Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Master Bathroom Expansion

By: Danny Lipford

At less than 40 square feet and decades old, the master bathroom in this home was not exactly fit for a king and queen. By knocking out a wall and taking in an adjacent bedroom, we were able to add his and her vanities, a cultured marble shower, a spacious walk-in closet, and an acrylic glass block window.

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Danny Lipford: This house has a master bathroom that really needs some help, that’s why we’re here. Stay with us.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford. The voice of home improvement with projects, tips, and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: The owners of this home, the Turners, have lived here for a number of years. And they’re now empty nesters, and they finally decided, darn it we want the kind of master bathroom we’ve always dreamed about. So we went to work on a design that would help them have the type of room that they wanted without adding any additional space to the house, because they tell me they already have more house than they really need.

So we found a bedroom that was adjacent to the existing master bathroom, and we found a very clever way of incorporating all of that together to really create the space they wanted for their bathroom, and a little extra closet space thrown in on the side. So the renovation has already started, it’s going great, I’m glad we’ve got an inside job, kind of cold today.

Danny Lipford: This is the space the Turners used for their master bedroom, and very little work will be done in this area during the renovation other than a little bit of painting and a few little touchups. Actually, right now it’s being used as a staging area for all of the materials that are being used in the renovation that’s already well under way.

Now, this is a fairly good sized master bedroom, but for some reason in the original floor plan it called for these walls to be constructed to create the space for a very small master bathroom, and that’s what’s really motivating this entire renovation. Let me show you what I mean.

Now, we’ve already started a few of the walls as I mentioned, and the original wall was about 12 inches back from where this one is, but that still only gave you 36 square feet for this bathroom. Now, if you live in an older home, you can probably relate to how small this bathroom was.

Thirty-six square feet doesn’t sound like much to start with, but it looks like even less when you consider the space’s being used by two adults on a daily basis. If you combine the small size of the room with the dated ceramic tile, the lovely pale fixtures, and the aging cabinetry; you begin to get a much better picture of why this family wanted a change. Closets were also in short supply and slightly overloaded, so taking in the adjacent vacant bedroom really made sense for them.

The tight quarters also made the demolition start off slow. But the guys soon removed a window that was being eliminated, and that allowed them to get all the materials out of the house as soon as they were torn out of the bathroom. The vanity cabinet had been built in place with tile set around it, so it took a little effort to get rid of this. The tile surrounding the shower required plenty of work, too, so the guys went ahead and opened up the wall of the adjacent bedroom so that they could start pounding the tiles off from the backside. It worked and in no time at all they were ready to start creating the new bathroom.

After all of the demolition or tear out was complete, we were able to frame up all the walls that we needed in this little bathroom renovation to kind of define all of the space. In this, the original bathroom, we’re positioning a vanity on this wall. Then going into this space, which is part of the bedroom that we’re taking up, we have a shower on this side, shower valve, and the drain. And then the toilet’s tucked away over here.

Now, you may notice as we walk through the pocket doorframes we have already in place, and this is something you have to decide on very early in a renovation like this. And pocket doors are great when you’re really trying to maximize all of the space that you have available, but a couple things to keep in mind. First of all buy a good pocket door pocket door hardware, because the inexpensive ones will really cause you problems for years to come. The other thing, keep in mind a pocket door requires this, the pocket door frame where the cavity in the wall for the door to slide into. And positioning these’s very critical, because here, no problem, wouldn’t obstruct the use of anything over here; but it would’ve really caused us some problem with the valve and some electrical work. But they’re a great way to save some space.

Now, this next space will also, is also, part of the original bedroom; and on this side we have an opening of a wood window that we removed. Now, what we’re doing here is the homeowners are in the process of choosing the right feature window they want for this space. And some of things that they’re considering is first of all, they want as much natural light into this space as they can get. And also they need a little privacy, the neighbor’s not too far away, so that’ll be a real careful selection on that. I’m looking forward to seeing exactly what they come up with.

