Bathroom remodel - Shower surround or tile?


  #1  
Old 01-14-04, 05:22 PM
Chipward
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Bathroom remodel - Shower surround or tile?

I am going to redo my very small master bath - 76" by 70".
My current bath has tile all around about half way up the wall and all the way up in a small corner neo angle shower - 36" by 36".

Looking at the Home Depots of the worlds, I find many varieties of shower enclosures that either glue to backer board or nail directly to the studs.

None of the these units go all the way to the ceiling and the spray is designed to be placed slightly above the top of the enclosure.

Will I have any problems with condensation/steam on the surface between the top of the enclosure to the ceiling?

Also I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the relative technical merits of tile versus plastic surrounds other the obvious aesthethic ones.

Thanks

Chip
 
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Old 01-14-04, 09:05 PM
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Chip,

I guess first thing is do you have a good exhaust fan within this small bathroom? If not, install one. Whatever you install or the reasons that you are installing something new, the issue of moisture will be a factor that must be addressed first.

What you desire from that point is something that depends on budget and what appeals to you.

We have different types of surrounds. This is a list I made a while back.

1. Plastic Laminates - but they do support growth of mold and mildew. (Remember the bath fan suggestion), usually thin wall and can be nicked and scratches are hard to make new again. It will wear out in time but this is less costly than tile. The most frequesnt complaint is that it cracks in time but they are easy to install.

2. Fiberglass - Cheap in comparison but no grout lines to clean, these do show water spots,stains and are limited in sizes but depending on the manufacturer determines it's quality. If proper cleaning products are used, these will last a long time.

3. Ceramic Tile - Can cost some bucks if done by a pro but it can be scrubbed, you can have whatever design you can imagine and color choices. It does crack and chip, very cold to the touch and does support mold and mildew. Grout is hard to clean and it is a maintenance item - needs to be sealed and properly cleaned frequently.

4. Cultured Marble - These are less costly that real marble , quite appealing with various colors available. This stuff is heavy and costs more for solid colors. Adding accessorires to these can be costly and are limited as well.

5. Solid Surface - Corian would be one example and these can be scrubbed, verstile in style, no grout lines to clean and very appealing. Accessories are limited and walls with larger than 30" areas may have to have seams. Panel height is limited and all edges have a seam cap. Surprisingly, these also promote mold and mildew growth.

6. Marble - Many colors with great surface textures and very appealing but costly. Scratches are difficult to repair if at all but it is cold to the touch and it does crack easily. Again mold and mildew problems are possible.

7. Acrylic - Virtually the best quality for the cost. Very minimal wear, can be scrubbed, no grout lines, solid and marble color selections and scratches can be buffed if necessary.

Hope this helps!
 
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Old 01-16-04, 09:56 PM
J
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Hi Chip,

Doug gives great information - I wish we'd posted questions before we did our remodel; it would have saved some hassles. Luckily our master bath (slightly smaller than yours) remodel has turned out just fine. It's been done for about six weeks, and we're happy with it. We ended up going with a solid surface shower pan and shower surround clear up to the ceiling. It makes the room seem larger and lighter, and it's easy to keep clean. We also put in a more powerful exhaust fan (many more cfm than suggested by the manufacturer for a room that size), and that has made a lot of difference.

Good luck with your project.
 
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Old 01-16-04, 10:06 PM
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johannamarie,

Thanks for the compliment! What size fan did you put in?

Chip, what john mentioned is critical - a high volume CFM exhaust fan is a must. The projects that I have designed when the client wants these, I insist on at least a 150 cfm unit or higher. Last project was a 250 cfm! Large bathroom! This ensures less chance for the things we don't want - left over moisture and chance for mildew, etc.

Just a word of advice, you have options to these types of showers and this can be solid bases, prefab units or 3-4 pc units or custom made.

Let your imagination go for it, all things are possible!
 
  #5  
Old 01-19-04, 04:55 PM
Chipward
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Thanks Doug and johannamarie,

Doug - I think if i read correctly you like the acrylic surround the best. Any Mfg's that you can recommend or is that against the rules of the forum?

johannamarie - what type of surround did you get that went to the ceiling? The ones i have seen so far have heights of about 72 inches or so - maybe I am not looking at the right types of distributors.

Re the fan:

The house is 25 years old and we lived in it 15 years without a fan so far. No noticeable mold problems and no peeling paint from the ceiling so far. Is the fan really needed? If so, I assume it has to vent all the way outside and not the attic, which would mean a cut through the roof. Is that correct?

Thanks again

Chip

P.S. I do plan on doing this myself - if that affects any of your thinking.
 
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Old 01-19-04, 05:35 PM
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Chip,

I wrote this, see if this helps,

"There are three primary types of tub and shower units:

1. Gel-coated fiberglass
2. Acrylic reinforced with fiberglass
3. Acrylic backed with a structural composite.

Now side by side, these products look very similar, however there are important differences.

The gel-coat products, when constructed with high quality ingredients, can be very hard and durable. The manufacturing process is critical, as the liquid gel-coat must be applied evenly on the molds at the correct temperature. Gel-coated products if damaged or scratched can be repaired with great success. Repairs performed correctly are permanent and virtually invisible.

