Bathroom Remodels Part 1 - Materials and Planning

I am currently working on editing all the video's i took so not all the links are up and working.

This will be part 1 of a 4 part series about remodeling the 2.5 bathrooms in our house.  I took hundreds of videos and pictures during the process, showing as much of the remodel as i could.  Over the past couple years we have done lots of work to hour house.  If you want to see more of the projects we've done, check out these links:
Past Home Remodel Projects Landscape Block Wall Baby Room Remodel
20% off at Lowe's and Home Depot Carpet Install Coupon Deal From Home Depot Family Room Remodel
Ceiling Fans Gibralter Auction - Materials

Here are links to the 4 parts in which i split up the bathroom remodel into.
Bathroom Remodel - BLOG
1 - Materials and Planning 2 -1st Floor Bathroom
3 - Karrie's Bathroom and Tub 4 - Dave's Bathroom and Shower

Here are the links to all the video's i made.  You can either watch a full video of the entire bathrooms remodeled or they are broken up into their individual parts.  These will be updated as i post more about the remodel.

Bathroom Remodel
1 - Main Video - Materials
2 - Main Video - 1st Floor Bathroom
3 - Main Video - Karrie's Bathroom
4 - Main Video - Dave's Bathroom

2 - 1st Floor

Intro Demo Remove Toilet
Fix Rotted Floor Install Floor Tile Grout Floor Tile
Install Toilet How to Mix Mortar How to Cut Tile
Install Baseboard Silicone Caulk Gaps Bathroom Light
Bathroom Sink New Faucet Summary

3 - Karrie's Bathroom

Intro Demo Install Concrete Board
Waterproof Concrete Board Caulk and Foam Shower Install Tile
Install Tile Shelf Tape off Tile for Grout Grout Shower
Replace Shower Fixture Solder Water Pipes Water Proof Sealant
Caulk Seams Remove Tile Floor Cut Tile Floor
Install Tile Floor Grout Tile Floor Tile Baseboard
Regrout Everything Summary

4 - Dave's Bathroom

Intro Demo Floor Tile Remove Toilet
Check Existing Floor Material Cut Floor Tile Install Tile Floor
Grout Tile Floor Demo Shower Cut new Access Hole
Remove Water Pipes and Fixture Fix Leak in Ceiling Install Shut off Valves
Install New Water Pipes Install New Fixture Install Concrete Board
Waterproof Concrete Board Caulk and Foam Shower Measure and Mark Boards
Precut Tiles Install Tile Install Tile Shelf
Tape off Tile for Grout Grout Shower Regrout Everything

past home projects, wall, carpet, gutter, drywall, vents
The idea of remodeling our bathrooms all started at an auction.  Last year Karrie talked to her friend at work about a home auction that goes on twice a year in our area.  She learned that for a fraction of the price you can bid on many things to remodel your home.  They had wood floor, tile, doors, counter tops and even entire kitchen cabinets.  Here's a blog post i wrote several months ago about the Peak Auction at the Gibralter Trade Center in Michigan.

We had a thought at the time that it would be nice to remodel the 2.5 bathrooms in our house.  Actually it only started with updating the tile showers, but expanded to the floors and more.  The 45 year old tile in our home was a bit dated, with colors ranging from bright blue to dark green.  So we bought  a new low flow toilet for $110, a ceiling fan for $30 and over 225 sq.ft of stone tile.  I won't go into how all the bidding works again, if you want to read about it, click on the link to the auction.  But we ended up getting 225sq.ft of tile for less than $1 per square foot.  Which is a great deal.  More than 75% less than we would have paid at Lowe's or Home Depot.

Scroll down to the bottom to see all about the materials we bought and their costs.

After we bought all that tile the decision was sort of made, we had to remodel the bathrooms.  We figured that if we were going to get rid of the ugly tile in the showers, we might as well get rid of the ugly floor tiles as well.  Looking back i'm glad we did.  There's no point in spending time and money remodeling a shower, just to have old tiles on the floor that are a different color and don't match.  So the bathrooms we were remodeling were the 1/2 bath on the first floor and 2 full bathrooms on the 2nd floor.

