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Unread 06-01-2020, 06:02 PM   #1
zinctoo
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Frameless Door on an Outside Block Wall?

Hi folks, I hope this is the correct forum in which to post this question.

I'm in the middle of a shower remodel and my wife would really like a frameless shower door. Our shower is typical for a Florida house where the plumbing is on an inside wall and the wall opposite of this is a concrete block wall with furring strips. On the same wall as the valve is the toilet and vanity. The center of the toilet is about 18 inches away from the curb of the shower: too close for a door. If a swinging door is to be installed, the hinge side will need to be installed on the outside wall.

The outside wall is furred with 3/4" inch thick treated lumber and I've installed a 3/4x6" inch piece of treated lumber on this wall to meet the curb. I know I'll want the deadwood for something no matter what kind of door I install.

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I've read the installation instructions for several frameless doors and they all require that I attach the hinge of the door into 2 to 3 2x4"s or 2x6"s. This 3/4" lumber is attached to the wall with construction adhesive and cut nails. I tried attaching this with Tapcons but the Tapcons didn't grip well enough in the block so I just resorted to using steel cut nails, the same as is used in the furring strips. Aside from being far too thin, I don't think that this 3/4x6" board, because of how it's attached, will be able to withstand any kind of lateral forces, especially those from a big swinging glass door.

Given the construction of this shower, do I have any hope of installing a frameless door with the hinge on this outside wall?

Thank you all in advance!
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Unread 06-02-2020, 07:11 AM   #2
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Welcome, Skyler,

Hate to be the bad news messenger but, no, I'm pretty sure you're not gong to be able to hang that hinged door on to that 3/4" board. The board just isn't attached solidly enough to the block, and I'd guess it also isn't tied into the ceiling framing at the top or a sole plate at the bottom sufficiently. Additive, 3/4" just isn't enough for the hinge screws to get a good, solid bite.

What you might be able to do is reframe that wall using 2X material, but that would decrease the interior dimensions of the shower a bit.
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Unread 06-02-2020, 08:21 AM   #3
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When I redid our pool bath shower 10 years ago I had the same scenario with two walls being exterior CBU and 3/4" furring strips and a dimensional 1x8 adjacent to the curb.

I used Densguard/Denshield panels instead of cement backer board (or drywall).

The shower glass guys affixed the 72" tall x 28" wide 3/8" thick glass shower door hinges into that side with the Densguard/1x8/CBU and it's been 10 years with zero problems/movement. I was not home when they installed the shower door so I don't know what their stragedy was. The original shower door hinges were also mounted in that location.



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Unread 06-02-2020, 01:22 PM   #4
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These would anchor that board to the wall very well. As for the screws to anchor into the board, I'm not too sure about that.

Could you have a bump out right there to attach the door to and just use a 2x6 there instead?
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Unread 06-03-2020, 08:28 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies guys. I'll research Densshield/Densguard, that's an interesting idea. I'd thought about trying to attach a 2x6 to the wall and bringing the wall out a little bit in that area to support the door. I'm not sure if I'll like the look of that, but I'll sketch it out on paper and consider it.

The 1x6 that I have attached to the wall right now is attached with construction adhesive, cut nails, and Tapcons. I've never tried pulling anything off a wall that I'd previously, recently, attached with construction adhesive. Can I remove this easily? Will it damage the block wall?

Thanks again!
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Unread 06-03-2020, 12:52 PM   #6
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I would not consider Densguard/Denshield as a structural component with regard to screwing a heavy glass door into it. I was simply noting the components I used in my shower build. I explained to the shower door installers what was behind the tile and they did whatever they thought was appropriate when they installed the shower glass/door.
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Unread 06-04-2020, 09:54 PM   #7
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Why Use Bricks for a Curb?

Hi folks,

I'm working on a shower remodel and this question is pertinent to that, but I'm generally just curious about why some people prefer to build a shower curb out of bricks (or concrete) when using a PVC or CPE pan when building a shower on a slab.