Acrylic units are usually constructed using large sheets of solid colored acrylic plastic. These sheets are heated so that they soften. The softened sheets are then stretched over a mold to achieve the desired shape of the shower or tub unit. This stretching process, however, sometimes causes the acrylic to be very thin as it stretches around corners. Those units with the highest percent of acrylic tend to offer higher performance levels. Repairs to these units are not always successful.

Many homeowners in the past were dissatisfied with the fact that the floors of these units flexed like oil cans. Some of the acrylic units backed with composites have addressed this problem. The other units often need to be set in wet plaster (5 gal pail of pre-mixed joint compound) or mortar to provide a solid base. This may be required or recommended in the installation instructions.

The care of either cast iron units or the alternatives is important. Never use cleansers that contain abrasives, as these can scratch both cast iron and plastic fixtures. If you simply make a practice of cleaning the tub or shower area every two weeks, you will avoid the heavy soap buildup that often necessitates heavy scrubbing. Virtually every manufacturer has a recommended cleaner that they strongly suggest you use. Follow these instructions and you will have a beautiful tub and shower area for many years.

Finally, if you do select one of the acrylic or fiberglass, you can keep it looking new by applying once a month, car wax. It just takes a few minutes and you use spray on car wax applied to the surface to the wall surfaces only. Never apply wax to the floor of the unit. Buff this wax out and it will be as shiny as new!

I personally like Lasco...
http://www.lascobath.com/browse.pl?l...html&series=11

The acrylics have a 5 year warranty. Gelcoats have a 3 year.

Kohler is another great product and I would go with ...
http://www.us.kohler.com/onlinecatal...Shower+Modules "

The fan is very important even if you are only having a shower. get a good one. The size should be proportionate to the room size.

Hope this helps!
 
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Old 01-20-04, 09:54 AM
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Hi Chip and Doug,

What we have is Swanstone. Their shower pan is excellent. If you want the surround to go all the way to the ceiling, you can buy sheets of the material (that won't work for a tub surround unless you put a special trim piece in the center because there's a width limit for the available material). We have an odd configuration so it was better to go with buying the Swanstone sheets and edging. The company is helpful if you call them. My understanding is that Corian is only available to registered fabricators, but Swanstone can be purchased by us (we have Corian in the kitchen, and there may be differences, but I sure can't tell). This stuff is really expensive, maybe too expensive, and I'm hoping it will last forever. We looked at some of the pre-fab acrylic and fiberglass surrounds, and I thought they were beautiful, but they wouldn't fit here. I hope one of them will work out for you. Since you have a standard-sized neo-angle there already, that's certainly a more economical way to go (in both money and time!). If you get a shower surround that doesn't reach the ceiling, I don't think you should have a problem if you use high-quality bathroom paint and get that fan installed. We have that situation in our other bathroom - about one foot of painted drywall above the tub/shower surround. I think putting exhaust fans in your bathrooms actually helps your whole house. That water vapor has to go somewhere. We have a surprisingly quiet 110cfm in a bathroom the size of a small for a walk-in closet. I had made up my mind on the fan manufacturer, and they suggested the 70cfm would be plenty, but get more power if you can.

Doug, I noticed looking around the site that you like very powerful exhaust fans. Do you know of a high cfm fan that is relatively quiet?

Johanna
 
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Old 01-20-04, 10:14 AM
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Johanna,

It's not that I always want to use larger fans but depending on the use and size of room, it is essential to avoid problems. I have had clients use 50 - 110 cfm units and when the family takes long hot showers, they are having problems.

It's an issue that needs to be addressed and when one installs a steam shower bath, heated whirlpools, it's even more critical.

Trouble with fan sizing, they don't take into account what is acually in the bathroom, like 2 sinks or one, like 3 fixture bath, 5 fixture bath and how many are in the family. These factors are more important than the actual size of the room. To top it off, then you get a house full of company, then what? The other issue is that if a family is taking more showers than baths, more moisture is emitted into the room, again, this is more important than room size.

Another issue is vaulted ceilings - or taller than 8' is also an issue so this is another factor. 9 or 10 ft ceilings create more need for larger fan size.

I do agree though that trying to get a quiet fan is the hard part as they are more expensive but what is more important?

Good site for bath fan sizing,

http://steamsaun.com/panasonic/sizing.html

Good sites to look at sones

http://www.broan.com/product-categor...CategoryID=501

http://www.positive-energy.com/pages...nCeiling2.html

I prefer Panasonic but Nutone-Broan are just as good. It's a matter of quality versus price, as always.

Does this help?
 

Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 01-20-04 at 10:29 AM.
  #9  
Old 08-01-05, 08:55 AM
fred_lv
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Swanstone installation for Johanna

Johanna and others,

You said that you used Swantone in your shower. Did you have someone install it or did you "do it yourself"? If you did it yourself, how difficult was it to cut? How did you cover the seams (top, bottom and sides)? What do you do to keep it looking clean?

We (my wife & I) want to remove the ceramic tile in our master shower and around the master tub (2 separate untis) and replace it using Swanstone. We know where to order the product but would like someone experience in actually installing it.

Thank you,

Fred
 
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Old 11-20-05, 02:38 PM
E
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Fred,

Did you ever get these questions answered?

We are also looking at Swanstone to redo our shower, and I have exactly the same concerns as you expressed. (How difficult is it to cut, how does one cover the seams, etc.)

I would greatly appreciate hearing from anyone that has installed Swanstone shower walls and shower base to see how this experience went.

Thanks,
Eric
 
 

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