Over here, another vanity, which is always a great idea. Any time you can work in two vanities in a master bathroom, it really makes life a little easier for everything. Well one of the things the homeowners are really looking forward to – more closet space. We all need more closet space. And here a sizeable closet with two accesses here coming off this part of the bathroom, and another doorway coming off one of the original hallways.

Now, things are moving along really nicely on this project. But one of the things we’re about to do is something that you need to keep in mind when you’re renovating an existing space, and that you have an opportunity to make it more energy efficient than it ever has been before. So we’re about to get started on all of our isolation and sealing up every crack we can. While the guys start sealing this place up check out this week’s Simple Solution.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: If you’ve shopped for paintbrushes recently you may have discovered that it’s no easy chore picking the right brush for the job. That’s because the average home center store carries literally hundreds of brushes in every imaginable size and shape.  Now the width of the brush refers to how wide the work piece is that you’re painting. It’s important to remember there are only two types of brushes, synthetic bristled brushes and natural bristled brushes. Now, a natural bristled, like this one here, has bristles made of ox hair or hog hair, sometimes they’ll use badger. This is a perfect brush for applying an oil-based paint.

Now, for latex based paint you want to use a synthetic bristle brush. This one has polyester bristles, sometimes they’re made out of nylon or a combination of poly and nylon.  The reason you don’t want to use a natural bristle brush to apply latex paint is that the water in the paint will get absorbed by the bristles; they’ll become so limp that you can’t apply the paint. OK, so you only need to remember two things now, you need a synthetic bristle brush for latex paint, and a natural bristle paint for oil based paints.

Danny Lipford: One of the great things about a small bathroom renovation like this is it moves along fairly quickly. When we were here last, all of the walls were just studs. Now our drywall has all been installed and finished, and our trim carpenters installed some nice crown molding. All of the doors have been trimmed out, pocket doors in place, and even our painters have been able to apply a coat of primer to a lot of raw wood.

Now, while you were walking through the bathroom, I actually came around by the hallway and entered into this master closet from the door that leads off the hallway. That’ll be a real convenient aspect of this design for the homeowners.

Now, the painters are taking a little break right now for lunch. But when they come back, they’ll be spending a lot of time in this closet putting a primer coat on all of the new shelving that we installed in this closet. Now, we created all the custom shelves by using a 16-inch composite shelf board that’s very smooth, even has a finished edge on the front of it. And we assembled everything using a 1×2 pine and 1×4 pine, as well as a little bit of shoe molding right on the front of the little shoe rack that we built. Now, it’s very easy to build a custom closet like this, the main thing is to spend a little time drawing it out and designing exactly what you want before you start cutting up the wood.

Now, one decision the homeowners struggled with a little bit is exactly what type of window to use here in this part of the bathroom. They chose something that a lot of homeowners are choosing. The look of glass blocks really caught the homeowner’s eye and this is perfect for their particular bathroom, because it gives them the privacy that they needed in that bathroom, as well as all the natural light will be able to flood and just fill the area up. Also, very energy efficient, which is very important when you’re talking about a unit as large as we’re dealing with here. But in the past when you wanted this look, you had to go with real glass blocks, here it’s all acrylic.

A lot of advantages, one it comes in prefab units, like the one you see here, in a number of different sizes and styles. And you can get a number of different types of obscure patterns, even a tinted one if you need to block a little bit of that sun. Now, if you went with real glass blocks, you would have to find a mason that’s comfortable with laying all those blocks – very labor intensive, certainly a lot more expensive. And a lot more weight that you’re dealing with there, which can cause you some problems in some of the larger units. Acrylic units like this you can get as large as 8 feet high and 7 feet wide, so a lot more versatile. I think the homeowners made a pretty good decision, besides it adds a cool look to the outside of the house, too.

But now back inside, the painters have done their thing. And the tile setter is busy putting in the new flooring for the bathroom and closet. With the way this space is laid out, centering a floor full of tiles on the doorway creates the best flow from one area to the next. But it does mean that Tim has quite a few cuts to make around the doorway. When tile is going down in a small job like this, not much else gets done, so the job pretty much belongs to the tile man. That also means that he gets a little pressure to finish quickly, so the work can continue; and in this case, the cabinet installers are next in line.

