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Unread 04-01-2007, 09:27 PM   #1
cjmartin315
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Swanstone Retrofit Shower Base Install Advice and some hints on Warmly Yours Install

I have tried to read all the threads on Swanstone and solid surface shower base installs before posting so at least I sounded like I was informed

The base I am looking at purchasing is a 32x60 Solid surface left drain retrofit base. I currently have a one piece 32x60 tub/shower surround that will go. I understand that I should use plastic behind the 1/2" Hardibacker and make sure that it comes over the pan flange. I install the concrete backer board to the top of the flange and then install the tile within 1/8" of the surface of the pan and fill the gap with good quality caulk. I will be installing 6x6 tile with thinset about 7 feet up. I have learned here to bed the pan in mortar mix about an inch thick or so making sure that it is well seated and LEVEL.

So here are my questions that are left...

How does the Swanstone drain work? What will I end up having to do to get my current tub (and shower) drain plumbing (also left drain) to work with the shower pan? The house is 15 years old and has PVC for drains. My floor joists run along the 60" dimension of the tub (if this helps). I have not torn the current one out so I dont have much info more than this. It is a second floor install without access below (well at least easy access).

For a three sided shower alcove, I have read here that some use caulk in corners instead of grout. Is this common practice? It seems to make sense as my dad has a big handicapped roll in shower done and they grouted the corners and they also have some level of cracking after 1 year.

I am thinking about installing a warmly yours floor heater under the floor tile. I was wondering what people out there were using for a a leveling compound to create a good surface to thinset the tiles to? I plan on doing it in two stages, float a layer of leveling material above the fiberglass mesh and then thinset the tile as the following step.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for a great site,
Jay
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Unread 04-01-2007, 10:18 PM   #2
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Welcome, Jay.

You'll get a drain with the purchase of that Swanstone pan. It acts much like a bolt and nut. You drop the drain body through the top of the pan's hole and screw on the nut from below. A bead of silicone is used under the flange of the drain (in place of more traditional plumber's putty) before it's installed on the pan. It's generally easier to install this drain before setting the pan because you have easy access to both sides. Without access below the floor for your plumbing, your big challenge is setting up the p-trap and vertical drain pipe in exactly the right location before the pan is set. When you lower that heavy pan into position on the floor, you are going to have to "thread the needle", so to speak. Once the pan is in position, you fit a rubber sealing ring between the drain pipe and the drain body, then bulge it tightly between the two by screwing down what looks to be a giant castle nut. So if you can cut an access hole in the ceiling below to make these drain connections after the pan is set, you'll save yourself some aggravation.

For the setting material under the pan, you don't need a full inch of mortar under it. Full coverage of mortar under the whole pan is great, but there's no thickness requirement. Getting the pan level is what's important.

Flexible caulking in the wall corners is what's needed at all "change of planes" and allows normal expansion and contraction of each wall to occur w/o cracking.

And as far as starting with a flat surface over your warming cables/mesh, have you considered using an SLC (self leveling cement)?
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Unread 04-02-2007, 05:36 AM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply. I was afraid you might say that. In my house the bathrooms are stacked. I just got done doing the downstairs one not so long ago, but I could cut a hole in the ceiling above the downstairs tub if need be (should have done upstairs first). It is just hard to get to.

For a regular tub, isnt the drain more complicated than just a p trap? From what I recall you have a riser that connects the p trap to the tub overflow? I wasnt sure how this setup adapted to the new (non overflow setup) and what modifications I would have to make there.

As for the floor heater, a self leveling cement is what I had heard, but did not know if you had any specific reccomendations of something I could get at Lowe's or Homer.

Thanks again
Jay
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Unread 04-03-2007, 07:57 AM   #4
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For what it's worth, I installed my WYs using the one-step method - tacked the mat to the subfloor, applied the thinset, then set the tile. Careful so you don't nick the wire and remember to wire the siren and take your Ohm readings.
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Unread 04-03-2007, 08:26 AM   #5
jrseaberg
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drain

I just recently replaced my tub with a Swanstone unit. I installed the p trap and riser before setting the unit in place (without access from below), and it went OK, no problems. I would suggest having two people to lower the unit in place to make it easier; you're talking just under 100 pounds if I remember right.

Have you taken into account either notching the studs or using furring strips to bring the face of the studs out over the flange? If you notch, you will have to notch enough height clearance to slide the whole thing into the 3 wall alcove, then lower it down into place on the mortar bed.

I am pleased with how solid the base feels, and l like the clean look of the install, too.

Jim Seaberg
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Unread 04-03-2007, 05:42 PM   #6
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Chris,

Thanks for the info on the WY. I have only done one other bathroom and this one will have a more complicated design, but now you have me thinking about one stepping it. Did you put thinset down on the floor and more on back of the tile to increase the mortar bed thickness? I just got nightmares about getting the tiles bedded well and level with all that craziness below.

Jim,

Thanks for the info on the drain, it is what has me most concerned...As for setting the pan, why would I need to fir the studs out? I will be lucky to have the 3/16" around the pan when I get done demoing the current shower (and it is constrained by two outside walls and the other wall is the back of a closet which I could mokey with if need be). But even if I was able to get the full 3/16" and add the flange thickness (I am guessing 1/4", but not sure how thick the flange is???) still means that the CBU should be slightly proud of the flange. I was planning on stopping the CBU at the top of the flange and tiling the inch +/- over the flange. Can you let me know what I am missing?

