Home Repair

tiled shower enclosures vs all in one fiberglass

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Dear Guru,

can you please clue me in to the benefits (and down sides) of the 2 choices for my master bath? The shower area will probably be in a back corner, seperated from the tub (which will be a corner tub for 2 in our turret window area) I know I can go 1 of 2 routes, either an "all-in-one" shower installation made of fiber glass (or another material- but I beleive the fiberglass are the most common?), or a tiled shower with a seperate receptacle on the floor. I love the look of a tiled shower, but I worry about the costs and water sealing issues.

can you give me the 411?

Karen Smile
Good question... Lets talk about everything except cost first...

The fiberglass shower enclosures are easy to clean have a very clean uncluttered modern look so for some this is the only choice! They come in 1 piece and 4 piece (some people cant get them into the room unless they can 'break down'). The down side is unless you spend a lot for a custom made for you model they only come in a few sizes and shapes and colors.

The tile shower has endless possibilities as far as color, design and shape. The floor can be a one piece fiberglass 'pan' that doesn't require tiling (but again, they only come in a few sizes and shapes and colors) you could get one custom made to fit your shower floor with the drain for about $500.00 out of marble resin! With tile you can build in a small shelf into the wall or a seat out of granite or have multi shower heads on different walls etc etc.

of course tile showers cost more than a simple 30: x 48" fiberglass 1 piece shower, but if design is what your looking for tile is the way to go!!

If the tile is installed correctly, there should not be any water seepage problems at all. The walls should be Durrock or some other concrete board that is impervious to water. Some tile guys put a waterproof membrane OVER the studs and UNDER the concrete wall panels fo if water does seep through for some reason it will hit the membrane and flow down and go into the floor pan.

Speaking of floor pans there are 3 ways to go there:
1 - fiberglass or marble resin 1 piece floor pan.
2 - copper pan with 2-3inches of concrete poured into that is sloped slightly towards the center drain. This gets tiled on top.
3 - 1 1/2" sloped concrete first, then a rubber shower floor membrane, then 1 1/2" more concrete on top. This way you don't need to have a sheet metal worker make and solder up an expensive copper pan. This way also gets tiled.
hmm... So, if I understand, if I wanted a tiled installation- would I have them put up the concrete board INSTEAD of drywall in that area? Or would the concrete board go in on top of the drywall?

Also, can hubby and I do the tile jobs for the floor and shower area? We went to a clinic at H.D., and while we didn't get to practice, it seems pretty straighforward if you're careful...

And...Who installs the shower receptacle and bathtub? Does the plumber do that?

(I hear you on the size thing- we are going to pick out our items early, and have the tub and tub/shower enclosure for the other bathroom delivered before the windows go in, so it makes things easier!)

Thanks for all your help Guru! You make my life so much easier!!!

Karen Smile
Right, no drywall in the shower area under the tile only. If the wall is flat from inside the shower and goes out of the shower then there should be a switch to either drywall or green board just before the tile ends so you won't have the concrete board where you will paint. Remember there is a waterproof membrane under the Durrock concrete board.

Sure you can do the tile yourself!! You could even get a scrap of drywall, and some cheapo close-out tiles and practice a little! get a trowel (the thinset will tell you what size notches on the trowel depending on the type tile used) Then get some grout, a rubber float and a sponge to clean up and give it a whirl! Maybe you could buy a small coffee table or something and put a wood edge around the top sticking up the thickness of the tile, then tile the top. Then you'll have a cool table when you're done too!

You're right, a plumber installs the shower faucet (he will leave it sticking out the right amount for the durrock and tile thickness), shower head piping with a temp pipe sticking out where the shower head would be (you tile around those), the drain connected to one of the 3 pans discussed earlier. Also the bathtub and plumbing too.

Good luck!!
I love that idea!!! I really enjoy refinishing furniture.... what a great way to redo a table, and practice tiling at the same time.... Uh oh... I think you may have started something.... hmm... yes, I think my hubby needs a game table anyways.... thanks Guru!

Karen Smile
As you say, the first 100 years are the hardest, so my mind is gearing towards bathrooms for those of us who are becoming less mobile. I'm talking about more than grab bars.

1. I read the previous post about showers, but what about a roll in shower? I'm assuming the pan is set down lower. How about keeping water inside? Slope? Doors?

2. I see ads in magazines for the walk in tub. Any feed back on these yet?

3. Wall hung toilets?

Any other suggestions?

I just did a remodel in a house where an elderly person would be moving in. The shower was a 4 piece, fiberglass (the pan, and 3 walls). The front lip of the pan was only 3/4" high and the shower gets put right on the subfloor. When you put the concrete tile backer board (1/2") and then the floor tile (1/4") it becomes just about flush. Just a shower curtian or a glass door is all that is needed. The shower has all the grab bars pre installed and is ready to go with a fold down seat and everything!

Just remember, any wall mounted or specialty fixtures NEED heavy duty wood blocking INSIDE the walls before the drywall goes on. So you really need to have the room well designed before construction starts so this blocking can be put in the walls (and in the correct height/place). Some wall hung toilets / sinks because of the tendency to use them for support when transfering from a chair require steel supports from ceiling to floor inside the wall.

Do the research!
Just wondering if you've heard anything about the walk in tubs with the little doors. That's got to be one great seal!

I have never had any experiance with the tub-with-a-door type. I did check them out at the last home show though, and it is a great Idea if they don't leak!!


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