Piece of junk shower; How can I improve it?

justinellardSeptember 22, 2010

Before I begin describing all my problems, I'd like to give you an idea of the resources I have available to me. We're a family of 5, 3 on disability, 2 (including me) currently job hunting to no avail. Needless to say, I have a lot more time than money. I have tools: orbital sander, drill, jigsaw, lathe, mill, handtools, and a dremel. Not a lot, but that's what I've got. I'm very thrifty and can probably obtain simple items, like paint, for free.

So, on to the problems. The shower we have is one of those walk-in shower cubicles that you screw into place. I have pictures here to show you the monstrosity that I'm up against. Now, I've just recently moved here, so the state of this shower isn't my fault :P


First of all, the paint is obviously deteriorating. I can obtain free paint at the waste facility, but what kind of paint should I be looking for?

Secondly, from what I've been told the floor in the shower used to be fiberglass. However, it began to fall apart and leak, so the owner had filled over it with cement. The cement is uneven. After I shower, if I move my feet from one side of the floor to the other, I can hear water squishing around the cement. This lead me to believe that water was seeping between the cement and shower wall, so I caulked all around the floor. I've also attempted to put down vinyl tiles using "Hard as Nails" and caulking in between them. They rotted out in no time and I had to remove them. Anyone have any idea how I can improve the appearance of the floor? And preferably improve its durability and ability to prevent water leaks?

Next up, the glass door. It's one of those glass doors that you can sorta see through, but it bends a lot of the light. It somehow manages to build up some sort of layer of fog. I can't seem to remove it with anything. I've tried soapscum remover, windex, soap, etc. It'll clear up for a few hours, but then it will just fog over again. Any suggestions?

Last, but definitely not least, the shower leaks. I mentioned this before, but I thought I'd go into more detail. At first, I believed it to be the result of water seeping around the cement in the shower. However, after caulking the leaks continued. I then came to the conclusion that it was leaking out under the shower door. After all, there was a large gap between the door and the "step". I attempted to rectify this by laying a layer of foam under the door, attached to a piece of plastic. I then placed a thick layer of caulk on the "step" and closed the door. After everything dried, I opened the door and closed it to see if it felt sealed. It seemed to seal a lot better, and the amount of water on the floor definitely lowered. However, it continued to leak. I think my method simply wasn't good enough. I also sprayed a layer of foam underneath the shower floor, as there is a large gap (1") between the shower floor and the bathroom floor. Still didn't help. Any ideas?

Sorry for the insanely long post, but as you can see, I have problems. I did my best to come up with solutions, but I just can't seem to fix them. I want to install vinyl tiles on the floor, but I would need to lay down a subfloor, and the leaks will just rot it away. Until I fix the leak, I can't improve the bathroom's appearance.

Thank you for reading and I hope someone can help me out :D


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Replace it. You need to repair the damage to the walls anyway.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 10:45AM
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Replacing is, unfortunately, out of my budget. So is fixing the walls. :(

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 12:13PM
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Damage looks too far gone to salvage. Can you delay something else so you can buy a new shower stall? I am sure there is also damage to the walls and subfloor that will just continue to get worse until it is all repaired.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 12:47PM
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Delay something else? I don't think you understand; I make a maximum of $20/month that I can use for fixing anything.
There is no subfloor. That's the concrete foundation. If I can seal it so the leaks stop, then I can focus on maybe fixing the walls.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 1:15PM
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from what I've been told the floor in the shower used to be fiberglass. However, it began to fall apart and leak, so the owner had filled over it with cement.

Who is the owner you refer to? Is this in a rental unit?

If so, then the owner needs to make repairs.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 1:15PM
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Sorry for the double post, I just saw your reply cryptandrus.
I'm talking about the previous owner. It's my responsibility now.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 1:17PM
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Forgive me but I wouldn't step into that space in a hazmat suit much less my birthday suit.

First, clean it up really well and then photograph it again so we can understand what is really going on in there.

Paint is probably the only thing you can afford but it has to be water resistant and that is harder to find. There are white paint-on elastomeric (flexible) membranes that are made for the roofs of mobile homes, etc. They don't actually work very well for that application but they might work in your shower for a year or two however the odor might be strong for awhile. Read the can to be sure it won't hurt you. See what Lowes or Home Depot has.

In the meantime you could hang opaque white fabric shower curtains against the walls and cover the floor with Grace Ice & Water Shield self-adhering waterproofing membrane. It will smell like asphalt so it might not be good for you. There is a similar material made in narrower strips with an aluminum foil facing. It might work for both the walls and the floor. It wouldn't be pretty but it would be interesting and clean.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 6:22PM
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There are also high-solids masonry paints that are supposed to be waterproof. You might have to sand the wall surfaces to allow it to adhere but I don't know what the walls are made of.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 6:25PM
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Sometimes, things are too far gone to repair. This looks like one of those circumstances.

Paint will not fix the leaks. Caulk will not fix the leaks.

Try and find organizations like Christmas in October that will use volunteers and donated materials to make repairs for folks who cannot afford/physically do.

Or, save that $20 a week until you can afford a new surround/base and replace what you have.

You can spend $20 a month for ten years and still have the same problem with that shower.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 7:31PM
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I agree; spending anything on this shower is a poor investment and a waste of scarce resources. Clean it up and save for a new one.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 9:40PM
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Do you own or rent? If you rent, then this would be a landlord's responsibility to replace the stall.

