One of the things about having an older house (in our case, about 35 years old) is that even the smallest repair can open a Pandora’s box. Since I started using the shower in my tropical paradise bathroom, I noted that water was leaking under the shower door, leaving a puddle on the floor each time I took a shower. I diagnosed the problem as the fact that the caulk and ahesive holding the shower door track to the top of the tub had failed. I thought that the repair would take about one or two hours: (1) remove shower door and track, (2) clean up old adhesive and caulk from top of tub and bottom of door track, (3) apply new adhesive and reinstall door, (4) apply new caulk.
Well, executing step 1, removing the shower door track, required removing the shower door frame. Which revealed that the frame was mounted to a piece of wood that was about 1/3 rotted away. This was an unfortunate discovery. Not really liking the shower door anyway, though, I had a plan: (1) remove the rotting piece of wood, (2) replace with complimentary or contrasting tiles, (3) install a shower curtain. This was a significantly larger project than the original project undertaken, but I still had high hopes of finishing before our houseguests arrive on Wednesday.
Again, executing step 1 revealed a whole new world of problems. Namely, not only is the wood that was holding the shower door rotten, but so is a fair amount of the plywood which is holding up the tiles. Not good. So far, I have tried to survey the extent of damage, and have revealed that the bottom foot or so of plywood above the surface of the tub is rotted all the way around. (My father in law says that when they installed tile on plywood in the bad old days, they knew that it would eventually rot. But this was before the widespread availability of cement backer board. So, alas.)
So, at this point the two unpleasant options are: (1) remove a very large swath of tile, replace the plywood with cement backer board, and try to salvage and remount all the tiles or (2) remove all the tiles in the tub surround, replace the rotten plywood, and install a fiberglass tub surround. I am currently leaning towards the latter, as my experience with removing tiles suggests that at least 10% break during removal. Plus I don’t relish the thought of trying to clean the adhesive off of a massive number of tiles, and I’m a rank amateur at laying tile.
Thus, a one hour project turns into (at least) a week long project. I have put one bath out of commission four days before the largest group of houseguests we have ever hosted. I am doing massive construction in a bathroom that I expected to leave alone for at least the next five years. I am spending several hundred dollars on a project that was supposed to cost less than $10. Oh, and we don’t really like fiberglass tub surrounds. Fun stuff, home ownership. All is not well in Chez Mackenab.