There's no way that i could combine all of the work over the past months into one post so i decided to split it up into these 4 parts:

Bathroom Remodel - BLOG
1 - Materials and Planning 2 -1st Floor Bathroom
3 - Karrie's Bathroom and Tub 4 - Dave's Bathroom and Shower

This post will be all about the planning, measuring, materials we purchased, how to get a discount at Home Depot and Lowe's, cost, etc.  Basically everything we tried to learn before beginning the project.

Before i begin i have to say that this was the first time either of us ever did tile, the first time we installed a toilet, the first time we installed a sink and counter-top.  I have to say that by the end of all this we did learn a lot, mostly by making mistakes first.  So use this as a guide of things to avoid.  I always say that the first time i do something, i screw it up completely, learn what i did wrong, then i'm hopefully able to fix it.  By the second and third time, i've already learned from the mistakes and know what i'm doing.

We talked to a lot of people and watched a bunch of video’s on Youtube.  Our friend Jeff who used to be a contractor was the most help of anyone.  He told us everything we needed, what material to use and even let us borrow some of his tools like a tile saw.  I’ll go over all of  that a little more when I list everything we bought and tools we used.

Here's pictures of what the 3 rooms looked like.  The first floor bathroom had green and white tiles, Karrie's shower had green tiles, and mine was blue.

This is the first floor bathroom.  We ended up replacing the floor tile, toilet, sink, counter top, faucet, baseboard, light and a fresh coat of paint.  Lots of work for such a small room.  See part 2 of the blog posts for this remodel work.
first floor bathroom remodel, how to remodel a half bath

Here's Karrie's bathroom.  Originally we were just going to redo the shower tile but by the time we were done we had also replaced the floor tile, new faucets, towel racks and paint.
remodel shower, how to remodel shower tile

Another view of the lovely tile.  Part 3 is Karrie's bathroom remodel. 
remove bad tile, remodel, bathroom

Here's my bathroom.  Similar to Karrie's bathroom but with blue tile.  Same as before we replaced the shower tile, tile floor, shower fixtures, re-glazed the shower pan and new paint.
easy tips for remodeling bathroom shower, shower pan

The fiberglass pan was originally white but has seen it's better days.  I was amazed how well a $20 can of white glaze worked.  Check out part 4 in the blog posts to see the remodel. 
install shower tile, video, how to

The first thing I did was to measure the bathrooms and draw them on Google SketchUp.  That let us know the dimensions and how much we are going to need in terms of materials.  Here's my rough looking sketch after measuring Karrie's shower.  I did one of these for all the floors and also my shower.
calculations, shower, tile, bathroom, remodel, measure

Google SketchUp is a free design software and super easy to use.  In just a couple of minutes anyone can get a real sense of what the room will look like when you are done.  Here's the bathrooms i drew on Google SketchUp.

 This drawing was to determine the layout of the floor tile for the first floor bathroom.
bathroom tile, google sketchup, drawing, measure

By playing around where to start the "whole tile row" i was able to use less tiles and more importantly, make less cuts.
how to measure, floor tile, cut

This is an early drawing i made where i thought about having inset shelves in the tile walls.  We didn't end up doing that after seeing how difficult it would be.
visualize bathroom remodel,

And here's Karrie's bathroom and shower.
sketch of bathroom tile remodel, floor tile, shower, bath, baseboard

Again i drew the floor out separately to get the tile placement.  We ended up going with the layout on the left.  That way we didn't have the small sliver of tile along the bottom of the tub.
determine best use of tile, floor, cut

Another big help in visualizing was drawing the shower tile layout on AutoCad.  Google SketchUp is good for quickly drawing large things.  But to be more precise, AutoCad is the tool to use.  I could offset each tile to account for the grout spacing and figure out exactly how many tiles we needed.  And if we had bought enough.

Here's Karrie's shower.
cad autocad tile layout, spacing, how to , 1/4", 3/16"

And here's my shower.  You can see that for the center wall in this picture i was able to use an tile cut directly in half.  I was really hoping that this would be the case.  I would save me lots of time and effort.  Months later when i eventually did install the tile it worked out exactly how i drew it.
shower, tall shower, tile remodel, calculations, cost, build, materials

This was a bit excessive, but it helped me with two things.  First it let us know exactly how many tiles we would need and if we had enough.  And second it helped me mentally visualize the borders and where the accent tile should be set.

