Stage 1: Before

The homeowner of this house in Baltimore County has agreed to let us take a series of photographs of the step by step renovation of their master bathroom. Designed to “age in place” this project will include such amenities as a curbless shower, a heated floor, grab bars, comfort height toilet and a corner shower seat. Demolition begins soon. Updates will follow soon.

Stage 2: Demo

Demo on the Baltimore County master bathroom has begun. As the pictures show there is a significant problem with the floor. It seems the shower pan and curb have been leaking, unseen, for years. The floor joists were significantly damaged. As demo continues we will determine how much of the floor and the joists have rotted.

This shower pan was constructed 19 years ago using an old method of placing a rubber liner under the tile. While this was standard operating procedure back then the installer had to be extra careful that there were no extra folds, seams or penetrations in the membrane. Clearly this one failed and failed early. That is why we at American Contracting have not used this system for years. Instead we use Bath Perfect which incorporates the Schluter System ( in all our bathroom and tile installations. This condition can be fixed once we determine just how bad the deterioration has traveled.

Damage Was Extensive

As our crew removed the tile in the shower and the bathroom floor it was immediately apparent that the damage from the failed shower pan was extensive. The as you can see from the pictures below the center 2’ x 12” joist was completely gone. Water had leaked into the closet adjacent to the shower and had also damaged the boards on the exterior wall. The water damage almost reached the bathroom door. All of the damaged subfloor will be be removed and the new joists will be installed (“sistered”) to the remaining joists to provide proper structural integrity.

Note the center of the joist is completely gone.

Note how much of the subfloor was damaged.

Our lead carpenter (right) and co-owner Tim Lanocha (left) plan out the repairs to the joists after removing all of the entire defective subfloor. They are standing in the basement crawl space.

Stage 3: Construction Begins

The damaged joists have been repaired. All new subfloor has been installed. The shower knee walls have been built. Electric boxes have been moved where necessary and space for a thermostat for the heated floor has been cut into the wall. Blocking will be installed for grab bars, towel bars and other accessories. We always add extra wood blocking so that the bars and accessories are installed into wood rather than drywall for added stability.

Note also how clean the job site is at the end of the day. This is an important part of what we do.

Blocking for Accessories, Paint Selection

One of the processes we always do in bathrooms, especially for aging in place, is to place blocking between the studs for the installation of grab bars, towel bars and other accessories. In this way we are sure that the accessories will be firmly installed. If a customer is not yet ready to install grab bars they can always add them later.

Waterproof Floor and Wall Substrates Installed

The substrate for the heated floor has been laid. Wire for the heated system (in the box in the foreground) goes in next. The waterproof membrane and been applied to the shower walls and the entire bathroom has been painted with its first coat of paint.

Floor Heat Wiring is Installed


The heating wiring has now been installed along with the programmable thermostat to control the temperature and on and off times. Next step is to cover this with thinset and then to install the tile floor over it.

Bathroom and Shower Floors Installed

The bathroom floor, ceramic planks, has been installed and grouted. The shower floor, flat pebbles, have been set and are awaiting grout.

The homeowners will be on vacation for the next ten days or so. Upon their return the vanity and cabinet will be installed followed immediately by the templating of the granite for the countertop and tub bench.