Monday, August 20, 2012

holy moldy!

First of all, I'm still in shock over everything that's happened since Thursday.  Here's how it went down.  Thursday afternoon I started getting emails notifying me of all these people commenting on my blog.  (I only had about 10 total comments prior to Thursday).  At first I thought, "bummer, I have spam on my blog".  Then I started reading the comments, and they would say things like, "Just popping over from Young House Love, I love your living room".  My heart started beating fast, pretty sure my face got more pale than it already is and I thought, "this is not happening!".

As you know, Young House Love is my favorite DIY/home improvement blog - it's what inspired me to start this blog.  They have a feature they do every once in a while where they feature readers' renovations and call it "Reader Redesign".  Four months ago in April, I decided I would submit my living room post, not thinking it would ever get posted.  Then, Thursday it happened.  I went onto their website and saw this:

Then I was all, "that's our freaking living room!".  I got home thinking, "I've probably had 1,000 hits, maybe 5,000."  I checked the count and it was over 17,000.  Then the freaking out commenced.  Now, three days later, it's over 52,000 (and counting).  Still can't believe it.  So, thank you to everyone who has hopped on here and looked at our little blog about our house.  And to all my new followers, I hope I keep you entertained and inspired.  (If you missed it click here to see it on the YHL website or click here to see my actual blog post that was featured).

Anyway, enough of my gushing and excitement.  Onto what this post is really about.  Mold.  Moooold.  Moldy mold (in an Austin Powers voice).  When we first looked at our house, the only things we didn't like were the upstairs bathrooms.  Simply because they were outdated and were the original toilets, showers, cabinets, floors.  I'm not the type of girl who needs a large master bathroom suite with a jetted tub, separate sinks and enough room to have a dance party.  I just need a mirror with good, natural light so I can put on my make-up and put gel in my hair.  Our goal was to start on the master bathroom late this summer.  But when we saw this in April, we knew we had to get started sooner.

Ew, right?  As soon as we moved in, we noticed a smaller hole here that looked like it was filled with spackle or caulking.  Then, as we continued to shower over the next nine months, it got bigger and bigger and more and more wet.  At first, we thought it was the shower door leaking.  We sealed that off and it was still wet.  We realized the water must have been going through the tile and grout and saturating whatever was behind it.  We were not thrilled to be starting this so soon, but we feared what was behind it all.  So, once again, our conversation went like this...

Jamie:  What do you want to do today?
Ehren:  Want to rip out the shower?
Jamie:  Okay!

Here are the before pictures of our 1970s bathroom.

Oh, hey cute husband.  

We hopped in the car, got a crow-bar, goggles and masks and got to it.  I'll be honest, I was scared.  I was so worried about what we were going to find.  But Ehren, who never worries, was ready.  We started by taking the shower doors off.

Then took off the shower door frame.

Then we donned our special looking goggles, took a really dorky picture, and started the demo. 

We discovered that when they made this shower in the 70s, all they did was slap tile onto drywall.  No moisture barrier.  Nothing.  When drywall gets wet, it crumbles and falls apart.  There is nothing waterproof or water-tolerant about drywall.  As we started getting lower, the tiles just started falling off.  We could literally stick our finger through the drywall with the slightest pressure.  It was mush.   

Then we saw it.  MOLD.  Black, spotted mold.  After we saw how the shower was built, we weren't really that surprised.  But still, who wants to know they've been living with mold?  In the following pictures, if it's black, it's mold. 

Cozy is looking at us like, "you silly humans have no idea what you're doing."  He was right.  But he didn't have to stick his tongue out at us!

The walls came right off.  And then I decided to google mold and had a melt down got worried.  I was thinking, "Oh my gosh, we're going to die, we're going to have lung cancer, we need to call professionals, we can't afford a professional mold-remover, we're going to die, why are we doing this?, what are we going to do now?, we're going to die".  Ehren, of course, was not worried.

We did our research and put the moldy drywall into thick, black, plastic bags to throw away.  Then, cleaned the studs with Dawn soap and then bleach and let it air dry.  That took care of that little problem.

Now, time to remove the shower pan.

Taking out the drain, so that we could take out the shower pan, took a lot of time.  We used a drill, a chisel, and a screw driver to disconnect the drain from the shower pan.

Then, of course we found more water damage where the water ran down the dry wall onto the sub floor.  Isn't that lovely?

We noticed the water extended beyond the shower pan and into the bathroom.  We pulled back the linoleum until the water damage stopped.  It extended through half of the bathroom.  Even more loveliness!

Here is during the cleaning process with the Dawn and bleach.  It cleaned up very well and dried out for the first time in... 10, 20, 30 years?

Hooray for dry subfloors.  Absolutely no structural damage to them.  Double hooray!

