Bathroom Remodel, Part 4: Shower


And so the shower begins.  I left some tiles hanging over the line so that I could cut out a nice straight line with my angle grinder. This is always a very dusty job, so make sure you at least have a respirator/dust mask and a fan blowing out the window. Don’t get lung cancer without the pleasure of even smoking cigarettes, y’know?


Here is the shower pan area, now ready for a shower pan. It looks like I will also need to fill in one tile on the top left also, but I’ll get to that when I start tiling in the shower.


Here is the basic frame of the curb of the shower. We want a frameless tempered glass enclosure, so there is no need to have different heights on the curb.


I’ve added the base of the shower drain now so I know how much to build up the sand mix for the underside of the shower pan membrane. See the green Frogtape over the drain laying next to the base?  Always make sure that you are covering your drains when you’re using something that can fall down into them.  It takes 30 seconds and saves you 40 hours of frustrating plumbing troubleshooting later on.


I added another layer of 2 X 4’s going around the shower pan for the height I wanted and mixed up my sand mix and poured it into the form.  Make sure to pack it very tightly down so you don’t have any air bubbles or voids that will crack under body weight later on.


This leveling is so incredibly important.  The four lines you see connecting at the drain are the edges of the four planes that I have worked out.  You only need the slope to be *ever-so-slightly* dipped towards the drain. This will be under the membrane anyway, so it is my hope that it won’t matter.  This is the shower pan “backup plan” if any water makes its way past the membrane.


A day of drying and I’m ready to move forward!


Start your pan by just simply laying the membrane out about where it needs to be, and eyeball whether or not you need to return it for a bigger one.  You can cut this stuff very easily, so if it’s too big that’s just fine. Don’t packrat the scraps; just hang onto them until you know they are useless. There is glue for this stuff if you need an intricate shape, I just don’t need that for this shower.  Its best if the room is at least very warm for this membrane step.


Place it about where it will go and weigh down all the corners with your tiles or the like. ⇒Cut the membrane in straight lines on the OUTSIDE of the shower and FOLD the inside corners.  Tuck the excess neatly into the open wall and make sure it is mostly taut.

⇒Check your local codes for how high your membrane will need to be vertically. Mine is well above our local code.


Cut your membrane as closely as possible to the rim of the drain (see the drain packaging) and twist in the top of the drain.


Pour in the second layer of sand mix and follow your slope from the first layer, making sure (with a small level) that your water will definitely flow toward the drain. I wouldn’t go more than 1/8″ per linear foot.

We have two pugs and a yorkie. The pugs just don’t “get it” and the yorkie is so small that it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t “get it” either, although he totally does.  If you have dogs or small kids, it might be a good idea to set up a barrier while it dries. I just used some scrap backer board and a single screw.

While I’m waiting for the pan to dry, I can put the insulation between the bathroom and bedroom. We really want this to be a far-better-than-average sound barrier wall, so this will help a lot. From side to side it will be: paint, drywall, plywood, studs and insulation, drywall (or tile), and paint. We’ll see how it works out when we test it out.


A few razor knife slices later.


Because the faucet wall of the shower backs the hall closet, I didn’t line that wall with the styrofoam insulation. If I had extra, I would have. The first two panels of backer board are in place now. Score and snap with a razor knife. It doesn’t take any special tools to cut this stuff, which is so convenient.


Run the backer board up to the point where you would like to stop. I am going to just above where the specs of the shower door we are looking at would be. I also tacked in a 2 X 4 where the brace do-dad of our shower fixture will be.  It’s very helpful to have all of the elements or their specs available for planning as you go.

Now I’m tiling in the pan. Make sure that you mix your thinset just slightly watery and really wiggle each and every tile down on the dry sand mix pan to ensure it has a great bond (all the time, but especially for a shower floor).


Here’s an eyeball view of the slope I ended up with.


I figured in all of the cut pieces around the edges and sides, and let it dry up so I can walk on it. I like it a lot and I think it feels natural to step on! I am very pleased with this so far.


Tonight I’m getting the vertical tile going. This is much easier going than the floor pan tiles because there is no slope involved.


Here’s where I’m ending for the night.


All of the cut pieces now in place and drying up.


Grout now, and I can get going on something new for a bit. I’m ready to use this shower after sweating over it for so many hours! I will be installing some drywall tomorrow morning as this grout continues to dry, and I feel like that will be one of the formative moments of watching this whole thing come together!

Here is the first side drywalled in.

I’ve added the hot/cold braces and the manifold of the shower head we’re using while this grout dries up.


This bracket is what I added the 2 X 4 stud in for when the wall was open. All that planning for three skinny, dinky screws!

The shower head fixture looks so good!  My wife Tera is a genius when it comes to (everything, but in particular) details and do-dads! I would like to point out that installing this shower fixture is premature because of the dust and potential bumps/scratches that could happen from the rest of the construction, but sometimes I just need to see some particular progress items to have the motivation to continue!


Next I am putting in the soap dishes.  To figure out where the holes need to be, I just held it up where I wanted it to be and put a pencil mark where the holes were.  I also chose to put the holes on a grout line because that is far easier to drill through than a whole tile. You can see that I’ve drilled the two holes and added the plastic anchor to one of them with some silicone around it.  Always use silicone when you are adding any kind of hole in your shower. I will also put a small dab of silicone on the screws before inserting them as well.

We’ve got the soap dishes attached now.


The screws have this little collar on them with threads so that you can hand tighten this little cap over it to hide the screw head.  Pretty nifty! on to the vanity now…


Let’s box in a shower with glass now. Why not, right?  The door we decided on is a frameless tempered glass enclosure, which I have dry-fitted (with much difficulty) to determine where my brackets need to go. I cut out this slice of drywall to set my first bracket into.

As a side note, it’s a good thing that I laid this shower out to be a standard size because custom sized shower glass (especially frameless) is exceptionally expensive. If your shower is a standard size, you can literally save thousands on this step; or at least a thousand. Our shower door cost just under $800, which was easily the second most expensive single purchase in the bathroom, next to the copper tub.  It would likely have been the most expensive if it had to be custom made for us.


Here the bracket is in place.  I applied a generous bit of silicone to the back side before screwing it into the stud behind it.  Remember that you need silicone on any and all pieces of shower that you don’t want water to go through!


I predrilled holes into the edge of the shower pan, filled them with silicone, screwed in the brackets, placed the glass in, siliconed it together, added the hinges and door and all of the trim pieces.  This task is ridiculous.  On ALL of the packaging and details that came with this shower door, it says something to the effect of “professional installation is required for this shower door. Please do not attempt a DIY installation.” I’m not going to argue that you can do this yourself, unless you have a lot of gumption and patience.  This door took me about 3 days to install.  I had to adjust and readjust it until the door edge lined up just right with the glass wall edge, which is very visually important. Now I just need to caulk all of the joints and edges with more clear silicone, and I’m FINALLY ready to take a shower in my own shower! How exciting!

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