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Unread 03-22-2022, 12:10 AM   #1
csuttl
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Fiberglass to Tiled Shower

Hello,

My name is Chris, I live in Conway, Arkansas. I've ripped out my fiberglass shower stall and I plan to replace it with a tiled shower. I'm new to most of this and some things I'm seeing after the demo are throwing me for a loop so I have a few questions.

BTW, what a great forum, so much info to take in. Thanks in advance to you guys, I look forward to learning from you.

My plan :
  1. I'm on a concrete slab
  2. Drain is PVC (if it matters)
  3. I'm going to do a dry pack mortar pan, 1/4" slope per foot, I'll pour some thinset on the slab and dry pack on that
  4. No pre-slope, no liner for the pan
  5. FlowFX drain
  6. 1/2" Durock walls, no taping, no joint sealing because of the sheet membrane (next bullet). I plan to let the mortar pan cover the bottom few inches of the durock. I assume that's ok since I'm going with sheet membrane? BTW, I understand I will need to shim or sister as best as I can to get plumb and square for tiling but I have a few things I need to resolve below before I can work that problem.
  7. Hydro Ban sheet membrane on pan and walls, Laticrete MultiMax Lite for the thinset.
  8. Tile on floor and walls
  9. Shower niche
  10. I'd like a corner bench but the ones I see seem a lot smaller than the one I'm rippping out. I've basically resigned myself to getting a teak seat but suggestions are welcome.

I have attached three images below for reference.
  • The first image shows the fiberglass stall before demo.
  • The second image shows whats left after the demo. This is basically where I'm at with the project currently.
  • The third image shows the plumbing which is just one of a few things I want to ask about.

These are the problems I'm thinking about so far in no particular order.

Problem 1
The big hole in the slab. It is 10" x 13" and its 16" deep at its deepest. Is this something I can just fill in? I've read on this website to use dry pack, I also saw someone mention sand but its a big hole - I'm not sure what to do. Also, should I put a larger pipe around the drain pipe before filling it in for some spacing?

Problem 2
Can I put a niche on the back wall? It is an exterior wall (brick home). As you can see in image 2, I have an outlet to deal with on the left and plumbing on the right. I'd like to have a 32" x 12" niche. I assume it should be framed like a window? Any special considerations? I'm worried about insulation.

Problem 3
That plumbing. As best as I can tell, there is one cold and one hot pipe coming into the bath and then each splits into four (I have the shower, a garden tub and two sinks). I read elsewhere on here that splits can't be below the slab so I think this is what I'm seeing.

The plumbed wall is 2x4 rather than 2x6. And the pipes coming out of the concrete are slightly outside the 2x4 stud wall footprint. The two pipes leading up to the shower handle are completely in front of the studs so I can't put the durock directly on the 2x4 studs. Can I sister stud this one wall with more 2x4's to get the wall cavity closer to 2x6 and leave the pipes alone or do I need to cut and re-route the two pipes leading up to the handle?

BTW, I did the sharkbite stuff about a year ago when I swapped out the shower handle valve. To do the work in the confined space, I cut a hole in the sheetrock on the opposite wall (its covered by the walmart sack for the demo). I plan to swap the valve out again with another one that has built-in stops. Can I keep the sharkbite connectors assuming I can leave the pipes alone? Or are those frowned upon?

I'll start with these items and I'm sure more things will come up as I work thru this project. Thanks again for any help.
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Last edited by csuttl; 03-22-2022 at 12:17 AM. Reason: Clarified the pipes coming into the bathroom
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Unread 03-22-2022, 09:17 AM   #2
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Welcome, Chris.

1. I would fill the hole with a compactable material up to the bottom of the concrete, then fill the rest with concrete. Use a slurry of Portland or thinset mortar on the sides of the hole to help bond the concrete patch.

For a Schluter drain a short section of 4" PVC pipe works well to make a hole for the drain. I've not seen one of the FlowFX drains and don't know what they might require

2. I expect exterior walls in Arkansas get pretty cold in the winter and I've never met customer liked frozen shampoo. But, yes, you can put a niche in that wall if you wanna.

I think I'd elect to move the electric and use that wall.

3. Looks easy enough to fur out that wall to clear the plumbing. Might require adjusting the valve depth, but that shouldn't be much of a consideration.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-22-2022, 10:49 AM   #3
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Some people don't mind Sharkbites within wall cavities, others - not so much. As long as they are plumbing code approve in your location, go with whatever you're comfortable with.

I, however, would definitely take this opportunity to rework that plumbing so that it is all within the wall cavity, with proper support for the pipes and shower valve (especially if using SB's). Doing so will minimize how much you'd need to fur the studs out to clear the pipes at the bottom plate.
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Unread 03-22-2022, 12:49 PM   #4
csuttl
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Thanks guys for the replies.

