Coping: Prepping Adventure in the Bathroom

Prepping lessons from a bath remodel?  Yessir.  There’s a gaping 24-square foot hole in the Ure master bath this morning.  Elaine had a sleepless night thinking about it.  “Gives me the heebie jee-geebie’s” is her description of things.  Something about fear of insects coming into the house…

As reported Thursday, a hidden water leak is the cause of this misery, but having all the tools in the world and a Lowes half an hour away makes it really a matter of attitude and project management.

This morning, around 9, we will frame out and deck-over.  Which will be followed by a liberal application of Bondo all-purpose putty. This weekend Elaine and I will refinish all the walls and the flooring man will be here Wednesday to lay the sheet goods.  I always build in a couple of days of “slip time” — even for a simple 1-hour task — because that’s how life works…

(Continues below)


For example, I have a number of 3×21″ belts for the belt sander that haven’t been used in 10-years, or so.  Brand new, I pulled a 60-grit open-coat and put it on the sander ready to take off some residual glue from the top of the floor joists.

As it was sitting on the bench, there was a “tick” noise. The belt failed sitting still.  A real first!

I ran out of 60-grit. Got to looking at the grades others on-hand.. Turns out the belt is joined by a thin strip of heavy paper, glued to both halves of the belt…like so:

This failed because after 10-years in a hot Texas shop, the adhesive loses its grippy and flexy….

This gets me to a point of prepping for Armageddon I doubt anyone has ever gone through: When one moves out of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapon release areas, there is still no getting around the impact of time.

I never figured that sanding belts would be in short supply in the End of Days.  But we were stocked-up, just in case.

Another one that’s highly perishable is PVC glue.  Oatey makes really good glue, but there’s no getting around solvent penetration over long, long periods…up around 10-years.

Fresh PVC glue is clear, but then it begins to take on a milky look…and that’s when we pick up fresh glue.  No use taking chances.

Don’t know if you’ve checked on paint storage.  But, we recently got rid of about a dozen, or so, one gallon paint cans because the contents had “skinned over” and were no good.

Super glues have the same problem.  Hard tubes are  junk.

The two-part epoxies that come in “dual mixing squirters” seem to fare better, but I don’t know if the bond is as good as fresh.  I’ll research this and get back to you in a column 10-years from now.

Those paper tubes of construction adhesives, also tend to dry out in 2-4 years, rendering them useless, as well.  Ditto the caulking that’s in the gun-ready foil/paper tubes.  2-5 years on those.

(Warm caulk and glue is easier to squeeze than cold tubes, if you’re a newbie to home rebuilding…)

An option is to get everything in hand squeeze tubes made of plastic, but remember even with these you may be looking at 6-10 years of life.  The effects of plastic degradation over time are painful.  Squeeze tubes are way faster to install.

PVC plastic pipe seems to be OK to the 10-15 year range, and may go 20-25.  But the trick here is to remember it depends on the material.  Brittles-up over time.

If you’re talking about raw 20-foot joints of pipe (a joint is 20-feet in liquid piping land), it begins to harden noticeably in 10-years, but it probably won’t crack while being worked for 20-25-years.

Once installed, it might go 30-40 years, but something I’ve never seen mentioned is that pipe doesn’t like to move when it gets old.  Sort of like people, that way.

Our local rural water purveyors have that problem in spades.  Down on the main county road, they have to replace a couple of joints-worth of pipe about once a year.

We’re on what passes for a “mountain” in this part of East Texas.  Elevation, base to top, is on the order or 300 feet.

Still, erosion and both a rock quarry and oil fields to the south of us (down hill side a 1/2 mile) may account for the hillside moving a bit.

It doesn’t take much…maybe a 1/16th to a quarter inch per year.  But on early PVC?  The stuff cracks and breaks…water spews everywhere…and the pipe fixers have jobs-for-life.

Which is why we have a back-up well, but there’s no more certainty to that, either.  Takes energy and…

I did mention that solar panels also degrade over time, too?

After 25-years,. it’s common for solar cells to lose anywhere from 10% (good cells) to 25% (or more on cheap cells) of their output?  The sun is brutally hot, ice is plenty cold, and the flexing…well you get the idea.

Again, like the human aging process.  Hot and cold are less appealing with age, lol…

Material Changes , Too

If it’s been a while since you’ve shopped a flooring job, things have changed.  As “value engineering” continues a lot of the sheet goods have become thinner.

The people who sell flooring will go out of their way to convince you that this is an “improvement” but not to my way of thinking.

For one, if you have screws in your decking, you need to fill all the screw heads.

You see, in the “old days” (10-years ago, or longer) the vinyl flooring was thick enough so that you could lay it right up to the walls, and then seal around it with long-life silicone caulking.

Today, the installers insist that all sheet goods should be “floating” – in other words, not edge-bound.  “This allows the floor to flex a bit, expand and contract a bit...”  so goes the professional pitch.  “We get a nice edge by putting in quarter-round.”