While they don’t have a lot of cabinets going in here, it’s quite a squeeze getting them into the space and making the necessary cutouts for the plumbing. After all of that, the actual installation is as simple as a few well-placed screws.

Now, this part of the bathroom’s really looking finished, since the electrician completed the installation of the fixture. The painter has everything looking pretty good, cabinets in place. And to finish it all off, we have our ceramic tile floor completely finished, and it really ties everything together.

Now, you know when you’re choosing a vanity for your bathroom, here are a couple things to consider. First of all if you have the cabinet man make the doors all the way up to the top, instead of having that false panel that many of them have – you’ll get a lot more room inside. Also, make sure you don’t have a middle stile – or section of wood going down the middle – like many cabinets do, again that’ll restrict your access into this main part of the vanity. Here’s something I like a lot, the little short shelves on either side, it’s perfect for positioning the little things you may have, and still save this middle part of the vanity for some of the taller things that you might have. Also, drawers are always really nice to have – taller drawers on the bottom, smaller one on top. But another thing that a lot of people are discovering and really prefer in vanities, is to raise them up a little bit. See this one’s almost 36 inches tall, whereas traditional vanities from years ago may be 32 or 34. This gives you a little more space, but also makes it a little more convenient when you’re washing your hands, shaving, or putting on makeup.

Now, the only thing we really need in this bathroom in order to finish is a cultured marble top and the plumbing fixtures. Well, the cultured marble guys are on their way, and we’ll look at that next right after our Best New Product of the week.

Danny Lipford: If you have a small, medium, or larger sized yard with a few bare spots; you’ve probably tried to apply grass seed by hand and ended up with a little bit of inconsistent coverage. Well, by using a seed spreader you can cover your lawn more evenly; but this new product called SmartSeeder goes a step further.

It’s actually a hand held broadcast spreader that comes prefilled with grass seed, so not only do you spread the seed more accurately, you don’t have to buy the seed and the spreader separately, that alone will save you a few dollars. Now each of the containers covers 900 to 1,800 square feet, and you can use the little shaker cap on top to cover any of the small areas or some of the bare spots. But for the larger areas, use the spinner bottom to cover the entire yard, then refill it as needed. We found the SmartSeeder anywhere from 10 to 12 dollars.

Danny Lipford: We’re getting close on this bathroom renovation, and as you can see our cultured marble tops are already in place. Now, I love this particular sink design that this homeowner chose. It’s called a soap ring oval, and that’s a little recessed margin around the sink itself. Drops down about 3/8 of an inch, makes it a lot easier to keep the sink and the countertop nice and clean. And this was very easy to install. It was measured, dry fitted, then adhesive was placed underneath the top to hold it in place, and pretty much completely finished other then little splashes that’ll go on either side to give it that finishing look. Then our plumber will be able to install the faucet, and this part of the bathroom will be completely finished. Now, we’re leaving the plastic cover over it to protect it from any potential scratches from that plumber. Now, this was fairly easy, but the real work for our cultured marble contractors involve the cultured marble shower.

This kind of shower starts with a preformed drain pan that’s set in place and secured with adhesive over the drainpipe that our plumbers installed earlier. Then the walls can be cut to fit exactly into the available space. This is also when any cutouts for soap dishes and plumbing fixtures are made. A heavy duty adhesive goes onto the drywall before the cultured marble panels are set in place. Then the same process is followed with the other panels, this shower is getting a built-in seat, so the framework to support it has to be built from treated wood, nailed up in the shower space before the marble panels are glued on over it. This cove molding made from the same material is perfect for trimming out the edges of the shower. Then once it’s done, all of the joints and seams are treated with a generous dose of silicone sealant, so that there’s no chance of a leak.

Cultured marble has been very popular over the last few years in a lot of different parts of the country because it’s less expensive than ceramic, and it goes together so quickly.  This whole shower stall was assembled in only a couple hours, so it really makes a lot of difference and enables you to really move along on a bathroom renovation like this.