Originally we thought about laying the tiles out traditionally, but you can see from the AutoCad drawings above that we decided on laying them out in a diamond pattern.
tile test layout, idea

But here's us doing a test in the living room to figure out what we liked.
idea for tile spacing, layout, vertical

I also took those drawings of the tile on the floor and Photoshopped them onto the shower wall to see what it would end up looking like.
photoshop tile, what it will look like

After the Gibralter Home Auction we had the tile and the toilet but we still needed to get all the rest of the building materials like grout, mortar, wax rings, etc.   The most important thing to know before buying anything is that you can always get 20% off at Home Depot or Lowe's.  Here's how you can get 20% off your total purchase for Home Depot and Lowe's.
lowe's 10% off coupon, post office, change of address

Here's a table showing what we bought, size, quantity, price, and what room it would be used:
build calculations, shower tile remodel, excel, spredsheet, cost, estimate
LINK to Spreadsheet

These quantities were for the bulk of the items (not including the shower tile we got at the auction) and does not include the things we bought later like the faucets, lights, extra tile, etc..

And here are some pictures and a quick description of what we bought.  (I should say what we bought AT FIRST.  We ended up buying a lot more as we went along.  See parts 2-4 of the remodel for other supply's like RedGuard waterproof paint, tools, sinks, faucets, etc...)

This is where it all started, what we bought from the Gibralter Home Auction.  The stone tiles are in the small boxes and the new toilet is in the large one.
shower tile, auction, toilet, peak, trade center

This is what the tile looked like.
4" stone tile, porous, for shower

Here's another picture of the 4" tile.  If we were to do this all over again i would not have wanted to use this tile.  It's too small and porous for a shower.  I would suggest getting something like an 8" square tile without any holes in it.
natural stone tile

This is the glass accent tile that Karrie bid on and got really cheap.
inexpensive glass shower tile, accent

Here's the 18" travertine tile we bought from Home Depot.  This would be used for the floor.  The tile was nice but it cracked in half easily. 
home depot, travertine tile, 18" square

Another picture of the tile at the store, you can see that a pack of 4 was $21.
cost of tile at lowe's home depot

This is the 3'x5' concrete board we purchased for $11.  It's called Durock and also Hardi Backer.  We purchased the 1/2" thick boards.  I found out later that i also had to buy a special carbon steel scoring tool to cut the boards, they are not like drywall, a utility knife will not work.
home depot concrete board, shower, tile

 This is the mortar, also known as thinset, comes in gray and white.  We bought the $5 bag, not the $11 bag, and it worked fine.  Also we did not need the special liquid shown on the left, just mix with water.  We used about 1 to 1.5 bags per floor.  Click on the link to the other blog posts to see about which trowel spacing we used.
gray thinset, mortar, lowe's home depot, cost

Here's the Tile Adhesive, also know as Mastic.  It's a sticky type of mortar, comes in a pre-mixed bucket, and used to attach the shower tiles to the wall.  We ended up using about 3/4 of a bucket per shower. 
cost, lowe's, home depot, mastic, tile adhesive, shower

Here are the special screws to attach the concrete board.  3 boxes was definitely way too many, we should have only bought 1 box.  The bad thing about that is that each box was around $25. 
hardibacker, screws, concrete board, cost

This is a picture of the sealers we used.  Actually what we bought was not in this picture but the next one down.  We got a deal by buying 2 together for less money.
waterproof tile sealant, cost, home depot, lowe's

Here's a bunch of supplies we ended up getting.  You can see the big box in the middle is the combined package of 2 sealers, which we got for under $30.  Also we bought wax rings for the toilet, sponges, spaces, and color tinted grout.  We ended up needing more wax rings because the gap was more than 1 ring could seal.  Also we bought several more packages of 3/16" and 1/4" spacers.
materials needed to remodel shower, tile, cost

Here's the color tinted grout we bought.  We ended up needing another 1 or maybe 2 bags by the time we were done.  But we did grout 3 floors and 2 showers with the stuff.  Also with the small 4" tiles we used in the shower, there was lots of grout lines.
grout, tile, material, remodel, bathroom

