historical bldg -- adding a shower with a window

mjlbSeptember 3, 2013

I would like to add a shower in a condo that is in a historical building. The only possible location would be in front of a window. Because the building is historical, and neither the facade nor the windows may be changed, I am looking for an alternative from the usual way to waterproof (or attempt to waterproof) a window in a shower area.

The area for the shower is a spacious alcove, so I had an idea for which I would love to hear your comments.

I would build another wall, immediately in front of the exterior wall, with an opening larger than the existing exterior window. The extra wall would provide some additional insulation, and might be handy should any plumbing lines be needed there.

Then I would install a glass shower enclosure, with two doors. The second door (with a high sill, or maybe more like an operable window), when pulled INTO the shower would allow access to the actual exterior window for repairs, cleaning, window treatment, etc. The front of the shower enclosure would be all glass.

I get a funny feeling when I'm about to make a mistake, and I have that feeling now, so I really appreciate your comments -- whatever they are!

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s8thrd

Interesting idea, but I wonder about a moisture problem. If you live someplace that gets cold in the winter, the space between the window and the shower door will be pretty cool. Humidity from the shower could condense there and cause mold, or damage the window. ...unless you have a way to ensure good air circulation in that space?

I guess a plain old plastic curtain over the window is out of the question aesthetically? That's imperfect also (I'd consider installing a moisture-sensing vent over the shower alcove if you can) but at least it's a known quantity, and it's a cheap and easy solution.

You might want to post your question in the bathrooms forum also.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 12:06AM
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mjlb

Thanks s8thrd! I knew there was something wrong, and that's a start for sure. I didn't consider that humidity would leak out of the back door.

Before I realized that I would still need to access the exterior window, I had contemplated fixed glass. But I suppose condensation would occur there too.

I wonder if an internal storm window over the exterior window pffer enough protection?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 9:07AM
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camlan

I've lived in a number of older homes and apartments where a shower was fitted into the existing bathtub area. There would have been just a bathtub before. There was always a window right over the bathtub.

Some people paint out the window frame with exterior or porch floor paint. Most people just hang a second shower curtain over that wall. There are also vinyl window curtains sold for bathrooms that might work if the window is small enough.

I think if you have enough space so that you can angle the shower head so that it is not directing the water flow directly at the window, you will be surprised at how relatively little water gets on the window.

I'll be honest, other than a shower curtain or exterior paint, I've never seen any protection for these windows. What, specifically, are you worried about?

Your plan sounds like an extremely complicated way to protect the window. I think aiming the water flow away from the window and putting up a shower curtain on that wall should be more than enough.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 9:06PM
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kashka_kat

I have a similar situation - the window opening in one of the bathrooms cant be changed because its a cement block house. some ideas I've thought of (in no particular order)

Remove (and store) wood sashes and put in a large frosted tempered glass panel in its place (again not openable, seal around panel. My thinking here is that there would just be less wood to get wet and damaged and have to worry about -just trim and window sill which would have to be painted with some waterproof coating, then tile around the window.

Somewhere I read instructions for removing window and trim, then rebuilding the opening with tile and glass to be entirely water tight (inlcuding these waterproof membranes that go under the tile).

Even with plastic curtain the wood will get wet - the question is, how often is this shower used? If its only occasionally, that's one thing but if its a couple times a day that's something else - the wood would not have time to dry out.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 10:29AM
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kalindi615

Both old houses I grew up in had windows in the shower. Must be some sort of norm in New England where space is more at a premium or something (or my parent just chose weird houses). But in both cases my parents did just as Camlan suggested. In the case of the second house when we moved in the first owners hadn't been so careful and my father had to replace the windowsill, he did so with a piece of marine grade lumber he go somewhere for some added security. But the exterior paint and a pretty home made waterproof interior curtain made for a very easy solution to a seemingly complex problem.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 9:43AM
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renovator8

I have seen several historic houses where a window was allowed to be covered with drywall inside. In one case interior shutters were installed first.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 4:58PM
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columbusguy1

My own bath has a clawfoot tub with a shower, and the ubiquitous window above the tub. The window sash and trim have always been painted with enamel...and it is still in great shape after 105 years. I use the window for ventilation during the summer, so blocking it off just doesn't make sense.

The only protection I've needed at all beyond the enamel paint, is a vinyl shower curtain on the ring forming the enclosure inside the tub. My bath even has half-height stained wainscotting, and it has never been damaged by the shower either, thanks to the vinyl shower curtains.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 8:05PM
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VictoriaElizabeth

Our 1890 Victorian had the same setup as above commenters⦠and no way to rearrange the window/tub.

I have to say that in the time before we remodeled, we got so used to the window, we now prefer it and even if weâÂÂd been able to rearrange the layout, IâÂÂm not sure we would have.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our window-in-shower solution.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 11:43AM
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southerncanuck

Treat it as if it were an exterior window. Cap the sill etc. with aluminum and caulk with exterior grade caulk.

I think most people over think this window in a shower thing. We don't really worry about our exterior windows getting pounded by rain, and in some places like Vancouver and Seatle almost daily during some times of the year.

And of course as has been mentioned angle the shower head away from the window if it worries you.

We don't build extra exterior walls around our exterior windows or hang shower curtains on them.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 3:30AM
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southerncanuck

Or instead of capping with aluminum do what columbusguy has done. Good quality marine grade enamel paint or spar varnish.

The type of wood on a marine vessel doesn't really discourage rot, it is what the wood is treated with.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 10:03PM
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mjlb

OP here... I appreciate the add'l comments. Unfortunately, they are for future use only. Someone made an offer higher than mine, and I didn't get the condo after all...

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 3:04PM
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