November 27, 2012

Fixing The Bathroom Floor

I laid out our plan of attack for the bathroom in "Starting On The Hall Bathroom." In "Hall Bathroom Remodel: Preliminaries", I told how we strengthened our bouncy floor and took quite a bit of the sag our of it. The next step, was the bathroom floor itself.

The problem was water damage to the floor where the toilet had been.

Water damage left the floor rotted and weak

One option would have been to pull up and replace the entire floor. That option wasn't even entertained. The second option was to do as we did in the kitchen, replace that section of the floor.

Damaged section of the floor removed

The joist was strengthened and a box made for toilet plumbing

So far so good. A sister joist was added and a box framed out for the toilet drainage. He allowed for a 12 inch rough in, the old rough in was 14 inches.

Then the real fun began. The original floor in the bathroom is 7/8 inch oak tongue and groove. The problem is, 7/8 inch thick flooring, subflooring, plywood, etc., isn't manufactured anymore.

These size differences in building materials have been a problem with all the repairs we've done on our house. For example, when this house was built in the 1920s, 2x4s were true 2x4s, i.e. a true two inches by four inches. The last 2x4s we bought, were actually 1.5 inches by 3 & 5/8. Now we needed 7/8ths worth of subfloor. Of the choices available, nothing added up to 7/8 no matter how we stacked them. We were always an eighth of an inch short.

In the end we used Dan made up that 1/8 inch difference with roofing shingles. I missed the photo op for that, but can report that the subfloor is now sturdy and solid underfoot.

Repair complete. Floor is nice and solid now.

Some of you might be wondering, why bother to go to all that trouble? Why not just replace the entire floor? Wouldn't it be easier? The answer to that is twofold.

First is cost. Our budget enables us to make improvements on the house, but only paycheck by paycheck. The difference between $100 worth of materials and $1000 worth of materials, is weeks of waiting in between projects, while we save up the money to make the purchase.

The second is quality. Dan has said several times that the quality of the materials in this home is far superior than anything we can buy today. If the same house had been made with today's materials, it likely would have fallen down long ago.

In addition it was well put together. Between all the heavy duty nails and the age of the wood, the deconstruction we have done, has unfortunately busted up the materials. Dan deplores the waste, so we leave what we can as is, and work around it.

Now we can get on to projects with showier results. Hopefully I'll have an oooo or an ahhhh to show you next time.

Fixing The Bathroom Floor © November 2012 


Farmer Barb said...

Having had two years of "What the $%#%%?" renovating a 1982 house that was not built with ONE piece of full height lumber, but a bunch of pieces nailed together--I can appreciate your letting a good house be. I am also recently reinforced in my floors and know the joy of not being able to make the floor bounce. It's the little stuff that makes the difference in LIVING in a home. Congratulations on a solid base to work from!

Woolly Bits said...

I wouldn't have changed that floor either! and it's true, esp. where timber is concerned the quality of the old stuff was much better! there is nowhere around here, where we could buy well dried timber, everything is freshly cut, will warp etc... though we noticed that whatever was built during "lean" times has suffered with material quality, too! the oldest part of our shed has very well built stone walls, strong and sturdy. the part that was added is badly made, just a heap of stones and put together with weak concrete or even mud/lime mix? without foundations even:) makes for "nice" surprises during renovation, but then you'd know all about this:)
I am looking forward to photos of a lovingly renovated bathroom .... soon:)

Theresa said...

It is amazing the wood used in old houses. Our house in Gardner MA started life as a barn in the mid 1800's and the chestnut beams used on the post and beam frame were amazing. The wood today is vexing at best. Nice job on the repair!

Nina said...

It's great to be able to use/reuse good materials if they are there. It is difficult to find quality wood of any kinds these days. You were lucky that the water damage was just a small area. We think the toilets in our house were scavenged. Both of them had been glued together in places. One we've been able to replace, but the other one was installed directly and permenantly to the pipes. It will have to wait until we get around to redoing the whole bathroom.

Anonymous said...

Dan is totally right, the quality of the materials on many levels was better although technology has improved other things (lighter weight same strength). I do however love the way you are working within your budget and still getting a quality project. I look forward to watching this unfold. - Sherry in MT

DFW said...

