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Wow, have I been gone a long time! The last couple of weeks have been hectic, and I haven’t made the time to blog like I should. I’ve been entirely consumed by this:

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This is the interior of our shower. Last fall, I noticed that the wall had started to bow inward. After Hay Fever opened, I took a week off to rip it all down to the studs, get rid of the mold, and start over.

I’ve never tackled this kind of project before, so the whole thing was a learning experience. The first step after the demolition (which was a TON of fun, by the by) was to replace the insulation and use a mold abatement product on the wood underneath. Luckily, the mold wasn’t too bad – most of it was in the fiberglass and went into the dumpster. It was in the 80s all week that week, and there’s nothing like hauling around fiberglass insulation in a respirator, goggles, long sleeves, and gloves to make you enjoy the hot weather.

After the new insulation, I hung a layer of roofing felt as a moisture barrier and then put up new wallboard. For wet areas like shower walls, regular drywall can absorb water and start the mold problem all over again, so this is Hardiebacker. That’s a brand name, but any kind of cement backer board will do.

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Next comes thin-set mortar and the tiles – aren’t these white ones so much better than the brown that was in there before? We also decided to add corner shelves for storing shampoos, etc. The old tub had one crappy soap tray right in the stream of the shower, so the soap would melt three times faster than it should have. I use this luscious olive oil soap that my Mom imports from Nablus as part of a fair-trade organization supporting women in the Palestinian refugee camps, so I want it to last as long as possible. It’s the only thing that keeps my skin from completely peeling off my body during our dry Minnesota winters.

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The tiles going up!

Tiling is easy, but a little tedious. Things have to be checked for level and square every couple of rows, and you have to work on small areas so the mortar doesn’t dry on the wall before you get the tiles on. I made liberal use of little plastic spacers to keep everything even, and a co-worker loaned me his tile saw so I could make decent clean cuts. Don’t do this job without one! It made all the difference between a professional-looking finish and a crappy one.

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See how I moved the soap dish there? So much better for my fancy soap. I’m not quite done – still waiting for caulking to dry so I can put on the new tub fixtures that R bought. It’s definitely not perfect, but I learned a lot during this process, and I feel confident that it’ll be water tight – hopefully it’ll last for the next 30 years.

Do you ever take on DIY projects? How have they gone?

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