I’ve worked my work schedule out such that I am now working 7.30am – 5.30pm Monday through Thursday and Fridays I have off.  I wanted to have a bit more time around the house in order to get a few things checked off the long-term to-do list and started the first of these projects yesterday.

The caulking around the edge of our tub is pretty gross.  It was gross before we got here and, in the way of caulking, has gotten grosser as time has passed.  I did battle yesterday to remove it from its calcified lair.  The caulking was done with the same level of skill and attention to detail evident in all the other handyman type work that has been done in this house, which is to say: not much.

Typically the material used to seal between the bottom of the tiled wall and the top of the bathtub is flexible to at least some degree.  I don’t know if what was in there was ever flexible.  It took bashing at it with a screwdriver and needlenose pliers to get it out and about twenty tiles came off in the process.  Including one of the ones I fixed in March.  This was frustrating to say the very least.  After inadvertently removing a whole bunch of tiles, I learned that all the cement board behind said tiles is soaking wet and has been every time anybody has showered since before we moved it, probably because the caulking was in such horrible shape.

I discovered that the soap holder was adhered to the tiles only by a bead of clear silicone caulking and possibly happy thoughts.  I filled the gaping hole it left behind with several pieces of plywood and quite a lot of tile adhesive.  This whole project decided me on the fact that the upstairs bathroom reno ought to be in the ‘two years from now’ area rather than ‘five years from now,’ so the quality of the repair work is not crucial (he said to himself, wondering if the previous owners had thought the same thing with the wiring).

After cleaning the removed tiles and giving the wall at least some chance to dry out (with a fan pointed at it for all the good it did), I reapplied myself to reapplying tile adhesive and resetting the tiles.  In a burst of tremendous foresight and good planning, the previous owners bought about a hundred spare tiles so I was able to replace the most broken and/or hardest to clean tiles with fresh, new ones (unfortunately they are quite a lot shinier and rather paler than the ones that have been in place for 30 years.  Go figure).  I learned as well that needlenose pliers will, in a pinch, replace tile nippers (please forgive the pun).  The bottom 1/8th inch or so of each tile had to be clipped to make it fit.

This morning I got down to actually caulking the tub and the gaps between the tiles.  In a conversation with my dad yesterday, he reminded me to fill the tub with water before caulking.  This serves two purposes.  One, it weighs the tub down on the joists prior to the caulking installation so it isn’t stretched all out of place the first time somebody takes a bath and two, for me to forget it’s there and stick my foot and leg in it.  Fortunately enough for me, I know myself well enough to forestall this disaster by wearing swim trunks to do all of this work.  I ran out of caulk about 2/3 of the way through the job and had to make a quick run to Rona (and then twenty five minutes in the opposite direction to Home Depot because I needed the same kind of caulking and forgot which store I went to the first time).  I also bought some closed-cell foam backer rod to help bridge the well over 1/2 inch gap on both ends of the tub.  I don’t know if the tile is in crooked or if the tub is but there is a huge space at the outside edges of the tub and the aforementioned 1/8″ too tightness on the other side.  Quality is job one.

The job is finished now and since I would like it to have time to properly cure and set we are all going to have to bathe in the sink for at least the next day or two.  Making the whole works even worse is that my brother-in-law warned me before I even started that by the end I would want to replace all the tile, and while I’m at it the tub, and the sink, and the toilet and heck maybe rip out all the soggy drywall and cement board and maybe re-insulate the wall and knock this through into that other room and maybe enlarge this other over here.  It was a very near-run thing for me to avoid doing so.

and make music to the heavens