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bigbrad123 05-19-2006 12:58 PM

bathroom wall advice
I am looking at putting in a shower/tub in my downstairs bathroom. It is already roughed in, however, the walls need work. It is a concrete foundation with no other inside wall. It also has a window in the wall. I'm looking for advice on how to prepare the wall for putting in a tub/shower. I am assuming I would need to either remove the window or put in some type of insulation. I am also assuming i need to sheetrock the wall somehow. Problem is I don't know exactly where to start. Any advice? Thanks.

billinak 05-19-2006 01:36 PM

First of all, windows in showers can cause problems unless they're adequately sealed. I just replaced the exterior wall of my house because the old shower window leaked and rotted the whole thing away. Of course after doing this, I put the window back in, but it was a sealed vinyl window of much better quality than the old wood casement window that was originally there.

After installing the window, I insulated the walls, then stapled a vapor barrier over the insulation. Next I covered the walls with cement board. There are two main types of cement board that I've seen, Durock and hardiboard, both have their pros and cons, I went with the hardiboard bacause it's easier to work with, but it's not appropriate for a steam shower. Don't use drywall or greenboard as it won't stand up to the moisture

After taping the seams, I tiled the entire tub surround including the around the window, after putting hardiboard around the window too. I put the windowsill at an angle to drain water, very important. It turned out great. Even if your not tiling, you should still use the cement board just because of the moisture factor.
Good luck!

bigbrad123 05-19-2006 05:06 PM

thanks billinak. Would you suggest removing the window? I am thinking that would be better because its in a basement and also because I live in North Dakota. I don't want cold coming into the shower. Also, how would I put the cement board against a cement wall? Do I have to drill into the cement wall somehow? I am not much of a carpenter, so all of this is new to me. Thanks.

AtlanticWBConst. 05-19-2006 05:30 PM


We have done alot of these basement Bathrooms. Currently doing 3 of them.

Do a layout on the floor itself. Draw it out, your outside walls should be set in 1-2" to allow for air movement.
Also allow area for the bathroom door in-swing and shower door out swing, unless you are putting in a tub.
Layouts are pretty simple.
Use 2x4 Pressure treated lumber for your bottom plate. Fire these in with a powder actuated fastener. Level up for your top plates. Use KD grade lumber for everything else. You should know the rest: 16 O.C.

Do what electrical you would like next.
Main electrical items that are good to have: Light switch, GFCI near sink area, some kind of heat source, an exhaust vent and switch. Vanity light, ceiling light.

Make sure you have the proper insulation. 2x4 walls=R13, 2x6 walls=R19.

You don't necessarily need to put up a vapor barrier. They really are only supposed to be used when you have un-faced insulation. Putting a vapor barrier over faced insulation will creat a 'vaper chamber' where moisture can actually be trapped. Building inspectors don't allow this.

Cement board is used as a base for doing tile or masonry work. It is great in showers for this as a tile backer.
You can use this product behind a shower enclosure. You can also use MR board. That is: Moisture Resistant Sheetrock. The product out now has a purple paper surface, and it is also rated as mold resistant. Unless there is tile work, I prefer to use this throughout the entire bathroom.

You state that you have a window in the wall. I don't know if that means in the actual shower or not.
If it is in the shower, you may have problems. You can replace it with a completely vinyl, sealed unit, but you would still run into problems with water and moisture pooling up on the window sill.
Another option is to remove it and frame it in, then insulate it also.
You would have to do something with the outside....besides the fact that it would look ugly if you didn't.
If the area is already roughed in with plumbing lines, you will still need an ejection pump connected to the main drain. Also, a sewage exhaust, and electrical source to run the ejection pump.

The rest is pretty simple stuff.... Sheetrock, taping, door, trimwork, Paint, flooring....

Good Luck!

DaveH 06-05-2006 06:18 AM

As far as what to use for wallboard just remember...Good paint and caulk. No "drywall" made will stand up to water. NONE! Greenboard is water vapor resistant. Water vapor is humidity not even steam. Remember to use at least several coats of semigloss paint and caulk the heck out of it. Water is very intrusive and will make it's way into any crack or seam. Also when you are done make sure to re-caulk every so many years due to wear on the caulking. Cement board is great at not degrading with water, BUT the water should never make it's way to the cement board in the first place. If it does you will end up rotting everything the cement board is fastened to.

KUIPORNG 06-05-2006 03:07 PM

what about the ceiling of the bathroom, should we use MR board or cement board as well ? or just the moisture resistance drywall?

I am doing the similar thing for my basement and would like to know...

AtlanticWBConst. 06-05-2006 05:27 PM


Originally Posted by KUI****G
what about the ceiling of the bathroom, should we use MR board or cement board as well ? or just the moisture resistance drywall?

I am doing the similar thing for my basement and would like to know...

Use MR board for the ceiling. Paint with a mold resistant paint, or have a mold resistant additive put into the paint you use for the ceiling.

MR board is fine for the ceilings and for the walls. The only time you would have to worry about the product 'failing' is if you had a major leak somewhere....and if you had a major leak, there's going to be alot more damaged than just the drywall...:(

(Also: Make sure you install a proper sized electric fan vent in the ceiling to remove the moisture from showers)

DaveH 06-06-2006 01:11 PM

Actually I have been told by USG that green board should not be used on ceilings. 1/2" or 5/8". Cement board only on ceilings you intend to tile. They told me that green board has a sag tendency on ceilings. I have seen it used many times with no problems however. The mold resistant paint is always a good idea for any moist environment.

AtlanticWBConst. 06-06-2006 04:07 PM


As a ceiling only installation (no tiles on it) USG Recommends that framing be placed 12" on center for 1/2 " MR board - ceiling applications, in order to avoid sagging. Also - 16" framing for 5/8" MR board.
Done this way and the MR board will not sag according to USG submittal sheet 09250.
(Sorry, don't mean to get technical on ya ;) , but, it's just so you know I didn't make it up)

DaveH 06-07-2006 07:26 AM

When I said I was told by USG I mean I had the Vice President of the Chicago region and the Regional sales manager told me this. They said due to the fact that bathroom ceilings tend to collect more than just water vapor it is not necessary to use it. It is not recomended by anyone to use green board in restrooms for anything more than high humidity reasons. Greenboard is really a waste of money in my opinion. It will degrade in wet environments just the same as regular drywall. The only thing that makes green board different than regular drywall is the face paper in coated with a fine spray of wax. The backing is asphalt impregnated also. If the moisture comes from behind the wall it wont do you much good to have a vapor barrier there because the insuing mold that developes will far out weigh the drywall issues. Good paint and caulking is the key. If the water has the opportunity to come in contact with the greenboard it will fail. As will the framing it is attached to. I know in the construction world there are a lot of myths in relation to many products performance. Greenboard is one of those myths. People rely on it's water repellent qualities. I owned a chain of drywall supply yards for 15 years and was always amazed at the people wanting to put green board in situations as a cure for water infiltration. Stop the water in the first place and you can use any substrate.

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