The Full the decisions begin

weedyacresMarch 24, 2013

We got in a full day of demo yesterday on our new project.
-All plumbing removed
-Bathroom gutted
-All flooring removed (except kitchen-just partial)

We have a few decisions to make, and would appreciate some input.
#1: What to do with the LR/DR floor. Here's a photo of the "challenge spot."

Most of the floor looks refinishable. It won't be pristine, but I am completely ok with a "character floor" in such an old house. There are 3 cutouts that have plywood instead of hardwood. What to do here?

#2: What do to with bedroom and hallway floors. Back bedroom has glue residue, front bedroom has glue-down carpet, hall has water damage plus a couple plywood cut-outs that I don't quite understand. Do we just cover it all up again or try to salvage?

#3: What to do with kitchen floor. I got part of it scraped off, as it's 2 layers of pretty hardened vinyl. There's wood underneath, but I don't know how salvageable it'll be. Here's a preview of what it looks like. Any experience with whether I can make it pretty again?

#4: What to do with DR paneling. I removed the door casing and found that this is no cheap 60's paneling. It's full 3/4" tongue-and-groove paneling, no plaster behind it, so I guess original. Here's a side view around the doorway:

Here's the wider view of the whole wall. I don't care for it.

#5: Should we remove back bath wall boards? There looks to be a bit of old insulation behind the boards. Any reason to keep this in place? We'll be putting in a (smaller) glass block window and tiling the tub surround.

#6: Whether to rebuild/replace kitchen base cabinets
We beat the countertop off, which required pulling off 2 layers of laminate-covered luan on the back walls. The sink base is really just a front between the 2 drawer bases on either side (can remove), and the left side has this weird, semi-blind corner shelf thing.

I'm thinking of removing the corner construct and building a wider drawer base on the right piece that goes all the way to the chimney block. Then replacing the one on the left with an extension of the wall cabinet above, all the way to the floor.

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The LR/DR used to have those room divider cabinet/bookcases where the skinny patches are. The larger spot - I dunno. Maybe a floor furnace, but it's way too big for that. Perhaps damaged and removed instead of fixed?

You can patch in replacement strip flooring, matching the diagonal pattern, in the middle.

Interlace it and it's invisible after you finish.

Those patches in the doorways usually mean that a door was added - I'd cover them with a threshold strip

The bedrooms can probably be salvaged - you'll have to clean off all that crud to recarpet anyway.

The good news it doesn't look like the floors have ever been refinished - you can take off the top 1/16th of an inch with no problems.

May have been a 1940s-50s replacement for badly damaged plaster. You can remove it and drywall, or just drywall over it.


I've seen worse get pretty again. You have to get it flat and clean before you can do anything like vinyl anyway. Remove the stuff down to the glue and as much of the black adhesive as you can (it's a tar-based

I like the idea of getting a few more inches of drawer space and ther tall shallow cabinet.


It's all going to need "green board" and sealer and stuff. If you cover up some strange things, that's OK. Future home renovators will figure it out.

I'd rip it down to the sound lath, replace the holes with new lath or furring strips of the same thickness and put the drywall and greenboard over it.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 10:42AM
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I second the above, but in the block? What a terrible idea for an honest house. Just put new glass in the window with a pattern or color--there are plenty of styles to use at any stained glass shop...far easier and better looking than glass block will ever be.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:18PM
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Columbusguy: glass block was all the rage in the 1920s...

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 9:41PM
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It might have looked good then set in the context of a deco designed apartment or store, but not in a simple cottage home. A residential bath would more likely have had a patterned or frosted glass window. Keep it painted and you won't have any water problems.

There were lots of things in fashion in the '20s, which I love...but it wouldn't look right in this context--and I think the glass block styles were different than from what you can buy today.

I know you have flipped houses before, but that doesn't mean succumbing to every current fad to make a quick buck...if you eventually plan to resell it, future owners will apppreciate that you made an honest effort to respect the house's style...and that will oftentimes mean more return on your investment.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 10:56PM
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I think the 1920s glass "block" you are referring to is Luxfer Prisms. They were definitely glass but not anywhere near as thick as today's glass block. oftentimes commercial buildings used them on the top of the storefront window so that natural light would get to the back of the space. Here is a link.

