Project:  Shower in the hall bath

(How I spent my winter of 2014-15)


The hall bathroom and shower was reconstructed in about 1999. The shower was a fiberglass insert. Over the years the fiberglass held up great.....no issues.....except the staining was not fixable.This winter my plans were to renovate the back utility porch. However, the shower needed immediate attention.


The first part of the project was the tear out. First I needed to remove the fiberglass shower. Before I go further, I need to recommend 'Youtube' for all your DIY projects.This can be anything from an auto problem, to plumbing, electricity to replacing a shower stall.

The fiberglass insert has a flange around its borders to screw it to the studs. First, remove about 2 inches of wallboard around the edge of the shower.

This will expose the screws that hold the shower flange to the studs.

Next remove the screws holding the flange to the studs: make sure you get them all.

Next, if you have a sawzall, and you should if you do any self renovation, start cutting the plastic insert in pieces. I started on the back wall and cut all the way to the bottom. Then I went sideways.

CAUTION. When you get to the wall with the plumbing, be extra careful not to cut into a copper pipe.


You will eventually get down to the base.

You will want to first take out the flange that is the seal between the top of the shower hole and the drain.I used a hammer and chisel. It is a slim piece of plastic and comes right off. Once this is done, simply lift the base out of the enclosure.

Goodbye old shower. In Phoenix we have a trash pick up called Bulk Trash. Four times a year they bring heavy equipment and take anything you put on your front lawn: this can include appliances and furniture. Since the bulk trash people don't like construction material, you have to break it into small pieces and mix it with the other bulk trash on your lawn.

 You now have a bare shower enclosure with everything exposed.

 Cut it into small pieces and hide among the rest of the bulk trash.


Your next challenge is to do something about the old drain system that is welded in place on the drain pipe. You need to remove this and replace it with the new three piece drain assembly made for building a shower pan for tiles. No doubt, the old shower drain assembly was welded onto the shower drain so you will need to cut the pipe just below the old shower drain fixture. This can be accomplished with an attachment for your power drill.


Attach the blade to your drill, insert down the drain just below the level where the old drain assembly was welded, and cut from the inside out. Remove the old assembly. Next, go to your local hardware store and purchase a small section (one foot or shorter) of pipe and a coupler.

You will replace the old drain assembly with a three piece tile shower drain assembly. This you will need to purchase at a Home Depot or Lowes.

The bottom part, the drain base is the part you weld to the drain pipe. Here is where you need to measure correctly. The top flange of the base must be at least 1/2 inch above your substrate (concrete or plywood. Cut the pipe to the proper length and assemble.

The base of the three piece shower tile drain has been assembled. There was a hole around the pipe that needed to be filled in with cement.

Next, you will want to make sure your enclosure is plumb: meaning all the studs are even and the sides are the same length.

Here we have a stud that was not flush with the other studs so we added a metal stud to make it flush.

The next part is to build in the 'niches' into the side walls. Our shower project called for three niches. One tall niche for shampoo bottles, a 12 inch high opening as seen on the right. The second niche (on the left) is made of two parts. A lower part for a soap shelf and a second shelf for razors and such.


A liberal amount of silicone is applied around the back joints of the niches where the frame sets up against the wallboard on the opposing wall. If you have a large family, especially with a lot of girls, you may want to build niches on all the walls for their 'stuff.'

The next task was the floor. The floor design for tiled showers gets a little involved. The technical term is building a shower pan.

A shower pan consists of three layers.   The first layer is cement (on a cement base).  The cement layer on the cement base is poured so that the outer edges are higher than the area around the drain.  This is the first part of contouring the floor so the water will drain towards the drain.  

Next you will insert and cement in the base of the drain.


The next part of the floor is the 40 ML vinyl. This heavy material is the main water barrier.

There are several steps to installing the liner............will not explain here.


Once you have installed the vinyl, it now time to install the DuRock.  DuRock is like wallboard except it is made of cement. DuRock is one tough board. It is far superior to green board that a lot of constructors use in wet areas. A high quality restaurant will use DuRock in the kitchen area. Imagine a 4 X 8 board, like wallboard, but made of cement. The cement is held together by a fiberglass mesh on both sides.

It is actually easy to cut.Similar to wallboard. Score with a box cutter and break it off. I suggest using smaller pieces on a wall. Don't try to put a 3 X 8 piece onto a side. Especially if you have water outlets to fit. A 4 X 8 foot piece of DuRock weighs over 80 pounds and very difficult to handle.

Here we have the top portion of the shower water control cutout.

Next, we put on the last layer of cement,  called 'floor mud.'  Floor mud is 1 part cement and 5 parts sand.  It is the base for the tile.

Guides are then put in place to insure the pour slopes to the drain.  The guides are made of plastic and measure from one inch tall down to 1/4 inch in thickness.  The guides are called 'prepitch strips.'

Example here.

You pour in the cement and level it from the outside wall it along the line of the guides.

This sloped floor is now ready for the tile. You can't see the sloping but it is higher on the edges and gradually slopes down to the drain. In the tiling process, the floor is the last to be tiled. We will let this cure for a couple of days and then proceed to the next step.

The next step is to build in a corner shelf for a step or a bench. Many people build a wooden structure but because of the water and steam and the possibility of damage, it was recommended to use a simple cinder block. Sturdy, easy to install and no moisture worries. Because the floor is sloping from the outside to the center, it was necessary to grind the bottom of the block at an angle so it would sit evenly on the floor and be level at the top.

We are now ready to begin tiling.  Starting at the bottom, we make a pattern of offsetting tiles.  About four feet up from the floor, we put in an accent layer.


Around the base we also tile the shower dam and the corner block.  Little white spacers are used to space the tile apart for the grout between tiles.

We continue to tile until we have reached the ceiling.

Note the second accent strip about 6 feet from the floor.


Shower dam and shower floor.


It's showtime.