The shower stall was finished today, just in time for the ORC Week 5 update. And this post shares tips, and even a few tricks, for designing and installing a stylish shower that will suit your taste, your space and your pocketbook.
Shower Stalls: Tips for Design & Installation
The number one problem we faced with the design for the new bathroom was the shower. We started with a 32-inch square factory-made stall that was long past its prime. To the left of the shower is a built-in cabinet (17″ wide by 23″ deep by 72″ high) and to the right of the shower is about 12-15″ of empty space. The gold wall is a closet. Oh, and the shower head (plumbing) is on the wall adjacent to the TV room. This means as you look inside the shower, you look straight into the shower head.
I got a total of four estimates from remodeling pros in my area and was shocked at how three of them wanted to redesign the shower. They weren’t at all sensible or cost-efficient. For example, one estimate included a $2600 custom shower door! And I won’t go into the rest of the estimates, but I bet you can guess. #horrified #butnotmyfirstrodeo
Fourth Time is Charm
Thankfully, I had the patience to wait for the fourth estimate, because I gotta tell ya, it was worth the wait. The contractor walked in and said:
Do you mind if we change the opening to the closet just a little?
If we move the door to the right just a little and make the closet opening a little smaller, we can add the currently wasted space to the shower.
And given the estimated finished size of the shower if this is done, you’d be able to use a standard-size door.
And so, we got busy with the fixing and the moving. Well…..the contractors did. LOL… I basically just stood on the side lines with a big ole’ Southern-sized grin.
First, they had to fix this….. a drain that had been clogged with GROUT!!! Don’t get me started or this post will go on an all out-of-control rant. Let’s just say the previous basement remodelers or contractors were bad. Grrrrrrrr.
And then tear out that….starting with the old shower stall.
But eventually, we got to this.
Isn’t it heavenly?
The tile on the left comes right to the edge of the closet door opening — which is now 24 inches wide instead of the original 28 inches.
And the plumbing was wrapped around the wall towards the cabinet and reappeared from the wall adjacent to the cabinet.
Tips and Suggestions
Basic Design – Shower Shape and Plumbing
Design the shape of the shower to include the shower door. Even stationary doors need consideration. Build the shower space in your mind and WALK through using the space inside the shower. Enter and exit the imaginary door. If you need a strong visual, tape the space on the floor.
Then, based on the initial design, determine how the plumbing and the drain needs to orient within the space. Ask yourself what kind of plumbing design is the most logical and cost-efficient? For my shower, moving the plumbing to the left was much more sensible based on both the existing wall set-up AND the location of the drain. If I had insisted on moving the plumbing to the right, the plumbing AND the drain would have had to be moved. And both of the moves would have been much harder for the plumber. Cha Ching. Not a smart move.
This meant that my idea of placing the plumbing to the right (on the wall adjacent to the closet) and using a stationary door was taken off the table. Ultimately, the plumbing went left and a frameless sliding door was installed, but for the thousands of dollars that I saved, I can’t turn around for the difference.
If a heavy rain shower head is installed, MAKE SURE that the plumber reinforces the pipes and joints. Otherwise, there may be leaks. My plumber was on top of this from the very beginning, but suggest to put this as a line item in the contract. Make it a clear warranty issue because if there is a leak, they may have to tear out the tile to repair.
Next, the mixer. This is where the water is turned on/off and hot/cold. Two points:
One, buy a top-notch mixer. Consult with a plumber as to their favorite for installation and long-term function.
And two, if your unit has a hand-held sprayer, MAKE SURE the diverter (the toggle that switches from shower head to sprayer) is located on the mixer. Otherwise, it could be in an awkward location, usually too high.
The drain was left in the same location and the shower head is now directly over it. To maximize swift water collection, a linear drain was added. This drain collects water across its 24-inch span and dumps it into the central pipe. I’ve had the shower on full blast and there is zero puddling of water. There is also the slightest slope to the floor towards the drain, but it isn’t much given that the subfloor is concrete.
The tile was chosen for style, price, and durability. I’ll share more on this in the reveal next week. But two points for today:
Make sure to use the kind of grout that can be mixed with a sealer. This makes the sealer part of the grout instead of just a layer sitting on top of the tile and grout as a barrier.
Collect the leftover tile and grout, at least some of it, and store it away. This way, if the tile has to be ripped out for a leak or something, you have the original grout and tile to put back into place.
The standard-sized shower door (NOT custom) was just installed this morning. The guys literally finished a couple of hours ago.
First, notice the curb of the shower. It was made as small as possible to free up precious inches of floor space.
Then notice that the right shower door panel is stationary and the left panel slides to the right.
This is a frameless door, but is rock solid thanks to the L-bracket system holding the right door.
To simulate the look of a stationary door, the sliding door can stand open to the right.
But since there is basically no visual interference from the glass, it doesn’t matter to leave the door closed.
And lastly, notice that the shower opening was designed to accommodate a standard-sized, frameless door. When creating the design, remember to account for the space the tile will use. This opening is about 45 and 1/2 inches wide, so a door that fits a 44-48 inch opening is perfect.
Take away message: To save money, create a door opening with some elbow room for using a standard-sized door.
Total aside: Notice that the cabinet was saved and refinished in a matte black. When the storage from the cabinet is combined with the closet that has 16-inch deep shelves on both left and right sides, there is a boatload of storage in this itty bitty bath.
In closing, just remember that shower design in the most cost-effective manner means working through all of the pieces that the shower will need. And take into consideration how the movement of one piece will impact all of the others. This is a little time-consuming, but should produce the best product at the best price.
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To visit Fall 2018 ORC posts:
Week 1 – The Modern Traditional Bathroom Plan, please click here
Week 2 – How to Stain and Protect a Wood Vanity, please click here
Week 3 – Barn Doors: Tips, Tricks and Options, please click here
Week 4 – Easy Artwork or Gallery Walls Using Free Photos, please click here
Week 5 – You are here
Week 6 – The Big Reveal
To visit Previous Challenges :
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