Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Planning my Bathroom Renovation Project

Planning my Bathroom Renovation Project

From October of last year to now, I’ve been contemplating a bathroom renovation project for my house to update everything except for the toilet and tub. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I decided to move forward with this project and ordered all of the necessary materials for the renovation. Although I’ve never done plumbing work before, I’m excited to give it a shot and to learn more about architecture through this firsthand experience. Here’s a look at my pre-construction planning and material purchasing.

Identifying water issues with my bathroom

Back in the summer of 2016, I finally purchased a washer/dryer set and installed it in my basement directly below my kitchen, which is adjacent to the one and only bathroom in my house. Then, my girlfriend, Andrea, moved in with me at the end of the summer and we were both adjusting to living with one another. In October, I went down to the basement to wash my laundry while she was taking a shower and I noticed water dripping from the bathroom area.

Sure enough, there was either a leak or a hole somewhere in the tub area.

After some investigating, we found that the leak was coming from the sill of the window above the tub in the bathroom. Whenever either of us took a shower, the water would splash onto the window/sill and flow into small cracks and crevices that are almost invisible. As I continued investigating the source of the leak, I stood back and looked at the tile along the exterior wall and noticed that there was an area where the grout appears to be dirtier than other areas.

So I literally poked one of the tiles and sure enough, it fell off of the wall and revealed a large hole from the drywall that crumbled into the insulation-less exterior wall behind.

Aesthetic Issues

When I purchased the house, there were two rooms that I aesthetically disliked the most, which were the kitchen and the bathroom. In both of these rooms, the previous owner decided to paint the walls a burnt orange color and left the old sea green tiles in place. They also decided to install plastic flooring that looks like wood.

Needless to say, the finishes and décor in the bathroom were economically pieced together over time. As one of the original finishes reached the end of its life, the previous owner replaced that particular finish without much thought about the rest of the space.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to renovate every other room in the house and aside from the basement, the bathroom and kitchen are the only rooms that have yet to be renovated.

Purchasing tiles

And so it begins… the next home renovation journey that will become my next biggest learning experience in life. To start this project off, I decided to purchase a tile directly from Daltile, which is a manufacturer that architects use on many projects. In terms of the new aesthetic that I’m envisioning for my bathroom, I’d like the color palette to be warm and natural.

Once I got to Daltile’s product page, I saw a new product that had these characteristics and within an hour, I made my decision and contacted my local representative. At this point, I asked for a quote from the manufacturer and had the order setup by the end of the day.

Daltile Severino Fog – Image from Daltile’s product page

Daltile Severino Fog – Image from Daltile’s product page

Here’s an image from Daltile’s product page for the Severino tile in the Cenere Fog finish, which is the tile that I ordered for my bathroom. I’ll be using the 2x2 mosaic on my floor and the 6x6 tiles for my bathtub surround. You can learn more about this product by clicking here. I’ll also be using the quarter round trim pieces around the perimeter of the tiles, painting the walls, and installing a wood base to match the remainder of the house.

Purchasing waterproofing boards and accessories

With the tile selected, I moved into the product research phase of this bathroom renovation project and learned about the different ways to install a wall board and waterproofing membrane. My initial thought was to use a cement board like HardieBacker and apply a waterproofing membrane over the board.

Then, I learned about a new product from Schluter called the Kerdi Wall Board, which is a rigid foam board with their waterproof membrane called Kerdi already applied. Rather than adding any necessary additional structure for the cement board, the Kerdi Wall Board is lightweight and should be simple to install. I decided to go with their product and purchased it from a tile store along with their Ditra floor membrane. Learn more about their products by clicking here.

Purchasing a new vanity, accessories, and plumbing supplies

Then, I went to Home Depot’s website and started my search for plumbing supplies, including a new mixing valve with anti-scalding. Currently, my bathroom has the old two handle system that changes temperature if someone is using the kitchen sink while you’re showering. I also decided to get rid of my vanity, which has the older clam shell shaped sink basin, and to install a more contemporary wood vanity base with a white porcelain sink on top.

In terms of plumbing supplies, I know that I’ll be connecting new PEX plumbing lines for the mixing valve to the existing galvanized pipes. So I’ve purchased fittings from Sharkbite, which is a company that makes brass adaptors that can connect pipes of different materials to one another. I also purchased stainless steel accessories to fit with the new aesthetic of the space. Here’s a quick screenshot of the products that I decided to go with from Home Depot.

Getting the window replaced

Lastly, I decided to move forward with an additional project that has been on my agenda since I purchased the house. All of my basement windows and four of the windows on the first floor of my house are original to the house and have a separate storm window outside. These windows rattle whenever the wind blows and during the winter, you can feel the cold air coming through from the perimeter of these windows.

So I decided to replace all of my basement windows and my bathroom window with new glass block windows that will provide insulation and privacy to the bathroom. We had an estimator come out, provide us with an estimate, and we decided to move forward with this major window update project. Before the installer comes out to the house, I’d like to have the tiles going up in the bathtub area so that they can install the new glass block windows flush with the new tiles.

Next Steps

After ordering the materials, I’ve picked everything up from the stores except for the tile from my local Daltile shop. Once I pick up the tiles, I’ll head over to a local not for profit organization that I have a membership at and I’ll borrow some necessary tools for the renovation! With the upcoming AIA convention in Orlando and a window installer coming out in the middle of May, I’ll have to start my renovations soon! So onto more planning and then executing!

The Reality of Starting a Bathroom Renovation

The Reality of Starting a Bathroom Renovation

Finalizing Living Unit Designs in the Micro Housing China Project

Finalizing Living Unit Designs in the Micro Housing China Project