Our bungalow came with a glass block bathroom window, facing north. I hate it because the room is dark.. We'll be restoring this bathroom next year and the glass block is going, the window opening will be expanded back to original size and a frosted double hung is going back in the hole:)

Here is a link that might be useful: Luxfer

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 12:29AM
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I have no advice; the responses you've already gotten come from people with more knowledge than I'll ever have. But I agree with columbusguy about the glass block in the bathroom, but for an additional reason. I regard windows in all rooms as means of egress in an emergency. Glass block is impervious to anything short of a sledgehammer; I'd want a functional window, or at least something I could break if I had to. But that's just me.

Interlacing new wood strips among the old works very well. When we pulled up the vinyl in our breakfast nook we found badly damaged white oak floors. Many of the strips (where I live, the conventional hardwood floor is 1.3" strips, face-nailed to the subfloor) had to be removed and replaced. You can't tell which are new and which are 90 years old now.

I'm interested to see how your floors turn out. They have a lot of potential!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:57AM
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We had a bathroom where we tore up the linoleum, and it had glue residue like the first bedroom (the one without the foam). It just came up with water. We had the floors refinished, and they replaced a couple damaged pieces for us, too, and unless you know what to look for, you don't notice the new.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:20AM
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I am excited to see the progress of your remodel. I would try to salvage the floors if possible. We did one in my son's house that was similar to your bedroom & it turned out well. The one really rough spot (water damage) was in an area that would not be seen & we just patched it up and left it. I have a soft spot for old houses that come back to life! Not sure about the glass block window. Would have to think on that one & look at some samples.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Another vote for a real openable window in the bathroom - this is a room that sometimes especially on a nice spring day you will want to air out.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Hey, I'm persuadable on the window. I don't love glass block, but need to have a solution that meets our needs.

Our needs are:
1. Can't be a water collector.
2. Needs to minimize work/cost involved so must be the size of the current window or smaller.
3. Has to look decent, and be period to the extent possible and inexpensive. You guys can keep me on the strait and narrow period path.

So what would you do:
1. Cover it up and be done with it (Mr. Weedy's vote)
2. Replace same size with glass block? stained glass? etched glass? openable or not? (don't know that I would ever open the window while showering)
3. Replace with something smaller (close up bottom half)
4. Leave as-is, perhaps etching the top part.

Here's a better view of the window in context with the tub.

BTW, I thought this was a cool configuration of glass block:

This post was edited by weedyacres on Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 20:09

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 5:28PM
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By far the cheapest and best solution is to replace the glass panes with sheets of etched or colored glass...I have bought it to do work on mine, and it does come in sheeets. Check with a glass shop or your local university's art department. I got mine at a local glass shop, and a few other bits from the university's book store art department.

As I said, keep the trim painted and caulked and you won't have water problems. And there is no substitute for a nice Spring/Summer breeze coming into the bath...not to mention the light!

Tastes differ, so I won't comment on the glass block design.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 6:35PM
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Fori is not pleased

If there are sections of floor you can't save, you might be able to cannibalize their parts to fix the main room floor which I think can be gorgeous (and of course with character).

I had a chunk of plywood like that in an old house floor. There was a concrete pit with a bit of water in it under the hole. A previous owner (92 years old by then) lived next door and told us it was for a gravity heater. Don't think they put those in the middle of floors do they?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 7:05PM
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If you are stuck with not being able to find matching wood to fix the floors in the "public" rooms, cut out flooring from the closets and use that wood to patch the public rooms. Then use new wood in the closets.

Boy, do I wish I was restoring a house again!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:57PM
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I normally post on the decorating forum, but I saw a cross post weedyacres posted on there so I was led here.

I was going to suggest what jmc01 said about using wood from closets. We had to patch a threshold in our 1920 foursquare and you could tell it was new wood because the grain was not as tight. Finding salvaged period flooring is also an option.

