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heatherfeather 06-18-2008 09:30 AM

Shower floor confusion
Recently, my Dad became handicapped and my brother and I are trying to turn a half bath into an accessible full bath for him. I've tiled floors but never showers. The guys at Lowes recommend I use Hardiboard on the shower walls and shower floor and to build my shower seat. I'm ok with the walls and seat, but it makes me nervous to use it on the floor. Is this ok and if so, should I lay a membrane, then the hardiboard? Do I thinset the hardiboard to the membrane or just screw it in? If you screw it in, doesn't that void the membrane's ability to contain potential leakages?

Ron6519 06-18-2008 04:01 PM

Schluter makes a kit for shower floors. It can be curbed or rollin. Check out their website.
I'm using one in a tub/shower conversion right now.

angus242 06-18-2008 04:13 PM

I can't be sure. I know there are special circumstances for ADA compliant installations. Are you asking about a roll-in shower with no curb? If so, I believe the entire bathroom floor needs to be addressed.
Regardless, slope will be a concern no matter what you do. And the guy at Lowes has no business telling you how to install a tiled shower floor :furious:.

Don't do anything until you are 100% certain of what IBC or ADA requirements are for what you're hoping to attain. Maybe kctermite will chime in about handicap showers.

Termite 06-18-2008 11:24 PM

If we're talking about a single family residence, you certainly don't have to build it to ADA standards. You have to build it to your dad's capabilities.

I can tell you that the curb might be a hurdle if he's in a wheelchair. Valve location is often a big issue (and an ADA requirement) for people in chairs...You want to be able to turn the shower on and get it to an acceptible temperature before wheeling into the shower. Valves are typically located within 15" of the shower opening, and are reachable from the chair.

A normal shower with a tile floor will involve a sloped mud bed (NOT BACKERBOARD!!!!!!!!) with a curb that projects above the mud bed (including pre-pan, membrane, and mud bed) at least two or three inches. Not a good option for a chair.

They do make ADA compliant shower bases with very shallow curbs. You'd need to contact a plumbing supply house (not a box store) to check availability. If the curb isn't a big issue, you can get basic plastic shower floors that are basically foolproof. Plumbing suppliers have them, and if you can find someone halfway intelligent at the box store they can order them.

For the record, I wouldn't use backerboard for the horizontal surface of the shower seat either, unless you use a waterproofing product such as RedGard. Wood frame with a thick mud bed is my preferred way to do it.

Termite 06-18-2008 11:26 PM

I'd suggest going to a local tile shop to get a lesson on building a shower floor. You can't afford to screw it up, and every concern you raised in your original post is justified. is an excellent online forum with some helpful tile folks.

ChrWright 06-19-2008 06:42 AM

A roll-in, wheelchair accessible shower takes all the skill a professional tile contractor can muster. I know of only one product I could recommend as DIY friendly, which is Tile-Redi.

They have a pre-made, tileable shower pan that is made for wheelchair access. I'm not sure if they will do custom sizes but here's there link:

It will still require special framing, and a plumber to hook it up. As was mentioned, any benches/horizontal surfaces should be waterproofed after your backers are installed.

Termite 06-19-2008 07:53 AM

Looks like a good product for someone who is dead-set on a tile floor. Good link!

A custom molded acrylic base that fits the existing walls' dimensions would be cheaper, but can't be tiled. Less maintenance too.

heatherfeather 06-19-2008 08:26 AM

Thanks everyone! I really am overwhelmed by the various conflicting information I've gotten from the tile store and Lowes here in my parents hometown. I originally was going to make a curb and a bench with bars and controls close to where my Dad could reach them while sitting on the bench. I mocked everything out for him yesterday and he can't transfer from the wheelchair to the bench with the curb in place. It makes too much of a gap for him to get from the wheelchair to the bench. I've now modified the original design to include a sloped entry which is just like one I saw on John Bridge's forum. Lowes also suggested painting a waterproof paint over the hardiboard once I had installed it and taped it. They called it "Watertight Floors and Walls" and it was about $200 for a 5 gallon can. Is that like Redguard?

