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Thread: Is there a quality shower base out there that does not cost $1700.00?

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    DIY Junior Member brianslink's Avatar
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    Default Is there a quality shower base out there that does not cost $1700.00?

    I have a new construction home with crawlspace. We are ready to do the master shower...it's a double shower that is custom sized at 52" X 76" rectangular. This is the shower only, tub is in a separate space. Initially we were going to have a custom tile job done for this shower with a custom pan built and then have a local glass company come in and do glass doors. After talking to my friends and other people, it appears that leaking shower pans are the norm around here. The builders around here tell me that tile guys here are not too good at building leak-proof horizontal surfaces.

    I think I would like to have a shower base built from a solid material that will never leak, then have someone do tile on the vertical shower walls. I had a bid for an ONYX brand shower base in the dimensions listed above and the qoute was for $1700.00 carry out. Installed price was $2,000. This is for just the base only and I feel the price is absurd. I went to Lowes and looked at their shower bases and the stuff looks like it belongs in a mobile home. While in Lowes I saw a friend of mine who recently built 20 rental cabins on the river. He told me he used all shower bases from lowes and so far 9 of them have been broken in a year. People are stepping through them and cracking the bottoms. This is not what I want in my home.

    Does anyone know of a manufacturer who makes a decent, solid surface type base in a custom size that might be more reasonable in price?

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    You would be better off with a local "cultured marble" fabricator. ANY custom base that size is going to be very expensive, especially if it is made "offsite" and shipped to you.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Sounds like a good price to me.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Custom = $$$. $1700 is on the low side. A good tile installer can build a 30 year tile shower.

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    DIY Junior Member brianslink's Avatar
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    HJ thanks, I will have to look into the cultured marble.

    Hackney, I just though the price was too high comparing to other things I already bought...a beautiful 6' Soaker Tub from TOTO for $975.00 delivered to my door. I also bought 3 cm granite throughout the kitchen for $35.00/Sq Ft installed. So I figured a good quality shower base should be somewhere around $900.00 carry, out. Am I out of line? I'd like to hear from some others here...is the Onyx worth the price?

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    Quote Originally Posted by brianslink View Post
    HJ thanks, I will have to look into the cultured marble.

    Hackney, I just though the price was too high comparing to other things I already bought...a beautiful 6' Soaker Tub from TOTO for $975.00 delivered to my door. I also bought 3 cm granite throughout the kitchen for $35.00/Sq Ft installed. So I figured a good quality shower base should be somewhere around $900.00 carry, out. Am I out of line? I'd like to hear from some others here...is the Onyx worth the price?
    Thats a custom size and its very large. That equals $$$$. Goodluck.

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    DIY Senior Member jastori's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianslink View Post
    The builders around here tell me that tile guys here are not too good at building leak-proof horizontal surfaces.
    A leakproof custom tile base is very possible, but does require a knowledgeable / skilled installer (who may be difficult to find). Personally, this is the route I would go for a large custom shower. If you want to learn more about the proper methods for building a custom tile shower, there is great info at the John Bridge forum. If you are considering hiring someone to do the job, you need to understand enough of the proper technique so that you can evaluate the potential installers. You may even be able to get a referral to a qualified installer on the forums.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jastori View Post
    A leakproof custom tile base is very possible, but does require a knowledgeable / skilled installer (who may be difficult to find). Personally, this is the route I would go for a large custom shower. If you want to learn more about the proper methods for building a custom tile shower, there is great info at the John Bridge forum. If you are considering hiring someone to do the job, you need to understand enough of the proper technique so that you can evaluate the potential installers. You may even be able to get a referral to a qualified installer on the forums.
    I suspect a custom tile done right(keyword) would cost more than the prefab base. A days labor here for an experienced tile contractor is 1200-1500 a day plus material). Thats with a helper.

    You can bet your bottom dollar the prefab base manufacturer knows what that size base would cost in tile.....and priced their base accordingly.
    Last edited by Hackney plumbing; 01-27-2012 at 07:18 AM.

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    DIY Junior Member brianslink's Avatar
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    ok guys, your info has been very helpful. I am placing my order for the Onyx on Monday
    THANKS!

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A good tile guy should be able to make that tileable shower base in about 3-hours to a max of a day. Materials would be less than $200 (not counting tile). There are many more ways to do it wrong than to do it right, but there are lots of decent ways to do one that would last several lifetimes.

    If, when you install those shower bases from places like Lowes, you don't bed them in mortar, since they typically aren't very strong, they'll flex. Install them in a mortar bed, and they do NOT flex, and will last quite awhile. If you don't treat fiberglass well, you can scratch it, but that's another story.
    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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    DIY Member tom12's Avatar
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    With respect to Jim, like Hackney said, there's quite a bit of work in building a mud base, including, if done properly, a 24 hr wait for the pre-slope and a 24hr wait for the base - not to mention the curb and backing detail.
    Surely Oklahoma tilers do swimming pools, and surely they dont all leak?

  12. #12
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you go with something that uses a surface membrane, you may only need one mudbed. Total labor hours should not exceed what I indicated, but depending on what you do, it typically needs to be spread out over several days. There is an exception, at least to getting it done, and that might be with Wedi...the stuff is fairly easily cut, and you could put the whole shower up in a few hours, ready for water test or tiling the next day..
    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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