Someone on the decorating forum found salvaged bookcase room dividers like lazygardens said was between the LR and DR. I agree that's what those skinny patches are from. I have no idea about the big large patch.

Take a look at my website for our kitchen remodel in our old house. You'll see some similarities between your kitchen and mine. Our original kitchen had a wall-mount cast iron sink that someone had removed and replaced with a modern sink and built a sink base around it. They had to do it that way because there was a radiator under the sink that they couldn't cover up. The sink cabinet in the picture is not original. The space to the right had contained the original, long, one piece cabinet that was at baking height. The section nearest the sink had open shelves.

The original sink would have been something like this.

These pics are of what the floor looked like before and after they were refinished. Someone had just glued ceramic tile right on top of the original wood floor.

If I had to do my kitchen remodel over again would I do it differently? Definitely yes! I wish we would not have altered the character of the kitchen (remove cabinets, etc) but we did what we had to do to make it livable and marketable. The market was not appreciative of vintage kitchens. I would not change the pass-thru though. That was my favorite part.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Remodel Website

This post was edited by geokid on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 10:44

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:36AM
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Also, to maybe answer one of your questions:
#2: What do to with bedroom and hallway floors. Back bedroom has glue residue, front bedroom has glue-down carpet, hall has water damage plus a couple plywood cut-outs that I don't quite understand. Do we just cover it all up again or try to salvage?

The doorways all appear to have been enlarged. The one to the LR on both sides so they just ripped out the middle original wood and put in a big piece of plywood.

As for the window in the bathroom. There's no way I'd get rid of it. But I would use a vinyl window with frosted glass and tile up to it. Like this:

I agree completely with columbusguy1:
"...if you eventually plan to resell it, future owners will apppreciate that you made an honest effort to respect the house's style...and that will oftentimes mean more return on your investment."

This post was edited by geokid on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 14:21

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 1:35PM
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geokid: thanks for the pics of your kitchen. Your floors give me hope for our kitchen! What did you use to get the black adhesive off?

And I've saved a photo of your built-in, as inspiration for the pantry I'm going to build. Love that!

Widened bedroom doorways...hmmm...perhaps, but the moonscape walls don't look tampered with. And if you had smaller doorways, wouldn't you still put the hinge closer to the wall instead of a foot away from it?

On the pesky bathroom window: the one that's there isn't actually leaking or damaged or anything. It's vinyl and basically privacy on the bottom, clear on the top, like the one geokid just posted. It just seemed weird to me how low down it started. Are you guys saying it would be ok to just leave it as it is? Convince me that it looks ok and I'll seal it back up. or suggest a color/type of glass that I should swap out.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 6:36PM
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We hired out the floor refinishing and they didn't do anything other than bring in a sander.

I see what you're saying about the doorways.....hmmmm. Strange things happen in old houses over the years so who knows why those patches are on the floor.

The bathroom window starts low down because there originally was probably just a free-standing tub there with no shower. The window wouldn't have been a problem and would have provided needed ventilation. Similar to this bathroom, but the owners have added a shower for convenience.

Someone along the way added the shower and left the window. Most likely because it was cheaper than closing it up or making it smaller. Figuring out what to do on the outside of an old house when you change window sizes is difficult, especially if the original exterior is intact (personal experience).

If you're starting over with the bathroom, I'd go vintage look like the above photograph. Or maybe something like this:

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 7:09PM
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Geokid, where did you find the picture of the bathroom with the white subway tile, the second one you posted? (Yeah, they both have subway tile! Ha. OK, the one with the black trim and green upper wall.) It's beautiful.

I'm quite sure that this was more or less what my original bath looked like, but previous owners tore out the tile and replaced it with cobalt blue square tiles. I could cry. And the vanity and sink they put in are travesties. After we finish repairing (not replacing) our old windows, the bathroom is next.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 7:32PM
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Here ya go!

