For the tile floor membrane we used Schluter Ditra Heat, a waterproof, uncoupling membrane that we purchased from a tile supplies distributor. The membrane comes with the wires and thermostat for the floor heating. I found it very easy to install.
It can be installed directly over subfloor. The membrane comes in rolls and can be cut with a utility knife.
. For the floor tile we went with 10" hex from Design and Direct Source. We had an overall pleasant experience with them. We ordered about 275 square feet.
The transition between the sloped shower and the floor was a little tricky; especially near the drain. There was a lot of precise cutting we had to do. It was below freezing outside so I had to run a heater in the garage near the tile saw in order to keep the water from freezing! not fun!!
We started with the tile near the drain first because we wanted to make sure we had a full tile covering the linear drain. I.E. we wanted to make sure there wasn't a joint between two tiles here as it would be more prone to failure and separating from the mortar bed.
Maggie is mixing the grout! We used Tec InColor grout for this project.
Here is the tile with the drain cover removed.
The only work that we hired out for this project was the rough-in plumbing for the bathroom. I did not want to risk doing all of the tile work only to find out there is a leak in the floor or wall due to a bad copper or PVC connection. The photo below shows the rough-in for the double vanity. We made sure to get at least 2" of solid insulation board behind all of the pipes as this bathroom was along an exterior wall.... Otherwise the pipes will most likely freeze in the winter. Also you will notice the stack vent for the sink had to be routed in such a way that did not interfere with the mirror locations.
We framed the wall such that there would be one long ledge aligned with the window sill. The bottom framing is 2x6's while the top is 2x3's. This allowed us the space we needed for the vanity drain pipes and mounting area for the wall-mounted faucets. (above)
We bought three countertop brackets from countertopbracket.com for the granite top and floating vanity. We spaced our studs to align with where the brackets needed to meet the countertop. We decided to put the outlets underneath the countertop in the drawer area of the vanity. We didn't want to see an outlet on the tile backsplash. (above)
The new toilet is in a different location than the existing so there was some new piping that needed to be added to slope back to the stack under the floor. We also replaced the case iron stack vent. (above)
This is the framing I did for the shower / toilet wall. We added a niche above the toilet and additional 2x6 blocking at the base of the shower for additional support. (above)
For the tile substrate we used a Kerdi waterproof membrane over cement board. Here is a photo of the vanity with the membrane complete. Unfortunately I didn't take a photo of the cement board without the membrane. The hardest part about installing the membrane was that the mortar would dry fast so you had to be quick about troweling the mortar on the cement board and then applying the membrane. You will also see the pipe penetrations had kerdi membrane pipe seals with rubber gaskets. I'm a huge fane of the kerdi system. All of the tile backer materials and supplies were kerdi products bought from a local tile distributor.
This is the shower area with the sloped kerdi shower base. The shower is 72" wide and will slope to a tilable (is that a word?) linear drain. The drain is called Kerdi-Line.
Here is a photo of the drain we bought.
The niche above the toilet (above) for indoor plants and extra storage.
One of the best products in the tile industry: the kerdi membrane!
We went through numerous design iterations for the 3rd floor bathroom. Below is the floor plan and elevations for the final design.
The design features 8" hex tile, a toto toilet, a 72" kerdi-line drain, a honed granite integral dual basin sink on a floating spalted maple wood vanity and built-in birch linen cabinets.
We decided to use what's known as the "Cut-n-Cobble" method for insulating our attic ceiling. The Cut-n-Cobble method is an insulation technique where you cut strips of rigid foam boards to fit in-between your roof rafters or wall studs and fills the gaps between the boards and the rafters/studs with spray can insulation. Ideally, there would be a 1/2" - 1" gap between the boards and the wood to fit a spray nozzle to fill the gaps. There a few reasons why we chose to insulate our roof / attic ceiling this way. Perhaps the most important reason is that it was less than half the cost of doing spray foam. We spent some time reaching calculating the cost of doing spray foam vs. cut-and-cobble method, ultimately we decided to save the money and do the work ourselves (with spray foam there was no way we could do this ourselves--although i definitely looked into it!) Be forewarned though: this method is very time consuming. Contractor's don't provide this method as an option for a reason! It was especially time consuming for us because each and every rafter was spaced at a different dimension, so each rafter spacing had to be measured and each insulation board had to be custom cut to fit the opening. This by far was probably the longest stage of this renovation. I want to say it lasted 3-4 months!! Needless to say, if it's in your budget, go with hiring a spray foam contractor to do your insulation. Otherwise, be prepared to put in some sweat equity!
