Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rebuilding a shower, from the base up.

Hey, guys--I'm back! We're working on a shower in Prattville that had a leak. All the customer could say was that it was somewhere in one of the walls. He ruled out the wall with the valve in it, because the damage was in the side wall and the wall opposite the shower head--a glass wall on top of a knee wall, between the tub and the shower. Yep--my guess is the knee wall was the main problem. Here's what it looked like when I arrived on the job. That's not me in the photo. I do wear shorts, but I don't wear flip-flops when I'm on duty.

The customer thought the base was okay, so wanted us to build on top of it. I'd have rather seen the shower before it was wrecked, but the customer originally was going to do it all himself. You can see where the knee wall goes--between the tub and the shower. And on top of the knee wall, we'll install a glass panel.

Watch as we reconstruct this shower--from the base to the glass door. Hey--it's gotta look better than this--right? And you'll learn what we do that makes our showers as "leak-proof" as a shower can be.

As we worked on the shower walls, the customer decided he wanted a new base. Shower bases are not kept in stock. Our deadline is "before Christmas." Whew. We were able to get our favorite saleswoman, Faith Nichols at Noland Co., to order us an acrylic shower base ASAP. We ordered it on Wednesday, and it was in my nervous hands Friday afternoon. My plumber, Mike Smith, was kind enough to install the base on Saturday. We'd lost only two days, at the most, thanks to Faith and Mike. Wesley and Dave had pre-planned the walls when they found out we were swapping the base. They ran the WR (water-resistant) sheetrock, a layer of 6 mil Visqueen, and the tile backer board down the walls, stopping about a foot above the base. This allowed the plumber to remove the old base, put in the new, and we were ready to finish running the walls down to the base on Monday. Great planning, guys!
          And now you might ask, "Why do I consider our showers leak-proof?" Because of the layers. Few shower installers add the layer of Visqueen, which is a thick, tough, plastic, to the walls. They think the backer-board is enough. Usually, it is, but I like being better than "usual." On top of the Visqueen we put tile backerboard, in this case, a product from Hardie that's cementitious, water-proofed. We also seal the joints with tile mastic and fiberglass tape. And when we finish tiling we add sealer to the grout, making it as non-porous as it can get, which is the final step in our "leak-proof" shower installation. There are still weak points, of course--anything sticking out of the tile--grab bars, soap dishes, shower handles. These items are usually out of the main blast of the shower-head spray, however, but we still watch them closely, covering any exposed screw heads with silicone caulk, and being extra sure the grout is applied everywhere it's supposed to be applied.

Here's the newest member of our team, Shaun. Look at him, will you--two days on the job and he's already cutting tile. He even wipes it down before taking it inside. Good going, Shaun!

Here's a good view of the bedlam inside a bathroom as we try to meet our deadline. David is setting tile around the tub, Chris is handing a tile to Wesley, who can't be seen, and Shaun is . . . well, it looks like Shaun is supervising! The new guy has taken over! Ha-ha. Not really. Shaun is waiting for David to give him a measurement. Maybe he should pop David on the back with that rag to hurry him up. Hmm?

Here's David, wondering what that "pop" sound was.

And here's Wesley, checking out David's work.

And here's a good shot of David and Wesley, both at work, trying to get the shower to the point where we can have the glass men measure for the side wall and door. I think we're going to make it. The glass takes a week or more to come in, and they won't measure until the tile is up. That's why we've been rushing.

 Wesley's still hard at work.

Shaun isn't used to his boss man taking his picture. Get over it, Shaun. It's what I do.
And so--as you can see, I'm having too much fun. Then again, is there anything in life more fun than remodeling? Well . . . of course there is. But, work-wise, remodeling is one heck-of-a-lot-of fun.

Wesley is "buttering" one of the final tiles.

Chris is handing Wes a cut tile.

Wes installs the tile and Chris measures one of the tiles that surrounds the tub.
The shower tile is up, ready to be grouted.

The tile has been grouted. Now all we need to do is clean it good and wait for the glass to come in. We don't need to seal the tile because we added sealer to the grout instead of water, making it as durable and leak proof as it can be. 

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