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to blog with pics.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 9:05PM
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Fori is not pleased

If the bathroom window bothers you because you feel exposed, go ahead and stick a curtain on it. Just trim down a nicer vinyl shower curtain. We had to do that in a guest bathroom with a shower window by the front door. It was somewhat revealing at night. :)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 9:11PM
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Just sanding? The people over in Flooring have me worried about asbestos in the adhesive. :-(

It's not so much the exposure of the window (the bottom is privacy glass, the top is neck-height) as the fact that I think it looks funny. The exterior is yellow vinyl siding: easy enough to close up if we shrink the window.

We're going vintage-ish (the -ish because of our budget) on the bath: subway tile shower with a strip of glass penny-rounds), but no wall tile, no clawfoot tub (impractical), and probably 12" or larger tiles on the floor, though perhaps with a rug border of some kind. Thinking of extending the bath tile out to the hallway area since we don't have enough "closet" wood to patch all those plywood and wet spots...opinions on that? Other options for the hall flooring?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:26PM
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Our wood floors were covered with a (fairly) recently laid ceramic tile. No worry of asbestos. They were glued right to the wood floor so they were cracking everywhere with all the expanding and contracting of the wood underneath.

Call a flooring company for a quote and see what they say.

The bathroom in the link I posted looks like they took the window up a bit in the remodel. You could easily do that.

Not sure about the hallway and tile. It would probably look fine. Another option if you want to get creative, is to install new wood in just the thresholds of all the doors running parallel to the door frames. It could create a really neat effect next to the diagonal of the rooms and hall. You may be able to sand out the water damage. We had some next to our sink and it mostly came out and with our dark stain, you didn't even notice it. It adds character. :-)

These pics help illustrate what I'm talking about. Of course these are fancy with a design in the middle, but you don't have to do that. The way the floor is laid on a diagonal is enough. Plus less work. :-)

(turns out this one is painted on. huh.)

Edited to add: floor photos

This post was edited by geokid on Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 10:02

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:44PM
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Love Geokids hallway solution. Would not have to have too complex a design, but a new floor adjacent to all the diagonals could look really good. Might put a darker wood border with a lighter interior.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 11:44AM
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We've got a bunch of leftover 5" walnut from our current home...the wheels are turning...maybe we do something matching in the plywood square in the LR too....

Mediterranean Hall by Shreveport General Contractor Terry M. Elston, Builder

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 2:27PM
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Thinking it could be great!!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 3:27PM
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Yes, you could do something nice with that.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 4:55PM
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OK, I think I've got a better concept for the bathroom window. What if we replaced it with a clear glass fixed 18"x18" window on the upper part, closed up the lower part, and then installed a stained glass panel over the front. It looks like installation consists of basically siliconing it into place in front of the existing glass, leaving a couple tiny weep holes in the bottom to avoid condensation accumulation.

I found some cool designs on etsy that I could probably get for around $100, that use vintage depression-era glass plates. Here are some examples:

Do I redeem myself, columbusguy? :-)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 8:56AM
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Liking that idea. We have a small stained glass over our tub. Lets in light & privacy with no window covering.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Wow! Love those windows!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 7:12PM
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Bathroom windows in older homes need to be operable because they serve as the ventilation for them. Opening the window after you shower is a normal part of old home living. Unless you are thinking about installing a bathroom vent fan/ light that is actually attractive ( a rare feat) leave well enough alone with the window. It works. It's not leaking. It's more in touch with the vintage vibe that you're going for. And it costs you nothing to leave it alone, leaving the $$ potentially spent to go to something that will make a much bigger difference in the home. Like maybe having a carpenter build those bookcase room dividers that are missing. THAT would be a wise use of your money on a limited budget.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 1:35PM
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" What did you use to get the black adhesive off? "

It depends on the adhesive ... I have removed some that was brittle enough that it popped off in flakes with a floor scraper (big scraper on long handle), some that softened with a heat gun and could be scraped mostly off with a floor scraper, some that softened in mineral spirits ... and some that required massive sanding machines.

Test it to see what you have.

As for the asbestos, it wasn't common, and it's usually in tiny quantities. The flooring forum habitues see the word adhesive and immediately leap to worst case asbestos tile with clouds of dust.

