How to Build a Walk In Shower

Posted by Ryan / Categories building and home and renovation

A very popular way to create a walk in shower is to remove an existing bathtub and create a shower in its place. The first step is to remove the old tub and demo out the old walls down to bare studs from floor to ceiling. When the studs are exposed the plumbing supply lines and drain can be redone and the new rough plumbing installed. Two separate shower heads are a popular option, and can be placed wherever you choose, although one each in the opposite end walls is most common. The drain should be moved to the center of the shower as well.

The next step is to attend to the subfloor and the substrate to be placed on the walls. Moisture resistant drywall is the most common choice for the walls, and if the shower is going to be tiled a suitable tile backerboard is installed over the drywall. Waterproofing both the subfloor and walls is highly recommended at this stage.

Now it’s time to build a dam along the length of the shower, which dictates the width of the shower. The dam is usually constructed of treated 2×6 lumber, and wrapped with backerboard, using screws and adhesive. After the dam is built and the height of the drain eastablished, the shower pan is poured in place using Type S mortar. Here it is important to create a proper pitch to ensure the water flows down to the drain. The pan and dam are now hot-mopped with water resistant material and allowed to cure for a couple of days.

Custom travertine shower
Creative Commons License credit: avidtile
If you’re planning to finish the shower with ceramic tile or natural stone (recommended) it’s now time to tile the pan, walls, and dam. Shampoo shelves, soap dishes and other accessories are installed when tiling. Grout all the tile and seal it after it has been thoroughly cleaned. The trim plumbing fixtures are now installed. Sliding tempered glass doors are put in by setting the track square on the dam and attaching the metal guides to the end walls. Caulking the tracks and guides with high quality silicone caulking completes the door installation. Thoroughly clean the entire shower area and it is ready for use.

A very popular way to create a walk in shower is to remove an existing bathtub and create a shower in its place. The first step is to remove the old tub and demo out the old walls down to bare studs from floor to ceiling. When the studs are exposed the plumbing supply lines and drain can be redone and the new rough plumbing installed. Two separate shower heads are a popular option, and can be placed wherever you choose, although one each in the opposite end walls is most common. The drain should be moved to the center of the shower as well.

The next step is to attend to the subfloor and the substrate to be placed on the walls. Moisture resistant drywall is the most common choice for the walls, and if the shower is going to be tiled a suitable tile backerboard is installed over the drywall. Waterproofing both the subfloor and walls is highly recommended at this stage.

Now it’s time to build a dam along the length of the shower, which dictates the width of the shower. The dam is usually constructed of treated 2×6 lumber, and wrapped with backerboard, using screws and adhesive. After the dam is built and the height of the drain established, the shower pan is poured in place using Type S mortar. Here it is important to create a proper pitch to ensure the water flows down to the drain. The pan and dam are now hot-mopped with water resistant material and allowed to cure for a couple of days.

If you’re planning to finish the shower with ceramic tile or natural stone (recommended) it’s now time to tile the pan, walls, and dam. Shampoo shelves, soap dishes and other accessories are installed when tiling. Grout all the tile and seal it after it has been thoroughly cleaned. The trim plumbing fixtures are now installed. Sliding tempered glass doors are put in by setting the track square on the dam and attaching the metal guides to the end walls. Caulking the tracks and guides with high quality silicone caulking completes the door installation. Thoroughly clean the entire shower area and it is ready for use.

Building your own shower requires some building skills as well as plumbing and electrical experience. Unless you have a lot of experience in these areas it would probably work out more cost effective to get a builder and and electrician and plumber to do most of the work.

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