Like i said this is just part 1 of 4 blog posts, so in the upcoming 2 to 4 blot posts i will try to add as much information as i can and lessons that we learned.  So here are the links to all of the 4 blog posts and all of the different video's:
Bathroom Remodel - BLOG
1 - Materials and Planning 2 -1st Floor Bathroom
3 - Karrie's Bathroom and Tub 4 - Dave's Bathroom and Shower


1 Million Views - All Time on Blogger

Well apparently my humble little blog has reached 1,000,000 total page views. 
1 million blogger stats, views

I've written about some milestones before:

Half a Million Views
300th Blog Post

Not much has changed since writing those.  Some things that have changed along the way are that i've slowed down a bit.  For a while i was writing, taking pictures, and publishing a new blog post every 2 days.  Now i'm lucky if i post something every 2 weeks.  The viewers to the blog really took off around 2011- 2012 when i started getting interested in SEO.  That's back when i had lots of time to devote to learning about how the Google search engine work, how to increase viewers, how to get your pages higher up on the search results, and how to make a little bit of money from ads. 

Another thing that's changed is that i've focused more on Youtube and the video aspect.  Before when i worked on a project i would take lots of pictures and only very rarely record a video.  However when i wanted to upload a video of something i built, i didn't have anything.  I tried making a hybrid video using transitioning photos, but it wasn't very good.  Everything seemed to change when i built my third storage shelf.  Since i had already built 2 previous shelf's i figured that it wouldn't be very helpful to anyone if i just took the same pictures for a third time.  So i tried recording a video and explaining all the steps it took to build the shelf.  It was very weird at first having to stand in my basement and talk to a camera about how i was going to cut a board, or why i built something a certain way.  It took me several attempts to record just a simple 20 second clip. 

Storage Shelf - Cheap and Easy Build Plans

But after i recorded everything, edited it together and uploaded it to Youtube, it became my most popular video.  And it still is today.  Not only in terms of views, but also in the amount of money i make from it.  At the time of this post it is up to 78,000 views.

That's when i realized the potential of Youtube and started devoting more time to recording video's of projects i built.  Since then i've done several more of those types of video's.  I still think it's kind of corny and weird recording myself while i'm fixing a clothes dryer or cleaning out air ducts.  But it seems like the more corny you act and talk in a video, the more popular it is.

But as far as the blog is concerned, my favorite posts have stayed pretty much the same.  I still think that 2,600 Miles on a Honda is my favorite post(s).  Also i haven't changed my mind about what the favorite pictures i've taken along the way.
the bean, chicago

sleeping bear dunes, michigan

homemade nd filter

trevi fountain, rome, italy

I'm still doing lots of projects at home that i plan to upload to the blog.  The only problem is time and motivation.  I don't have the time or motivation after a project is done.  It takes me about an hour to go through all the pictures and sort out my favorites, several hours to write everything down and what i did, 2+ hours going through all the recording and editing them into one concise video, then upload everything to Youtube and the blog.  Then after that if i want to get lots of viewers i still have to create a project, links, articles and run them for weeks in an SEO program.

But pretty soon i'll have to come up with a new streamlined system.  Just take a couple pictures, write a couple of quick sentences and press publish. 

Rotate Tires and Alignment

A quick summary of some of the things i've fixed on the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP in the past couple years:

I left off last time talking about my car, saying that i got a flat and when changing it, noticed that it was from the steel wearing through the rubber. 

dent aluminum rim, fix

It was on the tire that got dented from a pothole in February.  Several years ago i hit a pothole with the same tire.  Both potholes that i hit were less than 1 mile from our house.  The first time i just had to replace tire, the sidewall blew out, and the sway bar link, the bolt busing broke.  But the time in February, although the rim was dented everything else was fine. 

The car rode fine, although i did have to fill the tire up with air about every month or so.  I asked a couple of places and read online about anything i could do to fix the dent but there was no solution.  Steel rims can be reshaped into place, but aluminum cannot be rebent, it would crack and be no good.

It must have been a combination between a slightly flat tire and the dented rim which caused the uneven tire wear.  I was worried that it might also be a tire alignment issue.  Most things that i read online about uneven tire wear is from bad alignment.  But all the pictures of those tires are 1/2 of the tire worn and 1/2 of the tire in good condition.  My tire tread was completely fine, only the "corner" of the tire was worn.  It wasn't a common problem.