The first reason that I can think of to not build a wooden curb on a slab is because building code does not allow installing untreated lumber directly against a slab. I understand that treated lumber will warp and twist as it dries, which could crack tile or grout lines, and thus I assume the thinking goes:

1. Untreated lumber is not allowed to be installed directly against a slab.
2. Treated lumber is bad for tile work.
3. Therefore, no kind of lumber can be used to build a curb on a slab.

However, this ignores the possibility of using a vapor barrier between the slab and the untreated lumber, like tar paper or 6 mil plastic. I've talked to my inspector and he's said that installing untreated lumber on a slab is fine so long as it's separated by an appropriate vapor barrier. Is this perhaps not allowed everywhere?

A second reason that I've read that some people prefer to use bricks is because if the the bricks get wet, they wont rot. I assume the idea is that if a shower's waterproofing system fails or was improperly installed, a brick curb provides an additional layer of defense from wood rot and mold. However, if a wooden curb gets wet and rots or molds, this necessarily means that the waterproofing has failed. Since the surrounding walls are wood 2x4"s or 2x6"s, and not brick, in such a situation, what's to stop the walls from rotting, too? It seems to me that using bricks for a curb is a hopeful attempt to buy time if a shower's waterproofing system fails or was improperly installed.

Are these two reasons the only two reasons for building a curb on a slab out of bricks? Are there other reasons that building a curb out of lumber on a slab, separated by an appropriate moisture barrier, is a bad idea?

Thank you in advance!
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Last edited by zinctoo; 06-04-2020 at 10:08 PM. Reason: Talk about treated vs. untreated lumber
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Unread 06-04-2020, 10:19 PM   #8
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Welcome, Skyler.

I've combined your new thread with your project thread for continuity. Always best to have all the Q&A in one place. A moderator can give it a more generic title any time you'd like to suggest one.

The only time I've ever heard of a wood framed curb failing, absent a leak from the shower, was a case where the shower was built with a direct bonded waterproofing membrane that completely encapsulated the curb and extended onto the slab outside the shower and the slab apparently had a moisture problem of some kind.

I have built many showers on concrete SOG using kiln dried lumber to frame the curb, both traditional receptor construction and direct bonded waterproofing membrane receptor construction and never experienced a similar problem. Most of mine were over my own slabs, though, so I knew just what was under them and knew there was no moisture problem.

Using CMUs instead of wood in that application could be said to be a measure to counter a slab with an excessive MVER, but I don't know what the other problem that might cause. Might be a good idea, but I don't think it's a necessity if you've checked your SOG for vapor emission before hand. But from what we know of construction methods in your fair State, might be a good idea anyway.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-05-2020, 06:10 AM   #9
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A tip for Tapcons. I don't even see any stick-built houses going up around here anymore, so here in Florida we have to deal with attaching stuff to our exterior walls.

I keep all my zip-tie cutoffs, and after I've drilled the hole, I push a piece of zip-tie in of an appropriate length, and then install the Tapcon. She bites down like a Pitbull on a postman.

I agree with whoever said 3/4" is not enough meat for the hinge screws, and if they're too long, they'll (try) push the board away from the wall.
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Unread 06-05-2020, 02:18 PM   #10
zinctoo
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Thanks everyone for your replies!

CX, regarding testing my slab for moisture, I have not done this, but I will need to at some point prior to installing my new engineered wood floor, outside of the bathroom of course. However, I may opt to use the Bostik glue with the most moisture resistance, no matter the moisture reading, just to be safe.

Is measuring for moisture content important if I plan to use tar paper as a vapor barrier between the slab and the 2x4" curb?

I thought of one other reason why folks might not want to use untreated wood with a vapor barrier: it means that it's not possible to use construction adhesive to secure it to the slab, unless you coat the entire bottom of the board with it, and then you might have a hard time getting your inspector onboard with this.

Anyway it sounds like I'm safe to use untreated wood with a vapor barrier to build my curb, but please, someone forcibly correct me if I am wrong
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Unread 06-06-2020, 06:22 AM   #11
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You're not wrong, Skyler. Poly, tar paper, etc will to the trick. When I build out my basement years ago I used poly, and used Ramset's to secure the 2X4 soles to the slab.
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Unread 06-06-2020, 11:28 AM   #12
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Some clarification there, Skyler.

