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Unread 12-14-2011, 07:03 PM   #1
allthingsgiant
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Jeff's Master Bathroom Thread - Seeking Professional Advice!

Hi all:
It's time to get started with my first Master Bath renovation. A big thanks in advance for everyone's suggestions and comments. My wife and I already gutted the floor to ceiling mirrors, hollywood lights, and 4" white ceramic floor tiles, tossed the crappy vanity and toilet, removed the staind up shower / preformed pan, and will be starting fresh (only keeping the jacuzzi tub and some lights). We will be installing travertine floors in a diagonal brick pattern, a 36"x48" custom-tiled dywall / kerdi shower over the existing 36"x36" shower pan location, shower panel, new single vanities, new toilet, better lights, etc. We are in a 1990-era townhouse, so everything is pretty nice and up to code, level, sturdy, and scared for what I'm about to do to it. The plumbing, drains, electrical are all staying in the same vicinity for the most part.

Here's how she (the bathroom, not my wife) looks today... You can see 3/4" plywood on the floor, with a 3/8" plywood layer over the top of it except where the old shower pan was. 16" spacing on the 2"x9 1/4" floor joists. The PVC drain sits just level with the bottom of the 3/4" plywood. The shower will run 36"x48" along the wall, where the ruler is running along the wall and to the floor vent.

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1) First problem, the floor vent is right around 48" from the studs on the opposing wall, as seen here, which will be too close to the new location of the shower pan curb / door. You can see it's right up against the floor joist, which measures as a 2"x9 1/4" joist. The placement of the vent is in the middle 1/3 of the joist. Can anyone recommend how we can move this to the next joist over (to the right), without compromising the integrity of the floor? This joist doesn't support much, as the new shower curb will end before the joist, there is a closet on the other side of the wall, but there is a jacuzzi tub 6 feet away to the left, but supported by a metal joist running perpendicular to the wood joists. I was looking at a metal joint reinforcer where you nail it to the joist, then cut a 4" hole out and run the air duct to the new vent, but would like to get your opinion. Like this:

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Otherwise, we will have to change the alignment of the vent to run parallel along the joist, along the new shower curb, which will look shitty IMO. I really don't want to cut the joist in fear of sagging. But I don't want the vent to stay there... Are there smaller floor vents, like, squarish ones, that might work? Thoughts?

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2) Where the old shower pan was, the 3/8" plywood layer is nonexistent (barely visible in first photo). Should I put down this additional 3/8" plywood layer prior to building my curb / custom mud pan? I figured I would anyway so I can cut a smaller hole where the drain comes out and to aid in setting the mud below the Kerdi drain. Just want to make sure I'm up to code.

3) Is the current height of the drain ok to receive the Kerdi Drain? The drain sits flush with the bottom edge of the 3/4" plywood.

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4) The builders didn't put any waterproofing down between the 3/8" plywood layer and the thinset / ceramic floor tiles as shown in the first photo. Fortunately there was no mold, and no residual water that leaked below to my kitchen. Another potential dilemma, we are using pretty thick travertine tiles, so I'm afraid that too much excess height with a waterproof layer / thinset, and tile will cause a big lip when entering the bathroom from the bedroom hallway. Right now the height is "perfect" without any thinset. What should I use, if anything, to waterproof the plywood prior to laying down the travertine without causing a huge threshold difference? And yes, I will level out the floors / existing mortar before doing anything else.

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5) The toilet flange sits relatively flush with the current floor, maybe sticking up 1/4". Since our new travertine tiles are 2x or 3x thicker than the old ceramic ones, and with the addition of that potentially new / thicker waterproof layer, should I be worrried about the new toilet not seating down on the existing flange? If so, I need to know how to mitigate that, say, 1/2" height difference. Also, you can vaguely see a poor cutout where the toilet flange comes out of the floor. Over Thanksgiving, my wife conveniently flooded the toilet, and caused water to seep into the floor and into my kitchen ceiling below (that's going to be the final part of the BATHROOM remodel) How can I prevent this from happening again?

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That's all for now. I have some re-wiring to do, and need to address the floor vent issue before I can proceed any more. Thank you in advance for assisting me with my remodel. I will keep posting photos as I make progress.

Jeff
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Unread 12-14-2011, 07:26 PM   #2
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Welcome, Jeff.

1. Can't give you any help at all without seeing more of the floor you're working on and knowing what's below it all. Generally, you would find a way to get into the desired joist bay somewhere below the joists. Perhaps a fur down above the kitchen cabinets or similar. Can't see not none of it from here.

