Fiberglass Shower Bottom, or tile bottom?

kbmas0nDecember 13, 2007

We are DIY-ing our master bathroom (new construction) and have decided on a 5'ft shower...that I want to be tiled. However, it looks like a PITA to do the tiling on the bottom, and I worry that if we don't do it perfectly, it will look terrible.

I know there are fiberglass shower bases. Would that be the way to go?

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bill_vincent

Look into this system. You lose alot of the hassles attributed to trying to DIY your own shower, especially the pan:

Here is a link that might be useful: Schluter Kerdi

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 11:43AM
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kbmas0n

Thanks, Bill. I've read and re-read your thread that shows step-by-step how to do it. And yet, it seems very overwhelming to me. I worry about the sloping, I worry about everything to tell you the truth. (my poor husband).

So using the Kerdi, I wouldn't need the shower bottom (is that what you are calling the pan?)?

How would the Kerdi eliminate my hassles? Don't i still need a concrete base + rubber mat thingie + more concrete?

I'm sorry for all of the questions. Thank you for taking the time to help!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 12:34PM
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bill_vincent

Not a problem. I have to give credit where it's due, though-- the thread you're talking about was put together by Mongo. He deserves the credit for that.

Now, two things-- first, if you check that system, they have a preformed foam piece for under the Kerdi membrane on the floor that's already perfectly sloped. Secondly, go back to that page and look-- you'll see a streaming video that you can watch as the entire system goes together. You'll see how ridiculously simple it is.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 12:55PM
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kbmas0n

Ack! Sorry, I knew it was Mongo. (sorry, Mongo!)

And I will go back and check out the video. Or better yet, have my DH check out the video, as he will be attempting this venture with my, *cough*, assistance.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 1:00PM
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mongoct

Let me give you this encouragement...my mother helped me when I Kerdied her bathroom a few years ago. She was 73. And when I say "helped", she was wrist-deep in thinset.

Kerdi is easy. The beauty of it is that you can go as fast or as slowly as your skills allow.

The preformed pan truly makes it DIY-friendly.

Mongo

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 2:05PM
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kbmas0n

Okay, I love the hassle-free, and the 100% moisture barrier. Now let's talk price.

I just did a quick ebay search and found that it is pretty darn expensive. our shower is 60x36.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 2:29PM
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terriks

I built a Kerdi shower a few years ago almost all by myself. My husband did help lug the heavy bags of cement. I didn't use the preformed base, since it didn't fit the space I had available, so I built a mud bed. It wasn't the easiest thing in the world, but not rocket science either. I ordered all of my Kerdi supplies from Tile-Experts. They gave me great service and advice.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 3:42PM
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mongoct

Compare the price of a Kerdi pan and drain to:

-2-part clamping drain
-expanded diamond mesh
-the time spent, cost of materials, and difficulty of you doing that sized drypack preslope for the first time
-The cost of a 40 or 60-mil CVPC or CPE membrane, as well as premade corner pieces for same
-the time, cost of materials, and difficulty of installing the upper layer of mud.

In the time that it took me to type that, I could have installed a Kerdi Tray.

It may cost you a few more dollars. But it'll save you 2 or 3 days of labor and frustration. And you'll get a perfectly sloped base to tile upon.

Every time I do a drypack base, there's a certain sense of anxiety. From start-to-finish, it's controlled worry. Fortunately they always turn out well, but for me, a drypack preslope is always a physical and mental workout.

I'll encourage anyone to try it, as there is a sense of satisfaction in the accomplishment. But I will say installing one looks easier than it really is. If you look at my Kerdi Shower thread, you'll notice that there are very few progress pics as the drypack preslope was going in. I was too busy mixing mud and pounding it into place!

Mongo

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 4:30PM
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bill_vincent

I ordered all of my Kerdi supplies from Tile-Experts. They gave me great service and advice.

David Taylor's one of the better people in the industry. Don't tell him I told you that though-- he'll never believe you!! :-)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 4:53PM
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weedyacres

I'll just jump in here with the shower pan option. We've done a couple bathrooms with solid-surface (not acrylic or fiberglass) shower pans. We had heard complaints from people about being able to keep the group clean in their tiled-floor showers, so opted for the hassle-free method. We were happy with both pans, and they were easy to install: Swanstone for one (about $350 for a 42"x42") and Onyx for the other ($1200 for a 60"x60" neo-angle). You can still tile the walls.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 6:40PM
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terriks

Tile should be easier to maintain in a Kerdi tile shower than a traditional tile shower because the waterproof barrier is right under the tile, not under a mud bed. This simple difference allows a Kerdi shower to dry out faster, and a dryer shower is less likely to grow mold and mildew.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 9:06PM
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kbmas0n

Thanks for your input. It is much more positive than my dad's, who thinks that tiled showers are the devil.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 10:31AM
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kbmas0n

Okay, i checked out the tile-expert website. They have a whole kit for the exact dimensions we are doing...60x32. For some reason, that made it all "click" for me. I think the ease of it all finally sank in.

So, you still have to do a drypack preslope with the kerdi? I thought the pan was presloped?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 12:09PM
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bill_vincent

In part, he's right...... if they're not put together properly.

