Replacing a bath with a shower – part 2

This project is actually done, but I went on leave and stayed quite far away from the computer, pretty much because I was finishing this off!

With the bath removed, I moved onto taking out the sand that was behind it as well as the cement that had been cast around it. Fortunately most of it near the foot of the bath was quite weak, and was poured on top of tiles, so it chipped off quite quickly.

The rest took a fair bit more effort, more photos would have been great I know, but I was pretty focussed on getting part this step, so I could see some progress.

Here you can see I was taking measurements to try work out how many bricks and glass blocks to buy.

A day on and I had bought the bricks and 1 block, for checking sizing etc.

I have always found that holding something in your hands gives a much better sense of the dimensions and how it fits together with other pieces than just having its measurements.

This was my initial idea, the bricks all round form the ‘base’ of the shower, inside I wanted to cast a cement floor. Having arranged the bricks in this way I noticed that you have to step up quite high to get pas the bricks, seeing as it is for my mother-in-law, who has slipped getting into the bath before, I decided in practice this really was not going to work.

I played around with a number of configurations, having the bricks available to make changes and test if it worked help immensely, while the bath was in I had planned it out in my head, but saw quickly that in reality it did not work so well.

Replacing a bath with a shower – Part I

Just when I thought I was nearing the end of the work in the granny flat, my wife suggests we replace the bath with a shower.

I could not find reason to argue though as her reasoning is quite sound. Her mother will be moving in towards the end of August, so we are trying to make sure it’s all cleaned and sorted by then.

So why add more work? Well my mother-in-law is not as young as she used to be, recently she slipped getting into the bath when she lost grip. That got my wife thinking, what will it be like for her to get into a bath in a year or two’s time? We discussed installing bars for her to hold on to, but that depends on her having enough strength in her hand to hold herself up.

With a shower it would be much safer in the long term, so the decision was made.

No dogs were harmed in the removal of the bath!

Roxy is a rescue dog and decided she wanted to be in the photo of the bathroom before the demolition. Here’s the bath in pretty much the same state it was when the previous owners tenant moved out.

Here we go from another angle and just an excuse to include another photo of Roxy.

The destruction was underway, I started in the corner, where I thought there would be the most hollow space behind the bricks and tiles. I was hoping to get the bath out in a good condition.

A close up view of the side. I was pretty much just hitting the tiles directly with the hammer, the bricks are hollow and after a few blows, they would break into smaller pieces and crumble. At this point I really had not had to swing the hammer very hard.

Up until this point things had gone pretty easy, my arm had started tiring from swinging the hammer, but no damage done to the bath.

The drain has a cover screwed into a part which is most likely cast in cement, so I removed the screw so it would not prevent the bath from moving.

Wow, if I could carry across the amount of effort and perspiration that went into getting to this point! I struggled for quite some time as the bath was caught between the tiles and the cement at the bottom of the bath. I chipped away at the cement bit by bit, unfortunately I managed to chip some of the enamel of of the bath where the cement was forced into the bath with a hammer blow.

On the closest corner of the bath on the right hand side you can see how I deformed it by bending it up and shuffling the bath out. The bath is made of steel, and the edges are rolled over such that there is a lip at the bottom.

Somehow when the bath was installed, cement was forced into that lip and it held the bath quite tightly up against the wall.

First job before continuing is to clean up this mess. But not at that point I was incredibly tired and disappointed as I had damaged the bath whilst trying to get it out.

Will take a few loads with a bucket to get it all picked up. The tiles help with cleaning so its bound to be a quick job. Chopping up the rest of that cement however…..

The chips and bend on the bath in closer detail. I am pretty bummed about this. I guess we will have to see what we do with the tub now.

My wife has already hinted at using it as a planter for vegetables, so we may get some use out of it anyway. I hate throwing away perfectly usable stuff.

On to chipping out the cement so that we can plan our way forward. We already have an idea of what to do, with the bath out of the way we can make more plausible plans and put them into action.

