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Renovations: Days 4 and 5

Other posts in this series: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Days 6-7, Days 8-9, Days 10-11, Days 12-13, Week 3, Before&After

Not much happened on day 4 so I’m skipping straight to day 5.  We got a little held up because we were missing an important part for the shower plumbing.  We were especially slowed down because of two reasons. Our contractor has very limited English skills and had a hard time explaining to us what it was that we needed to get.  He said “behind knob, make hot-cold.”  Huh?  But then we did some research and realized that we needed a rough-in valve which sits behind the temperature gauge in the shower.  The second reason we were delayed is that Home Depot does not carry rough-in valves at the store! I took a very long lunch on Tuesday to hunt down the part (we needed a specific one that is compatible with the hardware I bought).  I ended up finding it at this warehousey plumbing supplier on 18th between 7th and 8th Ave. The fun part was that it was a block away from a West Elm, and I ended up buying our new dining room light fixture there (more on that in a future post).

Rough-in valve installed!

We also got a new trip lever, you know, the thing that blocks the tub from draining? We used to have one of these old school system – I don’t even know what to call it (see below).  I’m so happy we’ve replaced it.

I'm not sure what to call this old method of blocking the tub drain, but this is what our apartment came with. It's the metal cylindar on the left.

New pluming installed, complete with new tub and new trip lever!

Other bathroom work included rebuilding the window sill a bit.  It was in pretty bad shape after the demolition.

Our walls were primed and painted over the past two days too. I REALLYYYY wish I had a better camera to show you how it looks.  But these pics will have to do. I’m pretty happy with the colors we chose, but there is no lighting in the livingroom and poor lighting the rest of the apartment, so the colors might not be completely accurate. Its annoying because everything looks way crappier in these pics than it does in real life.  I realized I’ll probably have to get some help photographing the final product, from someone with a real camera and photography skills.

For the livingroom I chose a grey that leans slightly towards tan. I wanted to make sure it wasnt too cold of a grey.

I figured I'd show the mater bedroom paint color and closet progress in the same image. If you've ever seen my bedroom in my old apartment, I chose a similar color, but a lighter shade. Its kind of a beige/tan with a hint of green.

This is my favorite room right now. I decided to be more experimental with the second bedroom and went with a greyish navy blue color. Our contractor asked us if this was a mistake because the color is so dark and it did go on a little darker than I expected... but the more I look at it the more I love it. I plan to decorate with light, natural colored furniture. I'm going for a "gentleman's smoking room meets antique science laboratory" vibe.

The next step is tiling the bathroom, which our contractor will work on today.  I’ll post about that progress tomorrow!

7 comments to Renovations: Days 4 and 5

  • Allan

    Cheryl, Joe:

    Make sure they tell you how they are going to waterproof the shower. Tile and grout is NOT inherently waterproof.

    They will need to put some sort of waterproofing system down either before or after they put up the cement backer board:

    1) wood studs as you have shown in your photos
    2) some thick plastic waterpoofing (some people use roofing material!)
    3) cement backer
    4) thinset, tile, grout


    1) wood studs
    2) cement backer
    3) waterproofing material OVER backer (redgard, schluter’s kerdi)
    4) thinset, tile, grout

    if they skip this waterproofing step, what will happen is you will get water on your windowsill and it will rot. you will get water on your studs and they will rot, mold, etc.

  • cheryl

    Wow, thats really great advice Allan. Thanks!! btw, i saw your renovation pics on facebook. You did an amazing job!

  • jean

    i can’t wait to see everything completed but i’m esp excited to how you will fill the 2nd bedroom.

  • Allan

    Common things contractors will say:

    1) Tile and grout will stop the water. it will not.

    2) Cement backer board is meant to get wet. Yes, it is, but it doesnt STOP moisture from penetrating it, it is just not affected by water itself (i.e. if you put sheetrock back there, that stuff will just dissolve, but if you use hardibacker or durock, it will stay solid even if it gets wet). Hardibacker and durock will allow water to penetrate it, and get into your wood studs underneath

    I’d recommend you just get them to put some thick plastic sheeting up before they install the hardibacker/durock, but then, if they’re supposed to start tiling today, you may have missed that window already.

    if you see them installing sheetrock (doesnt matter if it is normal or green or purple) STOP THEM from installing any tile until you are 100% sure they have some form of waterproofing material over that sheetrock. that would be this orange material called schluter’s kerdi, or maybe a competing product.

    Good luck!


  • Allan

    Can’t stress the sheetrock thing enough – if there’s no waterproofing over that sheetrock, you’ll be redoing your shower in 6 to 12 months, guaranteed.

  • cheryl

    actually, he mentioned tiling, but I was wrong, when we checked on the progress last night they had only put up the what was labeled as “Durock Cement Board.” No tile so far. Joe made sure to call them today to stress waterproofing. Your advice is seriously really helpful. we’ll make sure to check in on this =)

  • Allan

    Okay – so if they put the durock up, but there’s no vapor barrier behind the durock, the only option now is to coat with redgard. can buy it from home depot…

    some reading:

    if they DID install a vapor barrier behind the durock, then do not put the redgard on.

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