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Unread 01-12-2021, 11:00 AM   #1
SSK
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Pete's Small Master Bath

I have not been here for a few years since doing my last big project. Thanks again for all the great help on this site. I have done with your help couple baths surrounds, a shower (not the pan I had someone do that), and lots of floors and backsplashes. I think I do good work, but would starve if paid by the hour. I read a lot and follow a lot of videos on line. The videos out there are really getting good. They are so detailed and even show you how things can go wrong. Seems in the past there was a lot of misinformation, and now things are just much more detailed. I think my projects came out very good and more importantly built to last.
The project I am doing now is in my primary house. It is traditional builder grade 1980s construction. Second level in Virginia. I am not building my dream bathroom, but would like something nice for resale in a few years. I do not mind spending money on quality products because I understand that time is money and poor products usually mean more time and more problems. So this is my 80s master bath, very small to today's construction and there is really no way to really make it bigger.
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I am not committed to any solution, but figure these are my options. Open to opinions and ideas.
1. Keep the wall as is and either replace the tub with a larger drop in or just leave it as is with a new surround. Obviously, redo the shower. Either bring the curb out to the end of the dividing wall or go curbless
2. Cut the wall down to a knee wall to open things up. I have seen this setup which is nice and open, but not with a shower that small
3. Get rid of the tub and wall and make a bigger shower and frame in glass.

Here are a few questions.
1. Last time I was here Kerdi seemed to be the rage, but it seems like othere products are now on the market as well. I am aware of the price differential. Do you still strongly recommend this. I bought the book here on the Kerdi installation and read that, and have watched many videos to try to get as much knowledge.
3. I was thinking of going with a Schluter Kerdi pan if this is possible. However, the current shower is 36 by 36 and not sure if you can even cut a pan down to that size. I see a 48X48 and a 36 X 60. Do they make a 36 by 36?
4. Would you recommend the Schluter pan? I have watched a ton of videos on doing a mud pan, but afraid the learning curve would be high and maybe the biggest chance of a mistake.
2. My wife would like to make this a curbless shower. I have watched the Kerdi videos of lowering the floor by sistering the joists cutting out sections to sit on the sistered joist. Would you recommend doing this
4. If I went curbless without any door could the pan be 36 by 60 and extend into the room. I see they make an offset drain in the 36 x 60.
5. In the Kerdi Shower Book there is not much on the Schluter pans, is there any resource you do recommend. I have not ordered yet the the Bathroom Remodel books, but probably will. It is not what you know or what you do not know, it is what you do not know you do not know. I think D. Rumsfeld had some version of that.
6. I was thinking of going with Ditra and thus could make the bathroom more waterproof. Also understand the cost difference. I do not think I need it for crack isolation the floors are pretty solid. 3/4 tongue and groove. I will get the deflection value, but that seems like one thing that was not skimped on. Any opinions on Ditra (assuming I meet the deflection requirements to support other backers)? Heck, I think the current tiles are directly on the plywood. Talking about skimpy 1980s construction. The bath surround I updated was tile directly to sheetrook without any waterproofing or vapor barrier. However it was bone dry. I am curious to see what is behind this shower.
7. My assumption if I am going to do everything else, I really should drop in a larger tub. I think that adds about another $600-700 for an OK fiberglass. The current tub is immaculate but I think the bang for the buck makes sense. Any opinions. That is really more a realtor question.
8. I heard that Schluter recommends min 2x2 tiles on the pan, but I searched here and that seems disputed. Want to double check that mosaics are fine. I also have some leftover marble 4x4s. Would these be fine? They are honed.
9. I want to likely go with a shower system and rain shower head. The space is so small with the current shower, is there a way to do a small bench or ledge? Would a corner bench be to tight? I was thinking maybe just a 4 inch ledge enough for a lady to but here foot on.

Again any suggestions or recommendations are appreciated. As long as it comes from someone besides me, my wife will listen and I will not be accused of Mansplaining.

Thanks
Pete in VA

Here are the photos of my previous projects you helped me with. Not sure why they rotated. As you can see Wife likes white and marble.
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Unread 01-12-2021, 01:19 PM   #2
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Hi Pete,

I vote for reducing the wall into a knee wall and installing glass. That will open things up a lot.
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Unread 01-12-2021, 05:27 PM   #3
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I vote for John's vote, Pete.

The wall dividing the shower from the tub looks thick. That's probably because, to keep costs down, the build used "standard" size tub and shower base. if you stuck with a standard 60" tub (I'm assuming that's what's there) you could pick up a few inches in the shower by making that dividing wall thinner.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 11:25 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. The wall is 8.5 inches thick. So If I made it a kneewall I am guessing I could gain maybe 3 inches if I went with a 60 inch tub soaker. I do see they make some slightly shorter 57-59". So maybe get another inch or two.

