As it turns out, my dread of the bathroom tub surround project was well founded – just not for the reasons I thought.
I had feared that as we stripped away the old surround, it would reveal water-soaked, crumbling walls, covered with mold. That was not the case. Instead, we found just one small area that fit that description – a spot where the caulk had clearly failed. The area around the water faucet was a little crumbly, as was the bottom half of the main wall of the shower, a spot where, not coincidentally, the old surround had a sizable crack.
A single piece of cement board took care of both of these areas. If only the rest of the day had been so simple or gone so well.
The three-piece tub surround that we’d bought, the one that both the mother and I liked a lot, would not fit. Not without ripping out parts of the wall that were perfectly fine so that it could be attached directly to the studs. (One thing I have tried to NEVER do at This D*mn House is to open up something that is otherwise solid. That is usually an invitation to trouble.) “You’re going to have to put in another five-piece unit,” Lawrence concluded. To add insult to injury, this surround – and any other at this standard height –would leave about a 16-inch gap from the top to where our current trim begins. How do I fix that? My brain was flying 100 directions.
So, it was with that feeling of dread staring me in the face that this news had to be broken to the mother. Let’s just say she was not happy.
There was the bath, without plumbing and stripped to bare wall, with two gaping holes (we’d not yet put in the cement board and Lawrence still had to rework the plumbing) – at nearly 2:30.
We had no other alternative at our fingertips and the dread circled me once again as I recalled the other surround options the mother and I had seen when we’d chosen the Eleganza model.
The short version is that Lawrence and I boxed up the one that wouldn’t fit, returned it, and then I was given the agonizing choice between two in-stock models at Lowe’s and three at Home Depot.
Two of the Home Depot models were just plain ugly; the third, which was a “tall” model, would have helped cover some of the gaping wall space, but the display was incredibly thin and brittle. “I’d avoid that,” Lawrence counseled. The two at Lowe’s were not what I wanted either. I tried for the lesser of two evils.
Suffice it to say that the mother doesn’t like it. Even so, it’s in our bathroom now. Lawrence worked until nearly 9 p.m. to make it so. (We started the day at 9:30. I’d actually started an hour earlier, clearing out the bathroom and getting things ready.)
The good news is that during the ordeal, I suggested getting a piece of vinyl beadboard – once readily available – to fill in the blank upper space. We have beadboard throughout the bathroom (and the kitchen) so it would match. Good solution! The bad news: Neither store carries it anymore.
The mother suggested using sheets of subway-style tile we’d seen. It would match the new surround and we’d considered using these for the whole surround to begin with. (Lawrence recommended against using them for the whole surround.)
Currently, that’s the option we’re going with. It’s disappointing and frustrating, but it’s a plan. I’m saving pictures until it’s finished.