2. It appears from what I can see in your photo that the 3/8th" layer of plywood is oriented opposite the grain of the 3/4" subflooring. Is that correct?

If so, the 3/8ths" plywood is of absolutely no value to your floor structure and is acting as nothing more than a spacer. And if you don't need your floor to be higher, you don't want it there. Especially since you will need a double-layer plywood subfloor for your natural stone tiles and you don't have that now.

You must also evaluate your joist system's deflection. You can use the Deflectolator in the dark blue bar above to get you started. Your joists must be twice as rigid for a stone installation as for a ceramic tile installation. I doubt you have that.

3. You'll need to check the measurements of the Kerdi Drain you'll find in our whirl-famous Liberry. If you add no subflooring there, you'll want an inch or more for your mud floor under the drain flange.

4. One doesn't normally waterproof the entire bathroom floor. You can, of course, if you like, but that involves wrapping your waterproofing up the walls a bit and adding a curb of some sort across the entry door.

5. There are flange extenders available to help that, but again, you'll need to wait until you've determined your final subflooring and tile levels. That toilet flange really wants to be set on top of your finished flooring.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 12-14-2011, 07:38 PM   #3
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4- We waterproof the floor whenever we can. Kerdi ties into the ditra nicely, then run the kerdi band up the wall behind the baseboard. The door is always a weak point.

5- I'd cut out that riser / flange until the tile was grouted and sealed. Then install a new flange.
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Unread 12-14-2011, 08:51 PM   #4
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1 & 2) So you are correct. The 3/8" plywood is laid down as a spacer, there are several medium sized rectangular 'slabs' put down in various grain positions across the whole floor, there is no consistency. I assume that is a problem. Question is then, how the heck do you take up the top layer without affecting the bottom layer? I will assume glue was used to affix the top layer.

Here are a couple of pics of inside the floor joists. The kitchen ceiling is the "floor" within the joists. The first photo is looking into the wall, as if you were facing the wall in front of you, looking down and straight in. The duct pretty much elbows then straight down, which goes into a chase along the top of the kitchen cabinets. I'm not going to destroy anything down there.

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The second is as if you are in the same spot, but looking in the joists back underneath yourself, into the bathroom toward the jacuzzi tub (you can see the pipes coming down). The outlet you see is for one of the kitchen lights.

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The floor joists are 14" on center. I can't tell how long the joists are. I can say, although you can't see it, in the kitchen there is a solid header that runs about 4 feet away from that light (fixture) that protrudes down from the ceiling about 10" and runs perpendicular to the floor joists. I assume that is a load bearing header to support the jacuzzi. I don't know why you can't see it in the second photo, it should be right there.

My guess though, is that since the joists look like they are over 14'?, the deflection is too great to install natural stone? Is this correct? 11' and natural stone would be ok, if that calculator is right? F@ck. Anything to change this? My wife gonna be peeees'd off. Ceramic tile sucks, too. No character.

3) Is there such a thing as a 2" PVC drain coupler I can attach to the existing drain to make it longer? If not, where do I cut the existing drain to add a new piece? Or do I have to go down past the elbow, cut there, then reinstall a new elbow / vertical piece? Ugh...

4) I'm not really going for "waterproof", but just something to better hold the water from getting to my kitchen ceiling, especially from my toilet when someone unloads a fierce one... Maybe just kerdi around the toilet a few feet?

5) So if I was going to cut the flange out to install one later, where would I do that? I have a dremel tool that I used to cut the drain out of the shower from inside the drain, I assume I would use that again. I just want to make sure I don't cut it too low.

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Unread 12-14-2011, 08:59 PM   #5
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I would ...

1) Try to move the HVAC vent up into the wall and maneuver it from there.
2) Remove all the 3/8 ply
3) Cut the shower and toilet risers as low as possible (with inside pipe cutter) and then extend them, too long, up into the bathroom any way possible.
4) Install new 1/2" B/C ply oriented properly .


Now that I see inside the closet flange (it's cracked isn't it?) your best bet is to cut the horizontal 3" pipe before the ell and install new coupling, ell, and stub up through the floor. If you remove the 3/8 ply you can cut into the subfloor for access.
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Unread 12-14-2011, 09:08 PM   #6
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1,2.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff
I will assume glue was used to affix the top layer.
I would suggest instead that you try to pry up a section to determine how it was fastened before you make any plans.
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Originally Posted by Jeff
The floor joists are 14" on center. I can't tell how long the joists are.
More likely the joists are about 14.5" apart and 16" on center, yes?

