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Unread 02-29-2012, 11:44 AM   #1
Finch
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Donnie's *Completed* Masterbath Remodel

Hello everyone...my name is Donnie and I live in SW Virginia. Glad I found this wonderful forum.

The Problem:

My wife and I noticed a "musty" smell a couple months back and determined the source to be the upstairs bathroom. It was actually first noticed in the downstairs kitchen but the smell was traveling down a small opening in between two cabinets. Kinda hard to explain.

Anyhow, I've since completely gutted our master bath down to the subfloor, studs, and roof trusses. Sheetrock has been installed on the ceiling and also installed on the walls that won't have concrete backer board installed for the shower. The plan is to tile a shower which will unfortunately have a window within the shower. I realize this is not ideal but it is our only option. Thats not my concern right now though.

I've drilled 1.25" holes in a couple places in the subfloor to "scope" out what could be causing the musty smell. The smell is really strong coming from one of the holes. Here's my question...

Is it acceptable to cut a big square in the subfloor (setting the saw's blade depth to that of the subfloor thickness of course) in order to find the source of the smell? Hopefully if something is found, I'll screw in some 2 x 10's (same as joist size) perpendicular to the joists and reinstall the cut piece of subflooring. Then I'd proceed to add a underlayment plywood on top of the subfloor in preparation for tile floor/shower installation.

What do you guys think?

Edit: I've ordered "Tile Your World" and plan to study it before the tiling process begins.
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Unread 02-29-2012, 05:45 PM   #2
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Welcome Donnie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnie
Is it acceptable to cut a big square in the subfloor (setting the saw's blade depth to that of the subfloor thickness of course) in order to find the source of the smell?
Yep. Just install solid 2x blocking as needed to support all the edges when you replace it - I like gluing all the repair parts and screwing it all back together. Make sure the plywood face grain orientation is the same as when you took it out - perpendicular to joists.

The smell may be related to something getting wet. If you can get the area dried out real good, that may solve it... or not. Of course, then you'll have to deal with the cause of the moisture. You may also be interested in some of the info in the "Liberry".
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Unread 02-29-2012, 09:40 PM   #3
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Thank you for the reply.

I really shouldn't need to go back with a 2x10 to match joist size, correct? Would a 2x4 suffice?

I'm also concerned with deflection issues. My joists are 2x10's spaced 16" O.C. and I believe they are SYP. I am unsure if they are supported or run the full width of the house. Best I can guess, part of the bathroom is supported from a wall below but I can't actually see that the joists are resting on top of the wall due to the 1st story ceiling sheetrock. The other part crosses over a 10-12 foot opening that I would assume would support the bathroom but I'm unsure.
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Unread 03-01-2012, 02:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnie
I really shouldn't need to go back with a 2x10 to match joist size, correct? Would a 2x4 suffice?
Can't tell exactly what you've got, so post some photos of the framing after you cut the hole to be sure. If you cut over the center of the joists, then generally 2x4's are fine between the joists.

For joist deflection, we need to know the joist spacing, size & maximum unsupported span. After you cut the hole, poke yer head & a tape measure in there and see what you can see. Plug the info into the Deflecto and tell us what you get.
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Unread 03-01-2012, 06:23 PM   #5
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Here are some cell phone pics of the joists and plumbing. When I stick my head down and look to the opposite ends of the house...I see nothing but sheetrock (1st floor ceiling) and the joists running the entire width of the house. I would assume that a beam or wall would be visible...or that you would see the joists secured to said beam or wall, correct? My house is 26' wide so I am not sure how long the joists actually are since they don't come in those lengths.

My joists are SYP, 2x10's, and 16" O.C.
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Unread 03-01-2012, 06:47 PM   #6
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In platform framing, where studs/joists are stacked on top of each other, you wouldn't necessarily see it from above. What's the longest length below the bathroom before there's a wall/beam? Measure the room(s) downstairs.

How does the floor "feel" when you walk across it? Solid or does everything shake, rattle, & roll? If you jump up and land on the flooring, same question?
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Unread 03-01-2012, 07:11 PM   #7
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No, the floor feels solid to me.

There is about a 12' opening (where the dining/kitchen adjoins to the living room) below part of my bathroom. The other part of the BR appears to be supported from a wall below. Is there any need to worry about this 12' opening where the joists possibly run the entire width of the home, unsupported?
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Unread 03-01-2012, 08:27 PM   #8
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There may be a beam within the joist system that you can't see, maybe because it's blocked by something when you look through that big hole in the floor. Can you see this area from the hole in the floor?

