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Unread 10-09-2020, 01:45 PM   #1
cbaum
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Charlie's first bathroom remodel - Project thread

Hi folks! Been lurking awhile and finally joined. Great informative forum you got here, just bought the kerdi shower book and am actually printing it out at Staples to use as a reference for when I remodel my shower.

My shower plan is to get myself the Kerdi 38" x 60" offset drain pan with the square drain and make it a curbless shower. My question is on tiling.

What would be the largest tiles you'd recommend tiling onto their pre-formed and sloped shower pans? I am wondering if I can tile the entire bathroom in one tile pattern or should I use smaller tiles in the pan and then larger surrounding it.

Somewhat related, My shower enclosure will only be about 52" long but the pan is 60". I'd rather not cut the pan and have one side of the pan that is a different height than the rest. So that's why I'd prefer to use the same tile so you don't notice 10" of the differently tiled shower sticking out past the enclosure. Leaning toward larger tiles for the bathroom floor, like 6x24 perhaps or 6x12 but not sure yet. Thanks for any advice!

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Unread 10-09-2020, 01:56 PM   #2
jadnashua
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To conform to the pan's slopes, often a 4x4 tile is about the biggest you can use.

But, on the manufactured pans, you do have four actually flat surfaces, so if you made a grout joint fall on those 'creases', you could use a larger tile.

The hassle with larger tile in a shower is that often, the grout joints are what give you the best anti-slip...with a larger tile, it not only doesn't conform to the (often, not in this case) bowl shape, but also provides fewer grout joints so it then becomes more important to pick a tile that has better grip when wet.

With a curbless shower, you generally want to continue the waterproofing out into the room, at least some if not the whole bathroom. Ditra is what Schluter calls for out in those areas, but that is thicker than Kerdi, presenting a little problem to continue the tile across the threshold.

It would probably be easier to use a centered drain and cut the same off each end as then the height difference would be less than chopping it all off one. If you did a mud pan, you could keep your heights all at a level you wanted which would probably work better for you. It would save money, even if you ended up doing the mud pan a few times (which most people don't) if the first one doesn't meet your desires...deck mud is dirt cheap in comparison to the foam pans, unless you add in the labor costs, and is much more adaptable to the specific circumstances unless it can fit without changes. FWIW, your floor under where the shower is going must be perfectly flat and level or made that way prior to installing the pan whereas, deck mud doesn't really care.
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Unread 10-09-2020, 02:25 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply. Didn't even occur to me about the grout lines and grip. I think that is a big consideration. Thanks for the heads up. May stick to 3x3 or 4x4 tile for that reason.

As for the floor, the bathroom currently has what appears to be about 7/8" of concrete underlayment and the tile is set right in that. If there is thinset it's not readily visible from my visual inspection at the air vent opening. So the plan was to take out the concrete entirely. Then if necessary, recess the pan using the method in a kerdi youtube video, then build up the surrounding floor with OBS/plywood, and use ditra on the entire floor minus the shower obviously. I'd run the kerdi membrane probably 2-3ft in both directions out from the shower pan seam for waterproofing.

I'd like to avoid a mud shower if possible. I have zero experience with any masonry. I doubt I'd get the slope right. I just don't have the confidence that I could get it done. The kerdi seems much more user friendly to me and so I'm leaning toward it. I know it's a bit more expensive, but the pan is only around $125 and then there's some membrane and corners, etc and in the grand scheme of a new vanity, tub, toilet, tile, it's nothing. I might give Schluter a call and see which scenario is more favorable:
A - Buy the 38x60 off center drain and cut 10" off one end and 2" off each side. This will require me moving the drain 10" toward the wall.
B - Buy the 48x72 center drain pan, cut 10" off one end, 20" off the other, and 7" off each side and leave the drain where it is.

My shower enclosure plans to be 34x52. The drain is 20" from the wet wall.
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Unread 10-09-2020, 02:54 PM   #4
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Deck mud, when mixed right, is like wet beach sand...you don't pour it, you dump it, then pack it down. Basically, you draw a level line around the shower, pack mud in that area using a level and a mallet on top to tamp it down straight and level, then fill in between there and the drain, and using a screed stick, with one end on the ridge around the edge, and the other end on the drain, you level it all off. If you're not going to go with bigger tile, you end up making the surface more of a bowl, but can shape it like four flat triangles if you wish. So between pouring, packing, and screeding, it isn't as hard as it might seem. The stuff is heavy, but it's cheap, and you could do a trial one first, maybe outside on a piece of ply with some 2x material attached for practice.

