Short showers (in height)
January 16, 2012 8:20 PM   Subscribe

DIY bathroom remodel: I'm looking for small, and especially short, inexpensive, off-the-shelf shower options. Do you know where to find showers sorted by size? Do you know where to find oddly-sized home products? Do you have obscure and wonderful knowledge about shower stall options?

I'm looking to install a shower (or tub, I suppose) in my bathroom. It's a DIY project, and my budget is low.

The confounding issue is that the ceiling slopes down (not the entire ceiling, actually, just the 12" or so closest to the north wall), making many off-the-shelf options too tall. At 32" from the corner, I only have 70" (at best 71") in height. The ceiling slopes down, so at 36" out, there's only 68" in height. This bathroom is installed in an attic, and this is one spot where there's no slack to go up; the roof is not far above the drywall here.

Most of what I've been finding is 72" of shower surround + 4-6" of shower pan = 76=78" (in part because code here in California requires waterproof walls for 6’ above the floor). Take this one, for instance. It has a 32" x 32" base, but even though its nominal height is 70 3/4", its assembled height (once you put the door above the floor plan) is 74". As you can see from that example, the height of the exterior shower wall (glass or whatever it is) becomes the real issue.

Finding a short shower surround is more optional, since I could just tile the walls myself if I had to, on trim a corner off a pre-made shower surround, though I'm nervous about both options. It's the exterior shower enclosure that has remained difficult to find. I've even started to look at glass walls for bathtubs, which are conventionally 60" high. That's so short that spray might come out the top, but if I could find a tall shower base, it might work.

My dream shower would be 30-32" wide, 42-48" long, 69" tall including shower pan and door, and cost $600 or less. (The short end would be the one where the nozzle comes out.) But what can't budge is the height/width relationship created by the sloping ceiling. Any ideas? I'm in Oakland if you have any local ideas.

Thanks for any help or ideas you have.
posted by slidell to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you completely set on using a glass shower door? If a shower curtain would work, you can use a shower pan plus tile walls or just make the entire thing with tile.
posted by ssg at 8:46 PM on January 16, 2012

Response by poster: Yes, good idea, that might be what I have to do. But I'd love to use something more durable and easy to clean than a shower curtain, if possible.

You mention tiling the entire thing. A floor drain is definitely something I've wondered about as a way to save 6". I think I understand the layering of concrete and plastic, but I'm still a bit intimidated about the level of difficulty there, if anyone has comments on that.
posted by slidell at 8:58 PM on January 16, 2012

Our bathroom is a very odd and narrow shape. We ended up using a shower pan, and building a small shelf on the end opposite the shower head for the width outside the showerpan footprint. We tiled the walls and the shelf. We used a fixed glass door that goes about 2/3rds of the length of the shower pan. If you want photos, let me know and I will uh clean the bathroom :)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:34 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

(PS: This was all very cheap. The shower pan was the most expensive because I wanted ceramic instead of plastic. The shelf was formed from offcuts, and the tile we have is the cheapest oversized tile our big DIY store sells. The door we actually picked up for like a tenner because it was in the rack of "one off, returned, damaged, and/or we do not know where the fuck this came from" items at the end of the oversized goods aisle!)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:37 PM on January 16, 2012

RV/travel trailer showers tend to be small in all directions. A walk-in bathtub might be an option too - kind of like a short shower, with a sealing swing door.
posted by attercoppe at 11:03 PM on January 16, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. DarlingBri, how did you install the door? Did it come with a sliding track? I hadn't thought of going to the custom glass shops and asking for seconds. That might work since my width and length are optional, and then I could use the money I save to get it cut to the right height. Also, did you rely on any particular tiling resource to make sure you were doing the floor right? Tiling the floor appeals to me, but I've been warned that a wet floor is really easy to screw up.

attercope, I love walk-in tubs, and the size would be perfect, but they cost in the thousands unless you know something I don't? I'll check out RV showers -- that's a great idea.
posted by slidell at 11:14 PM on January 16, 2012

Our door does not require a sliding track because it is a fixed door - it doesn't move. I guess that makes it a shower screen. It is like this and was basically a remaindered one.