You can see from the above photo that we used 3/4" wood furring strips to bring the dimension from the underside of the roof sheathing to the face of the furring to 6-1/4". This allowed for approximately 6" of Rigid Insulation. We used three layers of 2" rigid pink Owens Corning Foamular 150 rigid insulation. I can't even tell you how many boards i bought.... 500, 1000? A lot! I had home depot make two separate deliveries to our house with two pallets full both times. In addition to about a half dozen trips to home depot for a full truck load. It was crazy! Also, for the spray foam, we bought the spray gun and the industrial size cans. It was quite the endeavor.
We used small strips of wood fastened with temporary screws to keep the boards in place until we spray foamed with the spray gun. The foam took about a day to dry completely before we could remove the temporary strips.
You can see the major thermal bridging occurring in the rafters / gap from the above photo. This is a thermal scanner we borrowed to test the thermal transmittance. The 6" of rigid foam gave us an insulation value of about R-30. In addition, we were going to provide 5/8" drywall and 3/4" wood below the insulation, so we assume the total R-vale would be a little higher to meet code requirements in Northern Ohio.
This is in the midst of adding all the canned spray foam. We found that we had to do the spray foam over the course of multiple days... We would fill the gap with 2"-3" of foam, allow it to expand and dry, and then come back and do the remaining 3" or so of foam. If we did it all at once it would either expand too much or not enough and would be a huge waste of expensive material.
Once the spray foam was dry we used a foam saw to cut the foam so that it was flush with the furring strips. You can buy these at your local big box hardware store for about $10.
We also had to fur-out the bathroom ceiling with additional furring because there was a vent stack running along the ceiling. We used salvaged lumber from the old walls that once framed the attic partitions!
Here is a photo of the front exterior wall, with new cut-n-cobbled insulation in place between the wall studs. We added additional 2x4 framing to the existing wall framing to improve the energy performance of this wall. I also added a new header and window sill.
Another advantage of using rigid foam and spray foam is it has a better energy performance than batt insulation. The above photo shows new plumbing along the exterior wall. The likelihood that there would be freezing pipes would be much greater if batt insulation was installed. I hate batt insulation in exterior walls. There's always going to be thermal bridging with batt insulation. The small gaps between the insulation and the studs allows hot/cold air to transfer.
Another reason why we chose to do this method is it allowed us to do the framing and insulation simultaneously. If we were framing a wall, and had to bridge between rafters, we could do so without having to cut away dense spray foam.
One additional point I would like to make: if possible, the best option for insulating your ceiling / roof is to provide continuous insulation above your roof deck. This is because your roof rafters are a major thermal "bridge" for hot/cold air. However, in our case, we had a 120 year old slate roof that we are planning to keep for the next 120 years. Replacing the roof was just not an option.
One additional thing to note, I lot of people choose to vent their roofs. There's a lot of debate about doing a vented roof vs. unvented roof that I don't want to get into. Obviously, we chose to do an unvented / "hot" roof assembly. For a new construction home, that is basically "air-tight", I would not recommend this approach.
Ultimately, this method was very time consuming and labor intensive but I feel very comfortable now knowing that there is a full 6" of closed cell insulation in our ceiling and ceiling with a perm rating of zero (basically). After the drywall was installed, which ill get into next... we made sure to seal all the gaps with tape to create a true air barrier. I'm confident that the R-value combined with the sealing will leave us moisture-free and comfortable in this attic space for a long time (knock on wood!).
Notice to all readers: I am not a structural engineer. The statements made below is based on extensive research online and not made by an engineer professional. I am an architect with some basic understanding of structural engineering. Do not make design decisions based on this post without first doing your own research and speaking with an engineer.
With that being said, let's talk about collar ties.
The above picture shows one of the "collar ties" that was original to the construction of our home. These were installed every 4 or so rafters. My original intention was to keep these and wrap them in trim but i decided to remove them. Here is why.
First off, let me clarify what collar ties are exactly. Sometimes engineers design collar ties to prevent separation of the roof at the ridge due to wind uplift. Collar ties should only be required when there are no ceiling joists or structural ridge beam to serve the function. When collar ties are properly designed to resist wind uplift, the engineer usually will specify through bolts and spike grids anchored to the roof rafters. The hardware is required in order to properly connect the collar tie to the rafter; a few nails, as was the case in our house, won't do the job. Plus the "collar ties" were 2x4's. In order for it to be substantial to function as a true collar tie it would need to be a much larger member.
Most of the codebooks and construction textbooks today dont require collar ties or show them in details anymore. However, building codes do require that the rafters themselves 1.) need to be properly sized to accommodate roof load requirements and 2.) that the ceiling joists be fastened at lap joints to resist outward thrust from the weight of the roof.
If the design of roof framing does not allow for the roof rafters to be connected to ceiling joists, then collar ties and/or rafter ties would be required to resist the forces caused by gravity loads that otherwise cause the roof to pancake and push the exterior walls outwards. Rafter ties are required by code, unless the engineer designed the house so that there is a ridge beam that carries the load of the roof.
