Copper Repiping

copper repipe

copper repipe shower

Copper Repiping – Do it Yourself and save thousands!

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We were in the process of upgrading the kitchen and both bathrooms in our old 1950′s house, and the galvanized pipes were reaching the end of their useful life. After several quotes in the $4000 range, I decided to tough it out under the house for a week.

More Repipe Photos

The total cost of this project was around $700 for 100 feet of both 1/2 and 3/4 inch copper type-L tubing and fitings. I had never soldered a sweat joint before, but had plenty of experience with electronics soldering techniques — it’s pretty much the same.  It’s a tough, dirty job, so if you’ve got the money, consider having it done professionally. (Check back for more on how to solder copper pipes).

Shower Pan

shower pan installation

shower pan installation

Shower pan photos

Old tile removed Sloped mud job with drain Flexible liner in place
Wire mesh over liner Wall tile starter
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The old shower pan leaked, and when the house was in escrow the previous owner was required to replace it — estimates came in around $1200.00, but what’s the point if we were simply going to rip it out to remodel the bathroom anyhow? We worked it out so that the new owners (us) could replace it instead.

How to install a new shower pan:
Step 1: Remove the old tile with hammer and chisel.

Step 2: Purchase a new drain with flange, riser, weep holes.

Step 3: Purchase PVC liner material and cement — it’s much more reliable than the old fashioned “hot mop” method, where the tile man calls his roofer buddy over to slop tar all over (in time, this cracks and leaks).

Step 4: Place sloped wood shims in shower floor to guide the mud application: should be 1/2 inch near drain, sloping radially up to about 3/4 inch near walls.

Step 5: Mix mortar, sand, and a bit of water to dryish consistency (should just clump in your hand when squeezed). Apply and pack.

Step 6: Next day, cut liner in rectangle, so that when it is installed, it will run up the shower walls at least 3 inches higher than the shower door threshold. Note that you are not supposed to cut into the corners — instead, think of it as wrapping a present: fold it into the corners so that it will hold water and tack it in place around the perimeter of the top using roofing staples.

Step 7: If you must have a seam, then use the cement with a 3 inch lap (read the label).

Step 8: Apply silicone sealant to the underside of the top drain flange and bolt it to the bottom drain flange, sandwiching the liner between. Should be waterproof. Place drain cap and water test the liner. It must hold water for at least 20 minutes to pass local inspection — better to test overnight.

Project Cost: $50.00

Master Bathroom Remodel

master bathroom vanity

cherry vanity with limestone

Main Bathroom – Before
old pink vanity awkward toilet old pink bathtub old dark shower
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This was a small (10×10), outdated bathroom with ugly vinyl flooring, tired vanity, and 1950′s pink tile.  The commode was awkwardly placed with “cheeks to the door,” and the shower was dark, narrow, and leaky. >>shower pan

Main Bathroom – After (90%)
low voltage halogen bathroom vanity price pfister faucet limestone counter top
frameless shower crown molding

The new bathroom features a frameless glass shower, which substantially opens the small room.  A natural cherry vanity with limestone top (similar to the limestone floor), and tumbled travertine tiles accent opposite walls.  Low-voltage lighting highlights the new material and provides a low-level night light. >>tiling shower

Kitchen Cabinets

kitchen cabinet layout plans

kitchen cabinet layout plans

Kitchen cabinets – Before / During
before drywall unfinished finishing
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These dated cabinets were beyond help.  Since we were updating the narrow galley kitchen, it made sense to start new.  I used computer drafting to layout the cabinetry (more on this later — check back), and obtained a few quotes in the $12,000 range for natural cherry with shaker style doors and solid plywood construction (not particle board).  If I had time, I could have built them for $2500.

Cabinetry – After
before before before
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Well, we eventually found a manufacturer who supplies the trade, and does not do any finishing!  So, I basically stained, finished, and installed them complete for $5000. Wholesale cabinets. Quite a reasonable solution for kitchen full of custom genuine cherry cabinets.  The finishing process was pretty easy — you could do it yourself.  I am preparing a series of articles on how to complete this yourself, so bookmark and come back!

Left to do: trim and countertop.

Half Bathroom Expansion

half bath after


Half Bath – Before     After

before: no tub Before After New tub and tile
>> more after photos

Click photo to enlarge!

This dirty green half bath was cramped and outdated.  We expanded into a closet, moving the waterheater outside to make room for a new tub and shower.

Half Bath remodel photos

Expansion into closet Demolish wall Area for new bathtub New load bearing beam

Another load bearing beam Install bath tub plumbing drain Tile floor

Install wainscot molding Install sink curved shower rod light and vanity

Install toilet Towelbars and details
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We had to remove the load-bearing wall (left first photo above) and add beams over the new bath area.  Also, bought a slightly undersized (4 1/2 foot) Kohler tub to make this work — but it does not feel cramped, due to the curved shower rod.  Installed and painted wainscot to add interest to this still small but totally functional bathroom.

Kitchen Remodel

kitchen remodel after

Cherry cabinets - after

Kitchen – Before
breakfast nook old cast-iron sink original kitchen antique Wedgewood stove
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Kitchen – After
breakfast nook granite remodeled kitchen remodeled cabinetry
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>> see the kitchen remodeling photos

This dated galley kitchen was way too small and dingy.  We planned a 40 square foot kitchen addition with a totally updated layout, drew the kitchen plans in AutoCAD, and pulled the city permits.  Click the photos below to see the kitchen renovation and learn how we kept the cost of kitchen remodeling down.

Kitchen remodel photos

demolition foundation no wall framing

stucco new wall rough-in drywall

tile cabinets granite after
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