Demolition Day began with an early morning 6-hour drive back into town. Brian and I discovered our shower leak right before a week-long getaway, which ended up being the best case scenario for us. We spent our vacation teetering between fear and excitement as we researched and scouted for material.
Fueled by anxious joy and curiosity, we couldn’t wait to tear apart our bathroom. We were looking forward to inspecting the source of the leak (and, of course, the smell)! Since the bathroom was not in use during the week, it had aired out some. Not completely, but some. Once home, we immediately started to remove fixtures, along with everything else!
An Introduction to Goodbye
Farewell grey sadness. It was high time to say goodbye! These Before images may look pretty neat and put together, but I assure you…what lay beneath surely was NOT. The very first hole I put into the wall did not rattle us one bit. The mere prospect of change, of moving forward, made me feel alive.
Don’t get me wrong; we appreciated the bathroom for its purpose until it failed. It provided function that Brian and I continued to utilize until the day our shower leaked. The leak was the moment we leaned into goodbye.
Brian and I hit the ground running with our new project. We naively thought we could complete our entire bathroom rebuild in a month and a half! HA!
We started demolition at 1230 on a Saturday, with a mutual understanding that we needed to be finished before work on Monday morning. Well, we succeeded, but it was not without the input of a friendly Home Depot Associate and the man power of Brian, my dad, and me.
First Few Moves
All was well as we began to remove our bathroom fixtures. Brian and I read over a hefty amount of research material and watched plenty of videos as we prepared to take on our project the week before. Of these videos, we repeatedly visited the following YouTube Channels:
During our first few moves, we found ourselves comfortable with tearing down the shower wall, removing fixtures, and trims.
Boy oh boy, did we hit a bit of a snag 8 hours into our demo day! We tried to use a pry bar and hammer to pull the tiles off of the bathroom floor. After about an hour, we decided to make our first serious tool purchase for this project: the Dewalt SDS+ Rotary Hammer Kit.
WHAT A DREAM! This puppy saved us a heck of a lot of heartache. Sadly, our care-free excitement took a small nose-dive as we discovered a second layer of tile under the first!
We had to save the removal of the second layer of tile for the next morning. Brian and I stormed through 12 hours of demolition the first day.
No big deal, we thought. We felt that we could easily remove the larger tiles the next day with our trusty new hammer drill.
Demolition Confusion to Sunday Success
Brian and I woke up bright and early with a flurry of excitement. Determined and energized, we went to work right away. As we began to make our way through the room, we found ourselves questioning why we weren’t seeing oriented strand board (OSB) or even plywood beneath the tile, as we had seen in our research.
It turns out we had about an inch and a half of mortar beneath the second layer of tile. WHAT?! We certainly did not come across this kind of situation in any of our reading. Confused, we decided to use the hammer drill on the mortar and discovered metal mesh beneath! Where in the world was the subfloor?!
At this point, I resolved myself to Googling to try to learn more about what we were facing. Brian and I ended up meeting my dad at Home Depot, which turned out to be a great trip that helped us in the end. We ran into a Home Depot Associate who had prior experience renovating bathrooms on his own; he reviewed our photos and remarked that the mortar above the mesh was common in the 1960s. With his suggestions, we returned home, successfully removed the mortar and mesh, and discovered the subfloor!
The Strength in Goodbye
We uncovered more than 50 years of use along with a few face lifts, as well as a handful of trial and error. All in all, from demolition alone, we bagged more than 45 construction bags of 40-75lbs each worth of tile, mortar, and wood.
Sometimes saying goodbye is hard; other times, it can feel more like a relief and a chance to move on. In either case, it takes strength to leave your comfort zone and welcome change.
Luckily for us, it was time to move on from our master bathroom. While it might not have been emotionally hard to say goodbye, it certainly was physically! What a serious work out! We wrapped up our Sunday sore and happy, as we finally figured out the source of the smell.
The Point of Failure
The shower stall was constructed with poor material and craftsmanship. The leak and subsequent smell was caused by a waterproofing failure.
- Original shower curb was not sloped back into the shower
- Waterproofing measures did not exist outside of the shower
- Poor tiling and grouting within the shower and shower floor led to exposed holes and water intrusion
- Vapor barrier was installed using nails that ended up compromising its integrity
- Compromised vapor barrier allowed water to leak through the shower curb and surrounding areas
Thank goodness for that leak, for if it hadn’t happened, Brian and I would have continued to trudge along with the status quo until we felt ready.
Life doesn’t care if you are ready or not. It just happens and you do what you can to enjoy the ride.
‘Til our next Master Bath Rebuild update…Thank you for reading!