The sketch above shows the condition of our house. Typically, older homes had 2x8 or 2x6 roof rafters spaced 12"-24" o.c. Most newer homes nowadays have pre-manufactured roof trusses that don't allow for a vaulted ceiling.
The ceiling joists that run between the exterior walls alongside each rafter are being utilized to resist tension from the vertical forces, not collar ties. They are much better at resisting thrust provided they are fastened to the rafters as well as to the top plates of the exterior walls.
There should not be collar ties between rafters above the ceiling joists.... period!
The blue circles show the important connections between rafters and ceiling joists. The existing rafters were only being anchored to each other with long nails. I decided to buy 3" x 9" simpson gusset plates to nail to each rafter ridge connection. I used about 12 simpson nails at each pair of rafters. This was a small investment I decided to make for added strength / security. Ultimately, I don't know if this was actually required but it gave me piece of mind. You can also make the gusset plates out of plywood.
In addition, I fastened the rafters to top plates with additional nails. Any ceiling joists that were sistered together received additional nails and blocking. Again... piece of mind.
There's also the question about the actual weight of the roof from snow/wind/etc. causing the roof to sag. I've given this a lot of thought, but then I realized that our roof has been this way for 120 years. In addition, we were adding intermediate walls in the design that would be fastened to the rafters.
The next step was to insulate the roof... Stay tuned!
The process for designing our 3rd floor took a very long time. Mostly because my wife and I are both architects with strong design opinions. Our compromise for certain design elements is usually to go with the most expensive option. Needless to say this was a very costly renovation with no corners cut for materials and fixtures. With that being said, we decided to compromise by doing all. of. the. work. ourselves. It took about 9 months to complete.... but well worth it in the end.
The inspiration for the 3rd floor bathroom and master suite was to focus on contrasting, modern and well-built fixtures and hardware that would pop out against neutral natural materials. We knew we wanted the following:
-vault the ceiling to open the space. Big debate about whether or not we needed collar ties, a ridge beam, and what material the ceiling finish should be
-reroute and reframe the stairs to open the space up
-bathroom fixtures.... black or brass. no brushed nickel or chrome please and thank you! also no plastic parts
-built in warbrobe extended floor to ceiling. no soffits. no wasted space. need to figure out material, are these custom built, etc.
-tile floor to ceiling in the bathroom. no large format tile. no 12x24.... please.
-a huge shower with a linear drain and a prefab kerdi slope.
-a huge slim profile waterfall shower head. the biggest shower head on the market.
-custom linen cabinets. no melamine or MDF.
-insulated and rated ceiling
-heated bathroom floors
-built in book cabinets
-floating vanity with either soapstone or marble top
To name a few. Below are a few images we took inspiration from in the beginning.
Love the black shower hardware and the tub filler.
love the toilet, shower glass, shower fixtures, wall tile, mirror, pretty much everything...
love the tile... both the floor tile and wall tile
love the ledge near the tub
love everything is this photo
not sure why i chose this picture but i love the linens. is that parachute?
in this photo i was trying to see how people were exposed the collar ties.
the brushed nickel really kills this shower.
Maggie, at this point, did not know what she was getting into..... this is one of the first days of demo... and we are discussing everything that needs to be demo'd (which is everything)...
This is a photo of inside our closet after everything was cleared out. When we first bought our house we had the contractor run new shafts to the third floor--shown here--which we ended up completely re-routing for the third floor renovation. One of the temporary projects in this house was to install a partition wall with an access door into a separate space from our "closet"..... yeah, time to demo it all....
Our previous insulation in our ceiling / roof....... broad loom carpet scrap!!
Yes..... i saved every piece of bat insulation.... and trust me.... there was a lot of it!
Bathroom demo.... can wait to remove this raised floor. Why is it raised?? bout to find out.
Maggie demoing the shitty tile in the old bathroom....
The bathroom walls are gone.... and being stored in my garage....
This was a fun evening after work: stripping bat insulation from the roof rafters of the attic. Word of advice: wear a long sleeve shirt and gloves. Don't handle baby's afterwards.
Bathroom demo almost complete. Still have to remove the carpet, floor boards and collar tie.
Here we are dismantling the old stair. I built this railing with blocking that allowed me to remove the railing balusters separately from the rails... this allowed me to move material and furniture easily up and down the stairs. Ultimately, this was all removed...
I would say this is my final demo photo before the new construction started. All that was left was to remove the rest of the framing for the ceiling.... and make the one million trips downstairs hauling lumber and trash into the garage.. We didnt rent a dumpster for this project.... so we spent the next 6 months or so taking 10 plus contractor bags of trash to the curb... which we stored in a full garage in the meantime. We saved every piece of insulation and framing for this project. We de-nailed every stud and re-used it for the new walls---crazy but saved us a lot of money in the end!
Design services for a friend in Raleigh who reached out to me looking for design options for a modern living room / kitchen addition to their home.
Brandon E. Young