This is a recently completed remodel on Queen Anne.
This project is a renovation of a 1980’s addition. It carries many of the sins of houses that were flipped in the era. This house began as a single story 1920’s bungalow. The prior owners added a second floor with a new Master bedroom, Master bath, 2 guest bedrooms, and a guest bath.
The master bath was done particularly strangely, with a jacuzzi type tub set in a very large, tiled enclosure that ate up space and was too close to the vanity. The shower enclosure created a niche for the toilet by extending a wall from floor to ceiling, creating a dark shower and a dark toilet area. Add to this that there was only one light in the room, the multi-bulb assembly over the vanity, and the entire room became dark and gloomy.
The sharp corners and narrow opening between the tub enclosure and the vanity made it an uncomfortable bathroom. The client very rarely used the tub because it was uncomfortable to get into and was shallow.
It seemed fairly obvious that we could easily open up the space by changing the tub from an enclosure to a stand-alone tub.
Placing the tub in the corner seemed odd.
The constraints of the project were that we wanted to open up the space, bring in more light, and add some additional storage. The storage was going to remain difficult if the vanity remained on the center of the wall. We also had budget concerns to deal with.
Budget can be a hindrance, but it can also be an inspiration. One of the greater costs in a bathroom are plumbing costs. Additional drains, new vents, changing toilets and water supplies can become expensive and intrusive very quickly.
The budget brought the first change constraint- we wanted to leave the toilet and shower where they were, but swapping the location of the vanity and tub seemed to be a fairly simple change that could have some benefits; we could add cabinetry to the ceiling without constraining the space or creating a dark area. The tub could change to a free standing soaking tub. And we could change the stem wall from a floor-to-ceiling cave to a pony wall.
Demolition was going to help with decisions, and is always an eye opener.
The first things we found were classic house-flip short-cuts. Tile was installed directly over green-board drywall, a detail that has never been code approved, but that was fairly common on DIY shows and with fly-by-night contractors. This is bad enough in the shower, but the tub was even worse. Tile over regular drywall on the sides, and simply over framing on the top side, with no waterproofing anywhere to be found. Turns out it was a good thing the tub was uncomfortable and wasn’t used or there would likely have been significant water damage below.
We prefer to bring waterproofing to the bathroom floor, especially around toilets, tubs, and shower enclosures. Here, even though the shower base is waterproof, damage often occurs just outside of the pan from water that escapes the shower surround or door. Here, we used Schluter Kerdi in the shower to waterproof the walls and niches. We also install Kerdi-band around the floor, bringing it up about 3″ onto the wall and 3″ to the floor. At the shower pan we laid Kerdi-band on the floor and sealed it to the shower pan. After tile was installed, the joint between the pan and the tile was filled with a high-quality sealant color matched to the grout to give additional peace of mind.
We lowered the stem wall and shortened it to a pony wall. To do this securely we install a post that extends into the flooring diaphragm which the framing is then attached to. This keeps the pony wall quite secure, something that is critical when glass is being attached to it.
Here we have attached the glass channel over the Kerdi waterproofing. It is installed using Kerdi-Fix bonding sealant, with no fasteners penetrating the membrane. This works well when the channel will be locked in by the tile on either side, and also hides much of the channel.
This waterproofing system is very flexible and resilient, with a long history through Europe and the US. I wanted to keep the consistency and ease of warranty available when keeping to a single system, and used Schluter’s Ditra-heat as the tile substrate. Ditra allows us to create a water-proof floor and has the benefit that it allows us to install electric floor heat directly into the substrate. This gives us a few different benefits- Ditra is a tile substrate that also works as a decoupling membrane, which reduces the chance of cracks in the tile or failures in the thinset that holds the tile to the floor. Ditra-Heat has spaced channels that allow Schluter’s heat cable to be installed with the proper spacing without adding staples or extra steps.
We kept the toilet location, and brought the waterproofing around the toilet and tub. Once the Ditra-HT and electric cable is installed, the seams in the Ditra-HT are covered with Kerdi-band. This creates a waterproof floor diaphragm, a nice bit of security around a soaking tub. The center drain causes some problems, but the tub is sealed to the tile all around and would take a considerable overflow to leak through to the ceiling below. In the picture to the Left you can see the Kerdi-band turned up the wall around the room.
The cabinets are custom built, with all lower elements being drawers or pull-outs, and open storage above.
Tile was installed and then grouted with a polyurethane grout that doesn’t require sealing, is very color fast, and doesn’t have the UV problems that come with Epoxy grouts.