Terrible Decisions, Stage Two

photoWe started off so well. If you’ve noticed my Instagram feed over there, there’s a picture of a bunch of boxes containing my new toilet, my new tub, and my new tub surround. We’d gotten a bunch of flooring samples from a place online and had narrowed our flooring choices down to two possibilities, one light and one dark. We’d found a vanity or two we liked, and a store that would let us custom-design basically whatever the hell we wanted without blowing our budget up too goddamn much.

Then my father-in-law came over. You remember my father-in-law the general contractor, right? The guy who gave my brother a heart attack when, ten seconds after arriving at the Great Redeckening, he pronounced our wood incorrect?

Yeah. That guy.

“That tub’s not going to work,” he says. Which means the surround isn’t going to work. And I am now very angry– not at him, because he’s right, and more importantly he’s right well before we started destroying our tub or taking things out of boxes and he’s right while we can still take stuff back. I’m angry because I shoulda noticed this shit on my own and I didn’t.

60 inches is basically standard for a tub nowadays, right? I had measured our tub and it had come out to 58 inches from tile to tile– which, I reasoned, given that there was a layer of tile and, underneath that, a layer of drywall, meant that there was certainly going to be sixty inches from stud to stud. The new surround attaches directly to the studs, so all of that stuff was going to come out and then the tub would fit.

Take a real close look at that picture there and see if you can figure out what’s wrong. Go ahead; I’ll wait. No, not the rotten drywall and the mold. We knew about that already; that’s the problem we were going to fix with the new tub and new surround. We discovered the leak when the wallpaper back there started turning black– it’s close to the floor in between the tub and the toilet, though, so it was easy to ignore. Then the drywall started disintegrating. I ripped some of it out to try and figure out how bad it was; it’s actually not very moldy– the black is all on the surface and the wood itself is still, mostly, solid. The white thing on the left is a guard that we put in that (I thought at the time) would stop the leak– I thought water was just running along the edge of the tub and hitting the drywall. No, as it turns out, it’s behind the tile, as we discovered when we pulled one of the tiles out and ran some water. The leak’s not in the tub at all.

But forget about that. Look at the tub, and then look at the wall stud above it. See a problem?

The tub extends a good inch underneath the studs. These fuckers who built this house put the tub in before they even studded the wall, and then built a bloody header over the top of the thing. Which means that any sixty inch tub that expects to have a surround around it is going to be wider than the bathroom is. It’s impossible to put any other modern sixty inch tub in there without moving fucking walls around, and that’s not a level of work that we’re willing to commit to at this time.

My father-in-law figured all this out at a glance.

We have to keep the tub, but we’re still going to have to rip out the tile. There was a brief flirtation with 54″ tubs, but after looking around a bit we decided against that idea on account of they’re all crap. What we’re going to have to do is pull out all the existing tile, pull out all the drywall behind it (which is going to be mostly rotten and moldy at this point anyway), then redrywall (hopefully with a thinner board than they’re using) and retile over that. Tiling is beyond my skill level, so we’ll have to hire someone for it, which is probably gonna blow up our budget– although we’ll make a tiny bit of it back by not having to buy a new tub, I doubt we’ll get anybody to come out and do the new tile work for less than the tub would have cost– although I’ll admit I haven’t really looked into it much so maybe I’ll get lucky.

Also, so much for getting all this done by next weekend. Don’t think so. Sigh.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

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