If you aren't a heavy smoke, or someone spraying asbestos onto ships, or working in an asbestos mine ... wear reasonable protective gear and don't panic.

Here is a link that might be useful: Floor scraper

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 4:58PM
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This modest bath remodel from houzzz ... looks like your situation, right down to the rotting toilet supports

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 7:37AM
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We removed the black adhesive from our kitchen floor using boiling water from our tea kettle. We poured the boiling water on the floor and wiped up immediately with paper towels. It took all of the adhesive off. It was amazing how well it worked. We wore face masks and had windows and doors open.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 10:11AM
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Weedy, your pictures for the stained glass are better than the blocks. :)

However, I just don't see what the hangup is with the window staying as is with two of those inserts in the same pattern? An operable window, as GreenDesigns said, is vital in an old house. Vent fans are seldom used properly if switched with the light there--you have to leave them running for a while to work properly, and most people turn them off when they're done, not when the room is dry again. A window you can leave open and not waste energy.

As to GD's other point--I too would rather see money going to replace the room divider rather than going to doing a half-window. In my bath, I used glass paints to recreate a victorian stained glass design in my double-hung window...can't see clearly through it, and it required only a small outlay of cash.

You're moving closer to a good solution, just drop the idea of reworking the window into a one-light one and you're there. :)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 2:27PM
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Well said, columbusguy. Maybe we can convince weedy. :-) Lazygardens, that is a lovely solution for the bath.

This post was edited by geokid on Sun, Mar 31, 13 at 17:46

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 4:39PM
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I'm not convinced that an operable window is essential, or even much of a plus. We don't live in a climate where you open windows more than a few months a year, and it's certainly possible to put the fan on a timer, or otherwise solve that problem in this day and age. I have to say that I've never opened a bathroom window to clear condensation.

I realized that one of the things I dislike about the existing window is the low ratio of glass to frame. It's 18" wide (uses the original window frame), but has only 11" of glass. If we take it out to nearest studs on either side, we'll have a 25" rough opening, and a picture window will minimize the frame encroachment.

GD: Hire a carpenter??? You don't know the weedy's very well, do you? :-) But talk to me about why I should put a room divider back into what is a pretty small space. I'm worried it would make it feel too cramped. Photos of period-true examples? (I wasn't sure what search terms to use).

BTW, there was originally a gravity heater in the space, so that's what the center cut-out covers up. Don't know why it's so big; perhaps there will be a clue when I pull up the plywood there and see the subfloor.

Incidentally, here's what we got done yesterday: pulled out the bath and hall floor and joists and put in fresh, new wood. SOOOO much better.

From above Before (actually during):

And after:

From below Before:

And after:

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 9:34PM
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Maybe we can't convince you. :)

The built-ins are called colonnades or bookcase colonnades. They were a visual and physical separation between rooms while still allowing the rooms to be open to each other.

Here is a home with a similar floor plan to yours and you can see the colonnades.

I'd add them back in because they help restore the historic integrity of the home. They are also beautiful.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 12:39AM
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A couple of things - what kind of wood are those floors, why don't you just get some vintage wood floor of same size and type and patch it in? Even if you were to get new wood it wouldnt match at first, but in five or ten years it will.

When I replied I didnt realize it was a not particularly attractive vinyl window in a tub area. This discussion is of interest to me because I may be dealing with a window in a tiled in shower stall. In my mind, the need for it being water-tight makes it less essential that it be openable, but I would prioritize tiling in the tub area above replacing the window, if you can only do one.

