Home Improvement

Tim, the tool man here. Ah yes, the joys of home ownership! Lately though, it hasn’t been quite the joy in owning this home. There is the lawn to mow, the garden to water, the windows to wash, the gutters to clean, and now the bathrooms to remodel. The most daunting task with any home especially in southern Florida has to do with eliminating all the infestation of bugs that seem to wiggle there way into every crevice in every home, mine included.

As with any renovation or remodeling project the first step is to clear away all the outdated material such as walls, beams, and support structure. Our home in Tampa is not unique, has the same problem that so may other homes have in Florida. The extensive termite and carpenter ant devastation has left little choice but to completely gut the bathroom and install new support structure and renovate the whole room. It seems that every support beam or 2×4 has been eaten away to the point of no return. The bathroom which is located near the rear of the house is situated between the master bedroom and a den. Upon fist inspection of what needs to be done to improve the efficiency of the master bath one has question why the original builders put drywall up as the finished wall for a shower? The mold and mildew that has turned to a dismal green has become a source of common allergies and a lingering musty smell that seems to have infiltrated into every room in the house.

The first step is the removal of all the drywall, the existing shower pan and all plastic sheets that covered the shower area. Now, that I am covered in plaster dust after tearing down all that sheet rock the exposed support beams are so riddled with termite damage they just crumbled with no effort required. It now appears that more restoration is needed. After all, who in their right mind would build a home especially in Florida using anything other than pressure treated wood. It seems that today the builders are no different than the ones of 40 years ago when this home was built. That is, to save money and charge more they scrimp on the basic materials that would stand the test of time. No, instead they used the cheapest and most common material knowing full well that the cost saving means more profit, for the builder. Things never seem to change.

Off to Home Depot to pick up the necessary lumber, pressure treated 2x4s of course. This, to build the necessary support framework for all the walls that are now required to support the ceiling and the backer board which will line the shower area. In all it would take about twelve 2x4s. To put it all together I had to come up with a rough blueprint of what the frame work would look like and the correct measurements that had to be to lay the foundation as well as the correct measurements for the wall frames. Once the measurements are taken setting up a work area to cut the lumber to the specific measurements outlined by the what I call a diagram is a must to make sure the cuts are at the right length. Luckily, the back yard is equipped with a work bench that I constructed out of surplus lumber from Home Depot two years ago. It came handy when I built the backyard deck that is home to an awful lot of backyard cookouts.

Now, that I have the lumber safely at home out comes the rotor saw and the fine tune jig saw. Both are needed to cut the 2x4s to the exact length. Oh, did I forget to mention that along with the lumber what else is needed is for the metal couplings and the 3 inch screws that are necessary to secure the frame together. Total cost for lumber and material runs around $60 a bargain to say the least. Just think if one had to hire a contractor or a carpenter. It would run into the hundreds of dollars just to do the support framework alone. Now, that I think of it of all the home improvement projects that I have completed in the past couple of years, the kitchen included, this one is more fine tuned in that it’s taking a greater degree of detail in gathering the correct measurements and aligning the support framework to not only create a new improved bathroom but finally eliminating all the inferior work that was done that allowed this old house to fall victim to such infestation and deterioration to the point that the very support structure could collapse at any moment.

Cutting the base structure around the shower area where one has to create niches in the floor 2×4 base where the water pipes protrude and anchoring the foundation into the concrete floor requires special drill bits. Cement drill bits are required to predrill the holes where cement screws will anchor the base 2x4s into position. Once this is done I then proceed to secure the support framework that will extend up to the ceiling. Now, that the base framework is anchored and the support beams are attached it showcases an entire reborn support frame from which we are now able to construct new interior and shower walls. Next, is to have the shower floor floated [that means sloped toward the drain] and covered over with red guard, a sealant to prevent leakage. After the red guard is dry, it takes about 24 hours, one can then attach the backer board around the shower wall frame form which we and then apply thin set. Thin set is like concrete only a finer grain on which we then apply finish tile for a well secure leak proof shower.

Now that the shower is done comes the task of refitting the walls around the rest of the bathroom and installing one entry interior door. The interior walls of the master bath will be tiled. No small task either. The easiest part will be the attaching the panels to wall frames that face the den. Personally I would prefer wood panels that are of a dark mahogany shade but, cost constraints dictate a lighter color is more attainable. Basic pressure treated plywood is the choice made. We can either stain it or paint it to what ever color. Total cost for the plywood is around $26 for one 6×8 ft 1/4 inch piece. For our purposes 2 sheets are needed. Total cost for pressure treated plywood and material runs around $50. Another great bargain.

Since I already made the interior door out of surplus Home Depot wood, built the frame work around the entry way, and installed the walls that are attached it is of great joy that this home improvement project is almost complete. Not only did I save a ton of money by this do it yourself project, eliminated further damage to this old house from all the termites and carpenter ants, I added much needed value to this old house. Can’t wait till the next project! Maybe build a garage or another room addition. Will See. Stay tuned for more of Home Improvement.

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