How to Destroy Your Bathroom, Pt. 1

Here, I’ll give you the learn-from-my-mistake tip at the beginning:  don’t start a home improvement project mid-afternoon Sunday.

The leaky master bath drain has forced us to use a basin in our sink and empty it every time we use it.  Just like camping but without the outdoor ambience!  So yesterday I decided it was time to rip up the vinyl floor and see the extent of the water damage.

What, you want to get rid of this beautiful doo-doo brown and burnt orange 70s vinyl masterpiece?  Take a look at the color of the tile shower:  maroon and grey.  The countertop and backsplash are the same color.  Now I ask you, even though everyone in the 70s was on ‘ludes and had to surround themselves with vomit colors to match the upchuck stain on their shag rug, who could EVER have though to put these colors together?  Happily it took just a few minutes to rip it out.  Demons of the Disco Era, you are EXORCISED!

With the vinyl up so quickly I made the second mistake from which you can learn:  overconfidence.  Hey!  Since I could peel up the puke-trocious vinyl in big swaths, surely I could take up the wet moldy plywood to see what’s underneath.  Hey!  What’s your favorite planet?

[sigh]  Four hours later I felt like the crowbar and hammer had been prying me apart.  I had to wrest every single nail from the old plywood by hand, and pull up thin slats of delaminated moldy plywood until I ended up with a pile of what can only be described as carne asada from Hell.

Oh, and you see that hole in the floor in the upper left?  It’s the result of a little exploratory surgery through some dry-rotted wood, completely unrelated to the leaking drain.  What happy coincidence I was able to find it!  Tee hee, when I found that I said some exciting words!  Because I don’t relish having an animal-sized hole leading from the crawlspace to our bathroom, I quickly fashioned a fix using my trusty Japanese pull saw (see the dining room table project for an ode to the pull saw).

By eight o’clock my body was wrecked, my brain clogged up with mold spores, and the offending plywood had mostly been pulled up.  Except for that bit under the sink cabinet, which makes this stuff look like dry newspaper.  In the upcoming weeks we’ll get into Part 2 of Destroying your Bathroom, wherein I come face-to-face with the host mold organism, try to save a 60-year old tile countertop and backsplash, and successfully avoid getting human spongiform encephalopathy by using a wafer-thin paper facemask.  Stay tuned!

Writer, architect, father, husband.

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7 comments on “How to Destroy Your Bathroom, Pt. 1
  1. QPX 1197 says:

    See, this is why houses should be made from stainless steel, with no right angles for gunk to get caught in.

    Another approach is to follow the wooden boat procedure:

    Chop out all rot. Apply CPES (clear penetrating epoxy sealer) liberally. Open window or you will die.

    Replace with marine plywood. Anything else will rot.

    Ensure air circulation with drip lines, or window fan, or dedicated open air spaces.

    You may find the stainless steel route to be easier! Plus it hoses down in a snap.

  2. Heidi says:

    Oh. My. Gawd.

  3. Cristina S. says:

    I echo Heidi’s sentiments ;P

  4. Anonymous says:

    In a weird way, this is actually motivating me to rip up our bathroom floor. We have similar vomity linoleum with “matching” maroon tiles as well!!

  5. Samanthropos says:

    oops wait I’m not anonymous.that was me-samantha

  6. psoutowood says:

    QPX – I’m imagining finding my way through a stainless steel house with no right angles. Sounds like a house of mirrors. But I’m with you on the epoxy – encase the whole house in it so it’s like a Precambrian fly in amber.

    Heidi – It’s much worse when you can smell it. Cristina can tell you, it smells like death and desperation. And sweaty bellbottoms.

    Samanthropos – Don’t do it! Unless health and safety require a remodel, spend your energy, money, and time on something more enjoyable. Like giving yourself a tonsillectomy.

  7. Babs says:

    So was it cathartic or just vomitartic, achyartic, pukeyartic, or frustratingartic?

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