"Better-Bench" shower benches [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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08-03-2001, 08:00 AM
Has anyone here used the Better-Bench products for making a shower bench? They don't seem to have a web site but I found this site that describes the product (http://www.artistictile.net/store/betterbench.html ). Looks like a time-saver, but I always worry that "time-saver" is synonymous with "poor-quality shortcut". If anyone has experience with this product I'd like to hear your opinions. Thanks!


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John Bridge
08-03-2001, 01:19 PM
Hi Kevin,

I think Bud Cline uses them. He'll be along shortly.

08-03-2001, 02:20 PM
I should elaborate on my concerns with this product: 1) Rigidity. Its hard to tell how thick the metal is from the pictures and I was wondering about the rigidity. The mortar filling has very low tensile strength and it seems that any flexure will quickly propagate a crack up through the bench and tile. 2. Corrosion. Concrete (and mortar) when in contact with metal can lead to corrosion of the metal. If the metal frame on the bench were to corrode, the bench would be seriously weakened. Tell me if I am just being a worry wart!


Bud Cline
08-03-2001, 02:47 PM

The "Better Bench" has been around a few years now and I have used many of them in the past. I also haven't been able to find a website for them, I think originally they were introduced by a company by the name of Novvis, for whatever that is worth.

The Better Bench attaches to/thru the substrate/wall, be it CBU or mud with lag bolts into the studs. I always drill my own holes to center the studs. I also use silicon both on the lag bolts and the bench surface attaching to the wall.

These things are made of aluminum I think, and I dont know that I would be overly concerned about corrosion of the metal. I would guess the metal is 16 to 18 gauge but that's only a guess. They have a formed "C" chanel spot welded along the face for additional rigidity. Once the pan/bench is filled with mud it becomes very rigid obviously. These are corner benches and just not that big whereas tensile strength would be a concern.

Once the tile is installed and grouted around the bench this offers added support also. The bench/pan should be installed at a slight slope/angle so as to promote sufficient drainage.

I have worked my butt off countless times over the years fabricating concrete benches and making them waterproof. They can be a huge pain and a lot of heavy work. I think the Better Bench is the solution to all this extra work and well worth the cost. Installation is very quick and easy.

Boy, you would think those guys would send me a couple free benches after all that wouldn't you?

So all in all a pretty good product as far as I'm concerned.

08-03-2001, 02:53 PM
Thanks for such a prompt and detailed reply. I think I'll go ahead and give it a try. Thanks again!


Bud Cline
08-04-2001, 11:15 PM

Yesterday (08/03/01) In my above post I referred to the manufacturer of the "Better Bench" as a company I recalled to be Novvis. I stand corrected, the actual name of this company is INNOVIS, PO Box 5008, Novato, CA 94948-5008, 1-800-382-9653.

This has been bugging me since I made the post as the name really didn't sound right after I did it. So here is the correct name.

09-26-2004, 08:43 AM
Just read your posts about "Better Bench". They do have a web site. They are under "Innovis.com". Hope this helps.

12-28-2004, 01:42 PM
I have used the Better Bench a half a dozen times; it is a very good product. The correct web page for this is www.innoviscorp.com.

12-29-2004, 04:49 AM
I should elaborate on my concerns with this product: 1) Rigidity. Its hard to tell how thick the metal is from the pictures and I was wondering about the rigidity. The mortar filling has very low tensile strength and it seems that any flexure will quickly propagate a crack up through the bench and tile. 2. Corrosion. Concrete (and mortar) when in contact with metal can lead to corrosion of the metal. If the metal frame on the bench were to corrode, the bench would be seriously weakened. Tell me if I am just being a worry wart!


Perhaps you're confusing the akali content of concrete/mortar with acid, which is very bad for metals. Steel reinforcing has been used in concrete almost since Adam was a lad!

12-29-2004, 07:43 PM
I'll be using the BB-17 as a corner shelf in a Wedi-walled shower stall. I really didn't consider a corner seat, but what would those of you who have used it regularly think about using it in a under these conditions? I'd worry about compression and shear forces.


12-29-2004, 09:22 PM
When I use the better bench in a wedi shower(2 of my favorite products),I put 2x blocking in the stud bays.That way I can screw the bench directly into wood.I tile up to the desired height then I install the bench and finish tiling.

12-29-2004, 10:24 PM
I've used them several times. Not sure if I like them yet.

12-29-2004, 11:23 PM
Mike I'm with you. I have used them a couple of times and they are easy enough to use. I'm just not sure I like the finished look. They just kind of jet out of the wall and look almost out of place.

12-30-2004, 05:02 AM
yeah,but they are solid as hell and real space savers for a tight shower,all kinds of storage for rubber duckys under the bench.

12-30-2004, 02:10 PM
I'd have to agree with the "solid as hell" comment that WilliamL made. I guess I don't seem to think they look any more out of place than the monument-type benches. Although I haven't built one of those myself, the better bench I put in was a breeze--labor involved in a monument bench looks a bit more daunting than screwing in a few screws. I put blocking behind my CBU where I knew the bench would go since I always figured I'd use one...