Sounds like a crooked sermon, to me.  Sounds like an excuse to sell thin sheet goods…lacking dimensional stability.

Frankly, I’m none-too-pleased with this version of “progress.” I like the glued down (*with caulk) edges because it is a very clean looking wall joint.  The baseboards and quarter-round are just another thing to get dirty, and if anything ever happened to Scooter, (our bug service fellow) that area behind quarter-round would be the first place any self-respecting bug would set up housekeeping.

There are some limitations to rebuilding modular homes.  Again, we’re into manufacturer’s ideas on “value engineering.”

These days, it’s common to be able to order the “northern insulation option” which calls for sidewall framing with 2-by-6’s.  But manufacturers  continue to go cheap on the floors with 2-by 6’s set on I-beams of steel.

If you build a stick-built home, you can use 2-by-8’s for the joists, and if you put these on 16-inch centers, a 12-foot span is a piece of cake.  You would have enough strength to lay ceramic tile, which would be our first choice.

On the other hand, 2-by-6’s on 24-inch centers?  Too much flex, too much weight, and it’s a bad engineering call.  Maybe the I-beams would work, but color me skeptical.

Things to think about…

Some day, we will sell this place and the 20-park-like acres to move to a city (and a conventional built house).  For now, we’re into the “art of the chop saw” which is really the fun of such a place.  There are no rules, no permits to pull, no inspectors, no bullshit.  Just good common sense and super-strong construction practice.

Which is where my weekend will go.

And update  should be forthcoming Monday, but that’s how life goes on the business-end of power tools…

Write when you get rich,

author avatar
George Ure
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21 thoughts on “Coping: Prepping Adventure in the Bathroom”

  1. @George,

    You forgot to use your usual photo ‘follow along with the job’ enhancement.

    Which is a great part of your ‘home projects tours.

  2. George,

    I guess I grew up in the “School of Overkill”. When my wife and I built our home in 1990 on the old family farm, we might have gone overboard at the time according to local builders. All the floor joists are 2×10 or 2×12 on 16″ centers. We did use 2×4 exterior wall framing, but installed 3/4″ urethane insulation board on the exterior and filled the stud spaces with fiberglass. Where we really went over the top was on wiring. Rather than wire merely to the code at the time, we went for the next wire size bigger for every circuit, letting the circuit breaker be the “weak” point and not the wiring. We also used a commercial/industrial breaker box. Guess what? The wiring still meets code for the present day. Did I mention that my wife is an Electrical Engineer? As was allowed at the time, we did all the wiring ourselves; and passed code inspection hands down. We also put all wiring in a central tray or “wiring alley” and went 90 degrees from that for individual circuits. Saves having to locate wires in the future, because they are confined to certain areas. Wall outlets were wired from below and switches and ceiling fixtures from above. House was built on a crawl space and I can sit upright under the entire house. Somehow I knew I would get old and have arthritis.

    Biggest problem we have in our area is plumbing. Our water attacks copper and brass with a vengeance. No one uses copper pipe, only PVC. Still fixtures are brass or copper lined and degrade quickly. I have replace all the supply shutoffs for every fixture, because the only ones available in 1990 were brass lined gate valves which long ago went by the wayside. New ones are PVC ball valves.

    All that being said, I shudder to think what it would cost to wire the house today; the way it was done in 1990.

    Hope your project goes well. Sounds to me that you have a good game plan.

  3. Thank you for sharing your XL spread sheets over past episodes, the market has been tenacious even with several attempts to spook the heard. All of our aged glues and paints are a problem, I too have tried to use my belt sander recently with similar results. I like all the new stuff with words Gorilla or Flex in them, they seem to work the best. It causes the wife’s eyes to roll when I throw those words at her though. I like Oppenheimer Ranch on You Tube, Interesting spin on world weather, quakes, volcanism, and prepping.

  4. my method for estimating time for any project:

    1. make your initial estimate.
    2. multiply by 2
    3. convert to the next unit up.

    so a project that should require 2 hours will actually take 4 days.

  5. If it isn’t too late, consider getting an epoxy floor. It is applied in liquid form and colored speckles are sprinkled in to give it traction in wet areas. Not cheap but may fit your desires better than cheap sheet goods.

    There also are more expensive options like rubber/synthetic sheeting but probably an order and wait product in your area.

  6. I use a mix of piping. My favorite today is PEX, which can be installed with a couple of expensive tools and crimp rings. It flexes and the polymer is quite stable. PVC and CPVC are cheap and easy for accessible locations, but PEX can be pulled like wire. It just needs to be away from any UV light – more so than PVC. PE(polyethylene) black pipe is actually super cheap, flexible and very reliable, other than the joints. The best joints are fused with heat, but barbs and clamps are more common. Best for outside, and is legal for gas service in some areas.

