What an Old House, Season 1, Episode 1
This week on What an Old House, we’re doing some exploratory demolition in our 1860’s farmhouse’s bathroom. 


Now this bathroom has some interesting features right from the get-go.  You can see from the photos that the entire bathroom was covered in these 50’s-era Masonite panels.  The bars between them are solid brass, and while the whole thing is pretty hideous, you can imagine that it was quite stylish for the era.

(And this is why I will never paint my wall in a chevron pattern…)

But with a renovation planned in this room, the Masonite has to go.  The first question is: can the drywall beneath be salvaged?

Actually, with this house, the first question was: is there drywall underneath?  In previous paneling pull-downs, about 2/3 of the time, the answer has been no.

An earlier pull-down behind the toilet revealed pock-marked, badly-hammered, adhesive-stuck cement board.  The homeowners (us) were hoping that wall was an anomaly. 

Today’s work proves that, sadly, that is not the case.

Now, this is a bit interesting.  Years ago, the ceiling was lowered something like a foot and a half.  If you look closely here, you can see where the old drywall and finishes were cut off at an earlier point.  You can also see bits of the old wallpaper - and the plank walls that go through much of the house. And you can see the adhesive remainders left over from the masonite board.  

Now that adhesive, by the way, is long past its time; the only thing holding these panels in is the lines of brass “molding” around the edges, which itself is nailed into the walls.  That brass stuff is still 100% solid: these walls were built to last.

What I find fascinating isn’t even the Masonite or the pieced- together wallboard: it’s the old door frame inside the newer frame.  Now, our homeowners (us) are planning on replacing the whole thing with a pocket door, but look at that!  At some point, someone just put a new door inside of the old frame.  And that paint is is still shiny and still solid and probably a hundred years old.  (And lead, certainly). (I’m not going to lick the doorway). 

We said this was an exploratory demolition, so what did we learn?  Well, firstly, we learned that there isn’t wallboard over the entire wall - see that plank wall? - and secondly, we learned that the wallboard is, indeed, going to have to go throughout most, if not all, of this bathroom. 

Stay tuned for next time, when we look above the ceiling of this bathroom. 

Tier Benefits
Recent Posts