Help me construct a levee between the Shower Zone and the Toilet Zone
February 28, 2014 3:33 AM   Subscribe

I am renting an apartment with what I consider to be a relatively simple bathroom. While the walls and floor are tiled, there is no barrier separating the shower from the sink and toilet. Apparently the correct terminology for this is a "wetroom". And it does get very wet. I would like to be able to go to the toilet without wading through a wet toilet floor, so I need to jimmy up a simple, effective, hygienic solution.

The shower is in the innermost part of the bathroom. I have already put up a shower curtain, which mostly keeps the other bathroom fixtures dry, but water seeps all over the floor during showers. There is 30 cm of clearing between the floor and some plumbing by the wall. The distance between the walls is 114 cm. I would like to put some kind of barrier in this space to contain the water. The shower curtain goes to about 6 cm above the floor, although this is adjustable.

The landlord will not come to fix this personally, but has authorized me to find some kind of solution. It occurs to me that there should be a simple solution to this, but it's been very hard to find any tips online.

I'd rather not put up a whole shower cabinet. How can I make something DIY that is reliable, simple, effective and hygienic? (Or at least three of these)
posted by Aiwen to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There is 30 cm of clearing between the floor and some plumbing by the wall. The distance between the walls is 114 cm.

This is difficult to visualize. Any chance you could post a photograph?
posted by jon1270 at 3:39 AM on February 28, 2014

I have used many wet rooms where the shower area is contained by a narrow tiled wall that is low enough to step over. I guess that makes them not exactly 'wet rooms' anymore, but it certainly works to contain water. Are you able to put something like that up?

In wet rooms where there is no division, I have generally found that a squeegee attached to a long rod useful in wiping down the whole floor area and pushing all the water in the direction of the drain.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:43 AM on February 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

A low wall would certainly work, and I've been thinking about something similar. It only really needs to be 2 cm high or so in order to function. However, the correct material (rubber? glass? plastic? tiles?) as well as how this material may be attached to the wall and floor elude me.

Wiping the floor down is the current method, but alas this still results in wet socks.

Picture, as requested. The desired location is approximate.
posted by Aiwen at 3:55 AM on February 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

If looks aren't an issue, you could hack a shower lip using a big foam roll like this, just set down right on the floor under your curtain (if rolling is an issue, maybe use a utility knife to slice a flat surface along the bottom edge). Two of those properly placed should be adequate to contain most of your shower water, I'd think. You'd just have to make a point of standing them up at some point after the shower to avoid mildewing.
posted by Bardolph at 3:56 AM on February 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Tile would be a construction project, more involved and expensive than typically makes sense in a rental. I like the idea of a roll or flat strip of some sort of closed cell foam rubber.
posted by jon1270 at 4:09 AM on February 28, 2014

We had this in a rental once and got a contractor to put in a narrow step of concrete as a dam, so the water in the shower area didn't spill over. It was concrete put in a rectangular frame (about 90cm long by 9cm high by 9cm wide) on top of the existing tile floor, then some colour-matching tile was applied on top. It took a day I think, though we couldn't use the bathroom for another day or two because of waiting for stuff to dry waterproof. It was cheap, straight forward and effective.
posted by viggorlijah at 4:23 AM on February 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

What immediately sprang to mind is threshold weatherstripping like so:
posted by Nothing at 4:59 AM on February 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd start by lowering the shower curtain to floor level because that's by far the easiest and cheapest thing to try. Lowering the shower curtain to touch the floor was enough the last time I lived with a wetroom set up. If that doesn't reduce water on floor enough for you explore other options.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:03 AM on February 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

Get some balls and a level and make sure, for starters, that you are not working against a water flow that veers away from the drain if the water lands past point X.

You may be able to control a lot of this with the shower curtain.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:21 AM on February 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

In my newly bought house our shower has a small tiled area next to the bath where water will collect and because of the grouting the water used to run straight onto the floor. I think that the previous owners took baths instead. It is on the list of things to change in the house, but due to other issues the ensuite is getting upgraded first and then the main bath will be fixed. I needed a kludge to make a small dam so that water wasn't running down the grout line and onto the floor and instead will allow it to run into the bath when there is enough. The simplest thing I found to do this was a small bit of bluetack rolled into a snake that went the length of the small tile span I was looking to block. I would imagine nearly any clay would work fine but the bluetack has held up wonderfully now for a few months and I bet you can get something like it in Beijing. My total cost was well under £1 and is completely removable without anyone ever knowing it was there.
posted by koolkat at 5:29 AM on February 28, 2014

I would suggesting using something like this rubber pipe wrap and stick it to the floor using either bathroom caulk or a heavy-duty double-sided tape. It's large enough to keep the water from flowing over it, and you can cut it to the exact length needed.

