Adding OSB Subfloor

With the success of the plumbing last night, the next step in the process will be to add the subfloor. We decided to go with OSB type sheets for a couple reasons. One being that it is strong, light and readily available. The other is that it is dimensionally stable and tongue and groove. When I did the subfloor in the laundry/bathroom downstairs I used regular 3/4″ plywood and it gave me a ton of problems with swelling at the seams because of the moisture change from the department store, to outside, to inside. It didn’t get wet but felt it swelled enough to have to belt-sand the edges down before the final flooring went in.

For total strength over the 2 foot span center beams, we went with two layers of 3/4″ OSB. The first layer was laid perpendicular to the joists so that the seams landed on a stud. The second layer was ran perpendicular to that so that no seams lined up with one another giving it the least amount of flex overall. The first layer was glued and 2-1/2″ screws and PL subfloor glued to the joists. The second layer was glued  in a “Z” pattern and screwed using 1-5/8″ screws.



Changing over to PVC

With the removal of the cast iron piping yesterday, we were quickly and easily able to rough out the PVC to the right areas. The 3″ PVC helped to get the toilet flange into the right area plus we were able to get the sink and tub drain tied in with the proper pitch to drain correctly. The way we tied into the existing 4″ PVC was to simply add a 4″ x 3″ reducer int he wall of the laundry room. We did that by cutting a hole in the wall behind the vanity mirror and add a 6×9″ access panel.

Here is the rough test fit before we started gluing for final assembly.


After the test fit, it was right to gluing. Regular PVC primer and cement were used but before I did that, I used a sharpie to make guides on the PVC so I know how to assemble the entire piece in one shot. You will see in the image below how I used simple lines and numbers to coordinate it all together.

After the drains were glued I cut the PEX plumbing and crimped all the pieces together.



Cast Iron Plumbing Removal

I don’t know much about plumbing over the last 200 years but I think it’s safe to assume that the people that had to install cast iron plumbing for their whole lives were in a hell of a lot better shape than me.

When we first opened the flooring up to expose the plumbing a couple of days ago, our thought was to figure out a way to move the toilet over a couple inches towards the wall and to run new PEX plumbing to all the new fixtures. Since then, there had been an a lot of changes because of the way the cast iron piping came into play.  Under normal circumstances, any revision of this bathroom over the past 100 years would have moved it over to the left giving more room to either side of the toilet instead of sitting down and having your knee rub against the vanity. Also having the extra room would make it easier to slide the vanity over as well so you can open the door up all the way without hitting into the corner of the vanity.

The process of placing the toilet where we want it to go will require us to remove all of the 4″ cast iron and replace it with 3″ PVC because of it’s smaller diameter and will get the toilet closer to the wall. Since I have already cut the cast iron pipe about 3 feet below the floor when I did the Laundry room a couple months ago, it will be easy to change over. I had to technically splice a four foot section of 4″ PVC so I could tap the new sink and washer drain plus the vent for the two. So the game plan would be to remove all the old plumbing and start with the new plumbing down in the wall of the laundry room. I used a no hub cast-to-PVC coupler so I can just unbolt the flange,  pull out the 200 pounds of cast iron then glue in the PVC to start the new drain line to the master bath.

Here is the image of the cast iron removed. This will be enough for tonight.



Exposing the plumbing

Today we set out to see what type of plumbing was hiding below the sub-floor. I started out by using a circular saw to cut through the first layer of plywood to expose the 3/4″ planking underneath. Below the planking is the original 1″ wide plank pine. Unfortunately the water proofing back in 1865 wasn’t so great so the floor wasn’t doing so well and if you take a close look, you’ll see that some of it was completely missing. We also found that the joists we looking like they were hacked with an axe to get the plumbing to the shower, eeeek!

I also ran all the electric to the rough locations of the outlets and switches. The bathroom will be powered by a dedicated 20a circuit. On that circuit will be three GFI outlets, a switch for the vanity light, and a triple switch for the hi-hats, exhaust fan and shower light. This was a good stopping point for the day so after a little clean up, it’s time to hit the shower while we can and get ready for work tomorrow.

Have any of you had to deal with cast iron plumbing before? Leave a comment below.


