Dec. 12th, 2009

tnrkitect: (Default)
Today's project is brought to you by the words: leaky toilet.

We have noticed that the vinyl sheet flooring beside our toilet is getting discolored, and looking a little, um, "moldy". Extra cleaning of the flooring did not help (we regularly clean our bathroom already, thank you). It was still discolored.

So what to do?

The discoloration is a symptom. The cause is that the wax ring which sits under toilet between the toilet and the plumbing pipe flange and seals the connection between the two, has developed a leak. It is probably small, but a leak nonetheless. This is the cause of the discoloration.

To fix the problem requires removing the toilet and replacing the wax ring. This will not fix the flooring, which can not be truly cleaned up aesthetically at this point, so that needs to be replaced while we are at it.

Now, we have future plans to redo the bathroom completely, with a clawfoot tub, a pedestal sink, and ceramic tile all around, but that work is not in our budgets (monetary or time). So, we are left with doing a semi-temporary fix. The semi-temporary part comes from the fact that we need to fix the problem, and although we have plans for the future, they are not guaranteed to occur prior to our selling and moving, especially since the solution we have in a visual upgrade to what was in there.

Our options for non-tile flooring consists of vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl plank flooring, vinyl tile flooring, composite wood flooring, or wood flooring.

We like the concept of a wood floor, however there is the issue of a bathroom being a very humid, wet environment, which is not a good environment for wood. The wood floor would be prone to warping and swelling, not to mention eventually rotting.

Composite wood flooring is a little better, as it handles the moisture better. However, it is still prone to all of the drawbacks of the real wood floor. Plus it tends to be expensive for good quality flooring which can handle a wet environment better.

A previous owner used vinyl sheet flooring, which is a good option. It creates a solid, seamless surface for the floor, which means there are no cracks for water to get down to where it can cause serious damage. The main problem with it is that you have two ways of getting it: a precut option which is roughly a 6 ft x 7 ft sheet, and custom cut from 12 ft rolls.

The precut would be perfect, and the cheapest option, but the local home improvement stores only had a few options, all of which were UGLY.

The by the foot custom cut would have been cheaper, except for the fact that the roll is 12 ft long, and you have to pay for all 12 feet. As an example, the size that we need is only a 6 ft by 6 ft piece, however we would have had to buy a 6ft by 12 ft sheet in order to have a usable piece. That's not gonna happen.

This leaves us with either vinyl tile or vinyl planks.

The vinyl tile is a roughly 1/4" thick piece of rigid vinyl, with a veneer layer on top that has the colored pattern on it, and is available in a self adhered version or one requiring a separate adhesive. They typically come in 12 inch by 12 inch squares.

The vinyl planks are similar, except that they are thinner, about 1/8 inch, and they are typically 4 inches by 36 inches. This size is due to the pieces typically being colored to resemble a wood plank flooring. My wife feels that these actually look better than some of the composite wood flooring products. Again, they come in either self-stick or separately adhered versions.

The draw backs to the vinyl tile or vinyl planks over the sheet flooring is the seams between the pieces can allow water to seep down between them and cause problems with the subflooring (rot) or can cause the adhesive to fail, or get trapped under a tile creating a "bubble".

The solution to this is simple. Use a floor wax/polish product like Mop & Glow, that essentially lays down a thin layer of product that seals the floor. Yes, it requires regular cleaning and reapplication, but that is a small price to pay for the headaches that it avoids.

So, this afternoon, I will be digging into this project, and will hopefully have it done by bedtime. All I have to do is:

1. Remove the base molding at the edges (carefully so it can be reused)
2. Remove the toilet & old wax ring.
3. Remove the old flooring.
4. Clean the sub-floor.
5. Install the new vinyl plank flooring.
6. Install a new wax ring and reinstall the toilet.
7. Caulk the of the toilet except for a 2 inch gap at the rear, so if the wax ring does begin to leak again it will only mess up behind the toilet.
8. Reinstall the base molding.

Wish me luck!


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tnrkitect - Musings of an Unconventional Mind

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