For the box out I plan to get a couple of bags of Quikrete all purpose gravel and maybe a bag of sand to mix with it. Hopefully that will suffice for compactible material? I'll place a 4in coupler on that gravel around the 2in pipe and concrete to match the slab around that. I'll make sure to get a good bond of the new concrete to the slab (thinset). The floFX drain is much like the Schluter drain. It needs at least 3/4" spacing for mortar bed on the slab.

I'll go with the left wall (the one with the outlet) for the niche. I want to keep the outlet where it is but I will move the wiring over against the far left studs. I'll use a junction box in the attic if I need to.

I'll think hard about reworking the pipe / Sharkbite. I want to do it right but I really dont want to get into soldering, etc... I'm going back and forth on this one.

Thanks,
Chris
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Unread 03-22-2022, 07:22 PM   #5
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You definitely want to move those pipes in the wall. You have a couple of options with modern day plumbing:

1. You could buy yourself one of these. The fittings are more expensive but no soldering.

2. Or you can go to your local box store and do it in pex pipe with these crimp connectors. It's not my favorite but it's better than shark bites, keeps costs low, and you can do it yourself.

For a shower bench, the 30-inch Better Bench is fairly large. I don't think you want to go a lot larger with that size of shower.
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Unread 03-23-2022, 05:36 AM   #6
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Jim do you have one of those copper crimp tools, if so how do you like it? I normally sweat on Pex fittings then Pex everything for my mixing valves and shower runs. The tub spout I'll still sweat all copper.
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Unread 03-23-2022, 03:59 PM   #7
csuttl
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Thanks for those options James. I'm going to tackle the pipes. I'm actually going to see how soldering goes. I've done it before a time or two, its just been a long time. I'll fall back on one of the options you mention and I appreciate the links.

The seat looks good too, I am wondering how it will work with me using sheet membrane on the walls (having to pierce the membrane with the screws). Maybe having that membrane on the durock wont matter if I follow the installation doc filling the screw holes with sealant and running a bead of sealant as directed along the top edge of the bench.
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Unread 03-23-2022, 05:03 PM   #8
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Chris, when using the Better Bench and a sheet-type direct bonded waterproofing membrane, I cover the walls with the membrane, install the bench, fill it with mortar, then also cover the top and front of the bench with the membrane. Not required by the bench manufacturer, but I like it better.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-23-2022, 11:17 PM   #9
csuttl
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Thanks CX, I considered that but assumed I'd need to do the whole bench to create a complete seal. And then wondered if I could even bond the membrane underneath, etc... I thought surely I must be overthinking this because the bench says it doesnt need any additional waterproofing. But if you are doing it then I probably should too. And sounds like I can leave the underneath side alone.

Is there any risk to the tile along the front for water to wick underneath?
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Unread 03-24-2022, 07:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris
But if you are doing it then I probably should too.
Be careful with that, and see my warranty information below.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris
And sounds like I can leave the underneath side alone.
You can, and I do. I know of no problem with that.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-24-2022, 07:54 AM   #11
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I took the same advice, Chris, did my BB's the same way. Attached them to the studs/blocking through the wall board, filled them with mud, covered the tops and fronts with membrane, and tied them into the wall water proofing with more membrane band. Pretty bullet proof. the underside of the BB is stainless steel - with a hole for water drainage. No need to finish the bottom of it.

Be sure you have blocking/studs where you need them.

I actually ordered one of the 30" BB's. It was just too large so when to the next size down.
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Unread 03-24-2022, 09:41 AM   #12
csuttl
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Thanks guys, warranty noted CX! I ordered the 30" seat yesterday, we'll see if a swap is needed when it gets here, should be by Saturday. Good info, yes I will block, etc.. In the photos of the bench I noted three screw holes on each backside. I'd be inclined to put more given the weight even before anyone sits but I'll stick with the three existing (6 total).
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Unread 03-24-2022, 09:51 AM   #13
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Chris, once you've tiled around that bench, you wouldn't need any mechanical fasteners at all to support it. The wall tile installation below the bench will provide more support than you'll ever need for that bench, even if you were able to sit more than one full sized MIL upon it.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-24-2022, 11:57 AM   #14
csuttl
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Thanks CX, that's good to know!
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Unread 03-25-2022, 09:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin
Jim do you have one of those copper crimp tools, if so how do you like it?
It works but it works best for smaller projects. If you're going to be plumbing on a regular basis then you'd want to get the $1500 and up versions by Ridgid and Milwaukee.

A lot of condos require the Propress fittings or it's a 24 hour firewatch for soldering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by csuttl
I'd be inclined to put more given the weight even before anyone sits
Wait until you get the thing in there and installed. It's way more sturdy than you would ever guess.
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