You don't care how long the joists are, you care only about the unsupported span of the joists. That you determine by determining what is holding them up and how far apart those "what's" are. You would need to determine if that lump in the ceiling is structural, for example.

Looks like easiest of all worlds if I understand what you're showing us. Just get into the fur-down and move the ductwork over one joist bay.
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Originally Posted by Jeff
Ceramic tile sucks, too. No character.
There are a lot of stone look-alikes in porcelain tile these days. Maybe Mrs. Jeff needs to go shopping again.


3. Several kinds. Not a problem at all.

4. You can do a little of that if you want, but Kerdi is not made to be attached to plywood. Installing Ditra over the whole floor to be tiled would be a better choice. Then tie your shower Kerdi to that.

5. I can't tell in that photo, maybe someone else can. Your best option might be to cut out a section of subflooring such that you can replace the entire closet bend.

Or make your cut about an inch above where the pipe makes the turn on accounta if that doesn't work you'll hafta take out the bend anyway.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 12-14-2011, 09:28 PM   #7
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1) So if I want to move the vent in my bathroom over one or two floor joists, I have to punch a hole in my FINISHED KITCHEN. Great. Good to know. Maybe in tearing out the subfloor of the bathroom, I'll try to access the ductwork from there...

2 & 4) What is the reason behind a double layered plywood floor? If it doesn't help with deflection, why bother? Also, if I tear up the top layer, is it going to take up the bottom layer? When reinstalling that second layer, keep the grains going the same way? Why? Also, what size plywood do I need for second layer? If I can use the travertine tile (please just tell me I can't use it already), I don't want to go much thicker than 3/8", else the floor will meet the carpet too high.

So I went downstairs and measured the max length of the joists. The distance between headers that are holding up the jacuzzi is 11.5'. The max length of the joists that will be holding the shower is about 14'. I don't know if this still says I can't install natural tile. What happens if I DO install natural tile? Cracking, warping, ceiling caving in?

There is almost exactly 13" BETWEEN joists. Obviously I don't know what "on center" means.

3 & 5) Soup, you said to cut the shower drain riser as low as possible. If I do that how can a new 2" riser fit into the elbow? I think I'll just use a coupler for the shower drain. Will probably end up cutting the closet drain as mentioned with the expectation I'll end up replacing the whole elbow.
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Unread 12-14-2011, 09:42 PM   #8
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1. Might work.

2. It does, indeed, reduce deflection, the deflection of the subfloor between the joists. And, properly installed, it eliminates any places on top of the joists where a joint exists all the way through the subflooring. The Marble Institute of America (MIA) requires a double layer of subflooring for all natural stone installation regardless the joist spacing.

You wanna be sure those "headers" are no just fur-downs for some other purpose than structural support.

Don't know what to tell you about the joist spacing. Pretty unusual and almost always means the joist spacing will be wider in other bays just to allow the eight-foot subflooring panels to be fastened.

Center to center is just that, from the center of one joist to the center of the next. Usually easiest measured by pulling a tape from the edge of one to the corresponding edge of the next. Customarily 16", 19.2", or 24" to correspond with the standard sized subflooring panels.

You install your stone over an inadequate subfloor you're likely to experience cracking in the tiles. No guarantee, but more likely than if you had sufficient joist structure.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 12-14-2011, 10:05 PM   #9
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2 & 4) I attached a better picture of the "whole" bathroom, me sitting in the corner of the jacuzzi tub. Where the silver ruler / straitedge sits on the floor is where the header runs in my kitchen.

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It's definitely a header, 10" in height, it's rock solid and is an eyesore nonetheless. It connects from the inner/outer wall of my townhouse / inner wall of my neighbor, to the concrete slab that borders my two staircases (one to 2nd floor, one to basement). Somewhere above the microwave is the furdown where the vent comes out of the floor. And, that's the light that matches up with the light fixture, for reference.

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Also, I took a better photo of inside the floor joists where the header is underneath - you can see a couple feet beyond the light fixture, the header runs perpendicular to the joists along the bottom. It also looks like the builders hastily overlapped the joists? Is that common? From the header to the shower wall is a run of about 6'-7'. And, that being said, can I now use natural stone?

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2) I easily took up the 3/8" plywood with a crowbar. They used a simple nailgun to tie it down, sweet. That will come up very soon. Now, what to replace it with to maintain proper floor threshold height?
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Unread 12-14-2011, 10:22 PM   #10
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OK, we're maybe gainin' on it, but we ain't there yet.

