Extreme Basement Finish: Bath Edition
March 22, 2013 8:00 AM   Subscribe

I've had a change of heart in what I want to do with my basement shower. Are my ideas feasible?

So it's getting time to tackle the bathroom in the never-ending battle to finish our basement. The current frame-in is based on the previous plan to install a simple pre-fab square shower insert and go the easy route. The downside is, to me it looks cheap, and I end up wasting some space. Cost was a consideration before, but not so much anymore. So I'm ditching the pre-fab stall idea and going with tile. I have two questions regarding the plans:

First, Here is what it looks like now, with notes on what I'd like to do. The left side wall would be removed to open up that additional foot of space, I would build in a 4-inch (?) bottom step thing across the existing opening, and tile the whole thing with some nice stone tiles (with concrete backerboard). The back wall, currently framed to bring the whole wall plumb with the knee wall, would be removed, creating a small shelf running the length of that wall. Do-able? I can certainly handle the framing part, I framed out the rest of the basement myself. Just want to make sure I'm not missing anything.

Second, I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do with the drain. When they built the house, they left that 1' hole in the floor to access the drain pipe. I'm thinking the best way to do this is to uncap that pipe, put in the trap, and cap off a new vertical pipe sticking out of the hole, then fill in the hole with concrete level with the rest of the floor, so in theory it looks like the toilet pipe. Then I can mortar in the drain pan / liner, install the adjustable floor drain, and tile away. Then a part of me thinks that, if these types of drains are supposed to be adjustable, I should have the whole thing installed before I fill in the hole?

Good idea, bad idea? Please let me know what I'm missing, or other ideas / tips you may have. Thank you!
posted by SquidLips to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is not the best forum for your particular question. Head over to John Bridge.
posted by jon1270 at 8:50 AM on March 22, 2013

You need to use the Schluter Kerdi system for your bath enclosure not concrete backerboard. Moisture control is always a problem so you need something waterproof. The kerdi board will work great in your enclosure and let you cut and move stuff around for shelves or alcoves or whatever.
posted by bartonlong at 9:05 AM on March 22, 2013

as for the adjustable drain thing, they are adjustable to account for things like thin/thick tile or using an insert. Once again schluter makes a 'shower kit' with a pre fab tray that already has the slope set you don't have to pout the mortar bed in the shower. It is more expensive but a huge time saver and it really takes a good eye and some experience to set a good mortar bed, anyone can set the prefab trays in. I can't stress how much easier using something like the schluter systems stuff will make it possible for a fairly low skilled amateur to build a good shower over trying to do it the way the professionals build them.
posted by bartonlong at 9:52 AM on March 22, 2013

I have such a ledge in my basement bathtub enclosure. It is quite useful and looks nifty with some decorative water-safe pretty things on it, as well as shampoo, soap and shower stuff. The tiler was instructed to make the ledge surface have a slight slope so water would drain, but did not do so. Would be better if he had, but it's still fine.
posted by theora55 at 9:59 AM on March 22, 2013

How are you venting that shower trap that you are going to install?
That's a Socratic question.

Chiming in on the shower pan kit.

Make sure you hyperinsulate the shower wall that is against the exterior. The chronically lower temperatures that wall can experience can greatly enhance mold growth.

Personally, I don't think I would encase the trap or drain connection in concrete. You'll probably have a compression fitting to mate to that cast iron pile, and it probably has bolts to torque, and I'd want permanent access to that (even if I had to tear out the shower).

If you're determined to build your own pan, and to concrete the box, I'd pack it in sand (after pressure testing the DWV plumbing with a wienie inserted in the cast iron drain, through the downstream cleanout). You could get an inch or two of concrete over the sand to level the plumbing box with the concrete floor. That way if things went seriously pear-shaped, you'd be able to demo the shower floor without the risk of damaging the cast iron pipe.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:02 PM on March 23, 2013

Thanks for the comments.

I had previously looked into the Kerdi stuff, and I still may decide to go with that for the walls. As for the pan, the initial drawback I found was that they only offer 4 sizes of pre-fab pans, none of which matched my measurements. After further research and a conversation with a local dealer / supplier though, those pans can be trimmed to size in most applications, the question being whether the drain location is compatible with one of them. (I'm really, really trying to stay away from knocking out the floor and relocating the drain.) I'm expecting a call back tomorrow to see if the measurements will allow for this, or if any kind of custom sizes are available.

the Real Dan, the plumbing is ABS, not iron (even though it totally does look like rusted iron pipe in that photo). This is all new construction, 10 years old, so there's no iron to deal with. Otherwise I would share your sentiment about not backfilling that hole. Your suggestion of using a sand layer makes complete sense; I'll be filling with sand (or more clay soil from outside identical to what's already down there) up to the bottom of the existing slab and fill concrete from there. (If I decide to go with a Kerdi pan I'll need to leave some room around the drain riser to tie in the Kerdi drain.)

The two basement bath drain points (shower and sink) have their own vent stack already, separate from the stack that serves the upstairs, so no worries there.
posted by SquidLips at 7:07 PM on March 24, 2013

I used one of the offset schluter pans for my really oddly shaped shower that is shoe horned in already tiny bathroom in the upper story of a 100 year old house. So they can totally be trimmed to fit. I used a pizza cutter and a snap blade knife to trim mine-they are essentially a big heavy piece of high density Styrofoam. BTW the kits schluter sells have pretty much everything you need in the kit-i ended up buying too much cause i didn't know that.
posted by bartonlong at 3:51 PM on March 25, 2013

I just want to say that if the preformed pans don't work for you doing a conventional screeded mortar bed isn't very hard and is fairly forgiving of mistakes. The first and only pan I did was for a 6x7 shower with barrier free entrance and it turned out great. Cheap too.
posted by Mitheral at 11:17 AM on March 31, 2013

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