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Thread: Plastic shower base with tile walls?

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    DIY Junior Member JLH001's Avatar
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    Default Plastic shower base with tile walls?

    I'm replacing a 36x36 one-piece plastic shower stall. I had planned on replacing it with a two-piece retrofit, but decided they look pretty cheap. I studied the solid-panel plastic shower wall/floor units, but their cost seems out-of-line with what I'd get. I like tile, but have seen a lot of moldy grout lines in the past. I'm now thinking a plastic shower base with porcelain tile walls may be a good compromise. I figure the plastic base would be lower maintenance than a tiled shower floor (no grout lines that mold and need cleaning), and the tiled walls would look a lot better than plastic.

    Is this commonly done? My searching on the internet help forums and videos makes me think everyone automatically tiles the floor.

    The previous stall was a fiberglass reinforced affair and hair-line cracks in the flexible floor were allowing water to seep through. I'd plan on setting the shower base in mortor of some sort to prevent any flexing. I'm not a professional, but have laid quite a few tile, and I'm big on careful prep. Any recommendations?
    Last edited by JLH001; 10-10-2009 at 07:25 AM.

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default shower

    It is not common, but it is done. I would be more concerned about what you mean by a "plastic" base. I would only consider a "heavy duty" material such as "FlorStone", which CANNOT flex and sits directly on the floor.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member JLH001's Avatar
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    I had in mind a solid plastic base, probably the Swanstone that I think my local Home Depot carries in stock. I understand they require mortar to keep them from flexing. The bathtub I installed a couple of years ago was supported that way, and it's very reassuringly solid to stand on.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default base

    Personally, I would not use ANY base that is thin enough to "flex" and had to depend on an additional material to maintain its integrity.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Mold requires three things: moisture, food, and the mold spores themselves. since the spores are nearly everywhere, all you need is the other two.

    I prefer a tiled base. There are several ways to minimize moisture, but it takes careful attention to detail and proper design and build.

    Take a look at www.schluter.com for their Kerdi shower system. A typical tiled shower is water resistant on the walls, and has a liner to provide a waterproof layer in the floor. But, there is a layer often about 1" thick or more beneath the tile that can get moist and stay that way in a well used shower. if it isn't built well, it can get fully soaked. this promotes mold growth. With the kerdi system, there's a waterproof layer immediately beneath the tile, so there's very little that can get damp, and thus, the shower dries out quickly. If you also chose to use an epoxy grout, the grout won't get damp, since it doesn't absorb moisture, and if the surface dries out, should be mold free. Putting up Kerdi is sort of like doing wallpaper, except you use mortar rather than glue. Then, you put the tile on it. Kerdi, properly installed, is 100% waterproof.

    Check out www.johnbridge.com for help on tiling your shower.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    One who lurks Basement_Lurker's Avatar
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    Fiberglass shower pans are totally fine to use with tiled walls, just as fiberglass tubs with tiled walls are totally fine. However you have to do the installation properly with a proper mortar bed or increase the chance of future failure.

    Of course, higher end installations would use a tiled shower floor, but a tiled floor needs to be sloped and waterproofed properly or you are asking for trouble.
    Broken promises don't upset me. I just think, why did they believe me? -Jack Handy


    www.blackbirdkitchenandbath.com

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JLH001 View Post
    Is this commonly done? ?

    I would say the fibreglass or composite bases are the MOST common way of doing showers. A tile shower floor is beyond most DIY skills. A lot of folks that try, screw it up. And no matter who does it , you can save a ton of money by doing the molded floor then finish it with tile walls.

    There are plenty of good brands....Swan, ASB, Mustee, etc. If the directions call for supporting in a mud base, then do that.

    True that fibreglass is harder to keep clean than tile but it can give you many years of satisfactory service

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    DIY Junior Member JLH001's Avatar
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    Thanks to all on the input.

    I'm going to order a Swanstone base (figured from internet comments Swan's low-end Veritek shower base was not worth the savings). I bought an off-the-shelf Lasco shower base, but took it back after seeing it really wouldn't work well with a mortar base. The mortar is well worth the trouble to me -- it makes an acrylic tub I've got feel as solid as cast iron.

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