BTW in my four foot wide bathroom I got a motion detector fan with no switch so the tenants had no choice about whether to turn it off or on. You can adjust how long it stays on. It is super quiet though so its not a nuisance, not like a jet taking off. I think the brand was Panasonic.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 11:31AM
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We have lived in two homes without a vent in the bathroom and have never really had any problems with moisture. Like you, in the one home that had a window that would open, we never did open it. That one was located in the shower much like yours, but was a small and high window. We did not, however have a closed shower door - but used a curtain. The shower dried out quickly after use. I tend to agree that the window looks to be a little too low in the shower area.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 12:15PM
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We have lived in two homes without a vent in the bathroom and have never really had any problems with moisture. Like you, in the one home that had a window that would open, we never did open it. That one was located in the shower much like yours, but was a small and high window. We did not, however have a closed shower door - but used a curtain. The shower dried out quickly after use. I tend to agree that the window looks to be a little too low in the shower area.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Circus Peanut

Weedy, the bath window is ugly to your eye because it is an ugly modern vinyl replacement insert that diminishes the glass area by about a square foot total. The photo above that you love depicts a rehabilitated, repaired and gorgeous wooden sash window.

If you were to switch it out for real sash, the difference would amaze you.

I removed all the hideous "replacement windows" in my old bungalow and found salvaged sash for them, for pennies or even free (Craigslist). This is where I learned more than I ever needed to know about wooden windows, window sash, etc. Many of these windows were standard sizes -- weird sizes perhaps to a modern eye, but standard -- and a trip to local junkyards and salvage places would probably net two sash that fit. I know exactly where I'd find them in a jif around here (coastal Maine). The weights are likely still down in the weight holes, and the pulleys as well. If not, I seriously have about 20 extra pulleys and would be glad to give you 4 of them.

It's honestly worth the time taken, and any future buyer will LOVE it. I cannot believe it would be a net negative for re-sale: one of the most popular features when I sold the bungalow last fall were the "real working wooden windows"! We did wooden storms as well. House had 5 bids the first day on the market, and we sold it the third day for $15k above asking.

Here's a shot of my old windows (midproject, head trim is missing). I think it illustrates the truly sad compromise that is made when people don't or won't learn to fix up their windows and just rip 'em out for plastic which will have about 1/10th the lifespan.

These window jambs are exactly the same size down to the quarter inch. Honestly, which would you rather look out of?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 2:34PM
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Circus Peanut

PS: we got the horrid tarry adhesive off our wood floors using a steamer. Worked very well and eliminated the fear of any asbestos dust floating around.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 2:58PM
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circuspeanut: I absolutely think your restored window looks much nicer than the white vinyl one next to it, particularly with the wood trim. But we're walking a fine line with the reno on this house between cost and preserving history, and we're not going to rip out perfectly good vinyl windows (except the bathroom one) to put in wood ones. And putting a wood window into a shower sounds like a recipe for disaster.

The house is in a working class neighborhood in a small town and won't be worth more than $60K fixed up. Priority one is to make it safe and livable (shore up bowing basement walls, gut rotting bathroom, replace all plumbing and electrical). Priority two is make it functional and beautiful (remodel kitchen, refinish floors, add closet to back bedroom). Overriding both are the $20K budget, $10K of which must go to the basement walls. We'll have to stretch the other $10K over the full 940 sf. DIY will accomplish most of the stretching, but so will making tough decisions about materials because vintage costs more.

Don't hate me for it. :-) I'll continue to listen to you guys, and not be offended by your pleas to stay true to the house's heritage. Just don't get offended if I don't take all of your advice because it costs too much or because I want some modern comforts. You've already talked me out of covering up the moonscape and putting glass block in the bathroom, so I'm persuadable on some things. Just a newby at this old house stuff. :-p

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 10:30PM
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Circus Peanut

My point was that it would actually be much cheaper to replace the vinyl with real vintage wood sash than to replace it with anything else, be it new vinyl, glass block, stained glass or anything else you've mentioned so far. 2 old sash would run you maybe $20 (or even free on Craigslist), $3 worth of sash rope, then it's just your time and some paint you probably already have.

Vintage/authentic/appropriate does not always have to cost more!

It might sound counterintuitive to someone who is not used to real old wood in houses, but a vintage wooden window, properly sanded, primed and painted, will hold up just fine in your shower scenario. Possibly better than a replacement which uses just caulk to seal it to the jambs and can cause interior leakages that you don't catch until it's too late.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 10:52PM
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One of my grandmother's solutions to the window in the tub area, once they installed the shower (many years later!), was to make a window curtain out of a shower curtain. Worked for them for a LONG time.