As others have mentioned, the only real solution here is to replace. If you do indeed own this home and your situation is such that you are unable to work and afford replacement, then seek help. There are people willing to help with both cost and labor.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 10:05AM
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Home remodeling on a shoe string is exactly what I am good at. I don't know what part of the country you live in, but a good place to start is freecycle. You would be amazed at what people have stashed in their garages, basements, and attics. If you join, you can post a request for fiberglass or formica panels that someone may have left over from a project. For example, DH and I just bought two fiberglass tub surround kits so we could get the size panels we needed to do a 5x5 corner tub. We bought the plumbing fixtures on sale and installed the walls so we could use it as a shower too. The tub only cost us $25 at an auction. We ended up giving away the 4 odd pieces away that we didn't use. Just an example.

I have even had someone offer me ceramic tiles. I didn't have enough skill to put them down, but they are in the basement awaiting the day.... They have been there for a while. My mother gave me some pointers, now maybe....

There are even some groups that will allow bartering for work. Don't be afraid to try, you have nothing to lose.

Just thinking that a few decent size tiles on the floor and some fiberglass panels or formica sheets would make it functional until you get the money saved to do something.

You may feel free to bounce ideas off of me if you need. I have seen some stuff rigged up to make things do until better can be done and helped do plenty of it. LOL.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 3:08PM
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I would think that is one huge mold trap..you are insane for taking a shower in that thing...move..

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 11:13AM
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Please contact Habitat for Humanity in your area and ask for help with replacing this. As others have said, this is a really, really unhealthy place for you to step into in your birthday suit. If there is no Habitat for Humanity, contact your local church and see if they can help you with replacing that shower. For your health and the health of your family members.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 5:40PM
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I can understand that you are stuck in a situation where you can't really leave and can't stand the shower you are stuck with. If you clean it up really good with some bleach and check on some of your options, you might not have such a bad situation to deal with.

I can guarantee you that you are not the only one who has bought a home and stood there wondering what you do next. When I bought my home, I honestly thought the carpet was a dark brown. I never noticed until the PO's moved out that the carpet was supposed to be beige. The bottles of shampoo and stuff covered most of the mess in the shower, too. I had to use industrial strength cleaner to find out that the tiles in the kitchen were really white.

We can find ourselves overwhelmed, but you can make it better. The first step is to get it good and clean. When it is clean and you get rid of the mess, you can start to see what is worth fixing and where you have to start over.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 7:56PM
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You really need to rebuild the whole thing. As it is, it's NOT "fixable". In fact, the CO should probably be revoked for the dwelling if that's the only bathroom.

So, what do you need? A sledgehammer, crowbar, and hammer will get what's there gone.

To rebuild, you'll need plastic sheeting (probably can get on Freecycle) cement backer board (ditto, if you're OK piecing smaller pieces together) thinset (definately can get from someone who has leftover) a rubber membrane for the floor pan (not expensive at a box store) and some tile (Lots of free tile on Freecycle, make a mosaic!). You obviously have internet access, so go to the John Bridge Tile Forum to get step by step instructions as to how to build a waterproof shower. It wont' be an instant job, it'll take a couple of days, but when you're done, it will be waterproof and you wont' have to redo it in a couple of months like any other bandaid fix you might be considering.

I'm sure if you posted your location that there are many folks out there who might even help you!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 10:18AM
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If you used your own camera and computer to generate this post,I would seriously consider selling them both and canceling the internet connection to get money for replacing the shower.Sometimes it's a matter of priorities.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 9:19PM
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If you are a senior citizen or some of people living in the house are, you can try going to "senior services" in your town & seeing if they have any people that make housing improvements so it is safe for seniors, or try disabled groups, I would even go tile store, private, not a box store & ask owner if they have any ideas where you could get free help.Someone retired from doing tile work might help you out with pointers as long as you do the work. Even a free fiberglass shower would last quite awhile ,sometimes people are going to put 1 in & never do so could get 1 from Craig's list or ask neighbor's if they know anyone that has one that they never used. Maybe high school, if they teach any woodworking or shop classes the instructor might connect you with someone that could help. Take the pics with you so they can see it is endangering your family's health. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 9:25PM
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bingopin - the guy's not asking for financial advice, of which yours is bad anyhow.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 9:14AM
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I think the whole thing is a joke. I cant even make a serious reply to this. As somone said earlier, I wouldnt step into that in a hazmat suit.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 1:46AM
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I don't know why you would think it is a joke. What do you think happens to poor people? What kind of places do you think they end up living in, not by choice, but because it is all they can afford.

It must be comforting for you to think that someone's hardship situation is a joke - much easier than facing the hard, cold realities of life for other people.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 9:14AM
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I am with you graywings. It is hardly sensible (or sensitive) for someone to assume that just because someone is poor that when they are asking for help, it is just a joke. Not everyone has options. I have been on the edge of losing my home more than once due to health issues. I have had help from family members and other people in the community to get what I have now. It isn't much and it might have been cheap, but it is nice and well taken care of. Sometimes a hard time is what people go through, they shouldn't be mocked or made to feel like they don't deserve an honest hand if they are willing to try.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 7:11PM
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