I just did a project about 2 months ago. Someone up here had an absolutely beautiful master shower put together, but the owner started having problems with mold growth and the pan not drying out, including the first course of tile. This woman was forever running a dehumidifier in her bathroom, as well as squeegeeing the heck out of the shower every time it was used. I told her there was no way this was right. The whole reason for ceramic tile is that it makes whatever it covers, virtually maintenence free! I made the suggestion to her that some time in the next year, she may want to think about gutting the shower and redoing it, because although aesthetically speaking, the installer did a terrific job, mechanically, I could guarantee what she'd find, that being a flat bottom pan and most likely plugged weepholes at the base of the drain. In addition, if she'd put a higher CFM fan just outside the shower, or even INSIDE the shower, and vent it to the outside, she wouldn't have to worry any more, and certainly wouldn't have to run the dehumidifier.

About a week later, she called, and asked when we could start. Once I got in there and tore the shower apart, I found alot more than I thought. First, it WAS a flat bottom pan-- a copper one. As for the weepholes, I was wrong about that-- they weren't clogged, they just didn't exist. Also, there were two benches in this shower (it was a double his and hers shower), and both had been built inside the copper pan. However, neither bench had been AT ALL waterproofed, nor were the bench tops sloped properly. Actually, there was a slight slope back toward the wall, and there was about 3" of standing water inside each one of them. Matter of fact, I sopped it up into a bucket, and within about a half hour, they filled right back up agan from water that was still in the mud pan! Once we pulled everything apart, I took a drill and popped some weepholes into the base of the drain stem, and basically went from there, as if there was no copper pan there, building a "pan within a pan" using a urethane waterproofing goop called Ultraset from Hydroment. I did my preslope, "gooped" up the pan, and then floated it, building a conventional shower pan. Once the shower was all put back together, I told her not to worry about squeegeeing, and to let the vent fan run for about 5-10 minutes after using the shower, and see what happens.

I got a call about 3 weeks later, just as these people were closing up the house to head down to Marco Island in Florida for the winter. She thanked me saying this shower was now a dream to use-- no smell, no wet joints any more, no cracked corners, and NO MORE SQUEEGEE!

It's all in how it's put together.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 12:17PM
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bill_vincent

So, you still have to do a drypack preslope with the kerdi? I thought the pan was presloped?

It is. The only time you have to use the drypack is if they don't have a foam pan in the size you want.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 12:19PM
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kbmas0n

so...our shower is 60x32. And they have kits for a 60x32. So, that would mean i'm good to go? Please say yes...

bill_v - Wow. Just wow. Poor lady! I think that is what my dad fears. But since I have the great advice from people like you and mongo, I will make SURE to waterproof the he!! out of the bench, and the whole shower for that matter.

If the pan is already pre-sloped and has weep holes, I'm okay? How do the weep holes get clogged? How do you include a bench in the shower?

So mongo, on your tutorial, which steps can I skip?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 1:59PM
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bill_vincent

yes. :-)

How do the weep holes get clogged?

In a Kerdi shower, there ARE no weepholes to get clogged. The weepholes are to drain any water that may filter through the mud bed. In a Kerdi shower, water doesn't TOUCH the mud bed because of the fact that the membrane sits on top. Matter of fact, in your case, it won't even exist.

How do you include a bench in the shower?

In your case, I would suggest a product from a company called Innovis named "Better Bench". I've linked it below, as well as enclosing a picture of one installed and finished:

Here is a link that might be useful: Better Bench

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 3:14PM
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kbmas0n

I give up.

I have accepted defeat and will learn to be happy (read, depressed) with my boring, unexciting future master bathroom.

My DH has put his foot down and said "no" to a tile shower. His stupid uncles (contractors) told him sob stories about the multiple tile showers they have ripped out and replaced with fiberglass, blah blah blah. I tried, TRIED to tell them about Kerdi, the joys of the 100% moisture barrier, the beauties of the tile.

But alas, I knew I beat when I saw the look of horror and determination on my DH's face from their stupid stories.

Stupid UNCLES. And when I told them how I researched for HOURS, they just laughed. LAUGHED at my hard work. They are NOT getting Christmas presents this year.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 11:39AM
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bill_vincent

For everyone who asks why I spend so much time on line--

THIS IS WHY!!!!!!!

IT WASN'T THE INSTALLER'S FAULT, IT WAS THE TILE'S FAULT!!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 2:17PM
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kbmas0n

Wait...what?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 3:22PM
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bill_vincent

His stupid uncles (contractors) told him sob stories about the multiple tile showers they have ripped out and replaced with fiberglass, blah blah blah.

it wasn't the fact that they'd used hack tile installers-- it was the "fact" that tile bases just aren't reliable. There's alot of that attitude going around, and it's why I spend so much time in the forums-- to try and help people get their projects done right BEFORE completion, instead of after the fact. Matter of fact, I spent the morning in court today to give expert witness about exactly this very topic. Believe me when I tell you-- tile shower bases were just as reliable when constructed properly BEFORE Kerdi, as after. Even now, 75% of the showers I do are NOT Kerdi showers.

kbmas0n-- don't get me wrong-- that rant was not directed at you.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 4:41PM
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kbmas0n

Whew! I didn't want the wrath of bill_v on me!

I can't begin to even express my gratitude for how much I have learned from people like you and mongo on this forum.

Thank you so much!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 11:16AM
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