We are fat. Well, most of us are fat, Amber isn’t, but myself, Joshua, and Jasmine certainly fit into that label comfortably. Do you know what happens when fat people use a shower tub that isn’t properly supported? It succumbs to the immensity of the object on top of it, bowing and groaning, until it finally makes a very audible *snap*!
That is what happened to our upstairs bathroom hall shower. We live in a suburb in one of those divisions where the houses all look the same. Have you ever wondered how you could possibly get so much house for such a reasonable price? It’s because they are built like crap. No no, don’t argue. Don’t try to rationalize it. I have seen it first hand, and every corner that could be cut was. In this case that meant not adding a support under the tub, allowing it to bend and bow, and in our case, snap.
We tried to repair the tub first. We bought this thick paste that is designed for repairing cracked bath tubs. It came in a long caulk tube, and was extremely difficult to apply. It took every ounce of strength to squeeze the goo from the tub and spread it along the tubs crack. Once done, we let it cure, and in a couple days we were back to using the shower… albeit in a very gingerly manner, being very aware of where we stepped with our massive bulk.
The goo didn’t hold. While it worked great for a couple weeks, within nearly no time at all, a drip, drip, drip started to happen in our living room. At first it wasn’t very noticeable, but it soon became less of a drip and more of a stream. Something had to be done.
We talked as a household about the cost of replacing the tub. There was a handyman that lived down the street that was willing to come in and do the work. Joshua and I talked it over. We decided that it was better to do as much of the work as we could, and save on labor costs, knowing that at some juncture we would probably hit a point where we would need to call in the cavalry. And so began the great bathroom project of 2016-2017.
When we set out originally we thought that we could probably do this project in a month. After all, how long would it really take to tear out the tub…. a day? We thought that we would likely get to work on this project once a week, maybe twice if lucky. And so we set out to conquer a bath tub!
Have you ever tried to remove a bathtub? That part is actually a lot harder then it seems. We started by taking off the fixtures. No, wait, that’s a lie… we started by watching YouTube videos. Lots and lots of YouTube videos. Ya know, the pros make it look way easier. Just unscrew this and it comes right off! Yeah right. Everything on YouTube looked clean and easy. What we encountered was rusted, gunky, and stubborn as a mule. Removing the fixtures took hours of head scratching, cussing, and grunting. Removing the drain, even though we had the proper tool, ended with us cutting it out, and then came removing the bulk of the tub, which we had to cut into pieces to get out. And then came the floor…
Between when the leak started and when we finally managed to undertake this process, a not insignificant amount of time passed. And during that time, the wood sub-floor beneath the tub was being saturated with water. And I think we all know what happens when that occurs: mold. So when we revealed the floor, it was very damaged and needed to be replaced. We had planned for that, so we were not shell shocked, but this is another example of removing it was waaaaaay harder than any of the YouTube videos made it look. A big portion of the reason had to do with the wall. This is the outside wall of the house, and the sub-floor had been laid, and then the wall was built on top of it, sandwiching it between the two. So it wasn’t as easy as pulling up the old rotten board, it had to be cut out. Now, remember, we are amateurs on a budget, so if you are not an amateur on a budget you are probably thinking about now: “Why, I would just use a _____ and that job would be done in five minutes”. Yeah, we didn’t have a _____. We had a circular saw, a jig saw, a small handsaw, and an old dremel.
Throughout this time, we started referring to this process as “rage fucking the house”. It mimicked the most angry, unabashed sex, you might have ever seen. Cursing, shouting in frustration, and violent angry spurts of activity were normal. The outcome wasn’t all that unlike sex most of the time as well: sweaty, dirty, adults panting after vigorous work, but with no visual results for their efforts.
Finally, we removed the sub-floor to a satisfactory point. The ceiling below also needed to go. The drips had ruined the drywall and had left mold growing and a long crack that was stained brown. This was probably the easiest part of the entire removal. Drywall doesn’t stand up well to a saw, and so it actually came down in an afternoon, with very little fuss. Mess, yes, but no real fuss.
Demolition done. We are now approximately two months into this process. Originally we thought we would have a new shower after just a month.
Sometime early into this process, I had a great idea. If we are going to do the labor, lets not replace our busted tub with just another cheap fiberglass surround. We are no less fat, so the possibility that we would bust it again after just a little use is real. No… no… if we are going to do this, let’s build ourselves the shower that we want. Well, for starters, we don’t need a bathtub. It wasn’t big enough for comfortable use, and we have a garden tub in the master bath if we want one. So let’s just have a shower. But we don’t want a tiny shower, remember we are fat after all, we want a large shower…. a sharable shower. But what is the one big problem with sharing a shower? Someone has to stand in the cold while the other person has the water. Well, that’s no good! So let’s add multiple shower heads. Also, we’re fat… so let’s make the shower a little wider, that way we can comfortably move around one another, or so we can have three people shower together. There is no way that we are going to find a fiberglass shower surround that meets these criteria, so to heck with fiberglass surrounds! We’ll tile the shower! And that’s how we decided to build a custom shower…