Saturday, May 9, 2015

Budget Bathroom Renovation Part 1a: Medicine Cabinets and Mirrors: Destruction

This spring's house project is a bathroom renovation. It's going to happen in four parts:
  • Cabinets, Lights and Mirrors
  • Lavatory
  • Bath and Shower Surround
  • Toilet Room
As you may have gathered, this is the Cabinets, Lights and Mirrors episode. Some time ago the frame that supported our original bathroom mirror failed. We managed to get the mirror down in one piece, but almost as soon as we leaned it up against the wall it split into two razor edged chunks which at this moment are still sitting on our porch. (They'll be recycled along with the other construction debris in a couple weeks.)

The first step was to remove the old medicine cabinets, our nifty Restoration Hardware lamps, and the plaster and lath wall material.

With the old wall down we ran into two problems: one we knew about and the other a small surprise. We knew that we'd have to restore the two vertical studs that had been cut to install the old medicine cabinets.

No big deal here. Just cut some 2x3 to the right length and screw it into place.

The surprise was that fact that the wainscot is held top the studs using some heavy wires and big globs of a cement like substance. As a result there's about a half inch gap to fill to get the drywall out to where it should be.

Fortunately we had a bunch of lath from the destruction phase and recycled a bunch of it as shims to bring the stud surface out to where we wanted it.

We also cut some chunks of 2x4 to provide a sturdy place to hang the Ikea Hemnes medicine cabinets.

Now, buying drywall when you own a Mini Cooper might seem like a problem. Fortunately a 96" (8 feet) piece of drywall can be easily cut into 32" chunks which 1) easily fit into the Mini and 2) match standard stud placement.

Our house, having been built cheaply 90 some years ago, doesn't quite have standard stud spacing. But with a little trimming everything went up without much trouble. Then some primer and paint...

And it's time to hang the lights. After locating the mounting plates I drilled half inch holes, popped in lag bolts and screwed 'em in.

And they work!

Then the Hemnes cabinets go up. They hang from a pair of wood screws that go into headers I bolted between the studs. Each screw has a plastic spacer that prevents you from tightening it too much once the cabinet is hung.

The cabinets go in and you tighten the screws. The doors go on and you're done!

This was supposed to be an easy project. It would have been in a more modern house. We had to completely remove the old plaster and lath wall, shim out the studs, mount headers to support the new cabinets, replace the old plaster and lath with new dry wall and finally hang the lights and cabinets.

It was worth the effort.  There was about $600 in materials: Ikea cabinets, the new center lamp, dry wall, mud, primer and paint but we've greatly improved the appearance of the bathroom for not very much money.

The next phase is replacing the lavatory you can't see in the pictures - we've got the Ikea parts but the plumbing issues are a little tricky and will take me a couple weeks to work out.


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