Here's a pic of the better bench I just put in


The only thing I was nervous about was that the front of the bench had to be filled with mud just like the rest of it--the little holes in the front didn't seem like enough for the whole front to bond to, but so far it's holding like a champ.


Gary H.
06-28-2006, 11:07 PM
I just purchased my first Better-Bench product...the BB-ADJR Adjustable Bench (33.5" - 62"), with the BT-17S Center Support. The shower width is 46", which is why I purchased the BT-17S. Now here is my question ---> One of the above came with a "Face Stiffener". Does anyone know where this gets installed and what the purpose is? I appreciate any help.

06-29-2006, 12:05 AM
I couldnt say what Bud said better, but i have installed
several better benches and i give em the :tup2:
In fact i would rather install a better bench than float & set
a monument bench. The thing i like about them the most
is the open look of the shower floor with the benefit of the

Madison Mike
06-29-2006, 07:54 AM
A "Face Stiffener"???? That sounds like a joke just waiting to be born :laugh2: .

I've never put in the big bench, but you can check out their website or contact the company. I called them before I put in my first benches and shelves and they were pretty helpful.

http://www.innoviscorp.com/ (http://)

Madison, WI

07-31-2006, 07:53 PM
I have installed around 2 hundred of these seats just in the past year or so, with no complaints, nice thing about them is the fact that they come in different sizes to accommodate different shower sizes..,Very strong too.

Hint, if your holes on bench do not hit studs, just drill holes to accommodate.

07-31-2006, 10:47 PM
Hi Guys :)

I haven't used even one of the better benches yet. I mostly use granite, and on ocassion marble. Our signature work tries to utilize the same material that is used on the countertops, and utilize it on the bench and curb.

07-31-2006, 10:59 PM
If you ever get the oportunity these benches are a piece of cake and look
great. All the BB's ive installed have been used in ceramic and
porcelain showers. So do you use slab granite as a bench? if so is that a single 3\4"
layer or do you laminate 2 layers?

08-01-2006, 12:20 AM
I'm also curious John how far you can span with your avg slab bench? If you want to go longer, you can always use the better bench & still cover it with whatever slab or tile you want. :)

08-01-2006, 12:50 AM
Hi Jack & Tom :)

The longest shower bench was about 8 feet. It was 2 cm (3/4") marble, laminated with 2 cm granite for strength. We ran marble cleats on the walls on three sides (the perimeter of the bench). We also employed two legs (same marble) that were about 2" deep where they contacted the pan, and about 12" deep at the contact point with the bench. It still left a nice airy feel to the shower. I couldn't see a BB going the same span unsupported.

Most of the granite that is used nowadays is the 3 cm (1 1/4"). Running a tub deck into a shower is also very common with slabs. They will typically be a box bench to allow the insallation of a shower door panel.

I've seen the better benches used here on the boards, and at Coverings. I'll be sure to give them a try, as soon as the opportunity arises.

08-01-2006, 01:13 AM
Sounds cool John. Got any pichers? :)

The better bench can go as long as you want. They interlock in 4' sections & use 12" triangle corbels that hide nicely up underneath. You can use one all the way across a long room & it's still strong enough to get up there & dance a jig. :yipee:

08-01-2006, 07:36 AM
Just wondering how Better Bench integrates with Kerdi, as I just ordered one. Do I install it and mud over, then put Kerdi over it all? Somewhere I read to put it on after Kerdi, but this would put holes through the Kerdi, wouldn't it? Seems like it should be Kerdied with everything else. Let me know what you think.

Thanks - Ruthie -

08-01-2006, 08:19 AM
Here's a picture of a Better Bench during installation from John's Kerdi Shower Book (http://www.tileyourworld.com/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=12&products_id=66) .

08-01-2006, 08:46 AM
I have been using better benches for a little over a year and really like them. Our biggest bench to date was a 7 1/2' rectangular bench which used two benches and two "corner shelves" as a brace in the center. The sides and back of the bench screw into studs/blocking. One trick with getting the mortar to stick in the front is to coat it with thinset first. My customer was worried about the thing falling down since it didn't "have any legs", so I got on top of it and jumped up and down. That seemed to satisfy. :yeah:

The thing I like about the better benches is that you aren't going to stub your toe on it. I think it looks neater than a big monument in a shower.


08-01-2006, 09:09 AM

Does that picture of the better bench show the bench upside down?


Brian in San Diego
08-01-2006, 09:34 AM

I'll jump in and answer for Dave. The bench is installed correctly, but not finished yet. The interior of the bench is packed with deck mud.


08-01-2006, 09:43 AM
Looks like this after it's done, Ron.

08-01-2006, 01:09 PM
So I see from picture that you install better bench AFTER Kerdi! Thinking ahead, what kind of blocking should I install in studs before I put up drywall and then Kerdi? I was thinking of the 24" diagonal bench, which they state measures 17" at the sides...so since I don't have the bench in hand yet, should I install extra stud right at 17" from corner, or are the attachment screws somewhere besides at each end?

Also, after tiling and grouting, is there any special caulking around edges necessary?