So going back to my shower pan question which is the standard 36x36. Would you recommend a Kerdi (or other foam pan) in that space. I am assuming I would cut a 48 X 48 down to about ~ 40 x 40 with the thinner wall. Seems like a lot of slope removed. Would that work? Or would you recommend a standard mud floor approach?

Thanks again.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 11:53 AM   #5
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Welcome back, Pete.

I would always vote for a mortar bed shower floor.

Only time I'd elect to use a foam tray is if my shower footprint and drain location were sized to perfectly fit such a foam tray and the subfloor were already perfectly level and flat and I happened to have one at hand and was in a big hurry and someone else was paying for the foam and we didn't care if the slope was not correct.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 12:14 PM   #6
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Even if you picked up only 3" in the shower, Pete, that's huge for a shower IMO. Could easily mean the difference between bumping your elbows against the walls, or not. If you intend to keep the tub I'd probably not make it any shorter than the standard 60, because that's already too short for many people.

The foam pans can be a good solution, but they have their drawbacks. Generally, regardless of size they are all cut out of the same thickness of foam. Schluter, from what I've read here, uses a 1 1/8" thick blank. So the entire perimeter is 1 1/8" regardless of the width by length. Also constant is the thickness of the pan at the drain opening which is, I think, 1/4". Therefore, a 36X36 foam pan with those two constants will have more slope than a 48X48 pan using the same constants.

Another tricky bit is that the sub floor you place the pan on must be flat and very, very level because the slope of the pan is set. Given the same constants above, a smaller pan will have more slope than a larger one, and will therefore tolerate a floor that is a bit out of level and still drain ok, than will a larger pan. Keep in mind that the minimum recommended slope is 1/4" per foot.

If you use, say, a 48X48 pan for a 40X40 floor you'd need to cut the same amount off of all 4 sides in order to keep the perimeter the same height. If you use a pan that is too small for the footprint, and need to fill in with deck mud, ya might as well do the whole thing with deck mud. If your drain isn't centered, and you don't intend to make it so, deck mud.

There's also the custom made foam pan route, which is the way I went. Using a foam pan can present fewer obstacles to building a curbless shower, which is also the way I went.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 02:44 PM   #7
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Thanks on the advice and opinions. I am not sold on foam, mud, curbless, or curbed so all opinions are good.
@CX
I see the benefits of a mud pan as you point out. However, for a DIYer who may do this a few times would your opinion be different? In other words would the learning curve, ease, and the likelihood of success for the DIYer be a lot greater or not so much?

@Dan
The custom foam pan sounds interesting. I googled that and did not seem that expensive compared to a standard Schluter pan. Would you recommend those pans, and who did you use? Do you say that is a better option than cutting down a pan? You brought up a good point about keeping a tub or not, I know that getting rid is an option. Another realtor question. That would open up all kind of shower possibilities. There is a small tub in the other bathroom updstairs. Fine for kids.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 04:32 PM   #8
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Pete, when I did my master bath I wanted curbless shower, and decidedly not a standard size. The only way I could pull it off was a foam pan. At the time USG was in the business of offering shower water proofing products and part of that portfolio was custom sized made to order foam shower pans, and additionally one could specify almost any location for the drain. Still, their pans were subject to the same constraints I mentioned above.

USG ain't in that business anymore. But, another company, I believe called Built with Foam, is providing custom sized foam pans. I did not feel the custom pan I bought (approx 42X84 inches) was unreasonably priced. If you can buy an off-the-shelf foam pan and cut it equally on all sides to make it fit, and still have enough slope I think that's a reasonable option. If you can't, and need to add deck mud somewhere, just do the whole thing in deck mud.

I also eliminated the tub. There's a real estate agent in the family; according to her and the other research I did, as long as there's still a standard size tub in the house most buyers will be ok with that. Most; ya can't make everyone happy. I feel like the lack of a tub in there is more than offset by a much larger vanity.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 05:03 PM   #9
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Same opinion be you a tile contractor or DIYer, Pete. We've had probably many hundred DIY visitors here by now who have done their very first deck mud on their very first shower project. There are sometimes some glitches with their first one, nothing they couldn't recover from even if it required a second try. The materials are dirt cheap and you can even do a test mockup using just damp sand to get a feel for it if you want. Ain't no rocket surgery involved. Better shower floor product every time in the end. You'll do a sloped mortar bed in about the same time you'd spend trying to use a self-leveling product to make a subfloor suitable for your expensive foam tray.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 05:24 PM   #10
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Thanks again definitely some things to think about.
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