I tried to think of a clever post title for this installment of the great bathroom redo of 2014, but alas. Lots of pics and explanations in this post so my brain is fried and I’m not clever. Plus it’s Friday.
After taking out the tub, it was time to find a new one. We went back and forth on which kind….acrylic, steel with enamel coating, etc. We finally settled on an acrylic Kohler tub and quickly ordered it from Home Depot.
We had to keep in mind the right hand drain and apron front. I liked the deepness of it and the fact that the oval shaped interior allowed for soap holders/shampoo containers to sit in the corners. It was around 100 pounds of weight compared to the probably 30 pound plastic tub we removed. Substantially nicer with a sprayed fiberglass backing. I also stuffed some pink insulation inside the open “apron” to keep the tub water even warmer and to deaden any hollow sound the apron would make.
There are several types of correct tub installation tips and it all depends on the type of tub you purchase. Our Kohler tub had very specific instructions NOT to use a leveling board attached to the studs (that the tub “rests” on). Ours had leveling “feet” on the underside and you could either shim these up or install the tub over a mortar bed; we used a combination of both methods. The difficulty in doing this was the little wall that prevented us from sliding the tub in place. We had to wrestle the tub into that space by dropping it down at an angle instead of sliding it in. Easier said than done when there are two people crammed into a small space, one of which is not super strong. We did this at the 11th hour at night and were trying so hard not to chip or crack the acrylic. We dropped it in once to make sure it fit before taking it back out and preparing the floor for the mortar. I placed a plastic vapor barrier over the plywood subfloor to protect it from the moisture of the cement. We then mixed up a bag of cement and carefully spread it out. The difficulty in this is that you’re not supposed to put cement where the “feet” of the tub will be…but in between and around the feet. That’s really kind of hard when you can’t tell where the feet hit the floor…because when the feet are on the floor, it’s well, hidden.
We measured the feet distances from the sides and back and made “X” marks the spot marks directly on the plywood. We also attached shims to the plywood floor on those X’s to raise the tub to level (you can see them in the top left hand picture above – my float is sitting between them). We made a cement sandwich by placing another piece of plastic barrier between the fresh cement and the base of our tub. That way if we ever have to remove the tub (gasp!), it won’t be stuck to cement.
Once that was complete I was ready to adhere my dry-fitted hardiebacker. I cleaned and scraped and cleaned and scraped this plywood to make it as smooth as possible. Some glue spots were super stubborn, but the subfloor was very sound and solid. Pics below are pretty self explanatory and not especially instructive. Just some images I sent Russell to mark my days showing him my progress.
After that was complete, we began to replace the hardiebacker tub surround. I had decided I wanted a shower niche and watched this youtube video several times. This guy is GREAT and so explanatory. The videos are long but very informative. We placed another vapor barrier behind the hardiebacker about half way up the tub surround walls. We also shimmed the studs so the hardiebacker would be as square as possible. In some instances, it just wasn’t going to be square, and we planned on fixing that by taping and floating those hard areas.
Here I am building the tub niche. I used two existing studs and built a shelf inside of them. I made sure the shelf was level from side to side, but slanted slightly front to back so any water that would pool inside would drip back out and into the tub area. You can see the vapor barrier we applied (just nailed into the studs using wet-rated tacks). The hardiebacker is applied over the vapor barrier.
Here enters the part that we hired out…the plumbing! I entertained the idea of plumbing the new overflow/drain myself but chickened out, mainly because we needed a new valve for the type of faucet we purchased. The guy came out and did some copper tube work and also fixed a section of our plumbing that was originally installed incorrectly.
Remember how I mentioned that our shower head leaked badly when the tub faucet was on? Apparently it’s because the section of Pex going up towards the valve from the tub spout pipe, should have been copper all along. I don’t know if this is true or not but our new shower head most definitely doesn’t leak.
He didn’t trim the copper spout pipe and would come back later in the game (after tiling) to finish that out for me.
And here we are, almost ready to start tiling. I wanted to get all of this hardiebacker up before doing any floor work, just because of the dust and mess created when doing wall work. Every seam and joint and all screw holes were carefully taped and mudded. Next up, TILE!