Build a Shower Series

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Build a Shower – How to Do It Yourself

Building a beautiful walk in shower is easier than you think. It does require a bit of time and hard work, but the payoff is a fantastic shower and should be well worth the effort.

For the cabin, a bathroom remodel was high on our list of things to do. The existing bathroom was a small (5′ x 8′) full bathroom. We really wanted to open up the bathroom and make it easier to use and enjoy and since we had no additional room in the cabin to enlarge the footprint, we need to find a way to use the existing space better.

We decided to get rid of the space hogging bathtub and replace it with a large walk-in shower. We also maximize the sense of space and natural light in the bath by using heavy glass to enclose the shower. The bathroom came with a bathroom window. Although the window did provide much natural light and ventilation, bathroom windows are notoriously problematic, and we would need to put some thought into it’s incorporation into the new shower.

In addition to the new shower, we swapped out the boxy sink, and vanity for a simple wall mounted sink. For the toilet, we junked the old tank toilet and replaced it with a European style wall mounted unit. We also replaced all the flooring, laying new tile with electric radiant heat installed under the tile.

Before and after images of bathroom and shower remodel at the cabin.

Before and after images of bathroom and shower remodel at the cabin.

Before and after images of our bathroom remodel project showing walking shower

In the end, the bathroom transformation took some time, but in the end was totally worth it. Our new bathroom is light, bright, open and feels functional and luxurious despite the small size. All of the bathroom remodeling projects we did to our cabin bathroom are within the grasp of anyone willing to dedicate some time and effort. I plan to document all the bathroom projects in time, but to begin with here is a series on building the shower.

Read on for an overview of how we did it. For more details, click on the individual articles in the building a shower series. Enjoy!

How to Build a Walk In Shower

The process of building a shower can be broken down into several steps. To start, the structural framing for the shower walls and floor need to be complete and suitable for the planned shower. Next, all shower supply and drain plumbing needs to be installed and tested. Sheathing for the shower walls is installed next and a shower base or shower pan is created. Finally, the shower surface is finished (usually with tile) and the plumbing fixtures are installed (shower head, mixing valve plates and knobs).

In this project, we are actually remodeling an existing bathroom, so our process started with demolition, plumbing, then framing and sheathing, a shower pan and curb and finally tiling. I’ve broken the entire project into a series of three articles:

 

Build a Shower — Photo Summary

  1. Demo existing structure as needed.
    Demolition of old bathroom walls, tile and tub.

    Remove old tile, sheathing, fixtures (tub) and flooring.

  2. Replace and repair framing and floor joists as needed.
    Reinforcing floor joists with solid wood blocking.

    Bathroom floor joists reinforced with blocking prior to completing shower.

  3. Install shower supply plumbing, mixing valves and shower drain plumbing.
    Shower mixer and shower head plumbing installed. Not drop ear elbow attached to plywood blocking at wall shower head plumbing.

    Shower supply plumbing installed, mixing valves connected and installed.

    Shower drain plumbing with clean out and P-Trap installed.

    Shower drain plumbing with clean out and P-Trap installed.

  4. Install subfloor and curb frame.
    Install plywood subfloor, drain base and shower curb frame.

    Install plywood subfloor, drain base and shower curb frame.

  5. Pour shower pan and curb, install shower pan liner.
    Shower pan and curb poured with install of shower pan liner.

    Shower pan and curb poured with install of shower pan liner.

  6. Finish shower pan and install tile backer board.
    Completed shower pain and drain with installed and taped cement board.

    Completed shower pan and drain. Cement tile backer board installed and taped.

  7. Waterproof tile backer board (if needed).
    Waterproofed cement tile backer board using paint on  Hydro Ban by Laticrete.

    Waterproofed cement tile backer board using paint on Hydro Ban by Laticrete.

  8. Tile shower
    White subway tiles used to tile walk in shower.

    Shower walls and ceiling tiled with 3″ x 6″ white ceramic subway tiles.

  9. Grout shower tile.
    Grout shower tile.

    We used white un-sanded grout white subway shower tiles.

  10. Remove grout haze, seal tile and grout.
    Elena uses a soft cotton cloth to remove tile grout haze from shower tiles.

    Elena uses a soft cotton cloth to remove tile grout haze from shower tiles.

  11. Install shower heads, and mixing valve knobs and trim.
    Shower complete with shower heads, and mixing valve trim installed.

    Shower complete with shower heads, and mixing valve trim installed.

  12. Install shower heavy glass wall and door (subcontractor).
    Completed walk in tile shower with heavy glass partial wall and heavy glass door installed.

    Completed walk in tile shower with heavy glass partial wall and heavy glass door installed.

 

This is a summary of the entire shower build project. For detailed how to instructions please see the individual articles in this series:

 


 

Build a Shower Overview Image Gallery

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Originally published April 12, 2014 by Cabin DIY

2 comments

  • Karma January 24, 2015   Reply →
    Karma

    I noticed you didn’t include a section on tiling the floor of the shower. Around the drain is what I was mostly interested in. Does the floor go in before the walls? It would greatly help me to see this step. Thank you.

    • Cabin DIY January 24, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Karma,

      Sorry for the confusion, this page is just an overview of the entire process. Please see the following two articles for a more in depth discussion of shower pan construction and tiling of the shower and pan:

      Build a Shower Article 2 – Shower pan and drain creation
      Build a Shower Article 3 – Shower tiling and finishing

      As a quick response to your question regarding timing of shower floor vs. the walls:

      If you have a properly built shower pan with a liner that correctly travels up the shower walls some distance, you shouldn’t need to worry about which surface is tiled first. In practice it seems logical to tile the shower floor first and then overlap the wall tile for water path reasons. But, if the shower liner is properly installed, wall vs. floor tile first should not matter – it will be waterproof.

      I tiled the walls first and then installed my shower floor (pan) tiles. There are a few reasons I did this;

      1) It is much easier to have a better finished edge at the floor and wall corner when the wall tile is installed first. With the slope of the shower pan, you would need to make very accurate angled cuts to the wall tile to match the slope of the shower pan. If you install the wall tiles first your cuts will be hidden by the overlapping floor (pan) tiles which are easier to cut clean as you will be just making a square cut.

      2) It is easier to keep the tile surfaces clean if you tile the walls and ceiling first. Any thinset or grout that falls to the shower pan can be cleaned off the concrete pan fairly easily. Then when the walls are finished you can tile the shower floor (shower pan) without fear of getting stray thinset or grout on them.

      Hope this helps, let me know if you have more questions.

      Gary
      CDIY

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