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Unread 12-05-2020, 08:29 PM   #1
HilltopRehab
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Small Master Bath Remodel - Seeking Layout & Build Advice

My name is Steve, I found this site via Reddit's home improvement section and have been lurking and reading the more in-depth discussions for a few months now.

My wife and I are in our first home for over two years now, it's a 1958 2-story colonial, only odd note about the construction is that the first floor walls are CMU with the second story being stick built on top. The construction is 2x10 joists, 3/4"x3" T&G plank subfloor perpendicular over the joists, 2x4 bearing walls, and 2x3 partition walls, all 16" o.c.. We have remodeled the entire first floor with kitchen down to studs, two beam installations (with input from a professional engineer of course) to open up the layout given a pretty low count of square ft, and of relevance here I did my first tiling in the tiny powder room with a basic square tile floor (bonus trickiness for doing it in a 45-degree diamond layout that the wife wanted), then did the subway tile kitchen backsplash myself which goes to the ceiling above the sink and the range. Wish I found the site earlier! But I'm happy with those jobs so far and feeling ready to get into the shower system.

What brings me to post:
The bathrooms are all very small including the 3/4 master and the full hall. They are/were original, and the master shower was a corner setup, 33"x33" internal size, with 2x3 stud framing on two sides. It was dark in there and while we saw no obvious signs of leaks, I was always too wary to use it much and my wife preferred the shub in the hall bath from day 1 anyway. We had the pink hall bathtub refinished to white, and painted the pink tile walls and floors white, blasphemy I know but it was just to get by for awhile. It's not terrible but I need to remodel the master so that we can start using it while remodeling the hall.

We've been stuck in design analysis paralysis awhile, and I'm hoping that some discussion here can help me iron out the plan so that I can get into building it.

My thinking is that the ease of the Kerdi system will be worth the cost. With how small the room is, I want to do Ditra heat as well for the added touch of luxury. I don't want to do natural stone, it'll be kept simple with probably a 2" hexagon or 1" penny round floor, and some larger format on the wall and in the shower. If possible I will simply replace all of the tile that was there, and retain the upper plaster walls. Main reason that I would possibly replace the plaster walls would be to replace the insulation on the exterior walls (which are the 8 ft. 3 in. wall and the 6 ft wall). But I hate dealing with plaster and the rock lath that it's covering, so I'd much prefer to avoid that. I have an idea to do the wall tiles horizontally, but turn them vertical in the shower where they run up to the ceiling.

I've already gutted the room, with the exception of the plaster wallboard as mentioned. The original tile was a beastly installation - rock lath substrate, really thick, wire mesh everywhere. The lead shower pan held up pretty well for 60 years, but the subfloor underneath was definitely damaged. See pics.

The wall of the shower and toilet is shared with the hall bath, with the main sewer vent stack running up between the two toilets. That wall is actually 2x6 for the stack. The 8 ft. 3 in. wall is shared with the bedroom hallway.

So, some questions for discussion:
We had been thinking how great a zero-threshold shower would be for such a small room, but I'm a little nervous about it. I have to replace subfloor anyway so dropping it between the joists for the shower doesn't really make me nervous, mostly its the risk of splash-out or the potential for lack of containing the water inside what will be a pretty small shower. Using a glass corner shower I think we can take the whole footprint of the old design and get a 36 or 38 inch square shower, or perhaps we might consider the neo angle given the tight layout.

The toilet drain required nonstandard joist layout and that's why there's a patch of subfloor running differently from the rest. I'm thinking that the right thing to do is replace all of the subfloor, but I'm a little unsure of what that looks like at the wall intersections, aside from a few threads on here where someone did it. This is my biggest hangup right now, as far as how to proceed. The 2x10 joists under the shower span 8 ft, the rest of the bathroom joists span 12 ft. For what it's worth, the wall that is 6 ft 1.5 in overhangs the first floor CMU wall by about 10 inches which I'm taking out of those span numbers.

I'd like to put the vanity plumbing in the wall, but it's an exterior wall and I know that's typically a no-no. Maybe some creative routing can produce a reliable result while also freeing up the under-sink space I'm seeking?

The baseboard heat is something I'll probably have my HVAC contractor remove and run below floor in the bathroom over to where it continues into the bedroom, with the possible exception of a hydronic kickspace heater under whatever vanity we end up with. Radiant floor heat should do well.

The old shower drain used a canister trap and it's shot, so I am thinking that's where I need to start - the drain sets the elevation for the whole floor. Right?

The shower plumbing ran up the old shower wall, so I want to move that to the 2x6 wall or possibly the 2x3 wall. Again I've read about how the right thing to do is to turn that into a 2x4 wall for the shower so that I could fit the valve as well as a niche if desired.

The only possible layout change would be to move the shower to the opposite corner where the vanity was. But the window poses a problem and the solution is unlikely something I want to deal with in this project. I'm open to suggestions though.