BTW--I think the pictures of the bench look great. I like the look better than a "to the floor" bench...never thought of not stubbing toes :clap2:

- Ruthie -

08-01-2006, 04:29 PM
you don't necessarily have to attach extra studs. You can just drill new holes in the bench wherever your existing studs are. The better bench comes with some wall anchors for use if you don't have studs to screw them to but I didn't like the idea of that. It seems more solid to screw them to studs.

John Bridge
08-01-2006, 04:45 PM
Hi Ruthie, :)

I agree with Aaron that the screws should go into wood. You don't need extra studs, but you could install some flat backing blocks between the studs at the anticipated height of the bench.

Do the Kerdi first. Squirt some silicone or Kerdi-fix into the holes before you drive in the screws.

08-01-2006, 08:20 PM
Now that I have finished tiling the bathroom, I'm thinking about using a better bench (BT-17) and using it as a foot rest. Since the bench will be about 15" from the floor, my wife keeps saying that mold is going to grow.

Innovis mentions that you have to tile the bottom to prevent mold. I'm just curious if any has used the better bench as a footrest and if are they experiencing any mold issues.


08-01-2006, 08:59 PM
I think I ain't got no eye-dee what pewtin' tile onna bottom of the bench will do to prevent mold. :scratch:

You sure that's what they said?

If the bottom is 15 inches off the floor, that's about where I would normally install one as a seat, wantin' the top 17 or 18 inches AFF. Don't nobody yet said anything about a mold problem where I've pewt'em. And my customers all know where to find me. :)

Mold in a shower is generally a result of poor bathroom ventilation (well, and sometimes poor pan construction). You got a good vent fan and you use it 20 or 30 minutes after every shower, should be gettin' dried out in there most of the time. But I'll admit to never having actually lived with a Better Bench shower myownself.

My opinion; worth price charged.

08-01-2006, 11:03 PM
Hi John :)

I have a theory. Tile on the bottom of the bench will allow the surface to be cleaned my easily. It also won't tend to harbor moisture and soap scum (which the mud can with it's rough surface). I've done my share of shower restorations (cleaning & maintenance) and have seen first hand many different enviornments in which mold grows. It just needs a source. Moisture & soap will feed it well. This of course is just a theory. I'd love to hear more input from others on this topic (not necessarily a better bench issue).

08-01-2006, 11:26 PM
The bottom of the bench is aluminum, not mud. If you tile the bottom, smear the bottom of the bench a few hours (or the day before) with thinset. It helps with adhesion.

08-01-2006, 11:32 PM
Hi Igneous :)

In the picture CX posted, it shows holes in the bottom. If there are no holes, I take back my theory about not tiling.

08-02-2006, 12:45 AM
the bench i just got only had a single hole in the bottom where mud would show through. and innovis states that if you tile the bottom to make sure not to cover the hole because it acts as a weep hole. So, whether you tile or whether you don't, the hole would be exposed. seems like tiling the bottom would be extra work that nobody would ever see and has no benefit since the hole has to stay exposed anyway.

08-02-2006, 01:00 AM
The BT-17 has many holes on the bottom & it's made to have tile both sides. The larger units have only 1 drain hole & are made not to have a tile bottom; they're an aluminum alloy that will not support mold growth.

09-24-2006, 10:53 AM
In looking at John's shower boo pg 45, I can't tell if he intalled Better Bench over tile or not. Since I have 18" tiles, wondering if I could tile first, then drill through tile into studs I put in ahead of time. If I install bench onto Kerdi before tiling, it will involve a lot of cutting my large tiles to tile around bench. Any suggestions?

My bench only has one large hole on bottom, so I know I will be tiling only top and front of bench after it's installed and filled with mud.


John Bridge
09-24-2006, 12:04 PM
Hello Ruthie, :)

Yes, you can tile the walls first and then install the bench. Same deal . . . squirt silicone or Kerdi-fix into the screw holes prior to driving the screws.

One of the great features about the Better Bench is that it can be installed in an exisiting shower.

My personal opinion on the mold thing is that putting tile on the bottom isn't going to help. What WILL help is drying the bottom when you dry the rest of the shower. I think that's the only way to effectively fight the black stuff. :)

And do provide plenty of ventilation in your shower, as CX mentioned above. Always leave the glass door slightly ajar after using the shower, for example.

01-11-2007, 07:38 AM
I'm installing the 30" corner in an environment that is very damp by nature (salt air) -- I'm wondering if there is a way to tile the bottom, if it is a good or bad idea, etc. I know they say it is an "alloy" that won't rust, corrode, etc. Well, at this location, everything corrodes! What to do?

Thanks, Pete

01-11-2007, 09:19 AM

You can tile the bottom if you want to. I think they want you to keep the weep hole open though.

I have two Better Bench products in my shower right now. One is being used as a bench; I won't tile the bottom of that one. The other smaller corner unit is going to serve as a shelf. I will tile the bottom of that one. I skim coated the bottom with MegaFlex thinset. It stuck just fine. I should add that the little corner unit has several holes on the bottom, so my thinset is sticking to a lot of mortar as well.

05-31-2008, 08:19 PM
Would it be worthwhile to Kerdi the top and front of the bench to help prevent possible mold?