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02-27-2008, 10:50 PM
Ok, this is my first post. Also my first time doing a bathroom beyond fixtures.

What I have is a 1936 brick colonial with basically an unfinished basement. When I purchased the house in 2006, there was a working toilet in the corner of the basement along with a sink drain and a shower drain. It was quite the sight as without any walls and a beautifully gray painted basement floor, it was the largest in-house bathroom I had ever seen. It was advertised as the 1/2 bath.

I'm trying to "restore" the bathroom to be fully functional with fixtures, walls and tile. Here are my questions and challenges.

1. I want to tile the floor and the shower. In order to tile the floor, I had to "scarify" the floor to remove the paint, sealer and rough up the surface to receive mortar. I noticed some hairline cracks - a couple of which have dampness around them, but no water. Even after heavy rain. I'd like to use Ditra to act as a vapor barrier, but will the moisture (not much, just a couple of spots) eventually leave to separation of the Ditra from the concrete? From what I can tell, this is a good use for Ditra. Is thinset mortar sufficient?

2. The floor is not exactly level - for the most part, it slopes towards the shower drain. The immediate area around the shower drain is well sloped for drainage. Since it is already sloped, it would be too difficult to use the preformed Kerdi shower pan. Should I use Ditra here or Kerdi? My guess is Ditra - just like I plan to use on the rest of the floor. If I use the Ditra, do I also need to use Kerdi?

3. Since the floor is already sloped, I will be challenged with framing in the area around the shower. Should I install the framing first, then pack mortar underneath it (sounds stupid even as I type it) or find a way to create level landing spots for the framing (mortar ok?), then install the framing on top of that? It's most obvious where I want to install the curb. A level curb would have a good gap under it to address.

4. Ceiling height is limited. Right at 79". I'd like to tile the ceiling - I think painted drywall would be too risky in terms of moisture issues. Any suggestions on how to tile the ceiling? No mention of it in the Kerdi shower book. Will I need to prepare a plywood form with blocking to maintain pressure on the tiles until they set? How about grout? I can't imagine how messy this will be. (although after scarifying the basement floor with a tool on the end of a disc sander, I can't imagine anything messier than that!) But my real concern is getting the grout to not want to drip out.

5. Shower drain. The existing drain is cast iron set right in the concrete. The drain screen is removable, but not fastened with screws. It's basically a 4 inch drain that reduces to I think, 2". I really, really, really don't want to break this up to replace the drain. Can I/should I wrap the top of the drain circumference where it meets the concrete with Kerdi? Would the Kerdi drain be able to fit into this or is there some other type of drain that could? Existing drain picture attached.

Thanks for the advice!

Shower Drain 2.jpg

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02-27-2008, 10:53 PM
Mike, welcome to the forum. :)

We'll get some folks over here to help you with your questions. Good luck on this project.

02-28-2008, 07:37 AM
After reading your post and looking at the pictures, I believe what you really have there is just a*basement floor drain* and was never intended to be a shower. It looks like a 1.5" pipe set into a 4" hub to recieve accidental overflows from burst water heaters ,toilets, sinks washing machines, etc.

Generally, 1/2 bath means *no bathing facilities, just a toilet and sink*
Real estate agents *LOVE * to puff about houses. If you were told that drain was a shower or could be used as one, then he or she was spinning you a *yarn*most likely. A lot of real estate agents out there know a whole lot of*nothing* about what they are selling.

Plumbing code today means a 2" drain for the shower, and it's got to be properly vented. I believe you really need to break up that concrete and start from scratch.Don't mean to burst your bubble, but starting from where you want to, with just an old cast iron 1.5" pipe, is asking for trouble. If you dont know where that pipe leads to , then that can be an issue as well. Those old pre WW2 Alexandria house basement floor drains sometimes led to nothing more than just a dry well instead of the sanitary line out in the street. Better check it out first .

Good luck! :) :) :)

02-28-2008, 07:52 AM
What Maack said...

Plumbing will have to be seen to before walls/floors/Kerdi/Ditra. Once that's squared away, then you can do the rest.

02-29-2008, 08:23 AM
Thanks for the quick replies.

After I got home from my trip I measured the drain (I was guessing from my picture). It is a 2" line and ties into the main sewer line. It has a standard trap underneath. The sink, toilet and drain all tie into the main sewer line.


02-29-2008, 09:30 AM
If your confident that line is 2" , and it's properly trapped and vented, then just frame it up and get going!
My suggestion on the framing over the sloped floor is:

Lay the bottom plate of the 2x4 framing on your framing lines,(pre drill your lag holes in that plate first), if it is a minor dip, just get a temporary vertical 2x4 wedge from the joist above to that 2x4 plate, press it down so that it sits on the surface, , mark the holes out on the concrete, remove the 2x4 plate, drill out the concrete for a lead shield and galv.lag . Put the 2x4 plate back, with glue under it, wedge it again,and lag down that plate in the spot it has to be. That secures it to the floor permanantly.

The curb has to be straight and level across it's width, so,
perhaps a masonary curb would be best for you in that scenario?

