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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guest Bathroom: Drywall, Oh Drywall

I've always said (usually from reading another DIY blog) that I never wanted to have anything to do with drywall.  Hanging, mudding, floating, or any of those other drywall terms.  Well, incidentally, I have the best husband in the world-- our guest bathroom has needed extensive drywall repairs so far and he has done every bit of it.  Can I get a round of applause for my handy, handsome, husband??  My schedule last week kept me from helping much, but I have since gotten my hands dirty (wallpaper, oh wallpaper.... more about that next week).

So the last chapter of our bathroom reno left us with gaping holes in both bathroom walls, both from our janky light fixture and the mildew issue shared by both bathrooms.  Oh yeah, then there's the wallpaper that was slapped right on top of the unprepared drywall (it sounds like felony assault, huh?).

Let's start with the wall above the vanity.  You'll notice two things here:  (a) the hole where our Hollywood light strip used to be and (b) the bare spot where our mirror used to be.  The old light strip was actually held on by CAULK if you can believe it, so Mr. GI had to do some brainstorming to figure out a solution for our new light fixture.  (Funny enough, Young House Love was dealing with a light fixture problem of their own at about the same time!)

He ended up putting a piece of lumber between two wall joists and drilling a hole for the electrical to peek through (keep in mind that he turned off the power to this room of the house and had a work light on an extension cord from elsewhere in the house).

Then he cut a piece of drywall to fit, drilled it in, and spackled over it.

There was also the bad luck of Mr. GI attempting to salvage our mirror.  We wanted to remove it, move the vanity up a few inches, and replace the mirror with an added frame.  In our first examination, the mirror appeared to have been held onto the wall with mirror brackets, but it turns out that it was actually glued directly to the wall in the middle of the mirror.  The glue was powerful enough to seep through the wallpaper and rip off a good chunk of the drywall.  And did I say that Mr. GI wasn't successful in saving the mirror?  That's right-- looks like we're due for a few years of bad luck, even after an hour of Mr. GI trying to pry the mirror from the wall in one piece.

But after several time-intensive repairs, it's looking a million times better.

Let's take a look at the other drywall repairs on this wall, this time between the toilet and the tub.

In order to start the repairs in this tiny corner, Mr. GI had to remove all the wallpaper on this wall first.  He thought about several different options (steam, water/vinegar solution, etc.), but in the end decided on the quicker solution:  a scoring tool and wallpaper solvent (he used Piranha spray, about $7 from Lowe's for 32 oz.).  Here he is scoring the wallpaper.

After each application of the solvent, the wallpaper peeled off pretty nicely.  I didn't notice any strong smell, which I was worried about with the chemical solvent.  After reading the product description, it turns out that this stuff is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.  Yay!

In this process, Mr. GI uncovered part of the wallpaper seam allowed us a glimpse at that beautiful 1982 wallpaper.  I know you're jealous.

Here's the wall with most of the wallpaper gone and ready for the drywall patch in the corner.  Do note that we had a box fan going in the bathroom to dry out the bathroom before repairing the drywall.  The last thing we'd want to do is fix this wall just to have the same problem creep in again!

And here's that corner after a full day of floating.  Can you please comment on this post and let Mr. GI know how great this looks?  It was a painstakingly slow process to get that corner to look so good.

And another view flush with the wall after another day of work and a ton of sanding.  Look at how smooth that wall is!

This huge bucket o' joint compound (basically the same thing as spackle) has been helping get that beautiful wall.  You can find it at Lowe's for about $10.  That's FIFTY-EIGHT POUNDS of joint compound.  For TEN DOLLARS.  I'm betting we'll use the entire bucket by the time we're done.  He also bought a dry wall knife and a mixer (it connects to your power drill!) from Harbor Freight that helped considerably.

I'll definitely post pictures once we get the entire room repaired and ready for paint, but we've got a ways to go before we reach that step, namely finishing up this wall, ripping up the wallpaper on the other three walls, and repairing those three walls.  I'm sure this doesn't look incredibly exciting to you all, but we're plodding along until we can get some more interesting stuff to blog about!

On top of all the awesome stuff Mr. GI had already done in the bathroom, he even whipped up this sign for guests we had over last week.  We have a group of six friends who get together each week for dinner; we rotate houses and all bring sides/wine to the hosting house.  This week we had a few visitors, none of whom had seen our house before.  So Mr. GI was sweet enough to make this sign for the guest bathroom construction.  :-)

We still have to repair the drywall in the master bathroom, but that will wait until we're finished with the guest bathroom project.

So given all the work that has been added to our figurative plate, here's what we still have left to do.  As I mentioned on Monday, we'll be finishing everything in the guest bathroom (construction and aesthetic stuff) before we move on to the necessities in the master bathroom.  Then we'll be able to save up to make the master bathroom pretty, too!
  • Remove quarter round (which we'll reuse as much as possible), toilet, vinyl, vanity, mirror  (We're keeping the old vinyl down until we finish the big work on the walls)
  • Remove wallpaper and repair wall (one wall done, three to go)
  • Repair light fixture location
  • Repair water-damaged studs and drywall in guest bathroom
  • Replace all baseboards and quarter round in guest bathroom
  • Fix trim over door
  • Paint walls
  • Attach vanity legs, paint vanity
  • Lay floor in guest bathroom
  • Reinstall vanity
  • Frame the mirror with trim (or we might get crazy and just buy a new mirror... we'll see) Buy a new mirror for the guest bathroom
  • Install new light fixture
  • Reinstall quarter round and replace toilet
  • Install shelving above the toilet
  • Paint trim
  • Make a burlap shower curtain, plus a fabric curtain liner
  • Accessorize!  Maybe some DIY wall art
  • Repair water-damaged studs and drywall in master bathroom 
  • Replace all baseboards and quarter round in master bathroom 
  • Lay floor in master bathroom
  • Install pedestal sink in master bathroom
 Read about our dreams for the guest bathroom, our "before" bathroom, and the mildew discovery.  And you can follow my guest bathroom and master bathroom pin boards on Pinterest.


  1. I guess you have to add "buy mirror" to that list now!! That sucks, but the bathroom is really coming along!

  2. Very impressive work, Mr. Great Indoors! Can't wait for next installment.

  3. I don't think there is anything that Mr. GI can't do. He always knows!! Seriously! Sawing trees down, building tables, installing drywall, and probably 1000 other things too :)

    By the way, I think you're crazy for wanting to cover up that awesome wallpaper. ;)

    1. I'm totally with you, Mel. He doesn't even believe me when I tell him I couldn't do *anything* in this house without him. The blog wouldn't even exist!!

    2. Thank you for sharing this was a great post.

  4. Yeah, you sure are lucky to have a handyman in your house! :) His hand-eye coordination while drilling was impressive. And we know that getting the drywall properly done, with a nice finish, needs repeated practice, especially in taping the joints between the panels. I’m almost certain you got professional quality results. :D


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