Tore Up From The Floor Up

Finally. First I had major, major surgery. Then the shower tile went out of stock, and more had to be made back in old Brazil. Then our contractor was booked up. But we demolished the bathroom down to the studs the weekend before last, and it’s finally coming together.

Our house was built in 1963, back when asbestos was still popular and my dad had a glow-in-the-dark watch where the numbers were painted with radium. Yeah! I felt fine about any asbestos risk, until I saw a label that said “fireproof” on the back of a piece of sheetrock. But I looked up United States Gypsum and read these marvelous words:

USG primarily made plasters, paints, drywall (although none of their drywall products contained asbestos)…

Theoretically the old joint compound or texture could contain asbestos, but it was all really well sealed under layers of paint. We wore respirators. And it was the drywall that was really the main source of dust. Everyone’s risk aversion is different, so I would never tell someone else what to do, but I felt comfortable doing it.

Actually, comfortable is not quite the right word. Dirty, dusty, and disgusting are far better descriptors.


Tearing down the drywall is one thing, but the ceiling is a special treat. Be prepared for a rain of old-fashioned insulation. I felt lucky there weren’t roaches or other animals mixed in with it, but I wouldn’t have been surprised.

Note from Richard as he was reading this blog post. “What?!? I didn’t even think that there might have been roaches up there. I’m going to go back in time and tell myself not to do this.”

The hardest part, by far, was getting rid of the gold-glitter fiberglass stall. All these years I’d been so careful not to drop anything sharp or heavy in it… it turns out I shouldn’t have bothered. I went after it with a hammer and it didn’t make a dent. So we borrowed a reciprocating saw from our next-door neighbor and cut it into four sections: left wall, back wall, right wall, and floor. Even so, we couldn’t get the bottom piece out and left it for the crew the next day.

Master-Bath-Remodel-IMG_5025One interesting thing we learned: apparently, because our old ranch has a truss-framed roof, we could take out pretty much any interior wall. I’d still probably consult an engineer before doing it, but it’s nice to know.


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