Using wood for a shower floor
November 15, 2012 7:53 AM   Subscribe

I am having my bathroom professionally remodeled and I am strongly considering having the shower floor made out of wood (most likely Teak or Ipe), resting over conventional concrete drainage. Any experience, advice or vendor referrals from people who have done this or from professionals would be appreciated. I'm particularly concerned with the ongoing maintenance and durability compared to traditional pebble or tile shower flooring. Is it worth the elegance and tactile comfort enhancements?

We tentatively decided on using wood because we stayed in a fancy resort once which had wood showers and we loved it. We felt that the wood had an attractive balance of non-slip and comfort, as well as a luxurious aesthetic. We feel like other non-slip materials like pebbles with grout are more painful to stand on. Is there some other material that we are overlooking?

Any specific advice on styles (slats vs. grid), wood types, suppliers, etc. would be appreciated. We are in NYC in case it is relevant.
posted by jameslavelle3 to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You are overlooking the option of a pebble floor with a teak shower tray like this or this. You can have them custom made so they inset perfectly, including with a drain hole (or not) specifically positioned for your shower. This gives you the best of both worlds IMHO because the tray can be replaced a lot more easily than your shower floor.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:00 AM on November 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

I haven't done this, but as a woodworker my reaction is that it won't be nearly so durable as tile, but it will (or should) be relatively easy and cheap to replace the wood parts. They're just some slats, fastened to some battens, sitting on a ledge or some sort... right? It's the sort of thing that's simple to make and doesn't contain much wood. I'd be tempted to have them fabricate an extra floor for you right from the start, stick it up in the attic and forget about it. The costs of making something like this are in taking measurements, figuring out a price, negotiating a deal, setting up machines, delivery, etc; not in the actual manufacturing labor or materials. Making multiples is far more efficient.
posted by jon1270 at 8:01 AM on November 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

If it's not a piece you are buying pre-fab, I think jon1270's idea about having multiples made from the start is a great one.

Is it worth the elegance and tactile comfort enhancements?

It's entirely a luxury which makes this a very difficult thing for anyone but you to answer. It won't "save" the traditional drain floor beneath it in any relevant way, so there is no cost savings angel. Sounds pretty though.
posted by French Fry at 8:18 AM on November 15, 2012

I've been contemplating the same for my place. I've settled on doing a nice "normal" tile floor, then will make teak slats which fit perfectly in place but are removable as one piece.

At camp where I used to work, our outdoors-ish staff group showers had teak slat flooring over bare cement. It was great for showering because your feet didn't freeze. BUT we'd go spray down the slats every week with a bleach mixture, including lifting the slats to wash the cement underneath and make sure all sides of the teak were disinfected.

So, there may be additional maintenance work to think about when using wood in the wettest place in your house.
posted by jpeacock at 8:32 AM on November 15, 2012

I stayed at a resort with the teak slat floor in the shower once. It was more of a one-way slat pattern, as opposed to a grid (so not like DarlingBri's first link). I found that it was uncomfortable to stand on if my feet were aimed the same direction as the planks, but lovely if my feet were perpendicular to the stripes of wood and open space. YMMV, obviously, but it's the kind of detail people might not think of until the thing was installed and discovered to be uncomfortable. I would recommend having the slats going across the shower space, so you can face toward or away from the shower head, unless you spend more time standing sideways while showering.
posted by vytae at 8:57 AM on November 15, 2012

My only recommendation would be to stick with teak. My in laws had a deck made out of Ipa and it has brought disappointment.
posted by wwartorff at 9:48 AM on November 15, 2012

you perhaps want to look at ikea teak tiling

Decking on many yachts is made of teak ... I'd imagine it'll be fine if you sort out the drainage. On boats the wisdom is to not stain or finish it, and not to clean it too harshly (as it degrades the teak) ... but replacing a teak deck on a yacht is a mindboggling task compared to replacing a few ikea tiles.
posted by jannw at 10:04 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't imagine how you would deal with the possibility (certainty) of mold or other slimy stuff growing on the surface under the wood. It's going to be wet under there always, and anyplace that's always wet WILL grow mold. And stink. If I wanted to have the nice effect of standing on wood, I'd do it as a removable tray with a built in handle (very easy to grab) that could be lifted up to stand on its side (or hang on a hook?) between showers, so everything can dry out. This might be more trouble than it's worth.
posted by Corvid at 1:11 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

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