Stick frame the rest of your 2x4 wall, cutting each stud individually to fit from ceiling plate to bottom plate. You want to end up with a solid 2x4 wall to support and fasten your plumbing valve and supply lines to.

The other pros will comment on the rest of your shower install!

Good luck! :) :) :)

02-29-2008, 09:58 AM
Thanks for the framing help Maack! r/Mike

03-01-2008, 05:59 AM
I looked hard at that tape measure stretched across that drain opening again , and I have to say that I read that inside pipe diameter as 1.5"

Pipe size measurement are taken from the *INSIDE* dimension of the pipe,
are you really sure that inside pipe size is 2"?

Aside from that question, I believe that you are still going to have to bust up that floor to raise that drain up to new shower floor height. And you will need a new drain assembly anyway to connect up to your new liner. That existing assembly is just a basement floor drain regardless of its size.

Good luck :) :) :)

03-01-2008, 08:20 AM
Thanks. I thought the same thing from the picture, which was taken a year ago to get the outside dimension. But using a soft tape measure and getting down to the drain it is definitely a 2" line. I'm not up for busting up the concrete so I'll start searching for a plumber (not an easy thing to do in N VA).

Another question for you - should I install plastic under the framing I mount to the floor? Should I install the Ditra across the floor first then mount the framing to it or complete all the framing first?


03-01-2008, 11:21 AM
You can do your framing first,that usually is the way,, but in your case, I would ::::

Know where your framing wall and curb are going to be located, mark them out on the floor, then have the plumber do his*rough in * drain work. It may be easier for the plumber to negotiate inside a small bathroom if that wall and curb isn't there yet. If he wants to actually have the wall in place,so he is sure of his dimensions and has a place to *rough in * his water supply lines and valve, go with his suggestion.

If he doesn't need the wall up, then you can do your framing later.(it's only 1 wall) Get his opinion first.

I would simply make the bottom plate of that framed wall out of pressure treated lumber, attach it directly to the concrete floor with nothing under it but the adhesive.
Do not run plastic , or ditra, or anything under that plate.
How you lay your shower floor out, what materials you use and in what order to do it ,is best answered by other pros, not me.

Good luck :) :) :)

03-02-2008, 12:08 AM
Ok, I'll try a couple more, by number....

1) use quality dry-set thinset (eg, Kerabond, Ditra-set) and you shouldn't have a bonding problem. these thinsets "cure" and will fully harden even in damp environments.

2) don't use Ditra in a shower :shake:

4) painted DW in the shower is fine, IF you use a high-quality paint rated for damp areas. It should not be flat, and use two coats. All the major paint vendors make something, and they aren't cheap.

5) if you're doing Kerdi then you'll have to break out enough concrete to remove this drain and attach the Kerdi drain.


03-31-2008, 07:51 PM
Ok - I got a plumber to replace the plumbing under the basement slab. Did a nice job adding vents and extra floor drain over by the water heater. He used Quickcrete to refill the slab where he excavated. The overall slab in the bathroom area isn't level - plumber asked me to pour leveling compound to smooth everything out so he can build a good shower pan. But he poured the concrete on Friday and wanted me to pour the leveling compound over the weekend. I bought Laticrete self leveling compound. Label says I need to wait 28 days for the concrete to dry, so I didn't pour it. Needless to say, the plumber isn't too happy as he'd like to finish the job. He thinks it would be safe for me to pour it. I'm comfortable waiting a week or too, but would prefer not to wait a month.

Anyone have any experience with this? I'm concerned if I pour the Latilevel too soon it won't adhere & bond properly to the concrete in the fresh areas and will eventually separate and cause problems. But I do intend to install Ditra over the leveled floor once completed - so would it even make a difference?

Oh yeah, one more not so pleasant story to relate - I bought one of those diamond carbide wheels for concrete and used it with my disc sander to get the paint off the old concrete floor. Did a fantastic job but created one heck of a dust mess. And the vacuum did a great job of putting the finest particles back it into the air. Will be cleaning up dust for a long time.....


03-31-2008, 09:12 PM
I'd prolly be calling Laticrete and ask them. If there's a bonding issure, Ditra won't help. :shake:

04-14-2008, 07:28 PM
Well I contacted Laticrete and they told me I would need to put a skim coat of latex based thin set over the concrete if the concrete is less that 28 days cured. They said I only needed to do this over the new sections. Then wait 24-48 hours for the thin set to cure and then pour the Latilevel. I did all of that and it worked out great. The Latilevel creates a nice smooth and level surface. Just had to make sure I primed everything first.

Now on to the next challenge. I completely framed out the shower, my shower bench and 3/4 wall. Called the plumber back to set in the shower pan. But I'm kind of surprised. He installed it flat - right on the new level base. He also put it over the bench. I wasn't home when he came by. But should the shower base been built up & sloped to the drain before he put the PVC liner down? I guess I know why I got such a good price on doing the plumbing work and having him install the liner. Should I pull up the PVC pan, slope the shower base with thin set and then reinstall the pan over that or should I build up a sloped floor over the PVC? I've seen books / articles that show both.

Or since I have such a nice level surface, should I buy a pre-formed pan and cut it to size (35" x 42").