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Wednesday, August 25, 2010  

Showered with Good Fortune

I'm not the kind of person who habitually makes myself feel better because of someone else's mistakes. It just worked out that way.

It happened when I was replacing the shower surround in the downstairs bathroom. The old one, which my dad and I installed the first year we lived here, was starting to yellow with age. But we had a new one in the garage that I'd bought last winter, and I wanted to get it in place before it did the same.

Tearing down the old one was surprisingly easy, and despite the grim condition of the caulking, there was no water damage behind it. The back panel stuck easily to the sheetrock. So did one of the end panels. It was the panel for the end with the plumbing where I ran into trouble.

First, I couldn't get the handles off. Until I did. Turns out they were just stuck. The tub faucet, however, was even stucker. I knew it would twist off if I applied enough leverage and force. The question was whether I'd be able to twist it back on again, or if I'd have to fill the tub for M. Edium's future baths out of a broken, Hulked-off stump.

Once I got that off, it was a question of marking the places on the new panel where the fixtures poked through. I suppose I could have just cut the whole bottom third off the panel, but I don't want to end up on There I Fixed It. Unless it's on purpose.

The instructions advise you to use the cardboard box as a template. Which I did, holding it up to where the new panel would be and marking the openings for the fixtures. Then I brought my template outside and laid it down on top of the panel that would go there, and went to work with my new holesaw drill attachment.

This is when I learned that I am not good with holesaws. I would have had better results gnawing through the plastic.

But, I thought, at least it was the back of the panel that was all scratched up and not the front, right? Right. And hopefully the escutcheons would hide the worst of the gouges.

Except I'd put my template down backwards. And the plumbing fixtures aren't centered on that wall. So the only way the new panel would fit now would be inside out. With, as a bonus, all of the horrible holesaw damage showing.

I hate screwing up projects like this, because I know I'm going to see the mistake until it either gets fixed again, years down the road, or until we move out. At which point we'll have to fix it.

But there was more bad news. The surround kit also came with two corner panels, which is where the shelves were. And this one came with two left panels. Which, given the number of left hands I appeared to have this particular weekend, was appropriate.

I was going to go ahead and glue the panel in upside down, because at this point why the hell not, but then Trash got the idea of calling the home improvement store where we got it to complain. At first it looked like we were out of luck, because Home Depot didn't seem to carry that kit any more. But then I told her that I got it at Menards, so we were back on track.

Sure enough, she got the go-ahead for us to bring it in, and I stuck the balky panel -- liberally spooged with still-tacky adhesive -- in the back of the station wagon and drove to the hardware store. They were very nice about it, apologizing for my inconvenience and saying the faulty kit would be sent back to the manufacturer. They guy got up on one of those motorized ladders and hauled down a fresh kit, which he opened and from which he presented me with a correct right-corner panel.

"You know," I said insinuatingly as per the plan Trash and I had formulated, "as long as you have that open…"

And that was how I came to return home with a fresh, unblemished shower panel to replace the one I'd wrecked. And one other thing: a holesaw guide. Turns out you need one of those if you don't want your hole to look like it was made by a beaver with vertigo.

From there, it was smooth sailing. I was able to attach all five panels, one with correctly drilled holes. I admired my handiwork for a long time. After all, I was going to have to start caulking soon, and I just knew I was going to screw that up.

posted by M. Giant 4:00 PM 0 comments


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