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ohman 09-10-2012 10:48 PM

1930's house (old world charm) bathroom remodel
Dear all, how are you doing?
Thanks for reading this thread. We have a 1930's house in SF that recently would like to do some remodel (for the bathroom). Currently the 2nd bathroom was designed for "bath" only, and can NOT do shower. However, it seems that the contractor somehow "reserved" a terminal (see photo below) that might be able to install a shower head:

My questions:
1. How can we make sure that it was designed for that purposes (for installing a shower head)? I don't know how to remove the cap of the terminal and see if water can come out from that pipe... (the middle handle of the wall-mounted faucet seems to be designed for that purpose)...

2. If somehow we can't get water from the top terminal (where the shower head should be installed), can we somehow change the spout so that it can be used for shower purposes?

3. If we are to turn this into a shower-capable bath, I guess we will need to re-tile. However we really want to keep the current yellow/green classic look original tiles. (a) is it possible to find matching tiles (Delta Tiles?) so that we can tile it up to ceiling, or (b) if finding similar tiles are difficult, maybe we can put up some kind of water-proof plastic board (Marlite??) so that it can be water-proofed?

4. Right on top of the bathtub there is a heater register. See:
What would be the best way to close it and keep it water-proof but at the same time won't break the current classic look and won't need to break the wall?


joecaption 09-10-2012 11:54 PM

Your asking for the impossable. To cap off that vent and do the wall repair there's gong to be some tile damage done.
It's not going to be easy trying to find matching tile in most cases if that's old tile.
The wall should to be tiled all the way up the wall after waterproofing the wall. Just trying to stick something to walls going to look like poop.

If there's a plug at the top of the control valve then yes it can be made into a shower.

oh'mike 09-11-2012 06:28 AM

That sure looks like a capped off shower flange----is the back of that wall accessible?

I'm a risk taker--I would grab that cap and unscrew it and see what happens---but that's me----

ohman 09-11-2012 08:59 PM


Originally Posted by oh'mike (Post 1007542)
That sure looks like a capped off shower flange----is the back of that wall accessible?

I'm a risk taker--I would grab that cap and unscrew it and see what happens---but that's me----

Thanks Mike! After consulting with two contractors here locally both of them thought the same thing... it's probably very possible that it IS a capped off shower flange. NO the back of that wall is not accessible so I think we will take the risk and unscrew it to see what happens.. wish me luck! :thumbup:

ohman 09-11-2012 09:11 PM

Best way to water-proof the heater register area
OK I think we found identical 4x4 tiles to extend the wall up to prep for the shower functionality (tile was found on but now we need to really do a good job to water-proof that heater register area, and possibly need to cut off the heater air ducts that supply heat to this bath. My questions:

1. What's the best way to do water-proofing for that hole?? Thoughts or comments??

2. Should we worry about cutting off the heater air ducts from basement at all? My thinking is that if we don't do that, then every time when the heater is on, then hot air will still blow to that hole and depending on what kind of materials we use to block that hole (and how hot the hot air is), maybe it will have some bad consequences. Should we worry about blocking the ducts at all?? What's the best way to do it??

Thanks again for everything! :thumbsup:

ohman 09-15-2012 12:45 AM

A quick update. So, it *IS* a capped off shower flange and we were able to recover the shower feature in this bath. That is such a blessing! Now we want to deal with that heating register vent....

Now that we were able to remove soldered cap on my bathroom shower flange and recover the shower feature in this bath (see the other thread), our next step is to handle that heater register vent

I guess we have two options here:
  1. Move the current heat register vent UP to close to the ceiling (but still right on top of the bathtub, so that shower water won't go into the vent)
  2. Complete "block" the vent and then cover with same color tiles (yes we were able to find idential tiles)

I would like to hear your opinions about which option would make better sense to you. Apparently, if we move up the vent, this bath will still be able to enjoy heat during winter (which is a big plus)... however, I don't know if there will be any possibility or concern that water might permeate through the vent and whether that would damage the furnace. Any thoughts or comments? How would you handle such as case? Also a friend of ours suggested that we can put up some type of plastic (marlite?) wall for water proofing, instead of using tiles. But we were able to find identical color of tiles (4x4) from daltile... which option you would choose (plastic wall on top of the current tiles, or tile it with the same tiles all the way up to the height of the shower head) and why?? Thanks again!

ohman 09-15-2012 11:46 PM

After some debate and discussion I think we decided to move up the heating vent. The HVAC professional said that he can do it without breaking the current bathroom tiles. Now I think the key question is, what material should we use to water-proof the three-walls to convert this bath to a shower.

Originally we were thinking of using tiles, and luckily we were able to find identical 4x4 tiles from However, another handyman friend suggested that we should also consider "Cultured Marble." The concern is that if we are to keep the current wall tiles and build it up with cultured marble, water might go into the seam between the cultured marble and the wall tiles, even with good caulking. My friend said that he can use L shaped stainless steel on the seams but I'm a bit worried that if we are to use cultured marble it won't look as good as extending tiles.

My questions:
1. Would you choose to extend tiles all the way up (to above shower head height) or use cultured marble? Why?