Anyways check out the photos, any advice is much appreciated, and I'll log my progress. Ugh I see that the last photo is sideways, sorry about that, unsure of the cause...
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Last edited by HilltopRehab; 12-06-2020 at 02:21 PM.
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Unread 12-07-2020, 09:41 AM   #2
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Hi Steve, Welcome.

I think if you broke your questions up a little, making more posts but fewer questions each time, you would get better response. I'm not as young as I once was, and I lost track of what's going on about halfway through your post.

I will say, though, that I don't think a zero curb shower is the way to go in your situation. For one thing, it the door has to open that close to the outside floor there will be no room for a mat or rug there, which I think you will definitely need. I would plan on a low curb.
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Unread 12-07-2020, 02:19 PM   #3
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Hi Steve,
I'll be watching this thread closely since I have a similar setup. Did you use the diamond blade approach to remove the plaster?

I was also considering curbless to gain back some space. Based on how cracked the floor already is and how leaky the current shower is, I'm bracing to have to replace the subfloor as well, and would go curbless (we have enough space for a standard sliding door).

If not curbless, for sure a low curb. I don't really get why one would bother with the 3 stacked 2x4 curb that appears everywhere.
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Unread 12-07-2020, 04:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark
I don't really get why one would bother with the 3 stacked 2x4 curb that appears everywhere
It's generally a code issue, Mark, at least in my neck of the woods. Code for my location states that if there is a curb, the top of it must be 2" above the finished height of the shower drain grate. If there is no curb, no such requirement.
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Last edited by cx; 12-07-2020 at 07:00 PM. Reason: Repair quote
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Unread 12-11-2020, 11:05 PM   #5
HilltopRehab
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The quote reply button isn’t there for me but maybe it’s due to my newb level.

Hey John thank you for the welcome. I realized about halfway through writing the post that it was a bit rambling, so I will go back and edit to make it easier to understand. I kind of figure I will have to follow up as I get into it, and if nothing else wanted to post so soon just to get my thoughts in one place.

Great point about the door, I hadn’t thought about the fact that most curbless showers are door-less or use the sliding door option. Hm. I’d have to put the rug in front of the vanity and rely on the floor heating to deal with it.
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Unread 12-11-2020, 11:07 PM   #6
HilltopRehab
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Regarding plaster removal - I used a small sledge and a chisel along with the usual hammer and flat bar to get the plaster wall system out. I cut the edges and corners with a carbide recip saw to get the wire mesh free first.
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Unread 12-12-2020, 09:23 AM   #7
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Welcome, Steve.

The Quote button was removed from this site many years ago due to overuse. You can still quote salient portions of other posts, though. Go to the FAQ or the Liberry and you'll find a brief tutorial on how to post and properly attribute quotes when they'd be helpful in making your points. Very simple once you see it.
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Unread 12-14-2020, 07:19 PM   #8
HilltopRehab
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CX
Welcome, Steve.

The Quote button was removed from this site many years ago due to overuse. You can still quote salient portions of other posts, though. Go to the FAQ or the Liberry and you'll find a brief tutorial on how to post and properly attribute quotes when they'd be helpful in making your points. Very simple once you see it.
Got it, thanks for the heads up. More places should do this! I know exactly the type of overuse you mean...
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Unread 12-14-2020, 07:32 PM   #9
HilltopRehab
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Getting the hang of this forum a little more now, I see editing is time constrained. That's okay no matter.

Looking back at some of the inspiration photos of curbless showers, I do see lots with swinging doors. Still thinking on the ramifications of that, though. I suppose a curb removes some risk and in most cases a fair amount of extra work, but in my case maybe not.

The top of the closet flange is about 2 inches above the existing subfloor - the old floor system was that thick. So for this bathroom I could use a nominal 1/2" thick tile on Ditra heat at 1/4", over top of 3/4" OSB and still be 3/4" below the top of the flange. I suppose I would then cross-lay 1/2" OSB in addition to the 3/4" to raise the floor enough - thoughts?

All that to say, it seems as though this bathroom falls into the "raise the floor" category of curbless showers which is a little simpler. In fact, is my closet flange too high?
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Unread 12-14-2020, 09:01 PM   #10
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Without knowing your plan for the shower it's difficult to advise much on the bathroom floor, but by far the very best floor you could make for your tile installation would be using deck mud. That would allow you to make the floor exactly the height you need, including for the existing WC flange, make it dead flat and make it level if you want (tile don't care if it's level, just cares that it's flat).

If you decide to use layers of engineered wood instead, I'd advise you to use exterior glue plywood with no face of grade lower than C as your topmost layer. And if you're not gonna use a method that allows you to adjust the final floor height, I'd recommend you remove the existing WC flange and install a new one after your tile installation is finished.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 12-15-2020, 07:30 AM   #11
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While I'll be among the first to endorse the installation of a curbless shower, Steve, there are some "gotcha's". Among the largest is if a frameless door will be needed and/or wanted.

