Building a Shower Enclosure

Tiled Shower Enclosures

A new corner shower stall requires building one wall. In the middle of a wall, two new walls are required. If the walls do not go to the ceiling, the top ledge must be covered with tile or another moisture-resistant surface. The opening can have a door or a curtain rod.

A one-piece unit is the simplest shower to install, though you have a limited choice of colors.

Buy a base that's at least 34 inches wide. Some bases must be set in thinset mortar or in a bed of sand, while others can simply be placed on the floor.

A shower drain should be installed at the center of the shower base. The flange should be level with the floor. Run the supply pipes after the framing is installed.

Prestart Checklist

Time
Two or three days to install a base, plumbing, tiled walls, and a shower door

Tools
Carpentry tools, drill, tools for plastic and copper pipe, tiling tools, steel rod

Skills
Working with plastic and copper pipe, framing a wall, installing tile

Prep
Install a drainpipe with trap in the center of the base, as well as supply pipes, faucet, and shower riser

Materials
Shower base, PVC primer and cement, roofing felt, 2x4 studs, cement backerboard, backerboard screws, tiles, tile adhesive, grout, caulk, shower door

Installing the shower base: Step 1

Set the shower base over the drain to make sure the drain is directly below the opening of the base. Remove the base and cut and cement an extension to the drainpipe. The extension should be flush with the floor.

Installing the shower base: Step 2

Place a layer or two of roofing felt to smooth any unevenness in the floor. (Some manufacturers require a bed of mortar or sand.) Set the shower base over the drain to confirm that the drain is positioned correctly. Check for level; shim with additional roofing felt as needed.

Installing the shower base: Step 3

Using liquid soap as a lubricant, fit the rubber flange (provided with the shower base) over the drain extension and push it as far down as you can. Tap it all the way in place with a 1/4-inch steel rod. Install the drain strainer.

Framing the shower: Step 1

With the shower base in place, build 2x4 walls for the sides. Remember that the studs will be covered with 1/2-inch-thick cement board, plus the tiles (usually about 3/8 inch thick). No studs should be farther apart than 16 inches. On the plumbing wall, space the studs so you can position the shower faucet -- a pair of studs spaced about a foot apart will accommodate most faucets. Install horizontal braces to support both the faucet and the showerhead arm. Some bases may require a ledger. Install the supply pipes and faucet.

Framing the shower: Step 2

Cut pieces of cement backerboard to fit. Cover all wood surfaces with the backerboard. Attach to the studs with backerboard screws. Check that the wall surface is smooth and even because the tiles will follow any contours. Before tiling, caulk the gap at the bottom.

Framing the shower: Step 3

Cover the backerboard with ceramic tile or with a prefab tub surround kit. Consult a book on tiling for guidelines on selecting, laying out, and cutting tile. In general, tiling should be planned to minimize small pieces. Wherever a tile edge will be exposed, install a bullnose piece, which has one finished edge. Use a notched trowel to apply thinset mortar or organic tile adhesive and set the tiles. Use a tile-cutting hole saw for the faucet and showerhead stub outs. Once all the tiles are applied, allow the adhesive to set overnight.

Framing the shower: Step 4

Mix a batch of latex-reinforced grout and use a grout float to push the grout into the joints and scrape away most of the excess. Wipe several times with a damp sponge, working to create consistent grout lines. Allow to dry, and buff with a dry towel. Caulk all the inside corners.


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