2. What prep work need to be done to really seal and waterproof the walls before we actually put up wall tiles?? As the house was build in 1935 I don't think they were using drywall for the bathroom walls at that time, so any concern if the wall was made of stucco or plaster?? For the long time, would tile more prone to leaking water to downstairs??

Thoughts or comments? Thanks again!

Blondesense 09-17-2012 11:02 AM

A couple of things you should realize. First, tile and grout are not waterproof. Yes, the surface of a highly glazed tile may be, but the body of the tile, and certainly the grout are not and will absorb water.
Second, Building codes an waterproofing methods are vastly different now. That bathtub surround was meant to withstand just an occasional splash from the tub. Even if you manage to waterproof the area above the tile, keep in mind the tiled area will be vulnerable to water damage, rot, and mold if bombarded daily with water from a shower.

I know you don't want to hear this, but if you have a source for tiles, I would consider taking it all out and building it correctly to modern codes.

ohman 09-18-2012 02:47 AM

We talked to a contractor today and he said that the materials used for the 3 walls in this bath is different... The bathtub up to the current tiles area has some sort of concrete wall (cement boards??) so they can withstand more water, while the walls above the current tiled area were made with plaster. So he recommend to tear the plaster walls down and replace it with cement boards, then do some water-proofing (with paint?) and then put up tiles...Does this make sense??

He also suggest to just block the current heat register (and forget about moving it up), and install one of those Panasonic whisper bathroom ceiling vent/heat/light to solve the moisture problem. Thoughts or comments about this approach?? Thanks! :boat:

Blondesense 09-19-2012 10:59 AM

If you are determined to keep the tile, that is probably the best way to go. Don't know about blocking the vent, but you definitely want to add a ventilation fan. The seam between the new and old will be the tricky part.

As far as the waterproofing "paint", Hydroban is the best. Redgard is also popular. And there are other brands out there if you look.

ohman 09-19-2012 10:04 PM

Blondesense, thanks so much for your tips about Hydroban and Redgard. I really appreciate that! :clap:

When you said that the seam between the new and old would be the tricky part, can you elaborate that a little bit more?? I thought that if you put up some type of L-shaped water-proofing materials (not sure what type of water-proofing materials we should use at the seam, maybe fiberglass mesh tape?) that should solve the problem? Thoughts or comments??

Also, what is your reasoning about "definitely want to add a ventilation fan?" My concern is that by adding a ventilation fan, if the contractor does not do a good job waterproofing the new hole on the roof, that could become a even bigger problem. Any other thoughts or comments? Many thanks! :help:

p.s. BTW, found this DIY article about putting up cement board for the bathroom:

ohman 09-19-2012 11:51 PM

I did some quick research about Hydro Ban. Very interesting product. In the product site it mentioned that suitable substrates including "Cement plaster," "Cement backer board" and so on. That got me thinking that regardless of what wall material that I have right now (it should be "plaster," but I'm not sure whether that's "cement plaster").... can I just apply several coat of Hydro Ban over the current wall, without tearing down the current plaster wall and put up new cement boards before tiling?? Any experience about this? Thanks!

ohman 10-09-2012 01:47 PM

:help:OK, posted some follow-up question in the wrong thread so I'm coming back to this original thread. A quick update. The tile contractor had put up the cement board (CBU) and just tile it with thinset mortar without put up HydroBan or RedGard. So I have some related questions here:

1. Given that the job is done, is there any other way to remedy the situation other than removing the tile, then adding Redgard/Hydroban to the CBU, then retiling? Is there some kind of spray or after-fact membrane that I can use to reduce the chances of water leaking or mold building issues in the future? Where would be the weakest point (e.g. grout?? seam?? other places?) that would possibly create leak (if any)??

2. Location of the "weep hole." The contractor only left one weep hole on one wall (there were three walls that were re-tiled to prepare it to be a shower room). Here is a picture:
Would this be sufficient or should he be creating one weep hole for every wall?? According to this article, it seems that he should have created one weep hole for EVERY wall. If that's the case, is there any way that he can create two more "weep holes" on the other two walls now that he already finished grouting??

3. I heard some people complaining about RedGard that overtime the red color will seep through the grout, even when it was fully dried. Did anyone experience this before? I tried a lot of local Home Centers here but they only sell RedGard and I can't find HydroBan (which seems to be a better and more expensive product)...

Thanks again!! :help:

Canucker 10-09-2012 04:41 PM

No need for weep holes now. If the "tile contractor" didn't use any waterproofing on the walls, the moisture is going to travel through the grout lines and into your walls. Hopefully it doesn't start soaking things enough for mold to grow, but that's not likely.

Blondesense 10-10-2012 11:30 AM

At this point, your best bet is to keep your fingers crossed and carefully maintain the caulking.
When I pulled out my '70's shower there was mush and mold behind the tiles. Others doing similar projects found perfectly dry and clean drywall behind theirs. It's a bit of a crap shoot.
If your contractor used Densshield or something similar, the new area may be perfectly fine.

Personally, I'd be more worried about the old tile than the new. It's going to get a lot more water contact.

As I explained in other posts, I'm no expert, but I wonder if weep holes between the old and new sections could be a mistake as it is just as likely to allow water to penetrate the old bottom section as much as drain the top. This may be why there is only one, and it is way to the side.

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