I looked online and a new/used rim for a Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Comp-G car was between $195 and $300, plus shipping.  It has to be a used rim because the car is from 2005 and Pontiac isn't even in business anymore.  So i wrote down the phone numbers of a bunch of tire places in the area that sold new and used rims.  Karrie ended up calling some of the numbers one day and she finally found a place that had the rim.  For $138 we got the rim and tire.

I didn't want to put the new rim on the front, so i decided that it was a good time to rotate the tires.

Here's a video of the whole rotating tires process.  But continue reading for all the pictures and descriptions of why i did what i did.

How to Rotate Tires the Right Way


I checked the owners manual for the Grand Prix and it showed the correct rotation pattern.
how to rotate tires

The front tires went straight to the back, the back tires crossed sides to the front.  This was one of those times that i was glad i have 4 jack stands.  I started by jacking up the car at each wheel and putting it on a stand.  Then i just went about rotating the tires as shown. 
how to change a tire, rotate tires

I was surprised when i removed the other front tire and saw some of the similar tire wear as the other front tire.
typical tire wear

The back tires were perfectly fine.  In fact they had basically the same amount of tread on them as when they were new. 
unusual side wall tire wear

Here you can see the hole in the tire.
wear on sidewall of tires, hole, puncture

It must be that because the car is front wheel drive it puts more force and more strain on the front.  That combined with the fact that the front tires are doing the turning as well.  So i moved the rear tires to the front and vice-versa. 
rotate car tires, how to

The car rode fine but i felt a slight vibration.  I wasn't sure if it was an unbalanced wheel, alignment issues, or just because i put newer tires on the front.  I didn't want the same thing happen to the new tires i put on the front, so i took it into the shop to get an alignment.  I did see a few video's on Youtube about how you can do an alignment yourself.  It involved very precise measurements using a string pulled tightly parallel to the tires.  After watching some of them i didn't feel confident in doing it correctly.  There was lots of measuring to arbitrary points on the rims. 

I'm glad i took it into the shop.  Beyond balancing the tire, they had a machine that used lasers to check the tires alignment, camber, and caster.  And everyone knows that anything that uses lasers is way better then something using a string.  For $80 they adjusted the rotation and twisting points of the tire until they were in their correct specifications. 
print out for camber alignment car tires

I was surprised to see that the front tires were fine, totally within the range of acceptable values.  But it was the rear tires that were out of alignment.  Then i remembered that i had changed the struts twice in the rear and changed one of the hubs.  I don't think it was hub, because i have also changed the hubs/wheel bearing in the front too.  So it must have been the minor change in the rear strut location when i changed them that caused the tires to be slightly misaligned.

After everything was fixed the car seems to ride better.  The vibration was gone, but that was probably the result of the unbalanced tire.  Mainly it's just peace of mind knowing it's all good and the new tires on the front shouldn't wear out like the other ones did.


Car Rear Hub Install - How To

A quick summary of some of the things i've fixed on the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP in the past couple years:
The reason i needed to replace one of the rear hubs on my Pontiac Grand Prix was because of a mistake i made weeks before.  While replacing my rear struts for the second time i accidentally hit the plastic ABS sensor with the 3lb hammer.

fix abs sensor, strut, shock, brake, wheel bearing, hub

Here's the entire process of installing the new hub.  But continue reading for more in depth description and pictures.

Install Rear Hub - GM - Pontiac Grand Prix

The struts are held onto the car with a couple of big bolts.  And in order to set them in place i needed to use the big hammer.  On one of the swings i missed and hit the back of the hub.  For some cars it wouldn't be a big deal.  But on my car i have a plastic ABS sensor which measures the rotation of the wheel. 

So even though i didn't mess up the ABS break itself, just one of the 4 sensors, it still caused an ABS warning light to appear on the dashboard.  It's annoying that if just 1 part of the whole process is broken, the whole thing doesn't work.  That's like saying if the 'Q' button on the keyboard is stuck, the entire computer won't work.

