What kind of material serves as the base for your shower? Traditionally, custom copper shower pans have been the top choice. But copper has become more expensive, and these pans can take awhile to be created and delivered. So some homeowners are turning to other options.
Wedi systems (foam-type boards, pictured to the right) and rubber membrane are two such options. (Like copper pans, rubber membrane requires a “mud job,” which involves pouring cement on top and then leveling the surface in preparation for tiling.) Both Wedi systems and rubber membrane resist leaking better than copper.
In order to maximize leak resistance with rubber membrane, copper pans or other options, we often apply Hydro Ban (a liquid rubber polymer that forms a seamless membrane) before tiling. Our tiling subcontractor is certified in installing Hydro Ban and Wedi systems, both of which are guaranteed for 25 years.
If you have nice tiling on the shower floor, you want to be able to see it from outside the shower. That’s one reason why many homeowners are choosing clear glass for their shower doors. One popular product is Starphire glass by PPG. According to PPG, Starphire contains much less iron than regular glass and thus has a higher level of transparency without the greening effect you typically find with thick glass panels.
Depending on your home’s layout, you may be able to install a remote fan in the attic. This setup keeps the bathroom quiet because the fan motor is so far away. We typically use Panasonic inline fans with separate switching, which lets you turn on the light while you’re in the bathroom and keep the fan running on a timer to dry out the air after a shower. The larger inline fan models can operate across multiple bathrooms.
Want to create more space in your bathroom? A wall-mounted toilet, where the tank is concealed in an interior wall, can help. The challenge: Old bathrooms generally have the drain coming up from the floor. That means extra work, like redirecting the drain piping, tiling the floor and mounting the toilet to the wall. It can get complicated. We’ve worked with wall-mounted toilets from Toto and Duravit.
Plumbing for Freestanding Tubs
This one isn’t an innovation, but still something worth noting here. … The plumbing for a freestanding tub is more complex than with an alcove tub. Before installing the tile floor and completing all the other prep work, you must first know exactly where the drain and water supply lines will go. There’s very little room for error, because the tub itself is the last thing that’s put into place.
One other issue: Massachusetts Plumbing Code requires a hand shower in a freestanding tub to have a mixing valve, which tempers the water to prevent scalding. The panel housing this valve must be accessible from the wall or floor, and it can sometimes be challenging to find a good spot.