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Unread 03-18-2007, 11:07 PM   #1
river-wear
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Michele's first shower project

Hi everybody,

I'm the appointed "designer" (and project instigator) in my house. My hubby can't wait to start demolition on the master bath when he gets back from his business trip. I'm having a hard time getting materials together because after reading tons of posts on this wonderful site, I still don't know if we should use the full Schluter/Kerdi system or just the drain.

A little background: we've successfully tiled several floors and just finished our first tub/shower installation a couple months ago. We found that tiled walls were a little tougher to get nice & flat, but are very happy with the results. I was particularly happy to learn about Kerdi on this site. And my copy of John's book should arrive later this week!

What should I consider when deciding whether to do the mud job or buy the Kerdi pan. The shower is going to be about 48" x 30" for the floor area, so a pre-formed pan would have to be cut. I think we're going to use ceramic/porcelain tiles for the walls with glass tile in the niche (design isn't done yet). I don't know what to put on the floor yet...

Suggestions please?
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Unread 03-18-2007, 11:20 PM   #2
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Welcome, Michelle.

You either want to use the whole Kerdi Shower System, or none of it. The drain is of no advantage to you unless you use the rest of it.

The primary advantage of the Kerdi system is that your shower is waterproofed directly behind the tiles, including the floor.

Traditional mud/liner/mud shower pans work fine when correctly built and can last many decades, but you do always have a moist mud bed under the tiles. The Kerdi drain and membrane eliminates that, and does the same on the walls.

Downside to the Kerdi is the cost, but for a DIY project where you are saving all the labor costs, that shouldn't be much of a deterrent. It requires a substantial attention to detail, but it's not rocket science, either.

For Kerdi showers with a footprint that's not nearly exactly the right size and shape for a Kerdi tray I recommend you just do a custom mud pre-slope and not bother with the tray at all.

In addition to John's book, I'd strongly suggest you download (for ten bucks) his Kerdi eBook. Even if you elect not to use the Kerdi system, that's cheap education for helping make the decision.

Either way, our pros and helpful Members have helped many, many dozens of total newbies build successful showers using both methods and they'll do the same for you.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-19-2007, 09:22 AM   #3
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Thanks, CX! (I've ready so many of your posts, it seems I should know your name... sorry!)

So if I'm understanding you correctly, I should use the whole Kerdi system EXCEPT the pan? We'd do the mud/liner/mud for that, and still use the drain?

I'll download the Kerdi book tonight after work - hopefully that will give me the details on how to do the pre-slope and pan.
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Unread 03-19-2007, 09:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele
Thanks, CX! (I've ready so many of your posts, it seems I should know your name... sorry!)
Is easy, Michele, my name's CX.

No, no, no, you misunderstand. If you use the Kerdi system, you use the whole system. But you substitute a custom built mud pre-slope for the styrofoam "tray" if your shower floor is not the same size as one of Schluter's standard sizes.

Still a Kerdi shower with all the required Kerdi components (essentially the membrane and drain) installed in your custom size.

You can buy the tray and cut it to fit if you like. I just don't see that as a good approach to non-standard floor sizes.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-19-2007, 10:47 AM   #5
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I did a kerdi shower.

I will say this: it's an incredibly forgiving process. Perfect for an ambitious diyer. I think the cost was well worth it (and the cost is peanuts compared to the price of yr tiles and fixtures).

There's 3 parts to the Kerdi system: tray, membrane, drain. You kind of HAVE to use the membrane and drain together (or neither).

The tray is optional and should only be used if your floor is exactly the right size. If you cut it, you 'have to' cut it symmetrically on all 4 sides. If you don't, the cut sides will 'smile' up at the corners. I put 'have to' in quotes, bkz cutting the tray non-symmetrically only makes an AESTHETIC - not functional - difference. There are ways to cut the first row of tiles to accomodate the 'smile'. IMHO, 48x30" is too drastic of a cut, though. I'd do mud.

30" will be tight though. No way to make the shower deeper?
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Unread 03-19-2007, 11:31 AM   #6
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I wasn't too clear at first...

I figured the Kerdi membrane is a given. We used it on the last project (because of the endorsements here and because hubby had forgotten the vapor barrier behind the CBU ). I guess I didn't realize or momentarily forgot you can do the mud pre-slope and then kerdi THAT for the pan. Sounds like that will be the way to go. And I really don't mind the expense for the peace of mind!

Unfortunately I can't make the shower any deeper (well, maybe 2") so it doesn't get too close to the toilet across from it. The current shower is exactly that size and it doesn't feel cramped to me. The 30" dimension is the inside measurement to the curb.

