I am so sick of working on this bathroom. Rather, I’m so sick of working on this bathroom and having one stupid thing after another break or go wrong, or just be poorly designed (or have the instructions not match the equipment).

But before I start ranting, here’s the progress so far (and there really has been a lot of progress, just a whole hell of a lot slower than I wanted):


The tile is done. Well, all but done. It’s all on the walls and floor, and it’s all grouted. The wall tile is Rittenhouse Square 3×6 in white with black accent tiles, and the floor tile is Octagon & Dot, both from Dal-Tile. Grout is Polyblend Delorean Gray, sanded on the floor and unsanded on the walls.

The wall grout was difficult and it’s not as clean as I’d hoped, because I only had just enough grout so I was trying to conserve it, and then I ran out of time toward the end and tried to basically do the entire shower at once, which meant that it had started setting up by the time I got around to sponging the excess off. And wiping, wiping, wiping on a vertical surface was very hard on my arms and back.

The floor grout was a lot easier. Granted, there was only about a third as much floor square footage as wall square footage, but the joints being bigger and the whole thing being horizontal made it a lot easier. I only used about a third of the 25 pound bag, but since I didn’t know better I mixed up the whole thing — which is now completely set up in the bucket; I used a plastic bucket that cat litter came in because I intended it to be disposable.


We haz tile


Jen presciently bought us a Wagner Paint Crew airless sprayer and a roller arm accessory. It took me a while to figure out how to set it up, and the first coat of primer went on pretty slowly. After that, however, the second coat of primer and two coats of paint only took half an hour each. We used Sherwin-Williams Bath Paint, and I have about a quarter gallon left to use on the window and door trim. Sherwin-Williams says the stuff is self-priming, but I don’t believe them. It took two coats to really cover and get out all the thin spots. On the other hand, it went on really well, and I think it was a good value despite being $40 a gallon. The only downside is that it’s so white (I didn’t have them tint it at all) it makes the white tile look off-white. 🙂


We haz paint

Shower Valve

And now we come to the clusterf*** portion of the program.

We got the Premier Torino shower/valve/faucet set (and the matching sink faucet). It’s pretty, but in retrospect I wish I’d looked at a model in person instead of just ordering it off the internet — turning the handle adjusts both temperature and pressure simultaneously, so there’s no way to have a lukewarm trickle; a quarter turn from off is both half and half hot and cold and maximum flow. I’d have preferred the type where turning it adjusts the temperature and pulling it adjusts the pressure.

Anyway, there’s a brass bolt with a threaded hole through the center sticking out from the valve that the handle attaches to. Apparently in order to adjust for different valves, wall thicknesses, etc., it’s overly long and you’re supposed to cut it back to the proper length.

Here’s the problem: there’s a brass adapter that screws into the bolt with a knurled knob on the end; the handle fits onto that with a locking screw to hold it on. So I measured and marked where to cut the bolt to have the adapter sticking out far enough to have the handle sit flush with the escutcheon. No problem. But then I cut it, screwed the escutcheon on over it, and then discovered that there’s a piece molded into the top of the escutcheon that blocks the adapter from going in far enough.

So in other words, it’s impossible to have the handle flush with the top of the escutcheon. Now, the instructions are less than clear: the parts list shows the adapter and locking screw, but the assembly instructions show a screw going through the handle and into the bolt with no adapter. I wonder if I have the adapter, handle and locking screw from the newer model but the escutcheon from the older model.

Right now I have it entirely assembled sans escutcheon, so it works but looks kinda ugly. And I get to have the I’m sure wonderfully pleasant experience of calling their customer service and attempting to explain all this over the phone and ordering at least one new part. Grrr.

Oh, and I almost forgot: I was screwing the shower head arm back into the drop-ear elbow inside the wall. The “tight” spot had the arm at a 45° angle past vertical, so I could back it off 45° or push on almost another whole turn. I looked at the threads and it wasn’t really threaded very far, so I went ahead and cranked it. I got about halfway when the goddam drop-ear broke inside the wall. Or at least something broke; I’m hoping it was just the screws and not the brass fitting. Regardless, I’m going to have to cut open the wall, fix or replace it, and patch and paint. Grr raar raar raar.


The shower curtain rod went up easily, since I’ve already put it up temporarily and taken it down again, um, five times now I think. It’s a double curved curtain rod from Bed Bath & Beyond — I like having the curved rod since I really dislike brushing up against a damp plasticky curtain liner while showering.


