Did my bathroom really need to be demolished?

13 Replies

I have an unusual situation. I have a unit which needs remodeling however the bathroom was the only part which had be redone and was in good shape. The tiles were a beige and I wanted a black theme. I paid a tiler to put new black floor tiles down and was planning to have him put up new wall tiles by simply putting the new tiles over the existing ones. A friend who is a handyman said he would look at the place and give me a quote. He went there without me and without my permission ripped the entire bathroom out including the new tiles, the old tiles and the underlying gyprock. I only knew about it when he sent me photos. I was obviously shocked and he said he was doing me a favor as it all needed to be ripped out to start again. The bathroom was almost finished off and is now completely gutted. What I'm hoping someone can tell me is, did it actually need to be gutted to start again or did he needlessly demolish the bathroom? What was going to cost about $200 is now going to cost at least $1200.

unauthorized work. he said its a favor (1000+) ain't it? otherwise, some friend! 

New tile over old tile is a bad idea. Definitely not the right way to do it. I would have ripped it out. Though not without telling you first. Durarock is pretty cheap. I wouldn't think it would add that much expense but I damn sure wouldn't ever let this "friend" ever look at a bathroom alone again. 

Wow, I agree it did need to come out, but that is just wrong...Hopefully he did it as a favor!  

You don't put tile over other tile unless you want tile falling off the walls.   The only way to re-tile is to rip it all up and get back to a clean base and start over.  If you're going to take all the tile off you might as well take it down to the studs and start fresh and fix any rot or mold issues while you're at it.  I'd also put a new valve in if it's old while I have it open. 


You can install new over old. Since I don't know the condition of the tile bed or any other cause the friend may have been justified in his intentions ( ie. The floor may have had several layers on it already and would have been a trip hazard to add another ? Or concern about the Live and dead load on the floor joists? ) however lack the courtesy needed in this situation.  In one of the recent podcast a bigger pockets they talk about the dangers of working with friends. You must know evaluate how important this relationship is to you and if you want to treat it as a business relationship then ask for him to front the cost. If want to hold onto this relationship then you just got a grin and bear it. 

I don't care what family handyman says, no way would I put ceramic tile on top of ceramic tile. Mastic and thinset both age and lose elasticity over time, which is why tiles eventually start falling off walls on their own (i.e., nothing is forever). Adding more lateral weight to the original adhesive is a bad idea if you don't know what the original compound was, since different thinsets and mastics are designed for different shear weight. I have done *a lot* of tile jobs myself and the right way to do it is starting from a fresh base. You are talking about wall tiles here - I would have to see a picture, but I can't figure out in my head how you would have trimmed that out without it looking like crap or how it would meet surfaces properly, i.e. sink, etc. 

Whether or not they should have torn out the walls without you saying OK is another matter. Personally, if someone hired me to put tile over tile, I would have politely told you "No thanks" and moved on to another job. 

@Nat Chan  There are certain situations where you can put tile over tile but it's generally not a good idea...especially in a wet location. 

So, yes...it probably did need to be demo'd, but it's very odd that he would do it without your permission.  I would find a new tile setter ....and handyman. :)

If you just wanted to change the color, then you could have probably had someone reglaze the existing tile in black, just like they do with bathtubs.

@Nat Chan , are you happy with the tile contractor who did the floor?  Perhaps reach out to them about your wall situation?

I see alot of tile installed over sheetrock only cause its there,,,or cheap,,,or easy.  Was the original tile installed with mastic or thin set?  The quick wipe the wall, slap the tile on,,,,or the right way with thin set and each tile back buttered???

So IF just a simple thing as old tile was not back buttered,,,or put over sheet rock,,,YES it needed demo'ed.  (I) would NEVER even think of putting tile over tile,,,but maybe thats just me.  Old saying  "If you dont have the time to do it right the first time,,,how you going to find time to do it right the second try???"

If you have it all demoed put cement board around the tub/ shower  surround and where ever else you are putting tile.  Drywall everything above that with a no mold ,water resistant sheetrock and paint it with a couple good coats or three of good enamel paint to keep moisture away.

Best part of a demo to the studs is you can replace wiring,drain plumbing ect as well as upgrade to a modern light/vent that is ducted all the way outside and insulated to prevent condense inside. Ducting into the attic or up to a roof vent is NOT a good idea

TRY to keep outlets that you plug high energy things like hair dryers and curling irons as well as electric space heaters on separate circuits than the lights etc. Those should all be #12 wire  Think about it, your standing there just out of the shower and circuit breaker trips from high use,,lights go out you cant see to get clothed enough to get to the basement to fix.  So three circuits are not out of line.  One for lights, and half outlets and third for other half of outlets,,,ALL gfic's of course.

OTHER item is to watch and make sure your over rated  on your bath vent fan,,,and you watch the sonnes ratings for quietness.  I also do NOT put the fan on the light switch.  Seperate timer switch so it can run a while after a steamy shower and it shuts off.  Seems to prolong fan life  better than anything else,,,IF they run all day and night with the light, half or more of time unneeded, they dont last from noon to dinner.

Sorry to be so long winded but you only get one chance at doing it right

It's better to make new friends through business than new business through friends. 

Yes you can retile of tile but its HIGHLY NOT recommended for wall tiles.  I would make your friend pay for the damages to property that he didn't have authorization for.  I would have someone else like the same tile guy do the repair work.  I defiantly would not have your friend do the work.  He will cause you more headaches later.  I would get 3 quotes to repair the work to prove to your friend the cost that he should be paying you.  If you need to take him to court you will need 3 quotes.

The real issue here is that you did not have a clear scope of work with a written proposal to have that work done. The "handyman friend"  may have misunderstood what you were wanting to have done and than maybe not.  

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