DIY House

The Bath – part 2

So, there I was, rebuilding the bathroom.

In the last post I talked about fitting the toilet and sink, and how I approached tiling and boxing in pipework. Now it’s time to turn my attention to the bath itself.

One problem I face often when working on the house is the conversion from imperial to metric that had taken place since it had been built. There were no baths available that were the same length as the one I was removing. The new baths seemed to be rounded up or rounded down in length, either making them not fit, or requiring some sort of additional shelf at one or other end. Fortunately, I eventually found a bath that was no more than an inch longer than the old one, and, importantly, had quite generous overlaps around the edge. I could cut a groove into the plasterwork at the tap end, and take a slice out of the cupboard wall at the head end and the bath would fit nicely, with just enough room to tile neatly across each edge.

While the sink was out, I could slide the bath into place. I chiselled out a line in the plaster and in the cupboard to give enough room for the new tub, and in it slid, fitting perfectly. I think a round of applause is in order here, if only for the exceptional spirit level work!

Now to tile around the bath. First, remove the old tiles. No more showers for the next few days, and it would be best not to have to sit on tile fragments in the bath…

The tiling was being done with plain while squares, and I had found a feature tile that was a good-sized fit with these squares and would help give some colour and interest back. For most of the room I had finished the tiles half-way up the walls, capped off with a line of the feature tiles. For the bath though, since I was going to fit a shower, I wanted to tile all the way up to the ceiling. I thought a line of feature tiles across the bath wall would look corny, and wanted a more interesting design there instead.

I wondered what it would look like to have feature tiles dotted at random around the bath. I could cut L-shapes into the larger tiles to accommodate these. Then I thought of a more interesting idea. Could I turn these feature tiles into diamonds?

Of course, me being me, I had to try this out on paper first…

Well, I’m sure it’ll look ok, but how do I cut diamonds? With a bit of thought, I saw I could make a diamond-shaped hole by cutting the corners off four tiles. The trick would be to be able to cut off the corners of many tiles consistently and evenly. I would need a jig.

So, I found a scrap of wood, and a couple of Flat Corner Brackets. If I screwed the brackets to the scrap wood at 45 degrees, I could place the tile’s corner into the brace formed by the brackets, then the edge of the scrap wood would be at 45 degrees to the tile. Lining the scrap wood’s edge up against the tile cutter’s guide rail meant the tile cutter would cut a measured corner off the tile. With this jig I was able to cut equal and even corners off some 4 dozen tiles.

Next, I needed a layout for the diamonds. I decided a truly random pattern wouldn’t really work as I didn’t want to cut multiple corners off the same white tile. Perhaps I should dig PowerPoint out and plan a layout.

So, the tiling continues. I cut my diamond shapes, and also cut a couple of circles into tiles to accommodate the shower hose and controls. Then I would need a diamond-tipped drill bit to drill holes for the shower head holder, shower curtain pole, toilet roll holder and other things. Cutting tiles is a whole different challenge to cutting wood.

I had one more thing to install in the bathroom – I wanted to swap the existing radiator with a Heated Towel Rail. The chosen towel rail was slightly wider than the previous radiator, but this was a calculated decision since the pipework would go straight up into the bottom of the unit rather than into the sides. More of a problem would be that under the floorboards, the radiator pipework was running up against a beam which was offset slightly from the wall. This meant that the pipes could not be positioned to emerge from the floor directly under the radiator. I would need to put bends into the connecting pipes to correct for this offset.

Unfortunately, I don’t have anything for bending pipes. I’m happy to solder pipes, and elsewhere around the room I had worked with a combination of straight pipe sections and corner pieces to get water to where it needed to be. I will have to construct something to allow this wiggle to be put into the radiator pipes.

In the end I found connecting pieces that would insert a 45-degree bend into a pipe. I realised that two of these, with a short straight section between them, would allow me to make that offset.

Attaching the rest of the rail was straight forward – a set of four adjustable posts that bolt to the wall – and with that, warm towels!

Now everything is in place. I have a new loo, new sink, new bath, new shower, and new towel rail. In the next post I will look upwards, and work on the ceiling. That will see a welcome return to woodworking.


By nickcnickcnickc

I spend my working life staring at computer screens, so in my spare time I look for things to do with my hands, preferably involving wood. It's a little ironic then that I've now starting writing a blog about my woodworking, and thus introducing computer screens to my main hobby..!

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