Mold, Holes and Paint Fumes

So, do you remember when I showed you our upper bathroom?  Well, I finally got sick of the good-enough state I left it in this summer and decided to changed it.  That and the fact that I’m totally embarrassed to show it to guests.  It was bad enough when my parents came to visit, but now my sister-in-law and her family are coming up and I want a presentable main-floor bathroom.  Since they are planning on coming up in either February or March, and I have a full-time job that keeps me pretty busy, this won’t be a complete reno, but the first of several stages.  This phase includes:

  • replacing the exhaust fan
  • removing the tile by the sink
  • patching any holes
  • scrubbing down, then repainting the walls
  • replacing the towel bar with hooks (our towel bar is currently mounted to the wall that contains our pocket door, but it’s just screwed into the drywall.  I’ve already pulled it off the wall once and while I did reenforce it, it’s starting to come loose again.  We’re hoping our towels will stay on the hooks and dry alright, but if it’s not working, I’m ok with putting the towel bar back up)
  • restaining the trim
  • hanging artwork (various flowers I’ve photographed in black and white)
  • replacing the mirror?  (there’s a rectangle one in the basement that came with the house- I kinda want to frame it and hang it in the bathroom, but we’ll see)

If you don’t remember, here’s how the bathroom started, first when we moved it, and then from the ‘good-enough’ phase:

bath-before     finished-bath

The first thing I tackled this evening was the tile above the sink:


Originally, this tile was yellow/blue.  Spraying it white helped, but I still just wasn’t feeling it, so…


The first 2 pieces actually came off alright and I thought I might be able to salvage the drywall beneath.  Then I went after the third piece and it took a giant chunk of drywall with it.  Once I knew I’d have to replace the drywall, I wasn’t too careful how I got the tile off.  By the end, I was ripping out stud-spaced sized chunks.  Oh, the carnage:


(yes, I did remove that piece in the lower left corner, I just had to go a bit slower since it was right next to a pipe)

I had to make a trip to Ye Olde Big Box for a sheet of drywall, and since I just have a little car, I had to buy a 3’x5′ sheet, which was way more expensive than the standard 4’x8′ sheets… and by way more expensive, I mean like a dollar more.  But still…

Anyway… here’s the best way I’ve found to cut drywall:

1)  Use a straightedge to mark the line you want to cut on, and then cut along the line you just made (I keep the straightedge on my line to keep it perfectly straight):


2) Fold the drywall in half (you kinda have to snap it), and stand it on end:


3) Cut down the inside of fold you just made

Easy!  I also cut some blocking to add to the stud spaces so I’d have something to screw my boards into.  I liked the end of this one:


Kinda wish I had kept it, or at least cut the end off…  I keep thinking of cool things I could have done with it, but it’s too late since the new seams are already taped and mudded:


I’m definitely not the world’s best mudder, but after seeing (and fixing) the work done in the garage, my seams look pretty awesome!

Not so awesome, however, is the fact that the wall on the right-hand side (where the closet is)  is totally not square…


….yeah… that’ll be fun to hide… I took that picture before taping up the seems and was able to fill the gap a little bit.  I’m hoping a bit of caulk and a bigger mirror will hide it completely!  Or at least enough that the next owners of this house don’t start a blog about the ineptitude of the fixes I did… ;)

While I was waiting for the mud to dry, I tackled the trim.  I wish I had taken a good before picture, but I totally forgot.  This bathroom has terrible ventilation.  The fan is super-noisy and needs to be left on for quite a while after the shower is off before the steam clears, and even then I’m pretty sure it’s not actually the fan working but the fact that we usually open the door to get to our bedroom and the warm air dissipates.  Because it’s so humid in the bathroom, water runs down the walls:


It’s so gross!  Also gross?  The mold I discovered when I pulled off the trim to refinish it:


Fortunately, it seems confined to that section.  Even so, I removed that portion of wall and replace it.  See the rust?  Pretty sure either the tub overflowed or the shower curtains weren’t closed all the way at one point.  The trim in that corner is pretty much shot- you might be able to see the crack in the piece that’s still attached, while the piece that was covering that mold came off in 3 pieces.  The trim on the other end of the shower wasn’t quite as bad, but all the finish was gone and it was starting to darken in bottom corner.  But it passed the screwdriver poke test, so it got a fresh coat of stain and is drying as we speak!

I don’t know if you can see it in the original pictures, but there was some quarter round along the bottom of the tub (hiding the cracking caulking, and the fact that the room isn’t quite square…

I took that off too, pulled out all the old caulk, and cleaned it up a bit.  I obviously missed a few spots (why don’t they show up so well when I’m trying to scrap them off?!), but here’s the new tub line:


Clean, caulked and almost complete!

My husband is going out of town this weekend, so I’ll have lots of prime project time without having to worry about disrupting him too much.  I mean, I don’t mind staying covered in sawdust/paint for a few days at a time or having to shower in the basement, or crashing on the couch when my tools start invading the bedroom and there’s no path to my bed, but I feel bad doing that to him.  So here’s to hoping for a run of several productive days!  I’ve already got a good start on my list, and with any luck, I’ll have this project done well before family comes to visit.

How do you stay motivated during a project?  I always have a hard time getting started, but once I do, it’s pretty common for me to work til 2 or 3 in the morning (which makes getting up for work the next morning rather rough).  Do you make lists?  Only start a certain number of projects?  Set certain goals, then treat yourself to something fun when you hit them?  I’d love to hear your methods!

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10 Responses to Mold, Holes and Paint Fumes

  1. Wendy says:

    1. We don’t care what your bathroom looks like, we just want to see you guys.
    2. Having been on the other end of my-home-is-not-fit-to-receive-visitors, I realize that #1 is Not The Point.
    3. But please don’t make yourself crazy if work doesn’t go as fast as you planned. We can push back our visit if it means saving your health.

    I pretty much do projects one at a time. (Not that I have the type of home-improvement projects you do, at the moment…mine are more like “TODAY I do the BOOKSHELVES!” And that wipes out my apartment-improvement zeal for a little bit.)

    • Rebecca Lynn says:

      Part of the problem is I tend to procrastinate, and I’ve been wanting to start this project for a while, but kept pushing it off. Now that wedding pictures are edited, I need something else to keep me busy, so thank you for providing me with a reason to get moving on it! Can’t wait to see you guys! (also, I don’t quite have my schedule/weekends past Jan. yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I find out!)

  2. Gary says:

    All very interesting and amazing as usual, but the one thing I liked the best was that you took photos of FLOWERS in BLACK and WHITE.

    • Alvin says:

      Hi Becca & Matt—If the frame for your fan is good I may have a real good motor. Send me a description or picture, shaft size, size of motor etc. I have quite a few motors to pick from.
      Grandpa & Lois Sonnenberg

      • Rebecca Lynn says:

        I plan on working on the fan this weekend (or at least opening it up to see what I’m dealing with), so I’ll be sure to take some good pictures and check back with you! Thanks!

    • Rebecca Lynn says:

      it’s a series I’ve been working on for a few years now- I’m glad I finally have somewhere to hang it!

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