Master Bathroom Demolition

Today we started the renovation of the Master Bath. When we first purchased the house, the master was supposed to be the first room that we had planned on remodeling, but because of the longer-than-expected delay in the purchasing process, we didn’t have the time to do the bathroom before we moved in like we had planned. After completing the addition of the laundry room/half bath, we were now finally able to tackle this larger project while being able to still use the sink to wash up and a toilet to, well, you know what.

Below is what we were working with. It’s gross and I’m guessing from the 3-4 layers of wallpaper that it hasn’t been properly remodeled since the day it was built in 1865. The tub is on a 15 degree tilt, the door doesn’t open all the way because it hits the vanity, The ceiling fixture is the ceiling fixture, you need to lean to your right to sit on the toilet properly and the vinyl floor is a wonderful touch above the three layers of flooring below it.

The plan is to gut the entire room to the studs, insulate the exterior walls, run new electric, lights and switches, Ikea vanity and top, soaking tub and subway tile. Other items will happen as we progress through the build but for now it’s time to get dirty.

Before Destruction

 Here is the bathroom with all of the plaster removed. It’s a nasty process and we tackled it like champs. We did the cleanest job we could using large construction garbage bags and put a little plaster in each of them until we were barely able to lift them. One by one, we carried them outside along with the vanity, sink and toilet. A quick sweep and we were ready to remove the lath.

Plaster Removed

 This is where we ended for the evening. We were able to get all of the lath off of the walls and painstakingly took every nail out of each piece once it was off. After that, we bundled them into small manageable sizes so we can use it for kindling. We’re going to leave the shower intact for as long as possible. We should be able to get the drywall on the walls and ceiling while working around the shower since it will be tiled.

Tomorrow’s plan is to cut out the floor to inspect the plumbing and come up with the game plan to move the toilet over a couple inches.

Overall view lath removed




Using a good Primer and Top Coat

Right after the top coat of compound went on to the walls we started to look at different primer and paint for new drywall. Because the big box stores will tell you a different answer every time you go in there, I decided to go to visit the Sherwin Williams store and buy a quality paint for all the hard work done in this room. I chose to take advantage of their contractor paints by opening an account which will give you access to some really good paint and some discount prices.

I used a premium wall & wood primer, Eminence Ceiling paint and Super Paint for the wall color. Be ready to spend over $150 for 3 gallons of paint BUT be ready to use some of the best paint you can get your hands on. It makes such a huge difference when using a good quality paint from smell, application, coverage, evenness, and dry time.

The primer was done in one evening following the final sanding of the top coat of compound. A simple wiping off of dust with a micro-fiber cloth and we were ready to prime. The primer process is really easy and took once nice coat to cover all the surface differences in the drywall and compound.

The next day I used 220 grit sandpaper on a sanding pole to sand off the fuzziness of the dry wall paper. Whats nice about this primer is that it will bond to the small paper fibers and dry them hard so they can be sanded smooth. I felt I did over sand a bit much when I was doing the compound layers but a good primer and sanding took care of that.

The next day I did the ceiling, which was as simple as you can get. It took about 20 minutes to do and it started to dry 30 minutes later. It was a beautiful Matte finish that will spread out the light really nice and evenly without seeing to many imperfections if there are any.

Lastly was the next day when I applied the color onto the wall. We choose to use a light sage green in a eggshell finish. Since the room wont see to much abuse we were able to choose a nice soft finish that I’ve been a huge fan of.

Here are some of the pictures from the painting process.


Primer 1

 Primer 2

Primer 3

Ceiling Paint:

Ceiling 1

Top Coat Color:

Wet color

Wet color  Paint 2

Paint 1


Mud, Tape, and Sand

What we found is that 4 days after we hung the drywall, the most tedious part of this room was yet to come. The drywall finishing process is a skill that I feel that 90% of people would be happier to go through life without needing to know or try to accomplish. Up until this point, most of the work done was grunt work that required building skills but certainly not artistic skills. Getting a 5 gallon pail of compound was just the start of a long tough 4 day process from start to finish. I feel that even after 4 days that I could still go on for another four just trying to get it perfect. Now, I know that there are a lot of really good drywall finishers that could do this entire process in one day using “hot” mud (quick setting modified compound) and really good skills with the knife, but I’m certainly not one of them.

