I’ve officially passed the “this is fun and exciting” part of this bathroom demolition, and have entered the “is this ever going the end??” phase of the demolition. I’m so tired of looking at rubble. I’m exhausted from bagging up rubble. I’m ready to get on to the pretty stuff. But I have a feeling I’m still a few days away from being able to start rebuilding.
I got all of the tile and mortar broken up on the floor.
I did start to get a bit concerned when the subfloor around the toilet area seemed very brittle and started breaking off.
But I didn’t let myself panic. Again, I kept reminding myself that as long as the floor joists were in good shape, the rest was just subfloor, which I’d probably want to replace anyway. (Spoiler alert: The joists are just fine! Woohoo!!)
I honestly could not believe how much rubble came out of that small bathroom. I still have quite a bit of demolition to go, but so far I’ve bagged up 33 contractor bags filled with nothing but tile and mortar. Of course, they’re not filled all the way. There’s no way I could lift a bag that full. But still…33 bags! It seems like the stuff is multiplying right before my eyes!
When I got the majority of it bagged up, I asked my neighbor if he’d be willing to haul it off for me. He’s retired, and is always willing to help, and always working on little jobs here and there for people. This was a job I did not want to do, so I was more than happy to pay him to do it for me.
After I removed the toilet from the bathroom, I stuffed a wad of paper towels into the hole to keep sewer gases from coming into the room. But as I was working around the toilet area cleaning up rubble, I kept noticing that I would get a whiff of a very unpleasant smell every once in a while. Since I had plugged up the hole, I couldn’t imagine where it was coming from. Finally, I cleared away the last of the tile and mortar rubble, and removed the rotten subfloor boards around the toilet area so that I could investigate. This is what I found…
Yep, that’s just a big ole hole eaten away through the side of the sewer pipe. Let me just say I’ve never been so grateful for a rotten subfloor! Had that subfloor been in good shape, I may have never found this issue.
So the good news was that my floor joists were in good shape. (Note: The board you see in the picture above next to the sewer pipe is not the floor joist, thank goodness! I’ll explain more below.) The bad news was that I had a pretty serious plumbing issue to deal with.
Thankfully my plumber was available to come out pretty quickly and get everything squared away. I had to spend $300 that I wasn’t planning on spending, but at least now I have a brand new sewer pipe for the toilet. No more rotten smells seeping into my bathroom.
He also replaced the galvanized pipes for the faucet and toilet with updated materials.
So at least now I have peace of mind that my plumbing is in good shape in this bathroom.
I continued the demolition by removing the linen closet that was behind the bathroom door.
I’ll add back in some sort of storage here, but I just don’t like the way that linen closets have such wasted space in the top.
I also removed the hardwood flooring from the bottom of the linen closet, and started to remove the subfloor as well, but stopped to take a few pictures first to show you how they built the subfloor in this bathroom. I guess this was just standard building practices when this house was built (when they used 2-inch mortar beds for tiled floors), but this isn’t really how things are done today.
In the closet, you can see what is still pretty standard construction. There are the floor joists, with the subfloor on top of the floor joists. Then the hardwood flooring was nailed onto the subfloor.
But in the main area where the floor was tiled, instead of putting the subfloor on top of the floor joists, they attached boards to the sides of the floor joists, sitting 3/4-inch from the top of the floor joists. Then they attached the subfloor between the joists, sitting on and nailed to the boards attached to the sides of the joists, making the subfloor flush with the floor joists.
Here’s another view from a different area.
I’ve never seen a subfloor done like this before. I guess this is just what they had to do in order to make room for all of that mortar. But generally, subfloor goes on top of the joists, and not between the joists.
Now I know that when I talked about having our house leveled last year, many of you were confused, and some of you had never heard of pier and beam construction. So now that I have part of my subfloor ripped up, I can give you a clear view of pier and beam construction.
In the picture below, you can see a concrete pier sitting on the ground. I don’t know how far apart these piers sit, but there are many of these underneath the house, sitting at specific intervals. And then on top of the piers are the beams. And then running perpendicular to the beams are the floor joists. The beams are doubled up — two 2 x 8 (or maybe those are 2 x 6’s) sandwiched together. The floor joists are just single 2 x 8 (or again, those might be 2 x 6) pieces of lumber.
Here’s a somewhat clearer view without all of the extra wood attached to the floor joists. This is where the linen closet was, and what it looks like now after I removed the subfloor. You do still see some extra 2 x 6’s attached to two of the floor joists here. That’s what they added to go underneath the tub to give extra strength to the floor joists since they’re carrying the weight of a 500 pound cast iron bathtub.
Even though the subfloor was done the standard way in the linen closet, I still decided to remove it because I learned the hard way during my kitchen remodel that trying to marry new subfloor with old is tricky business. The old subfloor was 3/4-inch thick, so that’s what I used to make my repairs in the kitchen. But the new subfloor was a tiny bit thicker than the old. I didn’t think it would make a big difference, but it did. When I added the hardwood floor over the transition areas, there were very noticeable humps in the floor — not noticeable by looking, but you could definitely tell if you walked over them. It took quite a bit of sanding with my belt sander to get things smoothed out. So I decided to avoid that hassle altogether in here by just adding all new subfloor to the whole room.
So anyway, on a pier and beam house, you have the piers sitting on the ground, beams running on top of the piers, and then floor joists running perpendicular to, and on top of, the beams. Then the subfloor (generally plywood is used now, but then they used 1 x 10 or 1 x 8 lumber) goes on top of the floor joists. And finally the flooring goes on top of the subfloor.
I’ll be adding new subfloor (3/4-inch plywood) and then on top of that I’ll put Hardibacker concrete board, and then tile on top of the Hardibacker.
But first, I have quite a bit more demolition to do. I’m sooo ready to get to the pretty stuff.