One problem I will have is that one of the three walls has the toilet against it ans it will be close as it is now as the roughin is close and firring out would get me jammed up I would imagine.


Thanks for the help
Jay
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Unread 04-03-2007, 09:06 PM   #7
jrseaberg
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reason for furring out studs

If you run the CBU so that it overlaps the shower flange, the CBU will "bulge" inward, and that can make tiling more difficult, since the wall surfaces aren't flat anymore. So that is where the notch or the furring strips come in; it allows the CBU to go farther down into the pan flange.

If I remember correctly, Swanstone's instructions want the installer to leave the CBU just a bit above vertical portion of the shower flange, and then hang the tile in such a way as to be 1/8" above the horizontal part of the flange.

From most of the opinions I read here while I was preparing my installation, I gathered most felt it was a better install to NOT have the tile "unsupported" without CBU behind it. I'm guessing that with 6" tile, you would be OK, but I would seek the opinions of the pros here. DON'T go with just my input; I'm just a DIYer that is very new to tiling.

FYI... My bathroom is 7' X 7', and getting everything to fit with a floorplan that I liked was tough. I'm 1" shy of the 30" space for the toilet, but I got the inspector to clear it, since the front part of my knee wall is only 9" high. That was one of the reasons I notched my studs, and set the shower pan into the notch; it gave me about another inch of space (by notching the two end walls by 1/2" deep).

If you are open to suggestions, post some pics or drawings, and the folks here may have some good ideas/suggestions for you

Jim S.
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Unread 04-03-2007, 09:55 PM   #8
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Hi Jay,
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjmartin315
One problem I will have is that one of the three walls has the toilet against it ans it will be close as it is now as the roughin is close and firring out would get me jammed up I would imagine.
If you are going to fir-out the studs, you do it AFTER the pan is in place to avoid that problem.

Some installers like to fir the studs. It allows the moisture barrier that is tacked to the studs to hang straight down over the shower pan’s flange. Plus the backerboard can come all the way down inside the flange. It's a method that works for them, so that's fine. However, firring studs generally messes up at least one wall of the tub surround/shower surround by making it stand “proud” from the remainder of that wall in the room. Think about it, some walls are half in the tiled area and half out of the tiled area. You fir-out part of the wall, and now you have to cover the exposed edge of the backerboard. For that reason, I only fir-out studs if it's necessary to correct whacky walls that can’t be moved.

That's where some other installers like to notch the studs. By notching the studs the pan can slip "into the wall" so the backerboard remains flush with any "common walls" to the bathroom. Sounds great, but is best suited to new construction or remodeling projects that allow the stud walls to be moved tight to the shower pan. This option is particularly suited for neo-angle shower pans in remodeling or new construction because there is no “opposing wall” to re-frame, or move around.

With all that said, it sounds like your rough opening is of the correct size to simply install the pan on the floor and bring the backerboard down to just above the pan's flange (per Swanstone's directions). Like you said, there is a small amount of tile that is unsupported (between the backerboard and the pan), but with a good sealant on the bottom of the tile, it has plenty of support. Just don't try it with tiny mosiacs, eh? And I don't try smushing thinset between the tile and the pan's flange because I don't like the rigid support that would occur. I would rather have the flexible caulking sealant absorb any movement between the wall tiles and the pan.

Last note: If your framed opening is not square and your hands are tied correcting the wall, you might run into a problem with the pan’s flange standing "proud" of the backerboard. If so, you might consider notching the studs on one wall before the pan is set, then firring-out the opposite wall after the pan is set. …..something to think about if things get nutty.

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Unread 04-04-2007, 12:22 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the help! I understand now. I could fir out on two walls but the third (also an outside wall) is the same wall the toilet is on. If I fir it out it means my 12" rough in (already tight) becomes 11.5" or so meaning my toilet wont clear the wall. The other option would be to try to blend together the CBU and the drywall. I will demo the bath back to the studs I just am unsure how people deal with the transition between the two...and to increase the degree of difficulty there is a window on that same wall between the current tub/surround and the toilet. UGH! What are the ramifications of notching the studs on and outside wall? I just figured unless it was a partition wall, you wouldnt want to do that? Again any suggestions are always appreciated. I will try to post a sketch.

Thanks
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Unread 04-04-2007, 08:27 PM   #10
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If your pan fits close enough to the studs where your pan's flange is covered by the 1/2" backerboard, do yourself a favor for this particular project and don't do anything with any firring or notching.

Only do those things if you need to tweak a tight pan into place, or fill-in some space for a loose fitting pan.

And a sketch certainly would be helpful.
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Unread 04-05-2007, 05:38 AM   #11
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cj

Another thing to think about is the size of the drain plumbing- should be 2" for a shower and to fit the Swanstone drain. Most tubs were plumbed in with 1-1/2" drains so you may need to redo it.
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Unread 04-05-2007, 05:52 AM   #12
cjmartin315
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As for the drain, I would bet that you are right. Is it acceptable to solvent weld an adapter (1.5" to 2") and then stub 2" to the rough in drain location? or do I need to run a complete new drain line? If I need to run a new drain line I could be in big trouble...but maybe not, I gotta think abou this one. I will make sketch tonite and try to post it.

Thanks again for all the help!
Jay
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