Light Townhouse Rehab - Project #6, Week #3

With week #3, we are continuing the tearout on the townhouse. The idea is to get all the dirty and destructive work complete before starting any cleaning. In the previous week we cleaned out the basement and much of the first floor.

Next up in the process is to remove the vinyl tile floor from the powder room in the first floor. In order to do this, the toilet needs to pulled up off the floor. A toilet is held in place against its flange with two machine bolts. These are normally removed with an adjustable wrench - but in this case the bolt was so bady corroded that we had to switch blades in the sawzall and cut them off. We had to be careful not to scratch the porcelain!

With the toilet removed, you can see the wax ring that makes the seal between the bottom of the toilet and the flange. This gets removed and discarded immediately. Failure to do so is nothing but an invitation to step in it and make a mess.

Vinyl tile is not normally glued to the subfloor (The subfloor is the wood that is laid directly on the floor joists of the house). A thin sheet of plywood (known as underlayment) is fastened and the tiles are then glued to the underlayment. In this house, the underlayment was put down before the base trim and door casings. To get the underlayment up without damaging the door casing, the sawzall is used to cut the underlayment flush to the edge of the casing, as seen below.

The underlayment can then be pried up off the subloor. Typically, it comes up in large sheets or sections. But in this bathroom, the installer went crazy with fasteners - it seemed like there were several hundred staples holding it down! This meant that we had to use the brute-force method to separate it from the subfloor.

Once the underlayment is gone, you will find that some staples came up with the underlayment, but most of them stay fastened to the subfloor. Every last staple is either removed or pounded down flush into the subfloor. To make sure every one of the staples is knocked down, put on a pair of gloves and run your hand over the entire surface of the floor. You will suprised at how many staples your eyes missed! In the picture below, you may also notice that we placed a "test plug" in the toilet flange to keep debris from falling in, as well as odors from coming back up the pipe.

With the powder room floor up, the process was repeated in the kitchen. First, the fridge and stove were moved out, which revealed that the cabinets were laid on top of the underlayment and vinyl tile, as seen below.

Instead of removing the base cabinets, the sawzall was used to cut through the underlayment flush with the edge of the bases. The sawzall baldes are very flexible, which makes it possible to flush-cut the underlayment even when you can't get direct access with the saw.

In the kitchen and bathrooms, we didn't need to cut the lower few inches of drywall like in the other rooms. However, the base trim is still going to be replaced so that it matches the new trim in rest of the house. To keep the drywall from getting damaged when removing the trim, an utility knife is used to score through the paint at the top of the trim.

In the kitchen, there were far less staples holding down the underlayment. This allowed us to pull it up in large sections.

Here's a picture of the kitchen with the underlayment and vinyl floor removed - much cleaner looking!

Moving upstairs, attention was turned to the master bath. It had the same glue-down floor tiles as the power room and kitchen, which suprised me - this flooring is not considered suitable in high-moisture areas since water can get down between the seams of the individual tiles. And sure enough, in this bathroom there was mildew living under the floor tiles right next to the shower stall.

In the full bath, the original vinyl tiles had been replaced with newer vinyl tiles. While these are in pretty good shape, we can't bring ourselves to leave them in a bathroom - we will either install tile or full-sheet vinyl.

After remving the toilet and vanity, the vinyl and underlayment were pulled up. Just like in the master bath, moisture had gotten under the vinyl allowed some mildew to form.

I scraped the subfloor in several places in both bathrooms and found that the mildew was only on the surface - so a heavy application of Tilex will take care of the problem.

In all three bedrooms, the base trim and the lower few inches of drywall were trimmed, just like on the first floor and basement in weeks #1 and #2.

In the back yard, the new grass is starting to poke through the starter mat. Out front, we pulled up all the weeds in the lawn and established new flower beds. This adds curb appeal and should make the neighbors happy!

This was it for week #3 of the work. We will post another update next week as we move from the destruction and tearout phase to cleaning and prepping - Be sure to come back again!

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