Designing a Walk In Shower
Doorless Walk In Shower
In this picture above we built for our clients a doorless walk in shower. A walk in shower or doorless shower need not be a curbless shower as well. Below the towel warmer you can see a raised platform. This platform pitches back to the window and into the shower (hidden on the right). We call this section or platform a "Dry Off Zone" - as the shower is used a small degree of water does escape the shower but it hits this platform and drains back to the shower.
This is one of my favourite showers and as an added bonus my clients can dry their wet rain coats on the towel warmer. The heat from the towel warmer dries the coats out quickier and no mess on the floors!
I received three calls for Walk In Showers this weekend and every one of them requested a linear shower drain. The number one question I'm asked is is - "Is it possible to remove a tub and install a drain?" The simple answer is yes and it is not very hard at all.
The second most common question to me is "Do you work with the Schluter's Kerdi System?" - that is an easy question to answer. NO. Most clients ask me why and I tell them it is very hard to get permission to use modified thinsets and that most of the linear shower drain installations are paired up with large format tiles like 1'x2' or 1'x3' tile. The tile companies want you to use modified thin-sets and Kerdi wants you to use non-modified. This round and round usually nets a shower build with Hydro Ban, Aqua D or Nobel TS - Schluter is only one company that makes waterproofing products and it is the one that is pushed online the hardest. The folks at John Bridge tile forum really promote it and often try to get new posters to purchase an EBook for $10.00 - my thought here is the site is more about generating sales of EBooks than actually telling all the facts.
After a simple discussion we start every job the same. I like to build the bathroom backwards first on paper. I get my clients to open an account on Houzz.com and start making an Ideabook so I can see what type of designs they like. We look at things like glass panels, tile layout, plumbing fixture locations and such. Once we know what they want we send them shopping for tile and fixtures. This often can change the plan once they know what they like.
By this point we will know what tile we like and what fixtures we are going to use. Time to determine a time line and then it's 'Time for demo!' It is very important to understand that all shower fixtures, plumbing lines, vent lines and shower drains are to be installed by a ticketed plumber. Lots of tile men will tell you that it's OK to install a shower drain (like a Kerdi Drain for example) - the plumbing codes in both US and Canada are very clear and state that only a plumber can do this. Now if you own your own detached home and have pulled your own plumbing permit you can do this yourself but you need to check with city hall first. Your tile crew or Handy Andy is not allowed to install a shower drain for you unless they also have been to plumbing school and have a ticket.
If the shower is going to be a steam shower then most times we waterproof and use Nobel TS - it's the highest rated waterproofing product I know of on the market for steam showers. Every new shower we build we flood test. This is SO IMPORTANT - flood test your showers. This is code required and should be done for 24-72 hours. Showers are easy to flood with a temporary test plug and these are quite easy to find online or at your local plumbing wholesaler. After the flood test all the water should drain and no standing water should be present. To achieve this you need a pre-slope under your waterproofing.
If you decide to hire someone to build your new walk in shower make sure before they quote the job you inform them that a 24-72 hour flood test must be done and that no water shall be left after the removal of the test plug. This will weed out the hacks and the Wannabe shower builders for sure. This will insure your new walk in is built right and will serve you well for years to come.
Flood testing a barrier free walk in can be simply with a temporary dam and I advise my clients here in Vancouver to also incorporate a second emergency drain into the bathrooms design. Terry and the plumbing crew here on Terry Love's site can help with this.
I'm finding a huge spike in the number of homeowners who are acting as their own General Contractors and it is so important you understand the entire job before getting quotes. Unless you outline and spec the right process you are liable to get close to what you want but not exactly. Another good tip is to tell your builder, tile crew that you wish the shower to follow TTMAC or NTCA guidelines in regards to tile lippage and waterproofing options. This will not limit you to Hydro Ban or Kerdi or any one size tile but will outline very clearly things like floor deflection, slip joints, lippage criteria, expansion joints etc.
Often when I build a walk in shower we remove the curb or barrier completely or design a low curb. Wood has no business in your shower curb. Neither does styrofoam. If your going to install any kind of styrofoam or plastic in your shower make sure you are allowed to use a highly modified thinet before proceeding. If the requirements are for non-modified and you have a wood subfloor - RUN AWAY.
Take a look at these showers on my Houzz Account - look for inspirations and post your question here on Terry's site. This is where the plumbers are.
Design a Walk In Shower - Work with an Occupational Therapist
How do you know which are the old threads and which are the new ones? I like to google search terms and this thread comes up. Seems silly to me to have such little info on an active thread. By active I mean high traffic. There is so much more information here on Terry's site than the other you love to send everyone to - I'm just filling in some blanks and offering up some of my insight.
Originally Posted by jadnashua
Many of your local plumbing inspectors will require you to have an entry to your new barrier free shower of at least 36". It is so important to consider how the shower will be used and if a care giver will need to get inside the shower at bathing time. A shower designed for someone with limited mobility needs to consider their strong arm or strong leg. If the care giver is left or right handed. Do you need a transfer bench?
Often a shower can be designed with a large 5'x5' inside measurement to give options. Removing the glass doors completely and installing the toilet near the wet zone can make a more functional bathroom if personal washing is a problem.
Consider having a discussion with an Occupational Therapist before designing your new shower. Go in and see your local plumbing inspector to find out what is required. Many times the homes construction will dictate the design to some degree so seek out a skilled builder and tile crew once you begin the process.
There is no magic answer and everyone's needs should be considered. Planning for old age and care givers will increase the size of your dream shower and will cause a chain reaction of forethought in your new homes design.
Follow this link to my Ideabook on Houzz.com for barrier free shower inspiration. There is over 100 shower designs in this one Ideabook.
Doorless Showers - Designing the floor grading to make it possible
I would look into other options before going this route. There are many ways of piping a secondary drain into your home's plumbing system. The key is hiring a top setter (water proofer) and a skilled expeirenced plumber. I work with a lot of great plumbers here in Vancouver and am always learning new codes and restrictions. This and the fact that we build a lot of barrier free projects for Vancouver builders puts me in front on many inspectors in all the local neighborhoods and lets me talk theory with many inspectors. I would think a second drain would be better as you will not have your tooth paste and soap running across your floor tile.
Originally Posted by Amish Electrician
Here is a look at our current barrier free bathroom in North Vancouver (Edgemont Village Area). It is not a true barrier free home as there will be roughly a 3/4" change in grade at hthe entrance to the bathroom.
If you just study the picture above it looks much like a flat floor. Here is a diagram that shows how we did the grading in this room.
This was a very tricky grading challenge since their is a tub going into the shower area. You can see how I chose to start off of the tub's center line for one of my primary grading lines. This will allow the tub to set steady on the tiled floor. The tub will be slightly out out of level but we can fix this with setting some small tile as feet where the claw feet meet grade. The curved curb will be the base for a glass block wall.
This home was plumbed before we arrived and where called in to do the waterproofing and no secondary drain was installed. Currently in Vancouver this back up drain is "Optional" where everywhere else in the world excluding the States it is required.
Placement for a back up drain is key and before plumbing rough in tile selection should be made. This helps in the back up drains location as grading changes can happen along tile grout joints.
Flood testing a doorless curbless shower
In order to check my work and meet current building codes this doorless curbless shower we are building in North Vancouver needs to be flood tested. This procedure is one of the most common requests I get via email from builders and home owners alike.