    I’ve used the old thick industrial 12″ square tiles with Henry’s glue. Home Depot has them. I doubt Elaine would approve the look, but they’re easy to install(use a torch to enable flexing), and cheap. You can use that as a base and cover with a floating floor if you wish. The Henry’s glue really keeps the bugs out and fills voids. I have a friend who has a floating plank vinyl floor in a “hobby room” and it really looks nice after several years of use. The key is to get the base totally flat.

    • If you don’t have a crimper and rings shark bite fittings works great and cheaper if its a one shot deal.

    • Floating floors are great but.. If you get water on it and it gets Ben with the floating floor you SOL..have the linoleum guy come out do a nice job and cheaper in the long run.
      Apoxy is nice but.. If you use cheap material on the floor any flex and its a chipping mess. At that point your best to pour the floor then Apoxy it.
      Been there done that with both. The good ground contact ply with the cement board and a professionally installed linoleum floor will out live the both of you.

  7. You didn’t mention to save the broken sand paper. Cut it down and use on other sanders or for hand use.
    Jew tip.

  8. iknow its $$’s butt..

    i always wonder why bathrooms are built the way they are, chipboard, over the kitchen, no floor drain on and on, kindasorta stupid! ‘They’ did wake up and stated selling overflow pans for washing machines.
    When i play builder in sims3 my baths are outside, on grass or natural stone, or above one another on a multistory.
    It’s really all just very poor architecture, not thought out from experience at all, that is how most construction is. Everybody does it that way so it must be right, yeah right.
    Even in cold climes like North Dakota, where the plumbing needs be on inside walls only and 6ft. underground or in basement, it is not that difficult to prevent water flooding damage.
    Or if basements were built like barge boats, the houses would float in the flood plane.
    Nobody seems to think about any of this….

    • I remember when I first saw an overflow pan for a hot water heater – esp. since I remembered a problem my folks had once . . . come to think of it – why not an overflow pan for an oil furnace too? We had a leak once and oil spilled all over the floor of our (finished) basement . . .


    You didn’t mention what your plans were for under payment. I sure hope you used the rock on your floor on top of the underlayment. Doublewides are awesome great use of space but. They’ve always cut costs on materials.
    If you decided to just put regular under payment back down I hope you’ve put the quarter inch on top. I would suggest
    The plywood used for wood basements with the rock on top.
    Have fun..

  10. 2×6, 24″ OC? Ouch!

    You can “introduce” a new 2x, betwixt your existing joists (you’ll have to shim to height) but doing it under a bathroom requires some “artistic engineering.” I suggest CCA40 plywood, with Durock glued to it, and joist-reinforcement where it can be done. Jointing the Durock can be done with anything from gypsum to cement to Bondo, although, the more-waterproof the joints, the less-likely moisture will ever even see that CCA40. Jointed, it makes an amazing surface to which to glue wood, tile, or any vinyl or linoleum flooring.

    Gorilla Glue would probably stick those sanding belts back together nicely. Unfortunately, it too has a shelf life. It’s an isocyanate or isocyanoacrylate (urethane) based glue (can’t remember which), so once you break the seal, it’s landfill in a year. ‘Probably lasts 5-6 years in a sealed container before it sucks enough water molecules through its container walls to harden itself.

    The only glue I know of which has an indefinite shelf-life is resorcinol. Dad taught me how to use it when I was nine or ten (there’s a learning curve involved.) Since you are a boater and flyer, I should need say no more… and yes, there’s a kit in my prep-stash that’s big enough to build a Piper Cub or a sloop — just in case…

  11. I don’t get here as much as I would like to. Even semi-retired it’s pretty hectic.
    Only one thing. Don’t shop at Lowe’s.
    They have been treating people like numbers for the last couple of years. I’m done.

  12. If you have a SUV towing a cargo van or if you have an RV and you got ten thousand bucks you can go into any of the HUD States Park overnight out the places that you want to bid on to get the feel of the neighborhood and most of them are drug-infested crime-infested and if you find one that you like you can stay there on the property rent-free while you’re waiting for the decision to come through on whether or not you won the bid and if for some reason someone says you can’t stay there well you’ve already looked at a half a dozen other places too so you’re going there and you stay there on-site men want you to win the bid on whichever one it is you’re there it’s yours .

    Now the thing about it is you register as homeless so you can get these houses for a dollar or is it my case I was stupid and paid $2,000 and from there you own a home you fix it you got the title to it and you’re finding work in the kind of whatever you’re good at and you living rent-free cuz you own it you sock away a little bit more money now you’re not eligible for the homeless bracket .

    So it may take you a year maybe two years save up enough money not paying any rent or mortgage to buy the next house which will probably be under $10,000 and need lots of work and when that happens you rent out the house that you fixed that you were living in and you move on to the house with your camper that needs all the work and you repeat this process but each time you do that you accumulate each year more rental property to the point where every year you can buy property then it gets to where you can every 6 months every 3 months you can buy another property ….

    The secret to success if there’s a will there’s a way

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