My, oh my.


Slav has demolished the main floor bath and let me warn you, what is behind the wall is NOT pretty. If you could stomach mold and rotten wood, scroll down for more update on the state of the bath.


The exterior/window wall

I’ve shown you the state of the window. We want to assess the water damage below and around it first, so the first thing Slav demoed was the tiled shower. We were fully prepared for rotten studs, but to our surprise, the wooden structures are very much intact despite some mold on the surface. Slav sprayed on lots of bleach on the studs and we have determined that very few pieces needed to be replaced.


Slav is no stranger to demolition work. During college he spent summers in the Big Apple working for a construction company doing mold removal and demolition, and that meant wearing whole body suit and full face respirator in 100 degree and humid summer, working in old moldy buildings without electricity and air conditioning. When I offered help to him on this demo job, he was like “do not even come in I got this”. He was wearing a filtered respirator and kept the fan running during the entire demo. But I was asked to stay outside of the room hence the lack of progress shots.


Fortunately, all the wood studs are dense and solid, without any signs of rotting. All we need to replace is the window stool support and some horizontal bracing around the tub:


See the window stool? It was one pieces of granite sitting on a piece of concrete without any waterproofing material in between. The stool itself and the concrete support were removed, and the horizontal 2″x4″ below the concrete will be replaced too.


We knew about the water leak at the tub faucet. So it was not a surprise to find mold around the tub/shower plumbing. We will be upgrade all the plumbing to PEX as we did for the basement, so Slav terminated the water pipes here by soldering copper caps onto the existing copper plumbing.


The floor demo

Based on the water damage around the tub faucet, we knew there would be damages to the subfloor around the tub. Slav moved the vanity and toilet out, and pried up the tiled floor.


Removing tile is a messy job – the tiles were not only set on mortar, but also on a sheet of metal grid. Slav had to cut the metal wires periodically in order to get manageable pieces of tile off the subfloor.


Here was what the floor next to the tub looked like. The subfloor was soft under the foot, which indicated that it was rotting and needed to be replaced.


Slav called me into the bathroom after all the tiles was gone, “we have another layer of flooring underneath the tile!” he said. Yep! There was a whole layer of linoleum, probably the original flooring when the house was built.


The linoleum flooring was glued onto a thin piece of underlayment which was stapled to two layers of subfloor. Removing it was not too difficult, just time consuming because of all the staples.


The drywall demo

After all the flooring was out of the way, Slav proceeded to remove all the drywall around the bathroom:



Again, there was some water damage behind the vanity but overall the wet wall studs were in good shape. Even the bottom plate did not need to replaced. Most of the damage was on the subfloor around the tub area:


Here is a picture of where the medicine cabinet used to be. You can see the water stains on the drywall to the kitchen side. It was because of the roof leak from the kitchen exhaust vent, which we have fixed while putting in a new roof.


Slav also removed the framing of the corner column and exposed the non-functional vent tube:



This vent tub has been cut in the basement, just below the main floor level. So we will just cut it above the ceiling and terminate it in the attic.


It took a few days of demo to get all the walls and flooring out. The room might look worse, but felt a lot lighter:



Can you see Charlie in the picture above? Despite the noise the pups were very curious what was going on in the bathroom. They kept trying to squeeze in and investigate. Slav kept the door shut to contain dust and spores, but whenever the door was open, you could see one or two little black noses poking in and sniffing!

The cast iron tub removal

Slav spent an entire day demoing the tub.


The work was difficult due to how much force it required to break the cast iron, yet how little vibration it could take due to our inability of uncoupling the tub drain from the plumbing. So Slav cut the tub into sections, then used an axe to break the tub one section at a time.



At the end, he cut loose the drain part and it felt like a big victory to see the whole tub gone! Luckily, the vertical framing behind the tub were also solid and can be reused. All we needed to do was simply removing the blocking pieces to which the tub was secured.


From the picture above and below you can see the water damage on subfloor, all near faucets and water pipes.



We will replace all the subflooring in this room. As a start, Slav cut away all the rotten subflooring along the wet wall. This process exposed all the plumbing so we can upgrade them from the top.


The rest of the subfloor was kept for now so we have something solid to walk on. They will be replaced after the plumbing is upgraded.


I guess we are getting a new floor register too.


The demo was complete!


After the demo was complete, Slav sprayed a couple rounds of bleach on all the studs and then brushed on a thick coat of this Zinsser primer to seal the wood.


We plan to waterproof not only the future shower area, but the whole bathroom before tiling, so no moisture will be able to get behind the tiles in the future. We want to make sure that nothing can grow behind the walls.


So! here it is how the room look like now – with the demo completed, we will be upgrading the electrical next, and a new window has been ordered. Our goal is to get the new window installed and the exterior wall insulated before the next snow, We also want to install better lighting and a new exhaust fan before starting the next stage of the rebuild.


To keep track, here is a simplified to-do list on the bathroom renovation:

1. Demolition – removing all the fixtures and wall/floor materials;
2. Assessing the water damage and mold control;
3. Installing new bath window and insulating the exterior wall;
4. Removing the ceiling drywall from the attic, wiring for new recessed lights;
5. Installing a new exhaust fan;
6. Upgrading wall electrical, including adding outlets and rewiring for switches;
7. Installing recessed lights and new ceiling drywall, taping/mudding/priming ceiling;
8. Pocket door framing;
9. Upgrading plumbing for toilet and shower;
10. Ordering new toilet, sink/vanity, and shower fixtures. Upgrading water lines;
11. Installing new subflooring, closing up the walls, and waterproofing;
12. Tiling the floor;
13. Tiling the shower wall with a shower niche;
14. Installing new window stool/trims;
15. Priming and painting drywall and ceiling;
16. Installing glass shower doors;
17. Installing shower fixtures, vanity/sink, and toilet/bidet;
18. Installing pocket door, mirror, and lighting.
19. Door trims inside and outside/updating nearby closet trims at the same time;
20. Accessories, plants, enjoy!