Installing Your New Bathroom: Shower Stalls

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In a small bathroom a shower may prove so much more practical than a tub that you may decide to dispense with the larger fixture altogether. You can use your old bathtub supply and drain pipes, and you may even keep the old diverter faucet rather than installing new plumbing. If you want to change the location of the shower, however, you will have to divert your supply and waste pipes to the area where your shower will stand. Unless you are especially adept at plumbing and are prepared to deal with unexpected difficulties, plan to get assistance from a professional or from our guide, Basic Plumbing Techniques.

Prefabricated shower stalls. If you don’t want to build a complete shower stall from scratch, you can purchase a prefabricated stall of plastic, metal, or fiberglass. Pre fabricated units cost only a few hundred dollars, de pending on material, size, and style; they include every thing you need for a shower except the plumbing and water; and they can ordinarily be installed by one per son in an afternoon. Before buying such a prefabricated stall, however, check its measurements, and make certain it will fit through your door, Building a shower stall. For the most part, building an enclosure for a shower stall is identical to building any other nonbearing partition or wall: Create a frame, se cure the frame to the fixed walls around its perimeter, and cover the frame with an appropriate skin. The only difference between this and other partitions is that plumbing lines may have to be adapted or brought into the space before the walls are finished.

Before installing new plumbing, plan for any special features you might like. For instance, shower faucet handles are normally placed 42 to 48 inches from the floor, and showerheads are usually between 66 and 78 inches high. But if you are tall, 54 inches might be a more useful height for the handles, and you might be more comfortable with a higher showerhead as well. Other features, like multiple showerheads that are placed at different heights and activated individually or all at once, are also available. When you’re building your own shower stall, you are limited by your imagination and budget only. Once your plumbing is established, creating a shower stall is a simple matter,

Tools: wrench; pliers; level; circular saw; hammer.

Supplies: drainpipe and hardware; 2 by 4s to size; nails; wallboard; interior and exterior finish materials.

Self-contained shower; Custom built shower; Waterproof wallboard

1. Standard shower bases are available in 32-, 36-, and 42-inch squares; other sizes can be custom-made. Most such shower bases, or “pans,” slope gently toward a central drain hole 2 inches in diameter, which can be lifted directly beneath the shower to an ex tension of the drainpipe. When your pan is positioned and leveled in both directions, and the drain is installed according to the instructions accompanying the shower pan, test your plumbing for leaks. This will be your last chance to correct mistakes easily. If the plumbing system is fine, construct frames for each necessary wall.

2. Make frames of 2 by 4s. Assembly is easiest if you lay them out on the floor. Place studs 16 inches apart and add 2 by 4 crosspieces (blocking) between them. When the frames are complete, raise them and secure them to each other, to the floor, ceiling, adjacent walls, and to the shower base.

73a Level shower pan in both directions

73b waterproof wallboard

3. When the frames are in place, install ½-inch waterproof wall board.

4. Finish the walls both inside and out. The out side finish will be part of your general esthetic scheme and is likely to be paint, wallpaper, or tile. See below for information about installing wall tiles. The inside of your shower should, of course, be tile or some other surface impervious to water. Install a glass shower door according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or install a shower curtain rod.

Next: Bathtubs

Prev.: Recessed Cabinets

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Updated: Thursday, 2011-06-23 18:56