulb didn’t break. “I know Daddy built you, light fixture, but Daddy ain’t here. I have no trouble tossing you in the garbage.” Remember my fear that I would find something amiss under the wall sconces? I kind of did – when the paper was removed last time, that second layer was left on and the new paper applied over it. It was almost impossible to remove.

I have to give credit where it is due: my dad was the king of repurposing and making things work. My mom is the queen of doing things right. I have to assume my dad was the one who left the traces of paper there.

The stripping took about a week of after-work work. Saturday I wiped down the walls, patched the dings, sanded, and primed. I used the half mask respirator when I sanded. If you’ve done drywall work before you know the value in this. So nice not to have to remove dust from my hair, nose, eyes, skin – you name it!

20140816_145517coverallI was going to rag-roll a seafoam glaze coating over white walls but the glaze ended up turning the very pale paint a warm beige. I am ok with that. I experimented and used a wet rag and the additive method, rolling the rag by hand, then scrubbing when almost dry, to smooth the pattern a bit to look more organic. That job was beyond a mess and I was glad to have Discount Safety Gear’s disposable coveralls. I wore one for the entire wall painting job, and I probably could have broken that down into two, the thing was so covered. The disposable rugged blue gloves were also a necessity because I would still have sticky glaze darkening my hands as I write.

An out-of-town friend was to stay with me Saturday night after spending time with her mother, which forced me to cdisp work gloveslean up mid-project. Gail ended up canceling due to a death in the family but I was very glad I was forced to clean for her arrival anyway. Andy invited me over to meet his friends, since I’d be available. Oh, and can I pick up a bottle of tonic water on my way? Mrs. Ford likes vodka and tonics and she may come out. Really?!? Picking up groceries for another woman? He said, “I’ll pay you back.” “Oh, no you don’t!” I said. “I prefer the right to bring this up for years to come, rather than have the dollar.” I arrived, tonic in hand, hyperventilating with all that still had to be done. Lucy, Grace, and what seemed like seven or eight other girls (I think in actuality there were only three) ran to the street fair down the road while the adults visited for a bit.

20140817_190925Sunday morning, I looked at the bathroom with fresh eyes before church. The walls looked unfinished, so I used the same metallic textured paint to paint a border at the ceilings, then I filled it in with chunks of texture smeared on with a small scraper. I think I got the stripe a bit too wide but I like it anyway. Again with the gloves and coveralls. Since I was using found and extra paint and glaze, cost for this phase was only $2.50 for the patch.

Painting the floor still makes me nervous, because while the vinyl tile is a step away from gone, everything I read said painting it can turn out great, or a disaster, and I can’t afford to replace it. I am also toying with the idea of what is called a Chattahoochee floor, or river stone/pebble floor. I am reading conflicting reviews, however, on whether this is best done by epoxy, or mortar and grout. I think if I did this, I would overlay the existing vinyl tile with black landscaping plastic and work that surface. With the weight and stones hugging the toilet it would stay in place, but also be much easier to remove if I don’t like it. I will ponder the floor for another week.

I ended up being glad I stopped for Mrs. Ford’s tonic, even though Mrs. Ford herself didn’t show up. Andy made me the best gin and tonic I have ever tasted. Quality gin, fresh lime juice, lovely garnish. I could happily live in that man’s kitchen.

~BS

Beginning in the Bathroom

I tried to knock out as much as I could on the bathroom while Andy was away on his annual golf weekend. I had high aspirations. It’s a tiny room; how hard can it be!? Ha!

Thursday evening I mapped out my plan. Ceiling first, then cabinetry. I assembled my supplies and equipment, and Andy called.
“Why are you whispering?” I asked.
“Because if the guys know I am calling you, they will be merciless. They think I’m in the shower. You know Tom and Brad are bragging you up.”
“Tell the guys that if I am all that, you gotta maintain it.” I don’t understand how men miss that logic. “How was your day?”
“Incredible. I am having the time of my life.” [tons of noise in the background] “The guys just came in and busted me talking to you. I gotta go.” {click}

disp work glovesSaturday morning while Andy was having a three-aspirin cup of coffee, my first priority was the ceiling. I found a can of usable ceiling paint in the basement, so my only cost was an $8 roller kit on sale at a local big box store. I have heard many people say, “I didn’t think it needed it, but after doing it, what a difference!” Not so much for me. The ceilings in the house are generally good. My advice: if it looks like it was painted in the last year or so, a good washing is sufficient.