We also removed the medicine cabinet above the toilet and found some very old wallpaper.

We also found some very long nails that held the medicine cabinet up.  A little excessive, don't you think?

It was a long, hot, tiring day of demo but we were happy that the mold was gone and the old shower was out.  Luckily, the studs and subfloor were fine (and without mold).  Honestly, I was kind of excited we had to start on the master bathroom sooner (impatient, much?).  We knew we were going to take our time to research and find what we really liked for the shower we will use for years to come.  We wanted to make this a small and mighty bathroom, but that seemed like a long ways away at the time.  We hung up our gloves and thought, "well, we better figure out how to build a shower". 



  1. Found you via YHL- congrats on the feature!! Your bathroom find sounds scary-thank goodness the subfloor wasn't damaged!! We had a similar thing happen in one of our bathrooms and I think I had a similar panic attack. We didn't have to rip out a tub/drywall but we did re-do the subfloor in one spot. Water is a sneaky sneaky beast. Can't wait to see what you do with the remodel!

    1. It is sneaky! I'm just glad it didn't travel down to the kitchen below and ruin the ceiling.

  2. I found you on YHL too! And have put you in my fave folder at work (well not YOU but your blog)! :) plan this winter is to re-do my bathroom. I have a sneaky suspicion that my future endeavors will turn out like yours and I am AFRAID! You and I might need to become BFf's in the blogosphere cuz I might need some cheering on once I get started. Awesome job so far! Lindsey

    1. Thanks for putting me in your folder at work! I'm sure there are a lot of bathrooms out there like ours.. especially ones built in that decade. Don't be scared! (easy for me to say!)

  3. Hi Jamie,
    I also found you on YHL. I started reading last week after you were featured. Then I proceeded to go back and read all your other posts. My husband and I are in the process of trying to buy our first home. If we get the one we like I foresee a bunch of DIO in our future.

  4. you guys are adorable. congrats on the polarity. people will keep coming back because this is quality stuff (though moldy).

    1. Thank you! And thank goodness for mold.. I guess? :)

  5. That wallpaper behind the cabinet is hilarious. Were they really THAT lazy to remove such a small piece? Or did the owners paint over the rest of the wallpaper? Interesting. Anyway - love that you are tackling this project on your own. Can't wait to see how it progresses.

    1. My guess is that it was originally wallpapered and the medicine cabinet was added later. Then when the previous people removed the wallpaper, they didn't take off the medicine cabinet. Ahhh, wallpaper.

  6. JAMES! You're famous! I always knew you would be! You're so talented! Congrats!! Everything looks awesome! I can't wait to see this in real life!

    1. You are so sweet! Now get your butt up to Lawrence :)

  7. good work jehren! (like what i did with your names ?:) you guys are so inspiring! looking forward to reading more about it!

  8. I found you on YHL as well. Read all your posts this weekend and am all caught up! I love Cozy! He is a doll puppy!
    I gutted my bathroom 2 years ago. The guy who flipped my house didn't level the bathtuf (there isn't a square surface in this house!) And it cracked and leaked and oh my gosh nightmare. When I started tearing the sheetrock out I found that in the 60 years this house stood the layered sheetrock over the existing plaster walls 3 times. Yeah. Same with the ceiling and subfloor. 3 layers! Good grief. Mine didn't clean up though, I had to replace a few studs, totally replace the subfloor because the water leaked all the way through and when my dad and I pulled the 2nd and bottom layer apart there was a family of slugs living between them. I about lost my lunch. It was bad enough the boards were rotted and completely black with mold. Reno is not for the faint of heart. Or stomach. Gag.
    Glad you didn't get water damage in your kitchen from this!

  9. Oh no! Now I am officially freaking out! My bathroom looks identical to yours, right down to the matching hole next to the shower base!
    Keep us posted on the next step in the process, because I have a funny feeling we'll be doing the same thing to our bathroom soon...
    Also, congrats on your feature on YHL, it's so exciting!
    I've just recently started writing about my misadventures because of them too!
    xx Elise

  10. What IS it with people putting showers right onto drywall!??!?! In our case, I'm pretty sure the surround is attached to plaster on two sides, and then I KNOW it's attached to just plain ol' plywood on one side. Fanx, previous owners!!

  11. Also found you via YHL, and love that you don't shy away from the bad and the ugly (or moldy!). Google is dangerous; we just finished redoing our one and only full bathroom in June, and google had me panicking the whole way. if you want to see how ours turned out...we had some pretty bad wallpaper ourselves :) Please keep writing!

  12. I found you via YHL just today (catching up on my Google Reader) and was excited to see that you're in Lawrence. I'm in Olathe! :D I'll start to follow along. I just wrote my second post ever, so come visit if you'd like.


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