Also lower the shower curtain to within a 1/2 inch of this to keep water from splashing out.
posted by trivia genius at 5:38 AM on February 28, 2014

This is a different approach, but may be simpler--put down one or more wooden platforms, sort of as stepping stones (or, maybe you could put down actual stepping stones!). I've seen bathmats made of wood and they have some height off the ground and clearance underneath. (Sorry about the U.S. link.)
posted by payoto at 5:45 AM on February 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sandbag shaped like a tube is the way I'd start. They're cheap, but you have to BYO sand. They're made for outdoor water diversion, but this seems like a decent fit.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:49 AM on February 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a product that's similar conceptually to several already mentioned "homemade" suggestions:
Accessible shower dam kit
Shower threshold
posted by Kriesa at 6:00 AM on February 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had a bathroom like this when I lived in South Korea (where I think they're fairly common) - I just used a cheap pair of thick-soled plastic sandals that I kept by the bathroom door. May not satisfy you long term (I adjusted fine) but would be a cheap, easy fix to reduce wet sock frustration (ugh) while you're trying to figure out a construction solution.
posted by raisindebt at 6:16 AM on February 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

You really need a shower tray. But it's not cheap and the DIY ability depends on what you consider doable-yourselfable. If your landlord sees that he is protecting his bathroom for the long term, maybe you can get him to spring for it, and professional installation if needed.
posted by The Deej at 6:16 AM on February 28, 2014

Have you tried cleaning the drain? If the water is able to flow into the drain unimpeded, you might have much less creeping past the curtains.
posted by HFSH at 6:27 AM on February 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

You can get a length of marble (several feet wide and perhaps 3-4 inches high) from a store like Home Depot, something like this. If you measure it to within a couple of cm (remember you'll want a little room on either side for the silicone), they should even be able to cut a custom length for you. Secure it to the floor and wall with silicone caulk, this should work. Use plenty of silicone (you can wipe away any that squeezes out unattractively). This should be completely water tight.

The result will (more or less) match the tile aesthetic and be easy to remove (a razor will take the silicone off the tile with almost no effort.) So, your landlord should be happy, too.
posted by oddman at 7:55 AM on February 28, 2014

I would go with either raisindebt or oddman's solutions. Bathroom slippers are a good thing anyway and if they solve your wet floor issues then so much the better. If that doesn't work for whatever reason then laying something on the tile and then caulking it will be cheap, effective and easy to remove.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:46 AM on February 28, 2014

I just saw raisindebt's answer, which was exactly what I was going to say. These types of bathrooms are pretty much the norm in small apartment buildings in Korea. But even when I was in a highrise with a proper tub, we still used the bathroom sandals.
posted by kathrynm at 9:18 AM on February 28, 2014

The suggestions by Kriesa look good. I was thinking put a thin, elevated, bead of silicone along the tile joints.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 3:06 PM on February 28, 2014

There are devices for preventing water from getting into garages under the door, a sort of cut-to-length plastic or rubber barrier on a base. This should work for your shower as well.
posted by yohko at 4:49 PM on February 28, 2014

Thanks to everyone for the good answers. I will do basically what oddman suggested. An update for future searchers:

I finally managed to find the right keywords, and have now ordered a straight PVC water barrier cut to the necessary length and silicone sealant along with the necessary tools (rubber gloves, glue gun and the little plastic thing you use to even it out with).

The procedure, as I understand it, is as follows:
1) Clean the area and let it dry
2) Put the PVC water barrier down and mark the sides with a pencil; take the PVC water barrier away
3) Put silicone sealant in the indented crevices on the underside of the PVC barrier and on the ends
4) Put the PVC water barrier on the marked-off area and press down
5) Put more sealant on the sides and ends
6) Just make it nice and neat
7) Dry for 24 hours
posted by Aiwen at 1:27 AM on March 1, 2014

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