Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2011, always close the shower screen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, closing the shower screen would be it. The short term benefits of closing the shower screen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience of DIY bathroom projects. I will dispense this advice, now.
I’ve recently replaced a shower enclosure in a small bathroom for a friend. Having completed various bathroom projects over the years I’ve learnt some valuable lessons in how to do things right and save time in the process, particularly during my latest project.
So the task was to replace a 900mm x 900mm quadrant shower enclosure with a 900mm x 1200mm quadrant shower enclosure. Shower enclosures come in all shapes and sizes but by choosing a larger shower enclosure with a curved corner meant that there was enough room for the larger size even though the bathroom is quite small. Seems straight forward enough, except the bathroom was already tiled half way up the walls, all the way around, and the shower itself was to be moved onto an adjacent wall to provide more elbow room for the occupant (I can only guess that my friend likes to dance the Macarena as well as sing in the shower!). This meant the tiles in the shower would all need replacing. So here’s what I did:
1) To avoid having to re-tile the whole bathroom, some tiles with a design to complement the existing tiles were purchased, so that just the area within the new shower cubicle would need to be tiled.
2) The size of the new shower was marked out on the walls and the old tiles within the new shower area removed.
Top Tip: Where you want to remove an old tile, but not risk also removing the tile next to it, use a grout removing tool to dig out the grout around the tile first.
Top Tip: Remove any tile adhesive left on the wall using a steam wallpaper stripper.
Top Tip (yes, another one!): If the position of the new enclosure happens to sit part way across the old tiles you’ll need to save and cut some of them so that you can tile up to the outside of the new shower enclosure with the old tiles.
3) The shower and pipe work was moved to the adjacent wall. With the walls being plasterboard, rather than trying to feed the pipes through by cutting out holes in the wall it was quicker and easier to remove a big section of the plasterboard and replace with new plasterboard when the plumbing was completed.
4) Seal up the walls using a sealant specifically designed for water-proofing walls in preparation for tiling. I was tempted to slap on some cheap and cheerful PVA that I normally use to seal plaster before painting, but found out that moisture from the subsequent tile adhesive can wet the PVA and loosen the tiles – a disaster scenario to be avoided. A tile specialist can advise on the best product to use and how to apply it.
5) Position the new shower tray to the wall and tile the area of the new shower cubicle with the new tiles, using a water resistant tile adhesive specifically formulated for use in showers. It’s important to tile to the top of the shower tray rather than tile the whole wall and then fit the shower tray to the tiles.The tile adhesive must be left to dry out fully before grouting, following the guideline times of the tile adhesive being used. The drying time for a shower area will be longer than for an ordinary wall because with the wall having a water-proof sealant applied before tiling, any residual moisture in the tile adhesive will have nowhere to go once a water-proof grout has been applied, which means the tiles may not adhere to the wall properly.
Top Tip: I’ve learnt that whilst tile adhesive directions normally say to just put the adhesive on the wall, the safer option to ensure good adhesion is to also spread a small amount of adhesive over the tile before applying it to the wall, especially with larger tiles.
Once the tile adhesive has fully dried apply a water-proof grout.
Top Tip: Forget trying to use a credit card for this. It’s well worth buying a good quality grout applicator with a comfortable handle and a rubber base, which enables the grout to be pushed into the gaps between the tiles and then ‘squeegeed’ off to leave a nice finish with the majority of any excess grout removed. When the grout starts to harden wipe over the tiles with a damp cloth to remove any residual grout.
Fit the new shower enclosure as per the manufacturer instructions. When drilling holes in the tiles use a drill bit specifically designed for tiles to minimise the risk of cracking.
Top Tip: Before drilling holes in tiles, apply masking tape and mark the hole position on the masking tape, which will help to stop the drill bit sliding around.
To finish, seal up all appropriate joints where water needs to be kept out, following the shower enclosure instructions. Also use sealant along where the shower tray meets the tiles.
Tip: To help keep unsightly black mould away, use an anti-bacterial bathroom sealant.
So that’s it. If you need a new shower enclosure click here to view our great value range and feel free to comment with your own advice and top tips. There’s lots more I could add and maybe you’ll use my advice, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll create your dream bathroom, maybe you won’t.
But trust me on the shower screen…