7/8" tongue in groove wood, wow. What my husband wouldn't give for some of that. Slow & steady marks the course.

Sandy Livesay said...


I have to agree with you and Dan. No need to replace a the entire floor, just fix the area where water damaged did a number on the floor. Can't wait to read and see pictures of your next post. Don't work to hard!!!

Renee Nefe said...

I'm just sad that the previous owner didn't do anything to prevent the water damage.

I guess you decided to keep the toilet in that location.

Leigh said...

Barb, now that would be annoying! And you're so right, it's the little stuff that makes the biggest differences.

Bettina, "I am looking forward to photos of a lovingly renovated bathroom .... soon" Me too LOL. From your mouth to God's ear!

Theresa, oh that must have been a wonderful house! Sadly, there just isn't any pride in craftsmanship these days. At least we have our fiber arts for that.

Nina, it was fortunate that the water damage was so contained. In your case, I can't believe someone permanently attached a toilet to the plumbing! I have to say we've scratched our heads over some of the decisions previously made in this house. I'm sure folks have their reasons at the time, but they don't make sense years later!

Sherry, thank you! Yes, it's true about materials. I guess the thing I find really odd, is that so much is made of vinyl, which is a petroleum product. Not to get off on a rant, but there is so much uproar about using petroleum as an energy source, but nary a boo is said about how everything these days is made from plastic. Usually under the guise of saving trees, which are sustainable! Well, never mind. I do like my wood.

DFW, I reckon slow is relative, LOL. Dan is busy on this whenever he's home for a few days. It's nice to see the progress, compared to the kitchen.

Sandy, thanks! Compared to the kitchen, this has been a piece of cake!

Renee, no, the previous owner did nothing in regards to any repairs. Except to cover the wood siding (also in bad shape) with cheap vinyl siding.

Yes, we decided to keep the toilet in the same place. I worked on a lot of floor plans, but with only 65 by 90 inches to work with, any changes didn't really improve the room. The set-up is really fine as it is. And I like keeping the project simpler by not rearranging everything, LOL

CaliforniaGrammy said...

It is weird why they even call them 2x4's these days, they seem to get smaller as the years go by. My husband remembers when they were a bit larger than yours are but never in our life have they been true 2x4s. Can't wait to see the finished bathroom. I'm betting it may be done for Christmas!? ;)

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain! I've worked on many of the old Victorian mansions here in Louisville. My favorite was finding the leak from a boiler pipe in the study wall and bashing into sand insulation under the paint to get to it!

Unknown said...

We would do the same thing. We lived in an old 1920's house that had incredible wood beams, etc. You never want to demo what you don't need to... much less work in the end too :)

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Oh gosh...I do not miss those days, not at all! So glad y'all are keeping the house as original as possible; why fix it if it's not broken?

Leigh said...

Janice, I agree. Dan remembers when they weren't so small too. Kind of like food. I remember when tuna came in 6 ounce cans, then 5.5, now it's down to 5 ounces. Everything is getting to be that way. It's one way to raise prices without folks noticing.

Wildernessready, sand insulation???? I've never heard of that, how interesting. The job of fixing that boiler pipe though, definitely does not sound fun at all.

Nancy, that's exactly right. I love the craftsmanship and real wood in those old houses. Makes them so homey and so unique.

Sandra, I'll be glad when we're looking back at it too! :)

Chris said...

I love the way you guys think these things through. You're also saving another landfill site from filling up, with materials you choose to work around,rather than throw away.

Leigh said...

Chris, thanks! I think having limited funds really forces us to do this, which has proven an excellent exercise for many reasons. Excellent point about the landfills. That's another of Dan's major pet peeves.

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

Ooh, I always love these DIY posts. :)

Anonymous said...

The house was built in 1837; sand was a perfect insulator for the mansion of that day. With 13 ft ceilings, it kept the house cooler in the summer (and, heaven knows, in Kentucky we need it) and warmer in the winter. I still have the foot-long piece of half-inch thick boiler pipe, it makes a great doorstop.

Jesica Smith said...