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New angle on installing a corner shower

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By Tim Carter
Friday, October 22, 2010; 8:20 PM

DEAR TIM: It's time to remodel our bathroom, and I want a sleek glass corner shower to replace our current standard tub. What are some of the pros and cons? I'm afraid that the angled door will mean that I don't have enough room in the shower. Help! - Wanda B., Greenville, S.C.

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DEAR WANDA: You're asking the right questions. When you're trying out your new corner shower for the first time, the last thing you want to discover is that your remodeler built it too small, leaving you bumping into the walls and door.

Glass shower enclosures are the rage because they're so sleek and easy to clean. I had one in the house I just sold and will be installing several glass showers in the new home I intend to build.

I want to warn you about corner shower tubs. I frequently see these fixtures advertised and think that some are misleading. I'll never forget a job I did about 30 years ago where an architect insisted on using a first-generation acrylic tub as a shower fixture.

This tub was promoted as being good for a shower, but it had no flange on the edges where the walls of the shower contacted the tub unit. I told the architect it was a mistake and that there would be future leaks.

He insisted that careful caulking would create a permanent seal. We caulked it, under written protest, with his on-site supervision. Six months later there were serious leaks into the living room below. Since I had my written release from damage, I was immune from the warranty claims made by the owner.

The bottom line is that if you decide to use one of these classy corner tubs in conjunction with a shower, make sure that it has a flange on the two edges that contact the corner walls. Further, make sure that you figure out how you're going to get in and out of the tub safely. Finally, with regard to the deck of the tub where the glass enclosure goes, make sure that it slopes back toward the tub so that any water that splashes onto it flows to the tub drain.

I recommend that the shower wall dimensions be at least 36 inches by 36 inches as they come out of the corner. Usually, shower-door manufacturers want you to provide at least 24 inches along the clipped corner so they can get a door that will make it easy to enter and exit the shower. If you draw this configuration on a blank piece of plywood or your garage floor with a pencil, you'll discover that you end up with plenty of room.

If you want a larger shower, make sure that the walls of the shower as they come out of the corner are at least 42 inches. A larger 48-inch corner shower will give you a luxury shower experience. If you decide to have your plumber and remodeler build a custom tile corner shower, I suggest you consider including a bench.

Don't hesitate to install some shelves for all of your personal cleaning and grooming supplies. If you decide to go with the nice metal shower baskets, make sure that they are stainless steel or nickel. Avoid chrome-plated steel. I tested a chrome one in a shower in my current house, and it started to rust in less than nine months.

If your tile setter or remodeler builds a curb for your new shower, it's critical that it slant in toward the shower. I also urge you to use solid stone for the top of this curb instead of ceramic tile. Each grout line in between tiles on a curb is a place for water to penetrate. Solid stone caps on a curb minimize leak points. Be sure the mitered seams of the stone pieces are filled with waterproof epoxy.

Tim Carter is a columnist for Tribune Media Services. He can be contacted through his Web site, www.askthebuilder.com.


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