Monday, August 28, 2017

Project House Update: Tub of Lies

This is the story of a woman who thought she knew what she was doing and gummed up the works. Though, like any fairytale, there's a happy ending.

When we started planning out the blue bathroom renovations, a task we quickly agreed upon was the removal of the wall. Originally, the bathroom was two spaces: an outer chamber with the sink and mirror and the inner chamber with the toilet and bathtub. It would probably have been a practical bathroom arrangement for kids who share a bathroom. Older kids, like tweens and teens where one wants to shower and the other wants to do their hair. However, because the inner chamber is so small and cramped, it didn't fit our lifestyle for the next five, ten years. We don't have tweens. We'll probably have babies. Babies who will need to be bathed in the only tub in the house, in a small, dark room. we pictured ourselves having to kneel next to this old tub in this crowded space and it became an easy decision: the room needed to grow.

That was an easy decision for us, but a more difficult decision came in the form of what type of tub we wanted. I have always dreamed of having a vintage, relaxing bathroom and a big portion of that was a claw-foot tub. Dan liked the appearance of them, but he had concerns about the practicality. We went back and forth and couldn't find a compromise. We didn't have any good resources to determine the correct direction, so I had an idea. I posed the question to Apartment Therapy. It took a couple of weeks, but they posted it. Here's my original question:
My husband and I are planning our guest bathroom renovation and we are at an impasse as to what type of bathtub to choose. I'm all-in on a clawfoot tub. He is not. My argument is based mainly on aesthetics, his on functionality. The bathroom will have a vintage feel with a gorgeous tile floor, so a clawfoot tub would not only fit with the look of the room, but allow us to use more of the pretty tile under it...
However, it's also the only bathroom in our house with a tub and will eventually be the bathroom our future kids will use. My husband is concerned with lack of edge/shelf space for bath products and the potential amount of water splashing and overflow from the gap between the the tub and the walls.
Since we don't know anyone personally with a clawfoot tub, I pose this question to you: can a clawfoot tub be practical with children or should we stick with our existing built-in tub?
And comments poured in. It was great. The comments mostly fell into two categories: people who had fond memories of club foot tubs as children and people who tolerated them as adults. As we got more and more opinions, it became clearer and clearer that Dan was going to win. I caved and we moved forward with a built-in tub, not a stand-alone tub.

We were in agreement that we wanted to remove the wall and install a new built-in tub. Now, I'm going to skip ahead a bit to something I found out later, just for some context. A lot of homes are built with this small, inner chambers because of how bathtubs are built. 90% of bathtubs are designed to be surrounded by walls on three sides. These small chambers surround tubs on three sides and everyone's happy. However, we wanted to remove one of those walls so it would now only be surrounded by two walls. It would just sit in the corner. And remember how I said like 90% of tubs are built for three walls? Yeah, this was going to cause a problem, but I didn't know that yet.

Once we were in agreement, I started hunting for tubs, without knowing what I was looking for. I didn't know the difference between corner stand-along tubs and corner built-in tubs. Here's the difference:

Image Source
Built-in tubs come with these lips/ledges that you tile over to keep water from flowing down behind the tub. They are made for tubs you intend to shower in.

Without that knowledge, I create a huge list of beautiful corner tubs. Dan asked me if I had found any tubs that would work for us and I ignorantly told him that I had found a bunch. No need to worry, let's start the renovation. And before I knew it, he was knee deep in drywall and the room was without a wall.

That's the point that he looked  at my list and had a mini-heart attack. Almost none of the tubs I loved would work. They were lip-less. We had torn apart the room on my assurance that I had found tubs that would work and I was wrong. Laptops in hand, we searched and searched  and found a handful we thought might work, but the numbers were not in our favor.

Many looked like they might be tight enough to the wall so we could try and tile tight to prevent water from getting behind it, but it would be a gamble. Also, Dan found some add-on kits that act as the lip that you can turn a stand-alone tub into a built-in, but we didn't want to have to trust it. We were down to three tubs that were meant to be installed in corners like we needed and two more fell off for being too long for the room. We were left with one tub. Good thing we liked it because it was what we were stuck with.

I left Dan to order it, since he knew all of the configuration details, like where the drain needed to go. In hindsight, I should have known better to let him buy something unsupervised because he added all sorts of bells and whistles. Jets, a heater, a. recirculating pump, this thing is pimped out. And he didn't tell me about any of it. He got in trouble for that one.

And like most of our projects, once we received it, it sat. It sat in the shop for almost a year before we moved it into the house. Not the bathroom, but the guest room because we needed to use the trailer it had been sitting on. But now that things have escalated, it's in place!

To recap, when we decided to finally redo all the floors, it created the flow chart to end all flow charts. Before the floors went in, we wanted to repaint the green living room and kitchen, but before we painted, we wanted the drywall fixed. And if the drywall guys were going to be here to fix the kitchen, they might as well just drywall the blue bathroom at the same time. And to drywall the bathroom, the tub needed to be installed. It was all very "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie".

It's been plumbed and glued in place! We finally have a beautiful new tub! Who knows when I will actually get to bathe in it, but it's there!

Here's the run-down of what's remaining to do in blue bathroom.
  • remove carpet
  • remove dividing wall
  • remove old bathtub
  • order new bathtub 
  • remove drywall
  • re-drywall room
  • remove old vanity
  • install penny floors!
  • Electrical work
  • Plumbing work
  • install new vanity! (We purchased the vanity many moons ago. Like everything, this has its own story behind it. We'll get there.)
  • Install bathtub
  • Tile bathtub surround
  • Swap in new toilet
  • Paint
  • Hang mirror and lights 
So much is happening! The floors have been ongoing for over a week now. They were supposed to be done in five days. But before I get to that story, there's a lot of other items on that chart to cover. We've been so busy and I am looking forward to this all finally being over.

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