Bathroom floor finally leveled, BUT...I'm so depressed.

Molly BrownJuly 13, 2008

Look what happened ! In our 1820 house, a bathroom remodel is in progress. The floor was not level, out previous toilet was tilted, left to right, and the tub and vanity were shimmed quite a bit and the shimming covered with ugly rubber cove molding. This was 30 years ago.

Now, after doing a year of research into what toilet, tub, vanity, tile, counter, faucets, vents, heaters, etc. etc. etc I wanted I was all excited to finally do this.

The contractor says, 'we'll level the floor for you.' OK, sounded good.

Our bathroom is actually like 2 little rooms, one the main bathroom and the next one, carpeted with the closets, is like a little dressing room that opens up into the main hall of the cape.

WELL, AFTER the leveling and a heating pad and porcelain tile installed, we are now 3 1/2 inches higher in the bathroom than the dressing room!!!!!!!!


I am heartsick about this. I'm used to walking thru that room for 30 years without thinking about it, and now I have a STEP !!!??

The contractor wants to put in a wooden ramp. yuck. It will be a rather abrupt ramp as it can't interfer with a closet door opening. Here are some pics. WHAT WOULD YOU DO??? I want to throw up.

Height difference. The piece of tile is just there to envision what a ramp might look like...


The right side of the opening between the two rooms to show where the closet door is and has to open....


The other end of the dressing room as it joins the main hallway....


HELP! I don't like the ramp idea, but I'm afraid about killing myself on a step.

What would you do?? Thank you !

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I dont like the ramp either. I would make a step and make it look like an architectual detail.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 9:26PM
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If I bought this house tomorrow I would rip the floor out to the joists, level it there, install heating coils under the floor and install a surface that is level with the rest of the floors.

Somebody is going to get hurt. We had a 1 1/2" step and that was a pain so a 3 1/2" would be even worse.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 10:37PM
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It just looks to me like he took the easy way out. My husband did this to the kitchen floor when he was in a hurry to get the house liveable. It then became a level somewhat higher than the dining area. We had to replace joists two years ago in the dining area and had the floor torn out clean down to the dirt. Put up new joists and now the two rooms are one, thank God. My poor mother used to stumble over that drop off nearly every visit, as did unsuspecting visitors, even when warned.

He just simply built the floor up with 2 x 4s and then lay a subfloor? Didn't anyone ask him before the fact how he was going to fix it? If you did and he told you, didn't you realise how it would turn out? Or, was this a surprise. Looks jury-rigged. I'm sorry, It would bother me .........a lot.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 5:28PM
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I don't know; the house that I grew up in didn't have a plumb line or a 90 degree angle in it. When my parents renovated the bath they leveled the floor and ended up with a 3 or 4-inch step, and we negotiated it fine, for years. As far as I know, it's still there, 50 years later.

It's not unusual for an old house to have a step up or down here and there. You'll learn to navigate it in no time. I agree with gamecock43. Make it look like it's always been there. The other option is to tear it down to the joists, as has been said. The ramp is ugly. If it were my house, I'd rather have a step.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 10:26AM
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I would tear it down to the joists and fix it. Since you say you've already lived in the house 30 years, I assume you're hoping to (or have already) retired in this house. Seems like a bad time to start ADDING steps to navigate.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 3:56PM
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Looks to me like you had a GC do the work instead of someone who knows old houses. I'd be upset too. He put a cosmetic fix on a more serious problem.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 5:18PM
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Well, look at it this way, elenkao, every time you step up to that floor, you can think "boy, is this nice, walking on a nice level floor for a change".

I don't know how bad out of level it was, but the way you describe it, I would guess a couple of inches, which is alot in a small room like that. There is only so many ways to level a floor, and most of them are impractical or impossible from a structural and cost viewpoint. Tile HAS to have a surface that is very close to level, plus it has to be very stiff. Taking up the subfloor and ripping down the joists to level would have been a very big job, and it may have weakened the framing too much for the tile.

It certainly would have been nice if he described in a little more detail just what he was doing. I also understand your anxiety from a safety viewpoint - single steps (especially very short ones) are some of the most dangerous because people don't notice them. For that reason, you probably want to make it as highlighted or well detailed as possible to give fair warning to all.

I guess the question to ask yourself is would you have kept the old floor (and maybe put down vinyl flooring and tried to re-hide the shimming) if you knew about the step? Or do you enjoy the new tiles, level fixtures, etc., and level walking enough to learn to live with the step? Personally, I think I'd take the step, but then slanting floors kind of bug me.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:56PM
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That's a very good way to look at it Brian. I live in an 1820s house. Some of the floors are on step up/step down levels anyway upstairs. Built that way, or was done when an ell was put on the first Federal but still prolly Civil War time.

Bathroom remodels are expensive enough, and joist work may have made this completely fiscally out of the question. I would much rather have the step than a ramp. At least a step looks intentional. And yes, make the step-down obvious instead of trying to hide it.

This is a done deal. There is no way he can re-do it short of tearing everything out, including the floor. You may as well appreciate the update and enjoy it, instead of dwelling on a new 'step'. He really, really should have lain it out loud and clear, however, to expect a step. Could have been obvious to him, and he figured to anyone else. But it isn't, always unless you have ripped out or installed floors before.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 5:24PM
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Here's what I would do, at least until you wanted to re-do the whole area down to the joists--
Since you have the narrow "dressing room" area leading up to the bath room, and since it is carpeted, I would have the contractor rip up the carpets, and build a plywood grade/incline ramp(well-supported underneath), starting level with the main hallway on that end, and grading gradually up to the height of the bathroom on that end. Then put new carpet/padding/moulding over the entire ramped "dressing area". It would probably mean you would also have to cut the bottoms of those doors so you can open them, but it would save everyone from tripping, and depending on the length of the dressing room, the incline might barely be noticeable.
I would also ask the contractor to do this labor for free, you buy the materials, because the job he has done so far is unacceptable! Tell him that would be cheaper than making him rip it out and do it over so it's level with the existing, like it should have been in the first place!

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 10:02PM
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Molly Brown

Thanks for all your suggestions. I thought about the gradual ramp that Saute suggested, but it would totally screw up the closet doors. They would have to be cut to accomodate the highest point of the ramp where the door opens and then when the door is shut, it would have an odd looking, uneven gap on the bottom compared to the slanting floor.
It's going to be a step.
Carpet is coming in tomorrow, and when it's all done, I will post pics.
Thanks again! :-)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 10:46AM
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