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A hearty good morning to all! With luck we've all recovered from the diabetic coma resulting from too much Halloween candy (be honest, you didn't REALLY get the warehouse-sized bag in case of extra kids), the extreme carb-load of Thanksgiving, and are getting ready for the next holiday. And the next one. And the one after that. I sometimes wonder if orphans don't get off easier this time of year.

As we close the house up for winter, I started to think back to where my summer went (or where it got lost, anyway). Oh yeah, renovating a 1000 square foot apartment. One room at a time wasn't the approach I used, but it's a good plan for a diary. Past the swirlie to...the bathroom!

First, a look at what the previous tenants left me.

Doesn't that just want to make you get naked and hop in? The sink was a very badly done wall mount, all the paint had peeled from the window frame, all the silicone on most of the shower was either gone or deteriorating, and there was no privacy film left on the window. Ugh. The first thing to go was the sink, as it was only held on by a thread. Since I had to do it anyway, I went with a pedestal sink that could never (again) fall off the wall. I re-used the faucet, and just got the bare-bones sink for about $60.
Nothing else in that bathroom is level (or clean, at that point). Essentially, the basin rests on the pedestal, with silicone caulking "gluing" it together. One side has a massive amount of caulking compared to the other, which was how I leveled off the basin. The biggest drawback to this type of sink is the space behind it; namely, there is none. Tightening everything to not leak (and yes, I used teflon tape, Glen) involved a few bruised knuckles. And swearing. And then beer for -ahem- medicinal purposes.

After a haz-mat level cleaning with a gallon of bleach, I got a good look at the decay. The wood of the window frame was somehow in good shape, even though portions of it had never been painted at all. I suspect the previous owner lost the house to foreclosure shortly after installing it, and never had a chance to finish. No matter the case, I twice-primed the window with Kilz 2 (which has an anti-mildew and mold component in the mix). After that, a full 3 coats of Zinsser Bath enamel (Valspar used to make a good one, but I couldn't find it). All told that's five full coats on the window frame, with a full day drying in between; the main reason doing one room at a time wasn't an option.

Next, the window itself. After a thorough Windexing inside and out, privacy film was on the agenda; I suspect my ornery 80-year old neighbor didn't want a daily show. A bit of searching on Amazon turned up self-adhesive film that goes on like Contact paper. This is getting hard to find, incidentally. Most films now have some type of water-activated adhesive that doesn't stick for long, and probably for even a shorter period given that it's in a shower. Cut to fit, then carefully apply to the window. The trick to this stuff is to take your time, and slowly work out any bubbles to the edge of the film using a credit card or similar, semi-flexible piece of plastic. No matter how well you measure and cut, there will always be a gap at the edge of the film; more on that in a second.

Now for the caulking. For my money, I prefer GE Silicone II caulking in almost every situation, especially for wet areas like a shower. It stays flexible so temperature changes won't kill it, and comes in a few colors (although plain white was perfectly suitable for this). The drawbacks are the odor - which destroys braincells - and the non-paintable aspect of it. As such, I always put it on last, smoothing down with a finger as much as possible. Since what you see is what you get after it sets, it's important to take the extra minute or two to try to get a good, smooth finish.

And not just the window, mind you. Nearly every seam of the shower - where the wall panels meet - needed to be resealed. Since I was high as a kite from the fumes, I just kept going, and also did everywhere the shower meets the wall or floor, inside and out. All told, I used about a tube and a half, spent the better part of a day applying and smoothing out...and it paid off. Every professional may scoff upon close inspection, but unless you cut a hole in the wall, there's no way for any leaks to occur.

Back to the window film. Per advice from CodeTalker, the gap on the edge was filled with a thin bead of caulking as well. Besides covering what would otherwise be an obvious hack-job, the caulking seals the edge of the film. Otherwise water eventually gets under, and starts lifting the film from the window. Which is what is happening with my shower now, but all home improvement efforts went to the apartment this year.

A new, water-saving showerhead (tenants don't pay for water in MA, so I may as well save myself a bit on a monthly bill), Tilex on the etched-glass shower doors, a bit more cleaning, and voila! A bathroom I can actually show to people.

The only two things I didn't do but wish I had the time to do: cover the holes in the wall where the old sink was mounted, and raise the vanity light; the bulbs are scant inches from the top of the medicine cabinet. With no complaints from the tenants, those go on the "maybe, someday" list. The entire apartment was a mile-long to-do list, though, so doing the entire place at once just freed up about a year's worth of weekends.

So what's everyone else's weekend look like?

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