BTW - is 6" the standard width of a finished shower curb? That seems to be what I have now. Am I better off making our own curb from 2x4s instead of spending $80+ on the Kerdi curb? Or maybe I should say, is it worth buying the foam curb for some reason?
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Unread 03-19-2007, 12:10 PM   #7
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Not worth it to buy the foam curb. Just make yr own.
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Unread 03-24-2007, 03:42 PM   #8
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new question - glass/kerdi

I'm finalizing my design and ran into a new question. I've read in here somewhere a discussion about using glass tile in a Kerdi shower. I know it isn't recommended, so I'm torn. I really want to use Kerdi but I also REALLY want to use some glass tile in the shower... This is what I'd do ideally: use ceramic for the shower walls but tile the inside of the niche, the shower pan and curb with 1x1" glass mosaic. The glass is opaque, so hiding the orange fleece wouldn't be too bad.

I'm more concerned about the reasons why Schluter doesn't like glass on its product. I suppose it's more related to the ability of the thinset to cure? Also, Oceanside Glass recommends using thinset such as Laticrete 254 or Hydroment ReFlex Ultra Premium Latex Modified thinset. I know Schluter says to use unmodified.

Do I need to eliminate one of my choices to make this work? Any advice would really be appreciated.
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Unread 03-24-2007, 04:29 PM   #9
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Unfortunately, your homework has brought you accurate information.

I think it's fairly well accepted that most of the admonitions by the glass manufacturers, thinset manufacturers, and waterproofing membrane manufacturers is mostly directed toward larger tiles than your little-bitty ones.

I think the only thing I'd eliminate from your perspective is any hope of a warranty on your installation from anyone but yourownself.

Were I in your shoes, doing my own shower, I'd follow the recommendations of the glass manufacturer to the letter and let the devil take the hindmost.

But with larger tiles I would hafta rethink the use of a waterproofing membrane.

My opinion; worth price charged. Same value on my warranty.
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Unread 03-24-2007, 04:40 PM   #10
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Michelle - I wasn't aware that Schluter didn't recommend glass. I don't know why you couldn't use it. I know glass manufacturers tend to be pretty picky about install procedures, but I'm purty sure I've seen others here use it over Kerdi.

but wait - did I see glass for the floor? I do think that would be a problem and not because of the Kerdi. Can't recall seeing that one before.

The reason Schluter doesn't like modified is more related to larger tiles on plastic membrane. Modifieds need air to cure. When you put modified between large tiles and plastic it simply slows down the cure process. sometimes a LOT. But it will eventually cure.

But with a mosaic there is plenty of room to breathe, though you still want to give it a few days before you grout.
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Unread 03-24-2007, 05:20 PM   #11
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Hey Michelle,

Regarding your 30" x 48" shower size. I know you mentioned being fine with your other shower of the same size but what if some big rascal like me visits and takes a shower. I'd get stuck if I ever dropped the soap. : :

I struggled with shower size in buiding my shower.I ended up with 17.5 " from commode centerline to showerwall studs which is fine I think.I finally sqeaked out 33" x 37" with the shower handles on the 37" wall. I consider this absolute min. for a big guy like me. I also figured with all the time,work, and money I'm putting into this shower,and the cool tile and design I want, I wanted it as big as possible.

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Unread 03-24-2007, 05:32 PM   #12
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Thank you for the encouragement, CX! Since this is our own project, I don't really expect a warranty anyway. The "forgiving" nature of itty-bitty tiles will be great. Now I can't wait to get started.

This is a weekend & evening project, so even the 4 week wait for the tiles shouldn't be a problem. (Now that I have the confidence to order them!)

Art - maybe you're thinking of some glass that is too thin for floors. I know I have to be careful to make sure what I picked is suitable. But it's also low-traffic, bare feet only.
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Unread 03-24-2007, 05:36 PM   #13
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Donnie - I'm going to see if I can push the 30" side out to at least 32". That's to the inside of the curb, so "arm space" will be 2" bigger in any case. The opening of the shower is across from the toilet, so the 16" centerline to wall code requirement isn't the limiting factor. My "contractor" half is 6'4" with long monkey arms so we'll make sure big guys fit.

I'll post some pitchers to share the fun once we get rolling!
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Unread 03-24-2007, 05:48 PM   #14
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Hi Michelle,

I wouldn't use the glass tiles on the floor. Use them in the niche. Find a small ceramic or porcelain tile for the floor. Small glass tiles are usually quite sharp on their edges. I've only used them under extreme protest.

If you have downloaded the Kerdi book you'll see how I build curbs that are much narrower than six inches. You can gain a couple more inches that way. You can build the curb lower than normal, too.
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Unread 03-24-2007, 05:59 PM   #15
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Hi John! Thanks for signing my tile book! I have downloaded the Kerdi book but haven't sat still quite long enough to do more than skim through so far. I was wondering about making the curb narrower. Two sides of the shower will have a curb so that could definitely free up some space.

You picked up on the concern in the back of my mind about the glass, too. This is one of those "handmade" style tiles with irregular edges... Hmmm. Maybe I could get away with it on the curb? Ya think? I want to do the right thing, but it has to be pretty too.
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