We haz a shower curtain rod

The medicine cabinet was easy, as were the sconce lights. The overhead light was more difficult, since somewhere along the line it didn’t quite get set proud of the joists by quite enough, so the bolts hanging down from the box to screw the base onto weren’t long enough. A trip to the hardware store later (the next day) it went up just fine. Note to self, however: leave a longer wire to attach to. Last, there was again something wrong with the fan blocking and it wants to droop down a quarter inch or so from the ceiling, which means I have to climb up into the attic and figure out how to attach it better. Bah.


Medicine cabinet & sconces are in


Light and fan are in

Another annoying issue — chalk yet another thing up to inexperience — is the wall sockets. Those little spacer nubs on plastic electrical boxes that are supposed to leave the top of the box flush with the installed drywall? They lie. All my boxes are recessed about 3/16″. Not fatal — I can unscrew them and put in longer screws and spacing washers. But the other thing I didn’t know is that you have to cut the hole in the drywall exactly the size of the box, or at least no more than 1/8″ larger. The snap-on Decora plates need to brace against the drywall, and I’ve got too much of a gap. I’ll need to get out the patching compound that dries hard as rock and fill in around the boxes, and then paint the compound, and only then attach the switch/socket plates. Dammit.


We got the American Standard Champion 4 from Home Depot. Installation was pretty easy, except for the feed valve, which just did not want to go onto the copper stubout. Eventually I’d damaged the brass compression fitting enough that I just threw that valve away and went with another one. A whole lot of vice grip + pliers action later, it was watertight. That was yesterday at 1:00am.


Toilet installed


Look! It flushes!


My sophisticated leak detection device


Clusterf*** part II. We got a pedestal sink off Craigslist from a guy up in Marysville with two warehouses full of … stuff. It’s fairly nice looking and we paid way less than retail because it apparently got dropped in the box and the top of the pedestal was broken. I was able to superglue it all back together and reinforce it with fiberglass tape and adhesive, so I didn’t think there would be any problem.

Until I got both pieces out of the box and put together in good light. At which point I realized that not only were they not quite the same color (white/off-white), but the top of the pedestal doesn’t actually fit into the groove at the bottom of the sink — they’re different models.

Okay. Fine. The pedestal isn’t really important in that it as long as it’s supporting its share of the weight it doesn’t need to be perfectly mated to the sink, and sometime next year when we have more money we’ll just get a new damn sink. So I put them up against the wall and spent an hour getting the assembly perfectly positioned and leveled and the screw holes marked.

My brand new carbide bit that I used to drill the holes for the toilet flange yesterday no longer wanted to drill through tile at all, so I made a late night run to Home Depot and found a set of tile and glass drill bits that I swear they didn’t have when I was looking for them weeks ago. I certainly wish I’d had them before, since they cut through the tile like buttah.

Hooray, right? Well, I put my wood bit into my drill to complete the pilot holes for the wall mounting screws and when it punched right through into air discovered that I’d made a fundamental error. I’d never seen a pedestal sink unattached to a wall before, so months ago I looked at the big holes in the middle of the back and thought that’s where you put in lag bolts with big washers or whatever. I was wrong, as I discovered when I watched a pedestal sink installation video online.

Here, I’ll let the pictures tell the story:



So since at this point I can’t go in through the back of the wall and put in more blocking, I’m going to have to cobble up some lag bolt solution after all — tomorrow.

Punch List

  1. Get some more grout and fill in all the little gaps, in corners and just where I missed a bit.
  2. Call the shower valve company and get some new parts
  3. Scrape and clean all the excess grout, paint, and joint compound off the tile
  4. Silicone all the tile/drywall joints and around the tub
  5. Put up the @#$%*&! sink
  6. Fill in around the switch and socket boxes
  7. Clean, paint, and reinstall the door and window casings
  8. Fix the fan blocking
  9. Insulate the ceiling

Jen keeps telling me what a good job of everything I’m doing, but I’ve been so frustrated by stupid shit going wrong that all I can see is the imperfections. This project started out as hard work but fun and interesting. It’s not fun anymore. I have two days to finish the last couple of crucial items before we have people over for Thanksgiving, and then presumably complete the rest over the long weekend.

Then I want to not think about projects for a while. The rest of this house had better not be this stressful.