coverallThe SafetyGirl pink toolbelt was really handy for the overhead work. I stood on a small step stool to reach the fixture and with the belt, my cleaning supplies as well as screw driver were all there. No need to get up and down off the stool to retrieve items. The belt fit over the disposable 3M coveralls, which again were a huge help. I didn’t ruin any clothes with white paint drops. While these are meant to be tossed at the end of each day, they were so durable that I was able to use them for the entire two-phase project.

20140810_093800I decided to refurbish the cabinetry with a restoration kit that was left over from my prior home. The vanity was a dark wood and the kit was espresso – not much difference that I didn’t need to be immaculate with the procedure. I cleaned it, deglossed it, and then applied two coats of the espresso bond coat. I added a horrible textured silver patina and while I like the look better than if I had not used the metallic product, I was not entirely pleased with the texture and spreadability. For the deglossing, I wore the disposable gloves because the liquid was supposed to be pretty caustic. The thing I like best about the gloves is that they are breathable, yet offer great grip with the coated palms.

I purchased new hardware for the vanity from Big Box, and was hugely disappointed. Apparently the ceiling painting was just one time waster over the weekend. Some of the drawer pulls required a silicone lubricant to remove, which was another half hour. Then the new brushed silver drawer pulls fit only some of the drawers because the sink base is so old. The two sets of different sized screws that came with, were either too long or too short. I tried to use the old-hardware screws, which were the mama bear size, but they also did not work because of the mechanics of the old pulls. After much frustration, I painted the old tarnished hardware with the metallic textured finish and reinstalled them. They look better than they did, but are definitely dated. Now I have another trip to Big Box to return the new hardware. I am deciding whether I should try again on different handles and ask if Big Box will give me additional screws in the proper size. Let me know what you think!

Again I wore the disposable coveralls, which was a good thing. The glaze was very sticky and the silver paint was dark. Any miscalculation would have ruined my clothes. The cost for this task was $3, for the metallic paint, thanks to the leftover cabinet kit and the return of the hardware.
While Andy was hitting golf balls and drinking Patron, I cleaned and put away best I could. Time to start stripping wallpaper.

Saturday evening I got a text: “Call me on the hotel number. Reception here is bad.” I called and again, a whispered hello.
“Were the guys merciless last night?” I wanted to know.
“Oh yeah. They think I’m talking to Lucy. I actually did call her first.”
“Tell me about your day?” [noise again]
“Yeah, dad, tell mom I miss her too,” he said in a loud voice.
“Seriously?!” [shuffling and phone changing hands]
Tom: “Who is this?” [me trying to sound like Dad and ending up laughing instead] “Dude, you gave her the ROOM phone number!?”
Andy: “I gotta go.” {click}

20140810_093358I removed the over-toilet cabinet and shelving so the wallpaper stripping would go easier. I also removed the large homemade sconce lighting to see what I’d be up against in the wiring of new fixtures. To my great relief, my dad just had small junction box holes and the wiring capped nicely. I expected the lights may be covering huge defects of some sort.

Sunday after church, while still in my dress, I started pulling wallpaper while I waited to hear from Andy. A relatively clean job. The vinyl layer came off pretty easily and I sprayed the paper layer to soften the glue. The bathroom was quickly littered with shreds of old paper.

True to form, I got a text that Andy would be home earlier than expected because he needed to pick up Lucy from work, for me to be at the house at 1:30. As it was 1 and I had a hamper in the tub and hadn’t eaten lunch yet, I told him that time frame would not work (go, me!). My first time with a counter offer on together time. He told me to do what I needed to do to have peace about the upcoming week, and stop by when I was ready. I had had enough of that bathroom and was there by 2. I stayed until supper time so he could finish his day with father-daughter time.

And you know, he brought the girls back new sunglasses, and me five little “his and hers” Patron XO sets.

XO

~BS