Now, almost every shower stall we’re putting together these days has some type of seat, whether it’s a corner seat or a bench type seat like this one. And it’s very important that the top of the seat slope towards the drain, so that you don’t have water standing on it, and that’ll reduce the chance of any leaks occurring over the years. And cultured marbles available in a lot of different colors. And it’s a lot less labor intensive than ceramic, because with ceramic you have to pour concrete to create the pan and a lot of individual pieces have to go together to create the shower stall. So you can see why cultured marble has become so popular.

Now, as soon as the guys finished up on the shower stall, our plumber was in to install our showerhead and shower wand, and a diverter that will allow the homeowners to use just this or just this or both at the same time.

Now, another thing that’s taking place is the installation of a mirror over this vanity. And this is a very inexpensive way to add a great look to a bathroom, because a mirror like this only cost around $50. And usually we would rely on our glass contractor to install this, but this is a lot cheaper. But we will be relying on that contractor to install our enclosure and our shower door.

This is one of those specialty jobs that while it isn’t physically difficult can be a little tricky. In other words it goes a whole lot easier if you’ve done it before and Ray has definitely done this a few times. Since you can’t cut these tempered glass panels, the metal framework has to be just right. Plus, besides fitting together so that the door works and everything looks good the installation has to be watertight.

One of the last finishing touches was the installation of the glass shower door. Now that it’s complete, the homeowners can really start enjoying their new bathroom. Now, when you’re choosing a glass shower door like this, a couple decisions you have to make. First of all what type of finish that you want on the aluminum? This is a polished chrome. It’s also available in other matte finishes, like a brushed nickel. But there’s also some people that prefer the gold or polished brass look. So that’s your first decision. Second, what type of glass to go in your shower door? This obviously is a clear glass, which is great to make a small area feel a little larger, but it’s also a little harder to keep clean. The other option is a kind of obscure glass that can range from frosted glass to reeded glass or a number of other options there.

So after you make those decisions then this can go in, and that pretty much wraps up a bathroom renovation. Now when we come back, we’ll take a look at this renovation from start to finish right after our Around the Yard.

Tricia Craven Worley: There are many materials you can use to create a garden path, such as this old concrete path, of course a very popular material. But what you’ll want to consider is what the look you want is, and what kind of function it’s going to perform.

Now, I have three different methods here, the first one is using gravel. And what I have, I’ve put a plastic liner, which is nonporous down, and created a frame with bender board, whether it’s wood or plastic.  And what’s going to happen then is that this is going to stay in place, and it will not work it’s way down into the soil.

You can do the same thing with mulch, and again it will just stay in place. But what I prefer to do is to put this right on the soil, so that it will work its way in and eventually create a really wonderful rich compost.

A third thing that you might consider is using pavers, and whether they’re brick pavers, or concrete pavers, or Mexican Saltillos. Anything like that, lay it out in the pattern that you like, and put in a combination of sand and soil. And then plant a walkable ground cover, I like to use thyme, but there are lots of others that create a really nice lacy frame. It’ll be a very pretty walkway.

Danny Lipford: These homeowners are glad to finally be back in their bedroom, even though the renovation only took 5 to 6 weeks. They tell me they can hardly remember what the old bathroom looked like.

At less than 40 square feet, there wasn’t much to remember; and the decades old blue and white color scheme was certainly forgettable as well. By taking in the adjacent bedroom and demolishing the old master bath, we were able to begin creating a great new space for the Turners. What was originally the whole bathroom is now her vanity. And though his vanity is slightly smaller, it benefits from the natural light of that great glass block window.

Between these two spaces is the new custom cultured marble shower. The walk-in closet at the end of the bath is a great addition to this home. And with two entrances, there’s easy access to its custom shelves, shoe racks, and tons of hanging space.

One thing that’s great about bathroom renovation is that you can create just the type of layout that you want in your home. But if you do like these homeowners have done, and take up a bedroom in order to accomplish that, you need to think about the possible effect that will have when you resell your home. These homeowners are happy with just the way it turned out.

So, join us next week for another renovation here on Today’s Homeowner, I’m Danny Lipford. Next week we’re expanding a home to make room for a growing young family.



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