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Unread 01-09-2021, 12:36 PM   #1
Orphanbrg
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Newbie Has Questions

Hello everyone,

I just found this forum and after looking around a little, thought I'd jump right in with a question. Take a look at the pics and tell me, if this was your bathroom and it was the only one in the house, how would you go about fixing it?

So far my options are,

1) grind out the grout, break out the cracked tile and replace with as close of a match as I can find.
2) tear out tub and tub area and replace with shower pan and new tile or corian surround attempting to coordinate colors with the rest of the bathroom.
3) complete tear out (leaving the plastered walls and ceiling alone), install shower pan, re-tile walls and floor to plaster.
4) complete tear out to the studs and start over.

Keep in mind that it is a 1950's mud set tile job, the rest of the tile in the bathroom is in perfect shape and the foundation problem that caused the shear cracks and crazing in the window area was fixed long ago and is stable today.

Thanks in advance. Rick
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Unread 01-09-2021, 01:34 PM   #2
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Welcome, Rick.

Can't get much perspective from the photos you've posted. A shot of what we're looking at from a bit farther back might give a little more perspective.

That said, your questions are primarily ones best answered by someone who lived in the house and would be required to deal with the decisions; AKA - you.

Is the window you're showing us in a shower or a tub surround? Or just another part of the bathroom?

When you speak of plaster, are you talking about a Portland cement-based material used in the tub or shower area or some other type of plaster?

Have you tried to remove any of the tile to determine just what's under them and whether they could be removed without damage to the substrate?

From the perspective of a bathroom remodeling professional, gutting the room, or at least the shower area to the studs and subfloor would nearly always be the method of choice and what I'd generally recommend for the DIYer if it's at all feasible. You're the only one I know who would be qualified to determine if that's also your best option.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-09-2021, 04:54 PM   #3
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Here is a wider shot of the whole bathroom.

The window is in the middle of the shower/tub combo. Behind the outer wall tile is furring strips on 4" concrete block, wire lathe, roughly 1.5" of heavy scratch coat. The interior walls are full dimensional studs, wire lathe, etc. The plaster above the tile is 1/2 - 5/8" rock lathe, roughly 1/2" of heavy scratch coat and a thin layer of ceramic plaster. The floor under the tub is T&G 1x6s run diagonally. The floor under the floor tile is roughly 4" of cement with the mosaic tile laid on top.

While I much prefer to do things right the first time, I also have to take into account the cost of a full tear out, time away from my job to do it or the hiring of someone else to do all or part, having to deal with the lack of my only bathroom for what has been estimated a month and an unhappy wife who is not looking forward to doing her business in a porta-john out in the driveway.

My first thought is to set up a shower curtain on a spring rod along the outside wall and start doing exploratory surgery. My main fear is what am I going to find (rotten wood, broken up substrate, etc), can or should I fix it and the fact that once the wall is open, I've already crossed the Rubicon.
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Unread 01-09-2021, 05:43 PM   #4
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Having grown up with your house, Rick, I can identify with it's problems, both structural and cosmetic.

Have you considered adding a second bathroom to your house? Would your geographic location and neighborhood support such an improvement from a financial perspective? That would certainly make Mrs. Rick a lot happier during the reconstruction of the current bath and perhaps enhance the livability of the house in future?

OK, so that's a no. While it may be possible to do some repair work in the window area and increase the longevity of the current shower, it's unlikely you can match or even closely approximate the current tile surface. But done such repair where the contrasting result then becomes a "feature." Some customers can tolerate, or even embrace, such features, others not so much.

But I would caution that once you start trying to tear out that small area of the shower wall for repair work, you are very likely to find yourself in an in for a penny, in for a pound scenario.

You won't know how difficult or destructive removal of the tile surface might be until you give it a try. I've been told that sometimes the tile comes off rather easily. I've never encountered a shower of that era where that was the case, but I suppose it could happen.

Easiest fix? Put a curtain rod across that back wall and invite Mrs. Rick to pick a nice curtain to hang there semi-permanently. You can try to sell that as a feature, too, but............

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-09-2021, 06:19 PM   #5
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Can confirm CX's method works.

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Unread 01-10-2021, 09:35 AM   #6
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I did go as far as getting a rough estimate to have a simple block shower and toilet plumbed in our unfinished basement but the rough-in numbers were almost as much as the material costs for the main bathroom. That being said, that was a complete bid and didn't take into account reducing the price but whatever sweat equity I could contribute. In the long run it may still be the way we go. The basement comes with it's own hazards such as a hollow sounding slab that may necessitate added gravel or even flow-able fill to shore up the now opened slab and the nearly year round water issues from the surrounding yard.

You bring up a very good point about the neighborhood. While it is my belief that our house would certainly benefit from a second bathroom both from our perspective and the perspective of a possible buyer down the road, my neighborhood has been very transitional over our nearly 20 year tenure. Home prices here haven't rebounded yet to pre-2008 levels and even then were not spectacular. In the end, I see our neighborhood for what it is, a place for new couples starting out, a place for older couples downsizing at the end of their lives and a place where those who don't make a lot of money land. Will I get money out of a bathroom addition....possibly. Maybe more importantly, my wife will get the laundry room she's always wanted away from my saw dust.
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Unread 01-10-2021, 10:42 AM   #7
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I would personally place more value on Mrs. Rick's comfort and happiness than re-sale value, but.........

Wet basement? I'd wanna fix that no matter what else I did to the house. Usually the best place to start is in your landscaping, but that's a whole different discussion. We don't do basements in my current part of the country, but I remember them well from my childhood, and wet ones were not even a tiny bit of fun. And I've built a couple of earth-bermed houses down here and repaired at least one other and know the importance of getting the drainage right before any concrete is poured. Not always too late to fix the problems if a French drain is what's missing, but a difficult and not inexpensive repair after the fact.

But we came here to help with your tile repair, so I'll try to stick to that. Judging by the way your tiles around the window cracked, I have very little hope for easy tile removal anywhere in that shower, but until you try we won't really know.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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