Breaking out a fireplace part III – Plastering done!

This was meant to be separate posts but my progress was so slow I thought it may as well be one. Now keep in mind I have no training in plastering or rendering, all I know I learnt by trial and error.

To start off with I bought two 25 kilogram bags of river sand and five kilograms of cement. I ran out of cement in no time at all.

Moreover, the cement I bought was some ultra fast setting cement, so I had very little time to work the plaster before it would start setting. This was a pain and led to a really bad finish.

The fact that I have not plastered in years also did not help. Here you can see the results of my efforts. It does not look good at all.

I ran out of that cement pretty quickly, so asked my wife to buy more, this time a 25 kilogram bag. The hardware store unfortunately sold her refractory cement. I noticed as I was taking it out of the car, my wife did not as someone else helped her and put the bag into the car for her.

Well, the city is not exactly close, so I decided to work with what I had, if it did not work then I would have to just buy another bag. My haste stems from the fact that I am doing the bulk of the work after hours, so any delay basically sets me back a day.

As you can see in the above 2 photo’s it seemed to actually work pretty well.

It was still not great and I put that down to the sand. I managed to work through the 2 bags I had bought earlier. Again my wife went to buy the supplies for me whilst I was at work. The sand she bought from a local hardware supplier had a much finer aggregate. More sand and less pebbles.

With the new sand and the darker cement I finally managed a finish that I felt was good enough. I had enough time to work it, and still go back and integrate the multiple batches that I had applied.

Nearing the end, getting the new cement and the old to match has proven difficult as the old plaster is quite uneven and rough. I blended it as best I can.

There are still some ugly patches, these will be hidden by the stove though. If it is really bad once painted I will make an attempt at fixing it though.

A few closer pictures of the wall. What remains now is to paint and patch some tiles in the gap left by the fireplace. I will take a photo of the tiles and try get a box that at least matches the existing tiles closely.

At least the bulk of the hard work has been done. I am looking forward to slapping some paint on it, once the plaster has had a few days to dry though.

Breaking out a fireplace part II

Every now and then you do something that makes you stop and think, ‘wow I have grown up a bit!’, I got that whilst cleaning the kitchen, again…

Once I got the bulk of the breaking out done, I switched to clearing out the rubble, very mature. In my youth I would have just worked on top of it, stumbling and cursing as I went.

No, it’s not perfectly clean, but the floor is free from rubble, I even vacuumed! Well, the main are where I am working.

Here you can see there was already a cornice, which made me sure the fireplace was added later. I still don’t know why.

I took this photo after cleaning up a bit and vacuuming, but I had already started knocking some loose plaster off of the wall. Heat from a fire is usually enough to weaken cement quite a bit, it seems it did affect the plaster on the walls, some of it crubled off like sand. I continued hitting the wall with a hammer to take off the worst bits.

Comparing this image, with the one below, you mat see there are chunks of plaster missing in the lower image. In many places a few well placed taps with the hammer were enough to have the plaster fall to the floor. You can see how fine it broke up when breaking off the wall. Additionally I used a wire brush on the whole portion of the wall where the fireplace was, that removed quite a bit of loose and weak cement too.

Before doing any more work, I stopped again and cleaned up that mess. I must be getting old! It is much less of a chore when your work are is clean though.

I was so keen to get some plaster over this big hole that I forgot to take photos of the process where I made a board to fit inside. That way the plaster will stick to the board and not just be swallowed up by the large hole. This saves cement and time.

Here you can see a bit of the board. I was adding cement in stages so that it would not be too heavy and fall off.

I did take a photo of another hole where I did something similar, It’s much smaller so I simply broke up some smaller pieces and arranged them to stop the cement falling in.

This hole does not go through the wall, so I skipped trying to block it. Probably just because I got lazy here…

There is still much to do, I am not a builder so I figure things out as I go, sometimes it means taking 2 steps back and re-doing stuff, but I am learning as I go and improving.

I could have paid someone and it would probably be done already, but where’s the fun in that?