A few years ago i replaced the front hubs/wheel bearings on the car, with the help of my friend Mike.  I bought the hubs from Rock Auto via Ebay.  This time i compared a few other sellers.  The first thing i did is use my favorite trick for auto parts, checked Advanced Auto Parts.  They are usually more expensive but online there are always coupon codes that you can use to get $10 or $20 off when you spend at least $50.  Next i checked Rock Auto for their price.  And the last place i checked was Ebay.  It turned out that the best deal i got, on a part that looked to be well made was from Detroit Axle via Ebay.  The part looked good, had the ABS sensor attached, was less expensive then the others, and it was from nearby Detroit. 
detroit axle, how to replace rear hub, wheel bearing, grand prix

It arrived in the mail a couple days later and i went about putting it on the car.  This was one of the first jobs that i also got to use my new tool cabinet.  It was nice not having to run up and down the stairs after tools i needed in the garage.  Here was everything set out that i thought i needed.
garage tools, shop, car fix, repair, brakes, replace, hub, wheel

The first step was to remove the tire, break caliper and disc.  Then i had to remove the 4 bolts which held the hub in place.  I sprayed WD-40 and Liquid Wrench over the 4 bolts and gave it time to try and soak into the threads.  Also i tried a trick that i learned from working on the motorcycle, tapping on the top of the bolt head.  Just adding small taps will help to try and loosen threads that had been fused together for almost a decade.
replace wheel bearing, rear hub, pontiac grand prix

To access the bolts there are 2 holes drilled into the hub.  This allows you to insert a socket wrench with an extension.  So i tried loosening the bolts with a socket wrench.  I had to put a metal pipe over the handle to give me a bit more leverage.  But i eventually got all 4 bolts loosened and removed.  However that did not mean that the hub could be removed.  It is still set firmly in place because the round hub was rusted/fused/corroded in place inside of the fitting.  I'm not exactly sure what the name of that part is, the swing arm or the knuckle. 
how to remove hub, rear hub, car, bolt, rusted

It took me about 20 minutes of hammering with a large hammer to remove the hub.  I hit it from every angle, hit it with a wood block, hit it while pulling on the front.  I eventually saw some movement from the swing arm, and a few minutes after that the hub was removed.  I could actually see the broken ABS sensor.
abs sensor, damaged sensor, hub, wheel bearing, gm

Before i put the new hub in, i decided that i should test to see if it will fix the problem.  So i connected the wire to the back of the new ABS sensor.  When i started the car the warning light went away and i knew that it would fix the problem.  To fit the new hub back in place i first needed to remove the corrosion.  So i used sandpaper and a wire brush.  Lots of white powder came down
replace hub, pontiac, rear end, install, fix, replace

while i was scraping.  Even after the sanding and scraping the hub didn't seat easily.  To get it to fully set in place i had to gradually tighten the 4 bolts down, sort of in the same way as you would tighten down lug nuts.  My goal was to get the hub to tighten flush with the swing arm socket.  If it wasn't straight, the wheel would be out of alignment.  But after i felt that the hub was tight, i reinstalled the disc and caliper.  Then rebolted on the wheel.  Everything seemed to be working fine.

Then a couple of things happened.  The first unrelated thing was that my front tire popped, not the tire on the rim i just replaced.  I had hit a pothole back in February and my tire rim was bent.  Because it was an aluminum rim there wasn't anything that anyone could do.  If it were a steel rim it could be bent back into place.  But the car still rode fine, for 6 months at least.

This is a picture of that same rim, when i hit a pot hole a couple of years ago.  Apparently in Michigan your right front tire (closest to the curb) takes a lot of abuse from pot holes.
dented aluminum rim, fix aluminum rim, flat tire, pothole

When i took the flat tire off i was surprised to see that it wasn't a puncture, but rather the top-inside edge of the wheel was worn completely down to the steel.  It was probably a combination of riding with a slightly flat tire and because of the dent in the rim.

I'll have to publish another post about finding a new rim and tire and rotating the tires.  But also i have to mention that i did need to take the car to get an alignment.  I looked into doing it myself but it was too complicated.  The fronts were ok but the rear tires needed some minor adjustment, probably from the two times i replaced my rear struts.  For now though, it's riding fine and will hopefully go last a while before something else going wrong.