You know that I haven’t been posting recipes lately, and it’s because I’ve been tearing out our old bathroom tub and putting in a walk-in shower. Both of us only take showers, so a walk-in shower stall is much more user friendly for us. So I thought that I’d fill you in on what was going on in the Dunedin, Florida, Joe and Mary Jo Boyle family double-wide! If you are a DIY’er I’m sure you can appreciate the effort and the mess and the inconvenience of a project like this. Bear with me for I’m going to show you the gory details of the last couple weeks…this is The Bathroom Remodeling Project! Part One.
This all started because the old tiles were obviously old, and the grout was taking on water and staining. You know, the look of a cheap motel shower with blackened grout and pealing caulk. Mary Jo was fed up with this and she told me so! I think she was going to start showering up at the swimming pool if I didn’t do something soon! We’ve been a couple for a lot of years and I know when she’s not kidding. I started plucking the old tiles off the walls.
One by one I popped the tiles off and let them fall into the tub. This looks like a nasty mess, but it really isn’t the worst that I’ve seen. Bad enough though. We ended up with four 5-gallon buckets of old tiles and it was a pleasure to toss them into the dumpster.
When all the tiles were off, I had to remove the old tub. I unscrewed the drain, which came off fairly easily. Then I had to cut out the wood surround enough to tilt the tub out of there. It was an enameled steel tub, not a cast iron one, so I could wrestle the thing out without too much trouble. That front panel on the tub was removeable and once off, I could tilt the tub enough to pull it out.
Once the tub was gone, I had to change the tub drain to a shower drain. Luckily, there was a 1 1/2″ male threaded plastic drain fitting that was really accessable and it was easy to fit the new shower drain. The photo below shows where the opening in the floor was below the tub with full access to the drain plumbing; I installed a piece of 3/4″ plywood to cover that opening after I screwed and glued new blocks in the floor to support the patch. I always use construction adhesive on such things to make sure it is a solid and will not flex. Once this is set up, it would be really hard to take it apart, and I’m not doing this again! The drain grate screws into the flange and is adjustable, depending on how much concrete is used for the shower floor. In my case, I think I put in about a 1 3/4″ thick layer of concrete at the drain.
The curb of the shower is those stacked 2×4’s which I nailed and glued to the plywood floor.
At this point of the progress, I felt I was ahead because it was pretty straightforward and the drain was easy to set. When I started the project, I imagined myself having to crawl under the trailer with the spiders and lizards to connect the plumbing and I was smiling when I realized I wouldn’t have to!
The shower pan is lined with a 40 mil. rubber liner and it must be supported all the way around the perimeter of the shower. I filled the gaps here with 2×6’s that are nailed and glued to the studs. The particle board in the back was a filler from what I had to cut out of the old plywood and was covered with 1/4″ concrete backer board, once the pan was poured with concrete.
The pan liner was positioned and screwed to the sides and the curb. Next, I marked a level line around the perimeter with a permanent marker, 2 1/4′ from the floor. This was the guide to the thickness of the concrete mortar mix that I mixed, poured and leveled in the pan. This was the critical part of the pan, because you have to make sure you have a slope to the drain. This should be at least 1/4″ slope per foot. I used my two levels, a 4 foot and a 2 foot, to continually check the level along the sides, and the slope to the drain. You have to check the height of the finished drain to make sure it will be flush with the tiles you are using. Screw this up or down to get the approximately 5/16″ distance above the finished concrete, depending on the thickness of your floor tile and the setting mortar. Once the concrete sets up. the drain will be really hard to adjust. The next day, once set, it is possible to take a trowel to scrape some concrete material to fine tune the slope.
Next, I screwed up the concrete backer boards and filled all the screw holes with white thin set mortar. I also wrapped the curb with backer board and totally coated it with the thin set. I did a final check on the slope of the pan and built up the areas I thought might be not properly sloped. In this case, it was the two ends that I built up a bit to make sure that there are no spots that water will settle. More slope is better than a small puddle of water that is always there! This was fine tuned when the tile was finally set.
Once this was all dry, I painted on three coats of a material called RedGard. This is a liquid that dries to a water proof coating, so no water gets to the backer board or wood underneath. It’s expensive, but there will be no water problems in the future.
Here is where I started to set the individual tiles, by buttering each piece individually and applying it. The wood strips on the bottom were leveled and screwed so I could start building from the bottom up, with less chance of the tiles shifting. I placed 3/16″ spacers between the tiles. Everything went pretty smoothly.
Here you can see that all the tiles were set and the grouting was done. I topped the curb with a full marble slab to make it practically waterproof. I took the first shower the next day and all the water drains beautifully with no corner puddles. Yay!
The window detail was a problem, but I found a chair rail type tile that worked great. It curves inward and finishes the window beautifully.
So there you go. You should know everything about putting in a walk-in shower. I have a lot more details to finish to get the bathroom remodeling project done, but it is progressing nicely. I’ll post an update when the bathroom is done. If you have questions about how to do things, just give a shout out to Mary Jo. She’s the one who knows how to get it done!
More healthy recipes coming soon too.
(Thanks for being there to share our lives with….Joe and Mary Jo)/”