Remodel Another Bathroom




About: I'm a PhD candidate in Pharmaceutical Sciences living the dream with my wife, two dogs, and a basement that overfloweth with homebrew.

I'm back for the sequel to my previous instructable, how to remodel a bathroom.  That previous guide covered my downstairs bathroom and after a nice, *long* rest period I took on the upstairs bathroom.  This was a complete gutting involving replacing an old cast iron tub, replumbing for a modern 1 handle shower, adding some electric, and tiling galore.  As per my usual M.O., this was done on a budget.  The whole thing cost me less than $1,500.

Step 1: The Starting Point

So things were pretty rough when I bought the house in 2007.  I would up doing a series of initial work that got it pretty respectable including running a new power circuit (it initially had no outlets), but a few years down the road I needed more.  The DIY tub refinishing I used began to peel within a month, the window in the shower was a perpetual moister problem, lighting was poor, there was no ventilation, and the vinyl walls/floor just weren't up to par.

Step 2: Demo and Window Replacement

Demo always comes first.   Cast iron tubs are most easily removed by shattering them with a seldge hammer.  It might be worth the effort to drag it to the scrap yard if you have the time.  Rather than paying to have it hauled as trashed I got $60.

I was replacing the full size window with a shorter one installed higher up, so along with the demo I needed to get the new one installed pretty quick.  Gaping holes in your house are something to avoid for prolonged periods.  I would have liked to go higher with the window, but was limited by the roof overhang.  The vinyl siding I used as a replacement was the same as what is on the house now, minus a few years of fading.  Over time they should blend a little better.  You can also see the external vent added.

Pickings were slim in the non-custom order department for such a small window, so I couldn't get one with privacy glass.  I was prepared to get some translucent film to put over it, but once the shower is turned on it fogs up within just a few seconds.

Step 3: Electric Work

New electric work included adding an exhaust fan to control moisture buildup and recessed lighting to deal with add some badly needed light.  For recessed lighting directly over a shower you'll want to use enclosed shower trim that protects the bulb from condensation.

Step 4: Installing the New Tub

The old tube was 5'6," and most modern tubs are 5.'  Getting a replacement the same size brought the cost from $300 to $1,000+, so I resolved to just build out a shelf at the rear of the tub.  The problem with this is I just assumed the drain hole lined up in the same place for all tubs which ,as it turned out, was not the case.  After getting all the new plumbing set, I fit the tub and realized the drain hole was off by a couple inches and given the small distance between the new and old holes, there wasn't enough enough room to fit some sort of adapter.  I had to instead build out the shelving at the front of the tub which meant extending all of the plumbing I just installed another 6 inches out from the wall.  I used a little creative plumbing to get the shower drain into the waste pipe.  I cut a hole in the adjacent wall so I could check for leaks and access anything if need be.  A vent lets me hide the opening and keep that easy accessibility.

Step 5: Floor Prep

I originally wanted to just throw down cement board over the existing floor, but underneath all of that vinyl it turned out I had a several inch thick concrete floor.  There's no better surface than concrete and mounting the cement board into it would have been one hell of a pain.  So I got to spend several hours scrapping the old floor clean.  A heat gun helps, but only so much.  I used some concrete to fill in the gaps around the tub, and then some leveling compound spread across the whole floor to get it ready for tiling.

Step 6: Tiling the Floor

I decided to completely finish the floor and get that out of the way before I worked on the tub.  This would let me get a sink setup so the bathroom had at least some functionality.  I used a 4" porcelain tile with a diamond pattern.  4" tiles mean laying 9 tiles instead of one 12" tile or four 6" tiles.  It wound up being much more work, especially when I later for to the shower walls.  Be sure you are ready for it.

Step 7: Tub Enclosure Prep

I used 1/2" cement board for the walls, taping and sealing all of the seams with silicone.  Tiles are not to be regarded as waterproof, and a tiled shower should have a vapor barrier.  You can use plastic underneath the tile board, or a paint on liner like the redguard I used here.  It paints on pretty easy with a brush.

Step 8: Tiling, and Tiling, and Tiling (and Crown Moulding)

Like I said earlier, the 4" tiles take a long time to install.  it's just as well since doing it over a couple days meant the lower tiles were dry and ready to support the weight of the upper tiles.  Make sure you leave a 1/4" gap between the bottom tiles and the tub to allow for expansion.  This gap gets filled with silicone later as opposed to grout.  I also installed the crown moulding around this time.  I lucked out and bought 400' of a very nice maple crown dirt cheap a while back on craigslist, so it goes up pretty much everywhere.  Also, painting.

Step 9: The Rest

At this point I was about a month in and my keeping up with the pictures got a little less thorough.  I picked up a clearance medicine cabinet that had a shattered mirror, and cut a new piece for it from one of those cheap wall mirrors.  Along with that I put in a light bar, another wall mounted cabinet, the typical towel rods, and that sort of thing.  I went with one of the curved shower rods which provides a nice extra bit of elbow room.  The toilet went back in and I replaced the cheapo hollow core door with an antique 5 panel door I stripped down.

Step 10: And It's Done!

It was a long process that probably would have went much quicker if I didn't have a beautiful, fully functional bathroom downstairs.  I think I dragged it out for about three months.  In the end, I couldn't be happier with the results.  The inlaid shelving, something I had to add out of necessity, it easily one of my favorite features.  Luckily I'm out of bathrooms to work on so I'm done for now.



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    8 Discussions

    Watch me make

    3 years ago

    Great job here is a tip for replacing siding I learned a few months ago . You can take a old piece from behind a bush or something because it does not show that often and replace it with a new piece and take the old piece and put around the window


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Could you let me know how you dealt with the window and framing it? I have a window in my shower that gets absolutely disgusting around the edges, and I have no clue what to put as the frame. Previous owners used painted wood, and I had to rip it out because it was rotted through. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


    6 years ago on Step 10

    Love those inset shelves! I don't have a place to build out, but since I'm taking off the drywall to put up cement board, I can back them into the wall. Thanks for the great idea!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Can you explain a bit more about your comment on insulation and the vapor barrier. Thanks.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I did the plumbing myself. When I did my other bathroom I hired someone who let me watch how it was done. For the upstairs bathroom I took it on myself. Sweating copper really isn't all that tough, and you get to use a blowtorch.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great job!!! Nicely done!!! Love the shelves in the wall!