I'm flying home today and I'm going to go to the tile shop that taught me how to tile and ask them for their help with figuring this out. Dong the drain at the right height also worries me. I'm trying to save my parents money, but if I can't do it correctly, I'd rather pay myself to have a professional do it. We thought we had time, but we found out my Dad's insurance will cut him off in about 5 days, so he'll have to come home from the rehab center and take sponge baths until I fly back in two weeks and get this sorted out. The uncertainty is that my Dad may progress to a walker, so then his needs in the bathroom would change. ie. sink could be at normal height, a curb would be ok etc. As long as he can sponge bathe, I'm going to see how he progresses and research all of our options. Thanks again!

ChrWright 06-19-2008 08:49 AM

Sorry to hear of your father's difficulties. I hope things improve for you both.

As to the Lowes recommendation--that process will work for the bench, but NOT for the pan.

Tiled shower pans require a special drain assembly, a pre-sloped mortar bed over tar paper, a pan liner, and then a sloped bed over that. There are systems, like schluter, which take the-pre-slope and liner out of the equasion (they have their own pre slope system and special membrane which takes the place of the liner) but they are difficult to adapt to a curbless application without extensive framing work to the floor--which may be required in your case anyway.

47_47 06-19-2008 10:36 AM


Originally Posted by heatherfeather (Post 131766)
We thought we had time, but we found out my Dad's insurance will cut him off in about 5 days, so he'll have to come home from the rehab center and take sponge baths until I fly back in two weeks and get this sorted out.

Not a solution to your shower problem, but is your Dad eligible for Cobra extended insurance?

heatherfeather 06-22-2008 03:41 PM

Thanks again to everyone for such fabulous help. My local tile store really helped me understand the RIGHT way to build the shower floor and they supported the advice all of you gave me on this forum. I wish I could bake cookies for all of you to say thanks! Here's what I decided: I'm going to find a contractor to build the cement shower pan. I've finalized my design and it's very similar to one I saw on the John Bridge forum. I feel like I could do the floor - if I had the time and tools. Since I'm flying halfway across the US each time I want to work on the bathroom, I think it's smarter to have a professional do the shower floor. I feel like I can build the walls and the shower seat and tile the entire shower but the shower pan makes me nervous. I don't want the shower to leak!

47_47, I will look into the extended Cobra although I'm not too hopeful. My Dad has a combination BCBS/Medicare plan.

Thanks again to everyone and if anyone knows a good tile person in the Vestal/Binghamton, NY area, I'd love a recommendation. I did get a list from the local NY tile shop. (My apologies if I'm not supposed to ask for referrals on this forum)

Termite 06-22-2008 08:32 PM

If you lived down the street from your dad, I'd advocate doing it yourself. But, given the circumstances. I think you're making a wise decision in having a professional do it for you. I just completed one at my own house, and I'll tell you it really is time consuming to do it right.

heatherfeather 06-25-2008 12:37 PM

Well, uh-oh .. After lots of research, I decided to use the Schluter system and do it myself. I fly out this Sunday from Kansas City to my parents' house in NY. With the Kerdi pre-sloped floor and the entry slope instead of a curb, I should have to recess the shower floor. As long as I hand the curtain inside of the interior slope, as it slopes toward the drain, I think I should be ok. There is a similar shower on the John Bridge site. His floor is made out of mud and Kerdi waterproofing membrane, but it's the same exact concept. Here's the link.

KCTermite - Do you have any photos? I live in OP. I can't e-mail you directly as I'm too new to the board.

Thanks, Heather.

angus242 06-25-2008 01:05 PM

Schluter system is a wise choice. Very user friendly! You shouldn't have too much trouble with it. Great decision for a first-timer!

KCs thread is here:

heatherfeather 06-25-2008 02:58 PM

Angus, thanks for the links. Your tile work is gorgeous. Good tile sure dresses up a space! And thanks for the encouragement of using the Schluter system. I can use all of the strokes I can get at this point.

I guess I should proofread my posts. I am NOT recessing the floor and I am HANGING the curtain just inside the downslope.

As for time, I only have five days and that includes having three of my four kids with me, so I plan to pay the $$$ to extend my plane ticket so I can finish the job. I know I'll never get it done in five days and I don't want to rush it! Plus, I'm assuming the plumbing will be installed when I get there.


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