We're DIY'ing A Shower Stall - Looking For Any Help/Tips

amck2March 7, 2013

We were going to go with a molded corner shower kit w/ glass doors for the guest bathroom we're installing. But after reading so many negative reviews on virtually all of them, seeing posts here that confirmed the reviews, and going to the stores in our area to see them in person, we've decided to construct our own shower stall and have the local glass company come in to custom fit the glass door.

We've shifted our plan from a corner stall to a rectangular one. We're going for a simple, efficient style.

DH & SIL will be taking time off in April to do this. Both are well-versed in basic construction. DH's fortes are woodworking & masonry (stone & brick), but he's never done a tiled wall. SIL is well-versed with plumbing.

My DD & I are in charge of sourcing the fixtures & main components. Can you point me in the direction of what the best shower base unit would be? What are must-haves for installing, lining and waterproofing? Are there any sites or blog or forum posts that you would recommend?

Regarding tile for the walls - What is a good size to go with? And what type? We basically want a white tile surround that will be easy to clean - no strips of decorative tile, mosaics, etc.

Mostly, we want a shower that will be safe, well-built and absolutely leak-proof.

Any & all help for this intrepid band of shower stall building novices will be greatly appreciated!

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Go to the john bridge forum. They give great help and advice on building showers (and all things tile-related). As far as the size of tile, it really depends on what you like and what feeling you are going for. I prefer tiled shower floors, but someone here (I think it was cat mom, but not sure), did her bathrooms with cast iron bases and raves about them.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 2:04PM
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I like the Kerdi system. Pretty foolproof and watertight.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 3:28PM
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When we were researching, I found the Floor Elf's shower waterproofing manual to be the most helpful. I thought it was a great breakdown and explanation of the the different types of waterproofing and the pros and cons of each.

After reading it, we decided to go with the Kerdi system for our shower. We were kind of pressed for time to get things installed while we had our brother-in-law here to help. Given more time I think we will consider one of the liquid membranes that you "paint" on when we do our guest bathroom. My BIL had never used Kerdi before but he's done a lot of tile work and while skeptical at first was very impressed with it in the end. I'm just not sure if we would be comfortable doing it without his help.

Here is a link that might be useful: floor Elf Shower Waterproofing Manual

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 4:01PM
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I went through the same thing about 1.5 years ago redoing our basement bath. Needed a corner shower, hated all the fiberglass options (have a Kohler fiberglass corner shower in the 2nd floor main bath and have only been 'so-so' happy with it).

But, I didn't want to do a tiled shower because tile frankly isn't the ideal shower material. Grout is porous, meaning you need to do a full waterproof membrane beneath it, making the tile more or less cosmetic etc etc and grout just gets dirty.

I went with a solid white (no marbling) cultured marble corner shower.

The base is cast out of solid material - there is NO give in it - it is SOLID all the way through. The walls are panels of 1/2" thick solid material as well - NOT flimsy fiberglass.

The base sits in thinset like a giant tile on the floor. The walls adhere to plain old drywall with silicone caulking (100% silicone). The inside corner is sealed with silicone and I have a trim piece on it to cover the seam which is also held on with silicone. This thing ain't gonna leak ever.

Then we had custom glass cut for it. We started with a shower curtain, but quickly decided the glass enclosure was worth it.

I'd strongly recommend looking at cultured marble as an option. Was the same price or less than a decent quality fiberglass kit and is way higher quality.

I don't have much in the way of pics but here are a couple.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 4:09PM
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Oh - and as a compromise in-between sort of thing, you could go with a cast shower base and tile the walls. This way you have no worries about a waterproof floor and don't have the hassle of all the slope etc. to sort out.

For waterproofing a shower I'd recommend a Kerdi setup.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Even better than the Kerdi try using Laticrete's Hydroban. It's easier than Kerdi (in that it's a roll on application) and there are no seams to build up overlaps in corners. I'll still use kerdi for Steam showers, but for any conventional showers, all my showers are now waterproofed with the Hydroban.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 6:01PM
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I'm the same as Bill. Kerdi for steamers, Hydroban for non-steamers.

I'll start you off in the direction of a cast iron receptor for your shower pan. If they are not in your budget, come back and we'll move on to the other options.

With any base, your walls will be a piece of cake. Cement board over the studs, then the cement board covered with Hydroban. Then tile. Tile size is up to you, but it can depend on the how flat you get the wall. The flatter your walls, the larger tile you can use.

But let's solve Step One, the pan. Do you like CI? At $500-$800, are they in your budget? Don't forget that it's ready to go. Set it and forget it. Or do you prefer an acrylic/plastic pan?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 7:16PM
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