I felt I did a good job with hanging the drywall which has a direct effect on how your taping and compound installation is going to go. If you give yourself nice, straight, staggered joints and solid straight framing behind the drywall, the process of laying down compound will be easier than if you got really sloppy with the drywall.

I did the process in three coats. The first coat was just to embed the tape into the corners and joints. It’s one of the most important steps because this will be the base for your top two layers. If you end up putting too much compound into the corners and not pulling it off, you will accomplish two bad things… One being that you will have a large amount of compound to sand off and second, you just added a lot more drying time because of the thickness of the compound. Yes, I did find this out the hard way multiple times but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it for next time.

The second coat is a fill coat. This is where I filled each of the seams and corners with compound in order to “fill” in all dips to give the surface a smooth, level appearance. This layer will shrink a bit so you can either overfill the dips or you can just finish the coat, let it dry and go back the next day for another coat. The reason I chose to do one flat coat and let it dry is that you can only do one side of a corner at a time anyway so there was no way to be finished that night. I would rather place less compound and let it shrink than to put a lot on and wait forever for it to dry.

After leaving for the night to dry, I came back the next afternoon to sand the second coat and to apply compound on the second side of all the corners. Once done I was able to top coat any of the seams that didn’t end up in a corner.

The final day of drywall finishing was day 4. This is where I sanded over all of the compound and applied a very light top coat to the entire room. This top coat will be the last coat and will take care of any final areas the need filling before we go to primer tomorrow.

Here are images of the 4 days of drywall finishing.


Drywall 2

Drywall 1

Drywall 3

Drywall 5

Drywall 4



Drywall Installation

Thinking the insulation was a treat to see how the room was taking shape, I don’t know what to say about the look of finishing the drywall hanging. Standard 4×8 sheets of 1/2” drywall we used throughout most of the room. For the curved wall, 1/4” drywall was used so it would be able to bend around the curve easier.

The one large piece on the top right was replaced after I cracked the top off. It was a learning curve mistake that happened when I went to screw it in. The sheet was too tight against the ceiling and I didn’t realize that it wasn’t flush against the wall when I screwed it in, whoops.

Drywall Install

Bending the curves wall drywall was really easy. Using a thick nap paint roller and a paint tray, I just used water and rolled it on both sides of the drywall. I let it sit for just a minute before I started to bend it around the curve of the wall. I tacked it down on one side than slowly bent it as I walked down the length of the drywall. Once I got to the other side, I tacked it using a small 2” wide strip of drywall seen in the picture. I let it dry for about an hour and lifted it up into place.

1/4-curved drywall


Insulating the Exterior Walls

Today was such an amazing day. For the first time since we started, the room actually has a shape to it. Adding the R19 insulation to the exterior walls was not only insulating us from the cold but finally giving us the appearance of what the room will look like. Until now, the room has only been framing which is hard to see past sometimes. So even though the insulation is just brown paper, it’s exciting to see it take shape.

Here are some of the shots from the day

Wall Insulation 1

Wall Insulation


Also, to ensure some protection of the water supply lines for the washer box, I split the insulation to keep it in the center of the bat.

Insulation Detail


Start of the rough plumbing

Since there was no real or legal plumbing in this room, one big obstacle to tackle was all that need to be done to plumb in the washer, sink and toilet drains and supply lines. Luckily there was the 4” cast iron stack pipe coming down from the second floor bathroom in the corner that I could tap off of.

I ended up cutting about a 4 foot section out of the cast iron and using two “no hub” couplings to transfer from cast to PVC and then back to cast. That was I could properly add both sink and washer drain while adding the venting needed to stay within code.

Here is the rough-in of the washer and sink.

Plumbing Rough-In

Next was the two outlets. Once was a dedicated 20a circuit for the washer and the other was a dedicated 3a 4-wire dryer outlet. In addition to the wiring, the supply lines were ran to the washer box and sink stub-out. Also added were the block off plates to the washer drain to protect the pipes from being hit while hanging drywall.

Plumbing complete

Lastly, there is that piece of plywood that is mounted above the sink drain and supply lines. That was placed there as a backer for the pedestal sink. Since I wasn’t sure where the sink would exactly line up I gave myself a huge target to kit behind the wall made out of 3/4” plywood.