What does it involve FIVE FOOT TALL

What does it involve??

What does it take to renovate or remodel a small ensuite? Dependent on how much work you are prepared to put in on your own, this can vary greatly from just doing the bare minimum (shopping around for the furniture and accessories or picking colour schemes) to completing the entire renovation yourself.

Disclaimer: Note this is based on our personal experience on this particular renovation. I will cover another method which is simpler in another post but in this instance, we were not able to apply that method to this renovation as some of our tiles were broken and we were not exactly ecstatic about keeping the existing tiles (preference for larger tiles).

For those that do not know, I have a fascination with learning and doing tasks that are not familiar to me especially those that include hands on involvement. So here, I will cover the process we went through to demolish the bathroom to the tilers standard so he can proceed with screeding, waterproofing and tiling.

Before & After

First, before we demolish everything in sight, I measured the bathroom carefully all walls, floor, horizontal, vertical (measure twice, cut once! ). I also sought online to find the common measurements for the replacement furniture. If you know exactly what you want, it is even more ideal. Why you may ask? Reason is if the bathroom is demolished and realised it is not possible to replace the items easily, then we will be caught out and have to get custom built furniture which are priced higher in general. This is especially important when the area you are working with is smaller than average and our bathroom is exactly that! 1.6m x 1.6m is not an easy area to work with. At least not without the right strategic product placement to have it feel luxuriously spacious, practical, plenty of storage and looking good at the same time!

From the first day we moved in, I knew the existing bathroom had to go. Dirt collecting on hard to reach places (behind the toilet) and a shower (with a hob too!) that I keep knocking my elbows on. Just imagine how small this space is!

So when I was in Venice, Italy, one can imagine my excitement to discover shower screen options that suit extremely small bathrooms! However, when I returned to Australia, the availability of these products did not seem optimistic. 3 years later when I revisited this again, I was ecstatic and mentioned to the Mister that it has come time for the bathroom renovation.

So I mapped out the ensuite and drew it to scale on my notebook. More in the link here. Am sure there are more advanced software available, however before using them, it is wise to research and read reviews to make sure they are accurate. After all, if they werent, it can be a very costly exercise down the track! Every millimetre counts when you are working with tight spaces.

Next is to draw the furniture to scale into the space. As mentioned, if you know the exact piece you want and they are available for purchase, then it will make it easier to see how it can fit into the picture. Few things to note (but not limited to) are openings of vanity cupboard doors and how far does the fittings such as towel rail extends out. As an example, my vanity measures to 600mm but when I open the cupboard doors fully, it measures to 620mm since the handle goes beyond the silhouette of the vanity carcass. Please refer to picture below.

Once the planning and selection is completed, time to get a tiler (if you plan to outsource this step which we did in our case) to quote and discuss schedules as to availability. It is best not to assume that he will have time to fit in your job once demolition is completed. If he is not available for a long time, then that bathroom is useless in its demolished state.

Once the timeframe is set as to when the tiler can come in to pour the screed (we need to make sure demolition was completed before he comes in), we commenced the demolition. Wearing proper safety gear, we started removing the existing vanity, shower and toilet including towel rail and toilet roll holder. Next, we started removing the wall tiles using a chisel and a hammer.

More accurately, this is the process if the task does not involve heavy lifting: The Mister demonstrate on method to complete task, supervised to make sure the quality of the task I completed following his method is up to his standard (he is extremely picky!) and then leaves me to do the rest!

What does it involve FIVE FOOT TALL

Hard work!

Removing all that was the easy part. Next is what I did not expect, removing the cement based tile adhesive! So strong and painful to remove. So instead of doing it at one go, I ended up allocating 2 hours a day for about a week (I also work full time) before I finished all 4 walls! So relieved when it was finally done. Phew! *I was careful when removing this to avoid damaging the walls as well so it was slower than usual. The beauty of doing it yourself is to have the comfort level that the job is done right.

Next, the floor tiles. Same process with the Mister but I did have fun using the pneumatic chisel for the first time. For the old screed under those floor tiles, I didnt have enough strength to do this so the Mister ended up completing this task with the same chisel. It was really dusty but we found a way to avoid this by spraying a little mist of water on the screed (had to be really careful where we were spraying as we were working with electrical tools).

Since we were tiling from floor to ceiling, we also chipped the top part of our walls with a tomahawk as they were too smooth for the tiles to adhere to.


We had thumbs up from the tiler on the demolition job well done. So he was good to go straight away on pouring the screed on, waterproofing and tiling the floor. Once the floor tiles had some time to settle and dry, he continued with tiling the walls and then grouting once those tile glue had dried as well.

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