Niche on exterior wall?

marleycat25December 19, 2012

I am trying to decide on a niche or maybe a glass shelf in my shower. Two out of the Three walls are exterior. The only interior wall of the shower will have the plumbing. Can I put a niche in an exterior wall??? Has anyone put a glass shelf in their shower? If so....thoughts??? I have two corner shelves ordered, but I am second guessing myself now. Not sure how they will look. Using 12 x 24 tiles horizontal.


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I want my niches on an exterior wall. However, I was told that due to insulation issues I cannot have it that way.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:48AM
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The answer is different if you are in Florida vs. Minnesota. And it's different depending on the amount of insulated exterior sheathing that you have vs. not having any at all.

It's doable, in the right circumstances, in all climates. But the entire home has to be designed for it from the beginning.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 10:20AM
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I'm not certain how your plumbing is routed in the one interior wall, but can you put two narrower, taller niches on either side of the plumbing? This is something I'm considering for eventual shower remodel. My shower has two exterior walls and one interior wall containing the plumbing. However, I believe the copper comes up from below and then runs to the valve in the center of the wall and then up from the valve to the shower head. This should leave some space on either side of the plumbing for niches.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Thank you for your input. I am putting two shower systems on the one wall, a fixed and a shower bar. I don't think I should crowd the wall with a niche. I think I am going with a couple corner shelves. Hoping they work out okay.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 1:36PM
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Huh, this post is giving me pause. The shower we've got planned has two exterior walls, one of which will house plumbing and the other of which I assumed we'd have a niche. Live in the mid-Atlantic. Can't the contractor simply build in insulation behind the plumbing and niche?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 6:13PM
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I am undergoing a master bath remodel. Our shower is the same situation with exterior walls on two sides and the interior pony wall has the plumbing. We have a florida home , exterior walls being concrete block. Our bath is a decent size. In order to have a niche the contractor built the wall out 5 inches on one side of the room and within that framed out a niche.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 6:36PM
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Sophie Wheeler

"Wet walls" use 2x6 framing in order to have enough thickness to handle the DWV pipes. That's if your pipes on the interior. That won't leave any room for proper insulation on an exterior wall. If you want to have plumbing or a wall niche in an exterior wall in a cold climate, then that wall needs to be framed with at least a 2x8 framing if you are going to use conventional insulation if you are to get close to code and not have cold spots inside the shower. Add in at least 1" of exterior foam sheathing on the entire exterior of the home to get a decent R value.

Using 2x8 framing will impact the internal space in the bath and this has to be planned out from the beginning foundation level on up or you won't have room for the fixtures with the proper clearances. It impacts the deepness of any window wells that you may have in the bath as well, and you need to plan as to how to handle that issue.

Everything is linked together and this isn't something you can just decide you want to do at the last minute. Everything has to planned from the blueprint stage to work to give you what you want.

Or, just make sure the plumbing and niches occupy interior wall space.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 9:30AM
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Hmmm... well, it may not have been 100% correct, but we have a niche on an exterior wall in my bathroom. The house was built in 1985, and when we remodeled the tile guy just built the niche right into the wall. There is some insulation behind it, but perhaps not the full-on insulation that is in the other walls. I'm in SE Michigan, so it does get cold here, and so far the niche has stayed fairly temperate - it gets cool in the winter, but never really cold. I'm not saying I'm an expert, I'm just saying we went for it, and so far it has worked out fine.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 10:02AM
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