Most people prefer the drain in the middle of their shower, but it can work offset. That also means that the slope can get extreme, if it's too close to a wall, though, if you try to keep a level perimeter. Another option would be to use a linear drain, then you can just make a single slope to it.
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Unread 10-09-2020, 04:50 PM   #5
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I've never installed a Foam pan but if the creases extend from the corners to the drain and you cut the foam off on one end or both, the creases will no longer go to the corners on the cut ends.

This is deck mud. As you can see, you carve the mud where you want it to be. The stick has a notch that equals the tile thickness plus about 1/16 for thinset. This mud is homemade, 5 all purpose sand to 1 portland cement.
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Unread 10-09-2020, 06:02 PM   #6
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So what I’m gathering is advice away from Kerdi only because of the custom nature of my shower pan size? I know the Kerdi site says they are cutable but maybe that is less than ideal? Was hoping to do a full kerdi shower and utilize all the videos and documents they have for it. Whereas pouring a pan, seems like every video I watch does it different. I’ve seen some use quickrete which was rather wet and they had to float it and others that use a very dry mortar.

I also think the level of difficulty rises significantly since ideally I’d like a curbless shower. I certainly don’t want to cut into my joists nor can I build up the shower floor high enough for a proper height mortar pan. Lots to think about but I very much appreciate the replies so far.
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Unread 10-09-2020, 06:13 PM   #7
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A conventional shower with a liner will end up a lot thicker than one with a sheet membrane because you need two layers, each thick enough to stay together. While the industry wants deck mud moderately thick, over a wooden subfloor, people generally succeed with it about 3/4" thick underneath the drain. If the drain was centered, in a 54" long shower, you'd have a bit over 1/2" thicker at the edges. Personally, I'd not feel comfortable without that outer section being at least 1.5" thick, so that would raise your drain some, too.

Now, plumbing code gets a little behind reality...some inspectors will want there to be at least a 2" drop from the outside or curb on a shower to the top of the drain. You need to discuss this with your local inspector. A very shallow curb could make him happy. Sometimes, people will make a ramp to create a taller entry that you could still walk into without a physical curb.

If you want to stick with a foam tray, there are at least a couple of companies that will mill one for you to your exact specifications, including the drain placement. You could then cover it with Kerdi sheet membrane and continue with your Kerdi shower.
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Unread 10-10-2020, 06:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie
I also think the level of difficulty rises significantly since ideally I’d like a curbless shower.
So true, Charlie. Doing a curbless shower in my bathroom added a ton of work. It was worth it but, wow.

Another option is to recess the subfloor between the floor joists and then set the pan on that. But as mentioned above you'll need the floor to be flat and level because, and somewhat depending on size, the foam pans don't have a lot of slope carved into them. A custom foam pan, which is what I used, will most likely have an edge perimeter of 1" for the size you'll need, and it won't necessarily have the four flat surfaces that Jim described above. Mine did not.

Doing a curbless shower over wood framing without cutting down the joists will raise the finished floor height to some degree.
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Unread 10-10-2020, 08:10 AM   #9
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Do you mind providing the vendor who made your custom pan? I think I’m set on curbless so unfortunately a mortar pan is out. I have almost 1” of concrete underlayment that is coming out so that plus the estimated 1/2” I can recess the pan into the joists gives me that space I need for a foam pan. I will build up the rest of the bathroom floor with plywood and ditra (maybe even ditra xl) if I need more than 1/8”.

Design question. Would it look weird if say my shower enclosure is 34” x 54” but the pan I buy and tile is a 38” x 60”? That is the smallest center drain pan from schluter. The floor tile would be different from the shower pan tile so it would stick out a little bit from the enclosure.
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Unread 10-10-2020, 03:45 PM   #10
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When USG was still in the shower systems business they had a custom size pan option, and that's what I went with. No longer available from them, though.

