View Full Version : open shower and code

05-09-2007, 09:32 PM
I remodeled a small 6x6 bathroom... took the tub out and created a totally open shower bathroom (there is a curved curtain rod but otherwise water can hit any corner of the room). The floor has been waterproofed with heavy duty vinyl sheet wrapped up the walls (8'' off the floor)... then concrete poured and finally floor was tiled with pitch from all around toward drain relocated in middle of the room.
Note: walls are tiled as well, only other item touching floor = toilet and a central air duct outlet.

It works very well... no water accumulation and perfect drainage

Now, I intend to sell the house and since I never got any permit (shame on me), I try to anticipate whether or not my design might violate code regulation and how can I possibly fix any issue.
Note: wet floor might be hazard and that's why we lock the door each time we shower so kids won't come take a glide on a wet floor

Thanks for anyone's feedback

05-10-2007, 05:45 AM
If there are any code or health violations, it is too late to do anything about them now, so all you can do is wait until the buyer's inspector sees it and see what he/she has to say about it. You will probably also be asked if anything was done without a permit, and if you do not disclose it you could be liable for problems down the road.

05-10-2007, 06:06 AM
I like what you have done. But the subject is what might go wrong, so here goes.

In what geographic area are you? How dry is the air in your local climate?

Do you have other showers in the house?

Having built the liner as a flat surface, and then pitching tiles on top of that, you now have a bed of concrete under the tiles acting as a sponge for the moisture that gets through the grout. That is a lot of H20. Moisture will pile up as it is trapped once it seeps into the grout.

Even if that moisture can thoroughly dry out often, the room can smell like an old locker room in the long term, since shower water has organic matter in it (soap, skin cells, dirt, urine). Molds need organic matter and humidity to prosper. Special soaps can kill the smell that stale urine develops. Soaps themselves are mold food. The whole process takes years but once mold begins to foster it spreads fast.

If you use other showers in the house, you will help this one dry out. Although there are many ways to seal grout, that is not a solid solution, as it creates a slight barrier to evaporation as well, no sealer being a perfect sealer.

So the waterproofing laid flat is the weak spot in the construction.

2. A central air duct outlet "touching floor" is obviously not a sill holding water in, when the drain gets blocked for any reason. Sounds like this is the weak spot in the design.

Overall, it is a good idea what you have done and I think it is very sellable. Congratulations!


05-10-2007, 06:43 AM
You mentioned a "heavy duty vinyl sheet" . Did you use a product specifically designed as a shower floor membrane...and use the manufacturer's recommended method of seaming joints, and sealing at the drain? Does the drain fitting have weep holes?

GenieS has already mentioned the pre-slope issue. That will cause problems.

05-10-2007, 01:11 PM
0) here, air dry during the winter but pretty damp during summer time
1) I did not lay the vinyl flat as the plywood below the vinyl sheet was already angled (using beveled supports running across beneath) as much as possible to make most of the required pitch... I was expecting by doing this to reduce the amount of pitch to finally create with the concrete (poured heavy)... I am not sure though if it would make any matter better as any water trapped in concrete would now run toward low spot = drain and get trapped as the drain assembly has the vinyl sheet pressed all around creating a seal around the drain
2) yes, I have used the shower floor membrane with recommended seam glue. I am not sure though about the weep holes??
3) I have also sealed all grout line prior running any water but I understand this might also prevent evaporation...
4) yes we have other bathrooms in the house to avoid using this shower too often and prevent from drying
5) for the duct outlet, it is on a high spot of the room (probably a good 1/2inch above drain level due to pitch) and I am even thinking of raising it by making a 1/4inch spacer so water just can't get there unless there is water everywhere else including outside the bathroom (the door stone saddle has been custom made and is about a inch higher than floor + caulked all around)

All in all, I am just very worried some inspector comes in there and not being familiar with that open shower type of design (very common in Europe), just says you need to brake everything, put a shower base, relocate the drain back, and the rest of the whole 9 yards...

05-10-2007, 03:39 PM
The only outstanding question then is about the weep holes. Many shower drains have them so if you remember what you bought, and link to it, someone will comment.

What you built is a wet room. It's a floor drain. The plumbing code refers to shower drains as floor drains too. They are the same. Also, Code does not specify how walls get positioned or whether toilets can be siliconed ont a floor within X distance to a floor drain, so you are OK. Assuming you used 100% real silicone.


05-11-2007, 06:22 AM
Thanks David,
The drain I used is visible on link below on Oatey's website... (it's the one to the right - most magnified in the picture).
It's designed for pan liner use (which is what I did using the appropriate Oatey glue). I am still not sure whether it has weep holes or not.


I used phenoseal as I find it easier and less messy to work with than silicon... perhaps another mistake there on my part but if I only had to redo the caulk lines around the toilet, I will be very happy to buy two silicon tubes and do it.

Thanks for all these precious comments

05-11-2007, 06:58 AM
Thank you for your detailed response. It sounds like a good job. I guess then your only issue is if the permit thing comes up. You could try for an after the fact permit, paying a fine, of course, but then you have to convince an inpsector that all the intermediate steps that he can now not see were done correctly. Not sure if I would open this can of worms voluntarily. Maybe wait and see if it comes up.

05-11-2007, 07:03 AM
I have taken pictures of everything... pretty much every step of the way (in case)... I'll wait and see. I am just happy to hear that that type of design is permitted by the code referred to as a wet room design.
Thanks for everything

05-11-2007, 07:29 AM
clamping drain, is that the right way to describe it? Do you remember how to describe the waterproofing membrane? Oatey is the largest manufacturer of shower drains so I wonder if a call to them will help you figure out how to explain where the water goes through that device, into weep holes which are gaps not holes. I don't know for sure 100% how to describe it and that is what I'd do: call them.


05-11-2007, 11:34 AM
Just before calling Oatey, I read the link above twice, and there it is: “Weep holes in the drain assembly allow drainage from the pan liner.”
I guess we have this one covered...

05-11-2007, 11:59 AM
i'm glad you found it. I'll go look for it later too. One more thing: expert shower builders who use these drains will ask whether you put a little pea gravel around the drain when building the concrete base just to ensure that water that seeped over there had a clear path out the weepholes. Without it, water takes longer to clear that last inch, and the grout around the drain can end up being permanently damp. Not a big deal. I just wish this kind of information was more accessible, easier to find and easier to share.