It's entirely possible you'll be fine. If you're in an area that requires some type of building code to be followed, and was followed, then you've probably got L/360 or better deflection. But, i can't really tell from here...

Are the joist ends on this wall bearing on something? How much?
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Unread 03-02-2012, 11:06 AM   #9
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Dana

Those joists rest on top of the top plate of the 1st story wall. I was able to see just now that the other end is supported 12 feet out. This was overtop that 12' opening between our dining room and living room. So it looks as if I'm good on deflection. SYP, 2x10 on 16 O.C. spanned 12'....I got L/558.

When I get done with some plumbing changes, I'll put this subfloor back down and then proceed to add another layer.

Question(s)

1. If I already have 1/2" down, what size underlayment to add?
2. Still trying to decide if I should use hardibacker or durarock, which thickness?

Thank you!
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Unread 03-02-2012, 11:09 AM   #10
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Welcome, Donnie.

1. Don't install any half-inch anything as your first layer of subflooring. If you have such material, remove it.

2. Dealer's choice. Follow the manufacturer's recommendation on thickness.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-02-2012, 11:45 AM   #11
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CX-thanks for reply.

1. What is wrong with having 1/2" as a subfloor and beefing it up with another layer? Excuse my ignorance please.

2. Also, my current .5" subfloor is sandwiched between the floor joists and the bottom plate of my bathroom wall. The vanity's hot/cold supply also come through the subfloor up the bottom plate.
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Unread 03-02-2012, 01:45 PM   #12
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Not necessary ever to apologize for ignorance here, Donnie. Without it we'd have no reason for the website. We're all ignorant here, we just have varying categories.

1. Half-inch plywood over even 16" joist centers is not even sufficient for a carpet installation. And it's too thin as a first layer to effectively attach other layers.

The only possible way to make it at all useful is, if it's in pristine condition, to glue-laminate another layer of similar material on top of it. That requires pre-drilling a lot of screw holes, applying a full spread of wood glue, and carefully screwing the top layer to the first layer such that they are pulled tightly together without stripping out the screws.

And if the plywood is in poor condition, even if only on the surface, even that ain't gonna work.

2. Toe-kick saw, or long blade on a reciprocating saw will remove the existing subflooring very close to the sole plate.

You'll need to verify that the wall is supported by something other than that plywood, or add blocking to do so.

You could also consider adding another layer of 3/4" plywood as though the first layer is not even there. End up with a single-layer subfloor, but far better than what you've got.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-02-2012, 01:56 PM   #13
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What CX said.

But you sure that's 1/2 down there? 1/2 measures under 1/2", more like 7/16" - 15/32". It may actually be 5/8, which measures a little less than 5/8".
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Unread 03-02-2012, 03:50 PM   #14
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I don't think it's 5/8ths but I'd have to remeasure to make sure.

I looked up the toe kick saw...looks like that would get the job done.

1. Sounds like my best option is to tear out the existing subfloor and install some 3/4" T&G glued and screwed, correct? No need for a second layer then...if I understand correctly. Then goes the CBU and then tile.

2. The only walls that I would have to verify that are supported by something other than plywood are the walls that run parallel with the joists, correct?

Like you see in the following picture...the joist that the pex is going through doesn't appear to be supporting that wall. Guess the best thing for me to do would be to poke a wire or similar material through the hole that the pex is going through to see if another joist exists below that wall, right?

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Last edited by jgleason; 03-02-2012 at 10:11 PM. Reason: please use the paperclip icon and attach images. Don't use the img tag.
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Unread 03-02-2012, 04:53 PM   #15
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You'll not be able to use the toe-kick saw in the area we see where the subflooring is cut out, Donnie. No place for it to sit properly and you don't even wanna be foolin' with one of them without proper support. But a reciprocating saw would do it.

Your joist structure is a bit questionable in that hole, too. The cut out and header for your plumbing is not properly done. Will it work? I dunno, can't see enough.

It looks to me like the wall we see is sitting on a joist. If that's the case, you may be OK in that respect, but you'll need to do some creative blocking to make a place to fasten your new subflooring.

Rarely as simple as cutting out one subfloor and dropping in another.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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