However, another vendor for custom size foam pan's has emerged; https://builtwithfoam.com/product/custom-shower-base/

Of concern with BWF is their site says "The thickness at the drain will be one inch unless you specify differently" so you'll have to specify differently.

A custom size pan would solve your design question.

You're going to need a glass panel to contain the water, and remember you'll need the opening to the shower to be a minimum of 24". Ideally you'd want the glass panel to fall right on the grout line between the main floor tile and the shower floor tile. Due to lack of foresight and planning mine didn't work out that way but it doesn't look too bad. You might be able to make it out in the photo.
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Unread 10-10-2020, 03:48 PM   #11
jadnashua
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One of the site advertisers makes custom foam pans and I think it's Laticrete that will make one for you as well. There may be others. Be sure to specify the drain you intend to use so that gets cut properly.

If you can cut the same small, in your case, amount off of one of the Schluter pans around it, the difference in perimeter height is in the noise, probably less than 1/8".
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Unread 10-12-2020, 01:07 PM   #12
cbaum
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Charlie's first bathroom remodel - Project thread

Hi folks! Newcomer here and only have a few posts but I'm planning a master bath remodel this winter. Never done a remodel but I'm pretty handy at fixing things and figuring stuff out. I've watched a million videos on bathroom remodels, kerdi specific and not kerdi specicif. Where I will probably have trouble will be tiling and finishing. I will be getting John's bathroom remodel book and likely his tiling book shortly. Already got his Kerdi shower book. I do plan (hope) to do a full kerdi curbless shower with their pan but my desired shower dimensions make it unclear which pan and drain position would be best to use since I have to cut it down. I need to speak to schluter. If none are, I would likely make a curbed shower using mortar bed but really hoping not to.

Couple notes on my plan:
Kerdi boards as the shower walls
Will build up the rest of the floor with obs/plywood and a layer of ditra.
Will use kerdi membrane to handle the shower pan and floor seam and extend into the bathroom a couple feet in both directions.
Plan to finish with a frameless glass shower enclosure.

Haven't decided on any tile yet. Still working on it.

Here are a couple drawing for my current and new bathroom. They are rather unprofessional but I couldn't find any one product to do what I wanted, so I used MSpaint to finalize some stuff. Should give you an idea. I also have a youtube video of my current bathroom to give it more reference.

Questions currently:
Should I tear down to studs or just rip out what I need and transition to existing drywall where they meet up?

Any comments, advice, major suggestions welcome.

Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8d5EvkZbys
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Last edited by cbaum; 10-12-2020 at 01:14 PM.
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Unread 10-13-2020, 06:12 AM   #13
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Hi Charlie,

Unless you've already purchased the Schluter foam shower floor, I would suggest doing deck mud there. It always fits the space and drain setup you have.

I don't usually remove studs unless they are bent or twisted out of shape. I add studs, though.
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Unread 10-13-2020, 06:16 AM   #14
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Given the scope of the work, Charlie, if it were mine I'd gut it to the studs. Sometimes it simply takes more time and effort to try to patch things up, and the results of all that patching probably won't be as clean and smooth. It also offers opportunity to put studs and blocking where you need them, move/add switches and receptacles and lighting, perhaps add insulation for sound deadening, etc.

How wide is the entry door?
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Unread 10-13-2020, 06:37 AM   #15
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My problem with a mortar pan is my curbless dream goes out the window. I can't recess it enough or build up the rest of the floor enough to do curbless.

Entry door is a standard 30" door. Closet door is 18".

I had gone back and forth on tearing down to studs, but I'm leaning toward it. The ceiling in the shower is tiled so that needs to go. I just wasn't excited about ripping out and replacing the trim around the window and closet and entry doors.

Can you typically reuse trim? I guess unless there's a big gap with a lower floor I don't see why not if it's removed properly.

Also, right now the builder's tile goes up the wall one level of tile around the floor. Is it typical to put a row of tile as finishing trim or to use wood trim? The kids bathroom has wood trim. But I want the master bath to be a really nice space, a sanctuary if you will. Our kids have destroyed much of the house as kids do, but the master bath needs to be an oasis.
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