The last 5 days have been quite a blitzkrieg of work. We started demolition on Saturday afternoon and had the entire footprint completely gutted in 24 hours. (For the record, I also taught children’s church on Sunday morning. After the long night of work I didn’t understand anything I said to the kids, and I don’t think they did either.)
A special thanks to Vicky and Matt Hammond for letting us borrow amazing tools of destruction, crushing through plaster, and helping us make quick work of the old cast iron tub with a sledge hammer. Interestingly, “The Hammer” happens to be Matt’s nickname at his job, but we’ll let him tell you that story.
Here are a few pictures of the demolition process. Re-construction is underway, and updates are coming soon.
We plan to re-use this same door jamb, so we were careful when prying it out.
It was time.
We found several layers of beautiful linoleum. Ahem.
One slight tug on the channel locks and the drain crumbled like a hollywood marriage.
Still looks small.
With a bit of careful prying, the existing tile came loose in clean, carry-able sheets.
The story behind the sink is much the same as the story behind the bathtub, so I’ll spend a little less time telling it.
Browsing through innumerable sink options again left us desiring vintage-inspired items that were far outside of our budget. We turned our attention to both eBay and Craigslist in search of affordable substitutes. And again, the ever-thrifty Julie found a marvelous wall-hung, cast-iron farm sink in great condition.
We couldn’t make as quick a trip to secure the purchase as we did with the tub, and actually had to wait for another possible buyer to look at the item before we did. Thankfully, the other people didn’t show, and we were able to coordinate with friends in the area (about an hour away) to pick the sink up for us. (Many thanks are due to Dr. and Mrs. Champ – we owe you wine on our next trip to Grits and Groceries.)
The cast iron on the sink was in much better condition to be refinished: hardly any scraping was in order, and a quick trip around the surface with a sanding disc did the trick. I had the unit sanded, painted, and ready to be hung in a matter of days. Surprisingly, the size-to-weight ratio of the sink seems to be much, much higher than it is with the tub – it’s extremely difficult for one person to move it alone.
There is one neat point of interest relating to the manufacturer of the sink.
A week or two before, in the process of cleaning the tub, I noticed that the date of production was in the year 1929, and the manufacturer was listed as “Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company” of Louisville, KY (picture here).
In cleaning the sink I noticed a similar set of information cast, with the year being 1949 and the manufacturer “American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation”. I acted on my nerdy tendencies and looked up the history of the company known today as American Standard:
Before American Standard, there was the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company. It was founded in 1875, and merged with several other small plumbing manufacturers in 1899 to form the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company. Standard Sanitary pioneered many of the plumbing product improvements introduced in the early part of this century including the one-piece toilet, built-in tubs, combination faucets (which mix hot and cold water to deliver tempered water) and tarnish-proof, corrosion-proof chrome finishes for brass fittings. By 1929, Standard had become the world’s largest producer of luxurious bathroom fixtures.
That same year, the Standard Sanitary Corporation merged with American Radiator Company to form the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation. The corporation adopted the name “American Standard” in 1967.
Even though it was a small coincidence, I was delighted to discover that both our bathtub and sink were produced in the same factory. But my curiosity didn’t stop there – I remembered at one point seeing a ‘Standard’ logo on the drain of the original cast iron sink still in the bathroom.
I crawled underneath to find names and dates, and again discovered a coincidence: the unit was produced by the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation in the year 1949. In the same month, June. In fact, the ‘new’ sink is only 30 days older than the ‘old’ one.
Many times I prefer old things to new things. I appreciate the character of something used and built to last, and I enjoy the vintage aesthetic. Naturally, when the idea of a claw foot tub came up in our initial design scheming, I started salivating.
My dreams were soon crushed after a short exploration of cost. New tubs were out of the question, most used tubs needed their porcelain interiors re-finished, and finding one with a good faucet and shower curtain assembly seemed an impossibly rare discovery. (The curtain assemblies alone are surprisingly spendy.) We canned the idea and started planning for a more traditional installed tub / tiled shower.
And then, all of a sudden, Julie happened to make an extremely rare discovery on Craigslist. A claw foot tub, complete with faucet and curtain assembly, for a fire-sale price. I called the seller and we drove to Hendersonville the same day to see it for ourselves. For being almost 90 years old, the porcelain finish was in amazing condition. We gave the lady a deposit and I returned the next night with a truck to take it home.
The tub has a long, unknown history of helping people bathe themselves, and that heritage came with many thick layers of cracking and peeling paint. We counted at least 4 colors, including pink, blue, mint green, and white. A fresh coat was in order, so we took to the Depot to stock the stripping and painting armory.
The rest is thankfully history, one including long hours of scraping, sanding, wire-cup-brushing, scrubbing, prepping, priming, and painting. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for a few lessons we learned and our materials list.)
And now, enjoy a few pictures of the transformation.
Full disclosure for the overly-regulatory type: I currently work for Liquid Wrench through my employer, Brains on Fire. I took this can from a bunch of samples they gave our team. They didn’t give me money to post this. If they had, I would have taken it and paid someone to sandblast the tub.
These were my friends:
Get powered sanding equipment. Scrapers are great for the first round of removal after stripper has been applied, but a drill and oscillating multi tools will save you sore arms and a whole lotta time.
Our friend Loyd in the paint department at Home Depot confirmed that it’s important to get down to actual metal for the primer and paint to take (if you want the longest lasting finish). We used his recommended metal stripping / paint preparation chemical, and it made a significant (visible) difference in cleaning the surface.
What we used:
Paint stripper for use on metal applications (We used almost two quarts to do the tub – there were multiple coats of paint)
5-in-1 painter’s tools (for scraping)
A wire cup brush for use in a drill (like this) – it was the hardest working tool on the project
Some sort of really abrasive sanding disk for use in a drill (for some extra grinding power on the thick spots)
Oscillating multi-tool with the triangular sanding attachment (awesome)
Rust-Oleum rust-preventative primer – oil based
Rust-Oleum white semi-gloss multi-purpose paint – oil based
My lovely fiancé and I are working hard to remodel a bathroom in our little mill house before we get married in April. This weblog is where I will post possibly infrequent, and probably succinct, updates on our progress. Friends and family, we online casino can’t wait to have you over this summer.
My name is Eric Dodds. I live in South Carolina. I don’t have much facial hair, I enjoy strong coffee, and I’m glad you stopped by to check in on the re-modeling progress. You can learn more about me here, or send me a message via email.