Sunday, April 15, 2012

The smallest room in the house (part II--what lies beneath)

(See part one)

Having gutted the 'loo and made it structurally sound, it was time to start filling it in. A lot of things went on at once, but I'll try to take things in a more orderly manner, starting with the ground up.

We are currently renting a house in Roseburg, and it's a pretty nice place. The bathroom is nothing special, but it does have one nice (if completely accidental) feature. There is an exhaust pipe for the water heater and central heat located in the basement crawl-space beneath the right-hand-front corner of the sink. It takes the sting out of waking up on a cold morning to stand on this one particular tile as you do your morning ablutions.

It turns out you can achieve this effect intentionally, so the Real Doctor and I decided to splurge and get a heated floor for the bathroom. Although it's an electrical heater, it did create some friction--it's not clear whether its installation falls under the purview of the tile guy or the electrician. Eventually, they played along. The tile guy arranged the heater wires on the floor and taped them down, and the electrician fed them through the conduit into the wall outlet:
Next, the tile guy laid down a layer of cement. This was one of those things that really required some art. Our house is old, and there is no surface, floor, wall, or ceiling, that is truly flat or perpendicular to any other. However, a bathtub needs to be flat (that is, with reference to the earth's gravitational field, not with reference to any nearby wall or floor) to drain properly. So, the tile guy had the unenviable job of getting the floor to tilt and warp and skew so that it joined together all the walls, the tub, and the door without resembling a Pringle. Impossible to see in this photo, but it took some significant time and skill.
The tile we chose is a marble subway tile; rather than putting in each tile individually, they come glued to square-foot sheets of mesh. There's still a lot of cutting and trimming that needed to be done to get everything to fit well, requiring skills and tools that I don't have. The edge is made from doorway sills:
And finally, some grout. We opted for an epoxy-based grout that is supposed to be extremely easy to clean and mold resistant--we'll see how it works.
Of course, first thing we did was try out the floor heater. It takes a while to heat up--but it's got a thermostat with a programmable timer, so you can set it to be warm when you wake up in the morning. It feels divine.

(We aren't at this level of decadence yet, but I have heard of heated toilet seats. As a 5-year old, I lived in New Zealand for a year. I remember that it was quite cold in the mornings, and the best way to start the morning was to be the second person in our family of five to use the loo. The first person got the most immediate satisfaction of biological urges, but the second one did pretty well in that regard and got a warm seat.)

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