John P. Bridge – November, 2011
How to Build a Recessed Shower Shelf in a Tile Shower Stall
Think “niche” when considering a new tile or marble shower and where you’ll stow your gear once the shower is commissioned. It’s true that you can get by with a soap dish and maybe a wire rack hung on the shower head or even a plastic shelf sequestered in a corner, but it’s really nice and more eye pleasing to have all of the stuff out of the way. It looks much neater, too. I think most showers should include a “niche,” pronounced: neesh. It’s a French word for a recess in a wall or other structure, and in the world of design everything sounds better in French, Italian, or Spanish.
Adding a niche (recessed shower shelf) to a shower that is under construction is not hard. You can build one between two or more wall studs without taking anything away from the structural value of the wall. When adding the tile substrate (cement backer board, foam board or drywall) to the wall, do the same to the inside of the niche area. Finally, waterproof the niche with any of a number of products on the market. I’ll mention a few of them here. All of them will render the niche (and shower) totally waterproof and tile ready.
Kerdi membrane by Schluter Systems: http://www.schluter.com
Hydro Ban liquid waterproofing by Laticrete: http://www.laticrete.com
RedGard liquid waterproofing by Custom Building Products: http://www.custombuildingproducts.com
Nobleseal TS membrane by Noble Company: http://www.noblecompany.com
There are many others. You must understand that tile and grout are not waterproof. I believe that all showers should be waterproofed at least up to the height of the shower head before ceramic or stone tiles are installed.
As to the actual building and tiling of a shower, to include niches and benches, you’ll find a wealth of information at the John Bridge Tile Forums. The advanced search will produce enough reading to last you a couple days at least.
The niche pictures below, some of them during the construction/tiling stage, are mine, but there are more pictures of niche projects completed by pros and novices all through the forums, most recently on this particular thread: http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=97387 I often find myself feeling somewhat inadequate when viewing the fantastic work done by some of my contemporaries.
Do-it-yourself tile installation advice and general tiling information is always plentiful at the John Bridge Tile Forums.