It all started with our main floor bathroom. Remember this post, where I showed you the bathroom in it's ugly yellow tile and pink flowered wallpaper state? And then shared our plans to first take down the wallpaper, paint and get new bath mats and accessories, to work with the yellow tile for now, until we're ready for a complete redo in a few years?
Well, we started on phase 1 of this bathroom update this past weekend, by taking down the wallpaper, after cutting power to the room and removing the light fixture, wall plates, towel racks and mirror.
The wallpaper removal went relatively smoothly, actually. You can see in this photo below how the wallpaper seams were already loose, which made things a lot easier. The thing you can't see though is the little bit of mold we saw under one of the seams after pulling it back a quarter of an inch a couple of weeks ago, which meant we wore masks and gloves while pulling down the wallpaper, since we'd be disturbing the mold.
We started the removal process by pulling down on the wallpaper, to see how loose it was. As expected, the top layer of wallpaper came off, under which we found a second layer of wallpaper. The second layer mostly came off with the first layer, leaving only the sticky backing on most of the walls.
Here's the second layer of wallpaper, which I actually liked better than the pink flowers! You can also see the texture of the backing layer pretty well in this photo too.
To remove the sticky backing layer, we followed the instructions I'd found online in a couple of forums, to start with just warm water and fabric softener and sponges, before you spend money on the harsher chemicals and removal tools. And that worked perfectly for us. We just got the backing layer wet by rubbing sponges soaked in about 4 cups of warm water + 1 cup of Downy. After waiting a minute for the moisture to soak in, we just started gently scraping the backing layer off. This part of the process was actually a lot like removing our popcorn ceilings, lots of slow scraping.
The wallpaper backing came off in little chunks, and made a nice mess on the floor. But more importantly, you might notice something else in this photo. The fact that after the wallpaper was all gone, we were left with just drywall. This was not so great (and I should also note, I have no idea if having drywall behind your wallpaper, instead of a painted wall, makes a difference in how the removal techniques we used worked. I just wanted to share what worked in our situation.). Not having a protective layer of paint and primer on the drywall in a room that gets humid and moist isn't an ideal situation. But apparently it had been that way since the house was built.
Anyway, so by now the wallpaper was completely gone, except for the area behind the toilet, which we couldn't easily reach. See the mold spots above the toilet? Yeah, not good. The line of mold directly above the toilet is a place where the two layers of wallpaper didn't overlap their seams, letting in 30 years of moisture. We decided to move the toilet, so we could get in there and bleach the heck out of the wall, so we could hopefully scrub the mold off, and then seal it in with a primer/sealer like this, until we were ready to completely replace the drywall when we redo the whole bathroom in a year or two.
In the process of removing the toilet, we also found that the shutoff valve at the wall wasn't working properly, so we took a quick trip to the hardware store to get a new valve and install it. So it was good that we found out the shutoff wasn't working at least, although it did slow us down for about two hours to go to the store, shut off the water main to the house, replace the valve and make sure it was working. Only then could we remove the toilet. To find this lovely sight:
Uh huh, baseboard tiles just falling off the wall, and a whole lot more mold than we were expecting. And once we removed the last of the wallpaper backing and started scrubbing the wall with bleach and sponges, things only got worse.
Yep, there wasn't even any drywall left behind some of the tiles, they were just kind of hanging there or propped up somehow. Pretty gross.
And even grosser is the fact that even if we managed to scrub all of the mold off of the wall and seal it in, we can't get to the mold that is living behind the vanity or the shower tiles.
And not that we've ever used this shower (since we have two upstairs next to the bedrooms that we use), but the tiles are starting to come loose on the edges too, and it's probably only a matter of time before they start falling off too.
It was looking like a losing battle. We didn't really want to spend a lot of time to patch up/seal in that much mold, when we were just going to rip it all out in a year or two when it was time to redo the whole bathroom. Plus, we're not cool with living with so much mold, since we weren't going to be able to get to all of it like we'd originally planned. Damn whoever put up wallpaper directly over drywall and started this mess!
So we gave up at about 9pm Saturday night, and decided to do a bit of research on how much it would cost us to pretty much gut and redo this bathroom, including taking down the entire wall with the mold, and the laundry room wall on the other side, which is surely moldy too, because it's near the location of this leak we found and stopped a while back. And it's pretty doable. Not including tools or delivery costs or renting a dumpster, we think we can do a nice bathroom overhaul for around $3,000-$3,200 for just the materials. That includes new drywall for the bathroom and laundry room, new floor and shower surround tile, new vanity, counter and sink, new hardware for the sink and tub, new light fixture and towel bars, and beadboard and paint for the walls.
So we're going for it. We don't really have much choice at this point, since our motto around here is to Do It Right. A phase 1 patch isn't going to cut it in this case, so our next big project is going to be this bathroom. Really, it's a good thing, because opening up these two walls, and the ceiling in the laundry room that is already opened from our old leak will really let us get a good look at any other plumbing issues, and fix them if they exist. Our house is laid out so that all of the water, other than the kitchen sink is concentrated in this one corner (master and guest bath on the second story, above the downstairs bath and laundry room), so we'll open everything up, assess the situation and make it so we'll never run into mold or leak issues again.
It does suck though that we now have to put off what I really wanted our next big project to be, building a new facade and built ins over our brick fireplace, and getting new family room furniture. We just don't have the time to be working on a huge bathroom overhaul (we're planning on the bath taking us 6 weekends to complete), on top of my little side projects in our guest bedroom and my office/craft room, to also be working on family room stuff. But oh well, such is life as homeowners, right? Priorities need to be shifted around when it comes to things like your health and nasty mold, and you've just got to roll with the punches.
That means we'll be starting demolition two weekends from now, and at the moment have the gross moldy wall behind the toilet all sealed up with plastic sheeting and lots of tape. There will be lots of research, buying tile and other supplies (we found tile we liked at The Tile Shop yesterday, but haven't pulled the trigger on purchasing it yet) and watching how to videos online in the next two weeks. We've never done tiling before, but can't wait to learn! And I might be even more excited for just the demolition part--who doesn't want to attack a wall with a hammer?
So that's where we're at after this crazy weekend. We've got a lot to do in the next few weeks! But until I have more details, I'll leave you with some bathroom inspiration photos, with some key elements: beadboard, lots of neutral and white elements (for a more timeless/classic look and also so the color scheme of the bath will be easy to change in the future with just paint and new towels), transitional/shaker style vanity with marble counter, white marble tile bath surround, light grey or slate floors (easy to clean, and the grey will tie in nicely with the grey veins in the marble counter and shower surround tile), and brushed nickle fixtures. We haven't decided on a wall or accent color to play off of the white on white with grey counters and tile, but it will most likely be something bright and fun.
Anyone else ever have to reprioritize your home projects due to necessity? And how gross is that mold in our bathroom? Anyone think we're not making the right choice to just go ahead with the complete renovation to get rid of all of that mold?