11 Feb

Preparing to Remodel a Bathroom

Demo a bathroom

If you had walked through our house two and a half years ago, this is what the master bath would have looked like. And maybe you’d have thought it wasn’t so bad. But since our last house was built by the same builder using this standard finish schedule I was over the cheap laminate countertop, full-wall mirror and sheet vinyl flooring two seconds after snapping these photos. In fact, that house even had the same paint color in the kid’s bathroom.

So, at least the builder was consistent.

Builder Basic Master Bath

Before moving in I had my painting contractors work their magic to brighten the space up but the massive mirror irked me.

Mirror Frame Options

I tried to make do by installing a simple wood trim frame. I hated it. So, I removed that and replaced it with a different style frame and makeshift shelf. I didn’t like that either but I had no Plan B in place so we learned to live with it.

Don’t ask why we didn’t have the flooring contractors install laminate wood in the master bath when they were here the first, second or third time to do the rest of the house because I couldn’t tell you. But the more I watched Property Virgins I was convinced no one would buy our house because they’d never be able to reconcile why we just stopped upgrading at the en suite door.

Economy sheet vinyl flooring

So while Dave gathered equipment for his annual after-Christmas ski trip, I rounded up my trim molding removal tools.

Demo Prep Tools

The trick to removing baseboard trim and shoe moulding is to work your mini-prybars between the wall and the wood slowly. Smack the metal too hard and you’re bound to split the wood and/or damage the drywall. Incrementally work your way down the length of the trim popping each nail as you go. This is where the appropriate playlist is paramount. At this stage, steer clear of hip hop and dance music; opt for blues or classic country instead. Your fingers and finishings will thank you.

Now, I like to mark both the trim and wall so that as pieces are moved from room to room over the next few days I can easily put the trim puzzle back together. And since I can’t be certain these corners were truly mitered on a 45 it helps eliminate any guesswork to square up the door frames and trim.

numbered trim

Be careful with the brad nails sticking out of the wood. I like to nip the ends off and scrape any paint before reinstalling. I don’t recommend pulling the nail through as you’ll risk marring the face of the wood trim.

remove trim

Once all of the trim is out of the way you’ll have to decide what to do about your doors. In this small space I had (3) to deal with and since Dave was out of town I’d be flying solo on any removal, undercutting and reinstallation if the new ceramic tile didn’t clear the space allowed underneath.

So I put my thinking cap on and performed several difficult scientific calculations…

Check Under Door Height

…to determine that I would (probably) get by without incident. (Meh, close enough.)

And then I shut off the water supply and removed the toilet.

remove toilet

And took a paint brush to the white spots around the room.

Remove wall mirror

The oversized mirror was amazingly simple to remove. Ok, what’s truly amazing is how little adhesive was used to keep that monstrosity up the last seven years. I’m disappointed I didn’t video the 45 seconds it took to pry jimmy it loose from the wall. I kid you not, it took longer for me to get the boy and his friend off the PS3 to help lift the mirror over the faucet handles.

In hindsight, I probably should have removed the sinks first.

remove sink

…since I’ll never get those precious five minutes back. Lesson learned.

Laminate Counter Glue

Speaking of, let this be a lesson; it takes more than (3) dollops of contractor adhesive to properly secure a 5′ laminate counter to a cabinet base.

Base Cabinet Support Shims

You know, like quality support bracing.


Click to read Part 2:

Operation Countertop

8 thoughts on “Preparing to Remodel a Bathroom

  1. Contractors amaze me with how little effort they put into things that are covered up. When we removed out 8 ft sliding door we found that it was held in place by one nail. Thankfully the trim was holding it in and that contractor used more nails than needed. But it lasted 29 years so what do I know.
    I love demo don't you?

    • Contractors & nails are a dangerous combo. In our last house they pierced our copper plumbing pipes a few times while installing the baseboard trim. That was a mess. And demo is tedious in my opinion because I insist on reusing everything. I hate, hate, hate when the DIY shows toss perfectly good materials out windows for effect. There's no need to ruin things that can be donated & repurposed.

It's so quiet in here - please, say something!

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