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Unread 02-26-2009, 11:48 AM   #1
hmccull
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Question Bathroom remodel in old house

Hi all-
Long time lurker--I have found this site incredible helpful in planning this bathroom remodel.

Background--house is a bit over 120 years old. Upstairs bathroom. This project started with a cracked tub. Rapidly moved to if I rip out the tub, I may as well do the whole darned bathroom. Anyway, I currently have the room gutted and have sistered up the joists and replaced some subfloor (to correct the problem that caused the cracked tub in the first place). Currently working on plumbing and electrical (both of which were done, let's say, creatively by the former owner).
My plan for the floor is electric heat mat embedded in SLC, followed by Ditra, followed by tile.
My main question with respect to the floor is with the SLC, first I want it as thin as practical--ideally just enough to cover the heat mat, mainly to minimize the transition with the hall floor. And with a balloon-framed house, I have no sills along the edge of the floor, so I need to construct some sort of damn to hold in the SLC. Any recommendations?

Then a question regarding the tub walls. I was told by the nice people at Hardi that they could not recommend using their product due to one of the walls (the wet wall of the shower/tub combo) being framed in 2x3 instead of 2x4. The other 2 walls are exterior walls and are 2x4. 2x3 was pretty standard for interior walls when my house was built. So anyway, I'm thinking of Densshield/Densguard for the tub walls due to the weight. Is that the best solution to this, or are the Hardi folks just covering their butts and I should be OK with CBU?

Thanks one and all for help/advice.

Heather

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Unread 02-26-2009, 12:51 PM   #2
bbcamp
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If you want the thinnest floor, use a modified thinset instead of SLC to anchor the mats. If you want to use SLC, be sure you read all of the instructions for the SLC and heat mats. These can sometimes be contradictory. Do what ever it takes to get an acceptable tile installation, and deal with the floor height transitions later. Dams can be strips of wood caulked or taped to the floor. Do not forget to caulk cracks or gaps in the subfloor and around pipes or other penetrations. Primer, reinforcing mesh (in areas without the heat mats), and expansion joint material at any fixed obstacle are a must.

There is no reason you can't use Hardi if you sister the wall studs. The other boards have similar restrictions.
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Unread 02-26-2009, 01:19 PM   #3
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Cool! So if I use mod thinset to bury the heat mat, would my best bet be to do 2 steps? By that I mean one layer of thinset to the top of the cables, let dry, then one layer of thinset for the Ditra? If so would that second coat of thinset be modified or no?
Or alternatively, how hard would it be to bury the mats and lay the Ditra in one step?

Good to hear about the CBU--I'll reinforce the wall with some more 2x3's after the plumber has done his thing. Seems like a good time to add some firestops anyway.
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Unread 02-26-2009, 01:33 PM   #4
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Do it in 2 steps, and use modified thinset for both steps. Use un-modifed on top of the Ditra. Check continuity in the heat mat before proceeding with the Ditra, then check it again after.

It can be done in one step. It usually requires therapy afterwords.
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Unread 02-26-2009, 02:07 PM   #5
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I'm already looking at therapy after all the dead and decomposed critters I shop-vac'ed out of the walls during the demo

Thanks for all the help. I'll post some pic's as I go along.
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Unread 02-26-2009, 07:08 PM   #6
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a very cheap and efficient dam for the slc around the perimeter is foam weatherstripping, just buy the thin stuff comes in a roll of various lengths....tear it to length, peel off the sticky paper and stick it to the floor, works great and the best part is you don't have to remove it when you are done, just make sure you get it right up on the walls, or even sometimes slightly underneath the drwall if it was installed up off the subfloor like it should have been.....
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Unread 02-27-2009, 08:17 PM   #7
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After pondering things a bit and looking good and hard at the size of the bathroom now that the tub is in, I'm starting to question whether it's going to be worth the effort to put in the heat under the tile in this tiny bathroom. The square feet to be heated is about 14. I've already bought the heat mat, so I need to see how much I could theoretically recover from the money spent (a little under $300 from Thermosoft). I'm already planning to put a heat/fan/light in the ceiling and I'm thinking now that might be plenty for this little room, even in Maine. I did take out the heat duct when I shored up the floor because it was an exposed duct that went through my entryway on the first floor, with no easy way to box around it due to other obstructions. The entry is much improved with the lack of big ugly heat duct, but I have to have some sort of heat in this darn bathroom. It's currently around 35F outside and raining and the room does not feel cold, but of course the door is open...