If we guess that the header is made with dimension wood (since we don't see any engineered wood elsewhere), does it appear to be thick enough to be more than two 2x10 together, of likely just that? And now we need to know the unsupported span of that header.

And with that we'll wait 'till ol' Injineer Bob wanders by early inna morning to tell us how that shakes out.

And we really need to know the unsupported span of the joists going from your aluminum straight-edge to the first support structure past the tub.
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Now, what to replace it with to maintain proper floor threshold height?
We don't design our subflooring to meet the height of adjacent flooring, we design it to meet the needs of the flooring installation. Technically, you could use as little as 3/8ths" exterior glue plywood, properly oriented, but I'd recommend not less than nominal half-inch.

My opinion worth price charged.
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Unread 12-14-2011, 10:44 PM   #11
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Length of joists (between headers) that support jacuzzi is 11.5'. This length also supports a tub / shower on other side of wall (master bath shares wall with 2nd bathroom).

Length of joists (between headers) that (will) support shower is between 14-16'.

The header that runs down the middle of the kitchen ceiling is exactly 5" wide. I don't know if that = 2 or 3 beams, the thing feels extremely solid on all 3 sides. If 1/4" drywall is popular, I would guess 3 beams @ 1.5", 2 layers of 1/4" drywall on each side = 5". It is 11' long from wall to wall, the same depth of my bathroom.

You mentioned "proper orientation" for 2nd plywood layer. And that is....
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Unread 12-14-2011, 10:50 PM   #12
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Top grain going perpendicular to the joists.
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Unread 12-14-2011, 10:58 PM   #13
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Mmmm, I'm confused now. What happened to the joists that got shortened to six or seven feet when you found that header?

With 2x10 joist spans of 11.5 feet and greater, there's just no way you're gettin' even close to the required L/720, no matter how stout those headers are.

I doubt very seriously if they're clad in quarter-inch sheetrock, so I'm doubting they got more than two of'em in there.

But we know you're fixin' to install them stones anyway, so I'm fixin to stop worryin' about it, eh?

Correct orientation of all structural subflooring layers is with the strength axis perpendicular to the joist structure.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 12-14-2011, 11:13 PM   #14
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6 or 7 feet? I never said that... the only reference I had to 6-7 feet is the distance between the "middle header" and the bathroom / (new) shower wall.

So, the "middle header", the one that splits my bathroom where that straight edge was sitting on the floor, is the one that goes along the kitchen ceiling. That header is 11' from wall to wall, concrete wall to some other [strong]support suffice to say, my bathroom is also 11' deep.

Then, moving from that header to jacuzzi tub to next header, that joist span is 11.5'.

Moving the other direction, from middle header to [proposed] shower to next header is about 14-16'. Question on that, is a 14' span unstable to support a custom mud pan, 36"x48" in dimension. I would think the mud pan would weigh more in an isolated location than the cumulative distribution of tile across several square feet.

The reason I am even humoring the natural stone still, is because that middle header, be it 2 or 3 2x10s, splits my bathroom, and "should" support a good majority of the weight of the tile. I know this thinking is bad. I'm just saying this because I don't want to have to lug back the travertine back to the store just yet

Hypothetically, if there were 3 2x10s, would you feel more comfortable going with stone, or would you still stick with porcelain regardless? When I pull up that 3/8" plywood, I might have to take a peeek underneath to see that header for myself.

Thanks for the quick replies, btw. You rock.
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Unread 12-15-2011, 05:38 AM   #15
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Quote:
I'm just saying this because I don't want to have to lug back the travertine back to the store just yet
Better there than the landfill.

The header under your floor sounds like it should be ideal, but it isn't Your joists will bend "upward" there, and that puts all the stone and cement stuff in tension. The do not like to be placed in tension. The other issue is the "hastily overlapped" joists. That is a common construction method and does not reflect badly on the builders, but in order to be effective under a tile or stone floor, the overlapped area must be adequately tied together to create a splice. Otherwise, as the joists deflect in the center it their spans, the free ends of the joists will move up, effectively prying the subfloor up from the joists. Not good.

The mud pan is part of the dead loading of your structure. We consider the live loads when evaluating the joists. It is conservative to consider the mud pan as part of the live load. If you did, it would come out of the 600 pounds of live load that is figured into your shower's footprint. This is a long way of saying "don't worry about that."

Looping back to your choice of flooring, consider that unless a residential structure was designed from the ground up to have stone floors, adding stone, and doing it correctly, is a very painful and expensive process. It's far easier to find a very good porcelain tile than to rebuild your townhouse.
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