Also, did you rely on any particular tiling resource to make sure you were doing the floor right? Tiling the floor appeals to me, but I've been warned that a wet floor is really easy to screw up.

I don't understand this question. Tiled bathroom floors are the standard for, well, bathroom floors and have been for more than 100 years. (How to tile a bathroom) We tiled with the same prep, tile and grout as our adjoining hall and the kitchen opposite. Trimming tiles is the real pain - the rest is just labour - and I would heartily encourage you to not use ceramic tiles if you are not a pro. If your bathroom is small and you are concerned by the tiling issue, it would probably be very cheap to get a tilier in. Those guys are fast!
posted by DarlingBri at 11:26 PM on January 16, 2012

(Actually, this is a much better and more in-depth step by step video.)
posted by DarlingBri at 11:32 PM on January 16, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks. It's nice to hear that maybe it's not quite so difficult. What I've been warned is hard is using a wet floor instead of a shower pan. You have to pour concrete with the right slope and correctly install a number of layers (I believe it is: floor boards, paper, thin layer of sloped concrete, plastic, thicker concrete of even thickness, then tile), and making sure that this all comes out at the right height for the floor drain. Thanks for the video. I'll check it out.
posted by slidell at 11:44 PM on January 16, 2012

To clarify, I have both a shower pan (in the shower) and a tiled floor (in the rest of the bathroom.) I will take photos for you as soon as it's light - we're way north, so it's pitch dark at 8 am.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:55 PM on January 16, 2012

You want to spend some time on the John Bridge tile forums. Besides numerous amateurs, many helpful professionals answer questions there.
posted by jon1270 at 3:09 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I put an irregularly-shaped shower upstairs in my 1.5 story Cape Cod. After reading how complicated ceramic tile shower pans are, I opted for a Swanstone shower pan. I put ceramic tiles on all vertical surfaces. I covered remaining slopes and weird surfaces with Swanstone 1/4 solid surface material - it sticks with just HD construction adhesive. I stole a couple extra inches from an adjacent wall by using an exposed shower fixture.
posted by klarck at 4:42 AM on January 17, 2012

Response by poster: Just wanted to drop by and thank you all again. This advice has all been very helpful, from the fixture suggestion, to the forum, to hearing how you've done it yourselves. I spent all weekend at hardware stores and with "how to" books. I think I'm going to build an alcove wall that gets me beyond the short part of the ceiling, because once the height constraint isn't a problem, I can put a normal-height Home Depot sliding glass shower door at a 60 degree angle from there to the other wall. It'd be 34" wide along the north wall, 21" on the east wall (the ceiling is normal height past that point), 48" deep on the west wall, and then a 44" door diagonally along the south edge (it's adjustable from 43-48"). Under this plan, I'll end up having to do a mortar bed / tile shower pan myself. I got advice from two builders, one who said "it's easy, stop overthinking this, you can totally mortar in a shower bed!" and the other who said "oh man, that takes even us professionals days of work, don't try it, just slap in something that looks junky and pay someone to do it right in a few years." Darling Bri, if you ever get pics, I'd still love to see your handiwork (and wouldn't notice the mess, as I'm so used to my own).
posted by slidell at 2:27 PM on January 23, 2012

OK sorry; in the last month we've both cleaned and plastered/painted our bathroom so it's probably too late for you.

Never the less: our shower. Cluse-ip of shower pan / bench thing. Complete set.

PS: Sorry for the crappy photos; the one thing we really didn't address was the lighting!
posted by DarlingBri at 8:58 AM on February 17, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, very nice, DarlingBri -- great work! We found a great deal on a clawfoot tub (...and now are worrying about whether the floor joists are sufficient to support it!).
posted by slidell at 11:52 AM on February 19, 2012

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