OK, now I'm rambling and obviously need some sleep. Anyway, any thoughts on when radiant heat is worth it and when it's overkill with a small room??? We have it in the master bath, which is considerably bigger and over the garage, and it is divine on a cold Maine morning, which is why I assumed I would do the same in the other bathroom when it came time to do the floor. But now I'm second guessing myself.
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Unread 02-27-2009, 08:28 PM   #8
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Welcome, Heather.

Move a couple thousand miles south. Don't nobody never axe me to install no steenkin' 'lectric floor heat inna bathrooms.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 02-27-2009, 08:44 PM   #9
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At least I don't have to spring for AC..

Here's some pix for anyone interested...
The first one is taken from the hallway to give some perspective on the size.

The second shows the new tub with lath on the surrounding walls. The lath is level and true, so I plan to leave it.
The third shows the brand spanky new pex tubing the plumber installed today. No more banging pipes, yay! This is the wall I need to toughen up a bit for the backer board.
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Unread 03-03-2009, 01:37 PM   #10
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Update: I've been doing some blocking and sistering and generally toughening things up in the walls. And I've started running the wire for the electrical.

Tiling stuff: The walls around the tub have the original lath, which makes a nice shim to get the CBU or Densguard over the flange of the tub. However, it means that the back wall is 59.5" instead of 60". I'm thinking it's going to be easier to take the lath off of the corners than to trim the ends off the CBU by 1 inch--opinions?

Also, my plan for the tub walls is straight 6x6 white wall tile, but I want to do an accent row of something else at nose level. If I buy a few sheets of mosaic glass and cut them into strips 3 tiles high, would that work? Are there any issues I need to be aware of doing this? This seems to be a way I can jazz it up a bit without bankrupting myself.

Non-tile stuff: I would like to get a new medicine cabinet but am running into a problem with the wall depth. The 2x3 construction means the finished wall will only be 3" deep, which isn't deep enough for most cabinets. I'm thinking I could make a little frame around the rough opening and the cabinet could sit flush against that, meaning it would be sticking out 1" from the drywall.

This freakin' bathroom is so small, getting everything to fit is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. The tub wall tile will need to be cut around a window frame on one side and a sink on the other. The door frame has a notch in it for the sink, which will need to move up when the floor tile is in (raising the height of the pedestal sink). Keeping electrical stuff the recommended distance from the shower/tub is pretty much impossible, etc.
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Unread 03-03-2009, 01:52 PM   #11
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Heather,

Don't back out of the heated floor....you'll thank yourself on a 35 deg morning that you are walkin on 75 deg tile instead of 20 deg tile.

Cutting out 1/2" of lath may be as hard as 1" of cbu, I think to cut 1" off of the CBU will be easier because you can cut it on a flat surface or score it and chip in off with pliers or some other kind of nippers. the lath you have to do it where it is attached (vertical).

I'm not sure about the medicine cab sticking out.

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Unread 03-03-2009, 01:53 PM   #12
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Heather, learn to cut CBU, then put it on your resume. If you remove the lath, you'll still have to fur out the joists the same amount so the CBU covers the tub flange. Without the lath, your CBU won't have any support in the corner.

The only issues with glass tiles are: 1) they have their own rules for installing them, 2) they are thinner (sometimes) than your field tiles, and 3) well, I'm sure there's a 3, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment.

I think your plan for the medicine cabinet is good. It beats not having one, or surface mounting.
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Unread 03-03-2009, 02:36 PM   #13
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Thanks again for all the input folks

Going back to the heat. Yeah, we do like it in the other bathroom. If I do it (still waffling), I'll go with the thinset method, which sounds like from this board is harder. The floor itself is way out of level, with the low point being at the door. To get the SLC deep enough to cover the wires at the far side of the room, it's gonna be almost an inch at the door, maybe more. And that's without tile.
Embedding the mat by hand with thinset doesn't sound a whole lot harder than mudding drywall, and I've gotten fairly competent at that. I've plenty of other stuff to get done before I have to make the final call.
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Unread 03-04-2009, 10:11 AM   #14
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More pondering...

This morning it was 0 deg. outside, so I did a test. I put one of the floor tiles down on the floor and stood on it with my bare feet--cold!

So if I'm skimming over the heat wires by hand, is thinset or patching compound a better choice? The Thermosoft comes with a plastic trowel, so my plan is to use that, but any tips on other tools appropriate for this step?

Last night I installed the heat/light/fan combo. It was messy due to drywall over plaster ceiling filled with rockwool insulation. I'm still pulling bits of rockwool outa my hair, but it's in dammit!
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Unread 03-04-2009, 10:41 AM   #15
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Thinset, definitely the thinset. You can spot glue the heat mat to the floor with a hot melt gun.
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