Tuesday January 26; Friday April 15; Wednesday April 20; Monday April 25; Sunday May 15
The bathroom has been a long time in the making – we had a working toilet by November 2015 but only recently has the rest of the room been nearly completed (still a few little things to finish off). There’s lots to write about and photos to show so I will split the bathroom post in two. See the next post for the (near) finished article.
I picked up a couple of slabs of Huon Pine for the vanity unit when I collected the timber for the duck boards in the shower and the bathroom decking. The timber had only recently been milled and was still a bit wet so we decided to wait a while before making the unit.
We put the ceiling up last January at the same time as the entrance. I’m not going to whitewash the plywood in the bathroom and the entrance but instead coat it with polyurethane (varnish). I haven’t done this yet and still need to give it a sand but it’s holding up just fine as it is.
I originally conceived my bathroom to work as a three-way space: bath/shower; toilet; and basin – where all three functions could be used simultaneously but privately by different people. This would require partitions or screens to divide the space. The idea came from two sources. Having grown up in a one-bathroom house – where you had to wait to use the toilet/shower/basin if someone else was already using any of them – I wanted to be able to brush my teeth if someone was in the shower or on the toilet. I also dreamed of hosting large parties, where people would camp and stay the night. Having the basin as circulation space, outside of the other two functions, would allow this. I soon realised that the majority of the time it would just be me staying at 60k House so the need for simultaneous functions or privacy wasn’t a big deal. Besides – it’s nice having a big bathroom, with a view.
Wet and Dry
Bathrooms can be about many things, but mostly come down to just two: things that get wet and things that want to stay dry. The designated wet area of the bathroom takes up half the bathroom – this is where the shower is located, and where a bath will go in the future.
The concrete floor to the entire bathroom is set down 100mm – this is to accommodate the timber floor at the same finished level. The ‘dry’ area of timber floor is tongue and groove Tas Oak flooring, clamped and nail tight. The ‘wet’ area is Huon Pine duckboards, spaced apart to allow water to drain in between. The concrete floor in the wet area, below the duckboards, was finished with falls to a central floor waste.
I waterproofed the concrete floor and the bottom of the cement sheet wall lining with a water-based two-part epoxy. Water-based products are usually easier to clean and less toxic, but more expensive than oil based products. Two-part means just that – two separate parts, stored in separate tubs, that when combined and mixed will go off. My brother’s partner’s father had some epoxy and sealant left over from renovating their house – I didn’t need much.
The cement sheet lining runs all the way down to the concrete floor. We squeezed a bead of silicone along the joint to seal it and form a cove for the tape. The same was done in the corners – silicone then tape. The epoxy is then applied over the tape, forming a waterproof seal.
The slab was poured over nine months ago so it had cured, but the concrete still absorbed a lot of epoxy during the first coat. I had to wait at least 24 hours for the epoxy to set before repeating the process a couple of days later. I used a grey colour for the third and top coat.
The wall lining of the bathroom is 6mm cement sheet – the same as the external cladding. In the wet area I sealed the joints between the sheets and around the window and door frames with silicone before applying two coats of clear polyurethane sealer. The rest of the lower sheets have one coat of sealer – in case of occasional splashes, and so they look the same. The sheets above the doors and windows have been left natural. I did seal the high sheet in the wet area but it looked totally different to the others (and it wasn’t getting wet) so I replaced it with another sheet and left it natural.
Trial, and error
Using cement sheet as lining for a bathroom, especially in a shower/wet area, was a risk. The experiment hasn’t completely worked. Because I usually shower outside (taking a hot shower beneath the stars is a magic experience) the internal walls never get that wet. But when I had two guests staying they mostly showered inside, exposing the cement sheet walls to prolonged periods of water running down them. The water beads off the sealed cement sheet – I made sure to test that. However after multiple showers some moisture does soak through at a couple of the lower nail heads.
First I will try to sand back the polyurethane, seal the nail heads with Gyprock or something similar, before reapplying another couple of coats of polyurethane sealant. If that doesn’t work then I will need to replace the sheet and glue it instead of nail, or cover it with another waterproof sheet or even tiles.
The basin was the very first thing I bought for 60k House – around five years ago from a second hand store that was closing down in Sheffield. This was a couple of years before I even started construction – at the time I was still only thinking of building some temporary camping facilities at my block. Ian the plumber came and installed the vanity basin and temporarily rigged up the shower. This hasn’t changed and still works well enough.
Most costs and details will be explained in the next post – Bathroom part two.
Costs: epoxy and polyurethane – free
Disclaimer: Any advice contained within this blog is of a general nature only and cannot be relied upon. Details provided are in good faith and relate specifically to this project. Any author will not be held responsible for advice or information presented.