By "tar paper" I'm guessing your referring to roofing felt. Roofing felt, either #15 or #30 is not a vapor barrier material. It is a good moisture barrier and in many cases in ceramic tile applications in wet areas it can be superior to an actually vapor barrier product.

Putting a layer of such felt under the kiln dried sole plates in wood construction over SOG has been an approved method for generations.

In your curb application, putting such material under your bottom plate would be acceptable to me so long as you don't plan to fully encapsulate the wood curb with a vapor retarder membrane extending well beyond the curb area. The felt will not prevent moisture vapor emissions from the slab from reaching the wood in your curb. If your curb is at least partially open to drying, you might get by over a slab with a high MVER, but might is the operative word there.

I have also built shower curbs on SOG that I knew had proper vapor barrier material below the slab using a full spread of construction adhesive and no felt or SilFoam at all. You gotta be careful with that sort of thing and you'll not likely please your code compliance inspector, if any.

You do wanna separate your kiln dried, non-treated wood from direct contact with the SOG in any case. If you have a high MVER, you need to be even more careful with your construction methods.

I recommend at least the most rudimentary MVER test on your slab before you go any further. Just cut a square of clear 6mil polyethylene sheeting about two feet on a side and tape the edges firmly to the slab near the area where you'll be working. Wait a couple days with the room at normal operating temperatures and see how much water has condensed on the underside of the poly. That will give you a good idea how much attention you need to pay to that aspect of your work and indicate whether an actual MVER test kit is something you should consider.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-08-2020, 07:42 AM   #13
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Red face

CX, thanks for your detailed reply. Unfortunately I just saw it this morning. The email notification about your post must have gotten lost in my inbox.

In either case, after all of my questions about what kind of lumber and moisture barrier to use, this weekend I ended up pouring a curb out of concrete. I would have used brick, but none of the regular stores in my city had the right sized brick for sale.

Why did I decide to pour concrete after all of my questions about wood?

I'd spent weeks in consternation about this and so many people on the web (and in books) talked about building a masonry curb on SOG, it was hard to ignore. Additionally, I re-read the building code and saw that, as you said CX, roofing felt paper (tar paper) is not a qualified vapor barrier. Even though my inspector said it would be fine, I worried about him being out sick on the day of my inspection, or changing his mind, and requiring me to redo my curb if I went with roofing felt. Plus, I didn't own any and didn't feel like spending $30 on a roll that would just sit in my garage, unused, after this project.

I just had too much uncertainty about using lumber and I thought that a concrete curb would help me sleep better at night.

I installed three pieces of vertical rebar about an inch and a half in the slab, sticking up about 3/4 of the way into the curb, and stretched a long piece horizontal rebar the width of the curb, all wired together. I used concrete bonding adhesive, brushed onto the slab and allowed to dry, to help bond the new concrete to the old.

The curb is sized exactly like three stacked 2x4"s, so I'll install my pan over it, then lath and mud just like I would with a lumber curb. Building this form, and getting the measurements and sizing exactly right, and stable, took half of Saturday and Sunday.

Fingers crossed I didn't make a painful-to-undo mistake with this one.
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Unread 06-08-2020, 09:07 AM   #14
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While I don't much favor the poured concrete curb concept, if you've sloped the top of it properly and not used too much water in the mix it should be OK. I recommend you pull the forms as early as possible and "break" the top edges of the new concrete while it's still green to make it a lot easier to fold both the waterproofing liner and the metal lath over it for your final curb mud.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-08-2020, 12:56 PM   #15
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CX, how long should I wait to tile over this curb? I've seen the standard concrete curing time listed as 28 days, but does that apply to something this small?

Also, why don't you favor poured concrete curbs? Do they cause issues with tile, or moisture, or design, etc.?

Lastly, regarding slope, I purposely made sure that the curb was level in both directions. My thinking was that three stacked 2x4"s are flat which meant that this should be too. My intention is to slope the mud towards the drain when I add the pan, lath, and mud. Was this a mistake?
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Last edited by zinctoo; 06-08-2020 at 09:53 PM. Reason: Asked about the slope
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