If the shower foot print is such that a frameless door is required to contain the splashing water then that door will almost certainly require a sweep and, to be effective, that sweep will need to be within about 1/16th of the floor. Trouble with that is it leaves no room for a bath mat outside the shower because the door must swing outwards. A sliding door might solve that problem but only if the shower foot print can accommodate one.
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Unread 12-20-2020, 10:58 AM   #12
HilltopRehab
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CX
by far the very best floor you could make for your tile installation would be using deck mud. That would allow you to make the floor exactly the height you need, including for the existing WC flange, make it dead flat and make it level if you want
Initially when you posted this I was of the mindset that no way, I’m not messing with deck mud. But I’ve spent some time researching to get a little more familiar, and you’re right - especially with my oddly placed drain. I think there’s deck mud in my future, even if just for the shower floor.

As for the layout, we’re still discussing the curb-free vs low curb options. But we’re starting to lean towards the neo shape, albeit somewhat unconventional - with the door on one of the short walls rather than the angle wall. This would be a neo with a little more space than the typical layout - a 38” square shower with 24” short walls and about a 20” diagonal wall. I’ve laid this out with cardboard to get a feel for it opposite a 30” wide 18” deep vanity - the path between is only about 24” so I think we will have to shrink the plan for the vanity unfortunately. In fact anything but a pedestal might be wishful thinking...

Status update at this point is that I’ve removed the wiggly planks at the toilet location, I have a plan I need to execute to shore that framing up and get it patched with plywood. You can see how much of the floor overhangs the wall below - I previously sealed the overhang with XPS from the porch below.
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Unread 03-16-2021, 03:07 PM   #13
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Ok time for some actual questions. Update- the copper drains have been replaced, I stuck with copper and I'm leaving the closet flange since it's in fine shape.

I have about 1-3/4" between the subfloor and the bottom of the closet flange. I'm figuring on a buildup of 10 mm tile, 1/8" thinset, 1/4" Ditra-heat, 1/8" thinset, on top of a bonded deck mud layer of about 3/4" which will bring the finished floor up to the bottom of the flange and leave me some tolerance in the deck mud of being over 3/4" thick.

1. Is that buildup dimensionally sound in concept? I'm looking at a 2" hex tile which seems to come with a recommended 1/4" trowel notch hence my 1/8" thinset layers.

2. I haven't read much discussion on Ditra over deck mud, but I know that a Kerdi drain works with kerdi over the deck mud in the shower, so I'm thinking it's doable. Right?

3. Still debating on curbless or not but this leaves the option open. If I go for a 38" square shower, with the drain being a little offset the longest slope might be 30 inches. 1/4" per foot allows for a height differential of 5/8" between the top of the kerdi drain and the top of the Ditra. Am I thinking about that correctly? I need to get a good sketch of the buildup going.
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Unread 03-18-2021, 10:34 AM   #14
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3. Still debating on curbless or not but this leaves the option open. If I go for a 38" square shower, with the drain being a little offset the longest slope might be 30 inches. 1/4" per foot allows for a height differential of 5/8" between the top of the kerdi drain and the top of the Ditra. Am I thinking about that correctly? I need to get a good sketch of the buildup going.
Expanding on this thought process... If the floor deck mud is 7/8" and the thinset is 1/8", then the Ditra-heat surface would be at 1-1/4" above the subfloor. Subtracting the 5/8" required for slope means the drain height needs to be 1-3/8" above the tops of the joists, or 5/8" above a 3/4" plywood shower subfloor. So I'm about 1/8" too thin at the drain to be able to go curbless without recessing the floor... Hm.

Kerdi offers a ramp to go up to a curbless threshold, I wonder if I'm crazy/stupid to think about sloping the deck mud up as it approaches the shower perimeter so that I can avoid the recessed subfloor. Worth the topographical headache? Hard for me to say. We love the idea of this tiny bathroom gaining some perceived feeling of additional spaciousness, but we're not married to the idea and it's really hard to know how much that feeling will be noticeable.
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Unread 04-17-2021, 05:01 PM   #15
HilltopRehab
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I'm tempted to start a new thread because my first post is such a wall of text, but hopefully people scroll down.

At this point I'm thinking that I can either remove the entire subfloor and level flatten a new 3/4" subfloor, and then do:
  • Shower floor using deck mud around a kerdi drain
  • Rest of floor using another 3/4" plywood underlayment plus Ditra-heat

I'm also thinking that all the walls will get new sheetrock and I'll Kerdi the shower walls as well as the shower floor - save a little vs. kerdi board and simplify the process of hanging the new drywall.

With this, I could go curbless and have more than 1/4" slope per foot. However I could also choose to do a thin curb - I'm seeing that a 2x4 on its edge is acceptable, anecdotally - if I want more protection from splash-out and the threshold for what will be a swinging door.

Looking at a 2" hex mosaic floor throughout. Thin curb would require something else like custom quartz pieces or similar.

I've drawn this out to help me visualize and plan it. Red is the ditra/kerdi which would also go over the deck mud, of course. Blue is the 2x4 curb option. The closet flange is off to the left there. Any corrections on thickness are helpful. I hope the image can be clicked on and enlarged... edit: it can't be clicked on, but it can be opened in a new tab by itself at full resolution.
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