Building your own shower stall can save you money on contractor costs while allowing a greater degree of personal control over the design and installation process. A standard shower stall requires minimal planning and simple installation. A doorless shower stall, on the other hand, requires a good deal of forethought and very deliberate installation, all of which begins with planning. Improper planning and installation can lead to serious water leaks capable of damaging your home.
The installation of a doorless shower begins with design. Never start construction on a project without a detailed plan of the final product. Doorless showers require special consideration so that water stays within the shower area, rather than flying out the open area you enter through. A common doorless shower design entails constructing a long shower base and a partial wall opposite your bathroom wall. This partial wall prevents water from reaching your floor. The length of the shower base ensures that the area you enter through is far from the showerhead, further preventing water leakage.
If you install your doorless shower in an area already outfitted for a shower or bath, little plumbing work is required. However, in such situations, you must ensure that the placement of the drain and showerhead do not conflict with the placement of the shower opening in such a way that water can easily leak from the opening. To ensure this, orient the opening in a different direction than the showerhead, and place drain far away from the opening, directly under the showerhead. If the area where you want to install your shower contains no plumbing, you should contact a plumber to ensure proper installation of pipes, valves and the drain.
Doorless shower stall installation begins from the ground up. You face two options when it comes to your base, a pre-fabricated shower pan or a homemade base. Building a homemade base requires creating a pre-pan, pan and shower floor, bound together with metal lath and layers of mortar. When building a homemade base, outline the dimensions on the floor and build each layer – the pre-pan, the pan and the shower floor – on top of the last. Use plastic, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or chlorinated polyethylene (CPE) for the pan. When using a pre-fabricated pan, install it exactly as instructed by the manufacturer.
In most doorless shower designs, you install the shower wall as extending from, then running opposite, your bathroom wall, in a half “U” shape. You can purchase pre-fabricated glass or plastic walls to install with pre-fabricated pans, or place on top of a homemade shower base. You can also build your own wall. Many doorless showers possess walls made form a combination of glass panels and concrete, concrete blocks or a similar material. If you construct a handmade base and wall, integrate the wall into the shower curb for optimal water protection. Always seal the juncture of the shower wall and your bathroom wall with waterproof sealant or caulk.
Numerous resources exist when it comes to building your own shower stall. Magazines like “Family Handyman” and books such as “The Complete Guide to Bathrooms” contain detailed guides to shower construction. Your local library should contain any number of books with graphic, step-by-step instructions detailing shower installation. If you are unsure of your own ability to install a doorless shower, you can contact a local contractor for an installation price quote and additional information.
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