I second the wood windows. I have a bunch of old working ones. They're not necessarily a selling point here, but I love them. :) They don't make 'em like they used to...

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 6:19AM
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They sell vinyl window curtains. They used to be popular in the 60s for bathrooms, but you can still find a few around if you look.

Living in the greater Boston area, I've rented several apartments with the window directly over the tub or in the shower/tub enclosure. They look odd if you aren't used to them, I guess. You either put up a second shower curtain against the wall if there was room, or put frosted window film on the glass, or got a vinyl window curtain.

Given a choice, I prefer that a bathroom have a functioning window. The sunlight, the ventilation--it's just nicer. If you are planning to sell the house in the near future, I'd see a functional window as better than a sealed window, however lovely the glass block or stained glass insert.

If you want to make the window smaller, I've seen hopper windows and awning windows in lots of 1920s era houses in New England. That might be an option--high enough so that no one can see in, but still allowing light and air into the room.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 7:52AM
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What vivian31 said: make a window curtain out of a shower curtain I was thinking all the way through this thread.

That and this: I live in a neighborhood with lots and lots of 1920's bungalows that have had the bathroom window replaced with glass block. I see ugly scars on the north sides of houses wherever I go. Ugly ugly ugly.

I live in Minnesota, not a warm clime, and I have the bathroom window open a good six months of the year. I have a free-standing tub and the circular shower curtain rod so the window isn't exposed to water, though. It's also smaller than the other windows in the house and not as long which I think is pretty normal - though my house is a little older than yours - 1913. (Some picture windows are smaller than the other windows in my house, though!)

My vote is leave the window alone. Let the new owner replace it eventually if they want. Put the curtain over it, paint it as columbus said or even etch it - at Michael's they have glass etching kits. I can't tell from your pictures if the tub is original but with what I can see and the date it could be and just the surround is replacement.

You know, it occurs to me that someone who would buy the house with glass block replacement there would likely also buy with that shower/tub surround in place!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:04PM
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I think its important how you said cost is a priority and you just want to make good choices without going overboard.

Given that as a guide, I'd recommend -

Floors - It appears all your floors can and should be restored. You need to clean the wood (hot water and scraping) splice in staggered replacement boards (salvaged old boards of the correct wood and age are best) where the patches and damage areas are (find tutorials), remove all staples and popped nails, and then go through the process of sanding different grits, vacuming every bit and then the process of several coats of finish. I would do this in every room except the bathroom. It will look terrible before its refinished, and then it will look really nice. I'd hire a professional floor guy with good equipment and a stash of old boards to use for splicing.

Bath - For cost savings, I would leave the bath window maybe etch-treat the top glass and tile it in with a quarter round or bullnose pieces, but if you leave it there I highly recommend using a tension rod and clear shower curtain on that wall to avoid water damage (it depends how sealed up you can make that window from water seeping into the walls)...or use a white curtain to address the privacy issue and you don't need to etch the top glass. Use light grey grout with the subway tile. Take off the lath on the back wall if its needed to make your new wall will be more flush with the window.

Diningroom - I'd consider removing that wood wall in the dining room but I'm not clear as to what is on the other side...though I remember seeing a window which would really add to the room. If you have to leave the wall, maybe remove the scallop trim and replace it with something straight and paint it all to blend it more with the room.

Kitchen - Kitchen cabinets either rebuild or use salvaged old cabinets. Wood or soapstone counters are diy...frankly I'd look at Ikea's cabinet selection...there are ways to make them blend into an old house with the backsplash, lighting, flooring etc. And its affordable and diy. Didn't catch if you are selling the house, but a fresh and functional kitchen is really appreciated by most people.

Also - Some doorways have been moved in this old house, so you can either put in a threshold or replace the patch with couple of boards going in the same direction of the wall so that its flush with the adjacent floorboards but obviously not blended in.

This post was edited by lauren674 on Fri, Apr 5, 13 at 14:58

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 2:50PM
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