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Baths                                                                              Back to Main FAQs

How do you build a no-threshold shower?

Those beautiful no-threshold showers are both highly functional and clean looking.  But to transform your existing shower into a no-threshold shower you might need to adjust the floor framing in your bathroom to accommodate a lower shower floor depending on the shower design and material you select.  You will also need to have a plumber put in a new shower drain and possibly waterproof the bathroom floor, at least immediately adjacent to the shower.  Discuss options and specifics with a pro who has experience in these types of installations.  It must be done right the first time because water going the wrong places can create big problems in a very short amount of time.

What should I consider in selecting a shower valve?

There are two main types of shower valves; pressure-balanced and thermostatic.  The pressure-balanced valve has one valve and one handle for operation.  You control the temperature and the pressure with one handle.  This valve controls and maintains constant water temperature by keeping the hot and  cold water pressure the same regardless of the volume of water available at the valve.The manual Thermostatic valve is a little more expensive and has two handles, one to control the temperature and one to control the volume.  The advantage is you can set your temperature and never change it. Both do a good job of minimizing big changes in water temperature from other fixtures being used throughout the house at the same time the tub or shower valve is running

How can I avoid being scalded when the toilet is flushed?

Nothing is more annoying and potentially dangerous in the shower than when someone flushes the toilet and suddenly you are getting sprayed with way too hot of water. This is because the shower is suddenly robbed of the proper mix of hot and cold water, what we call pressure differential.  On older shower valves this is almost impossible to manage except for taping down the toilet lid or lowering the hot water heater temperature, effectively reducing the overall amount of hot water available to the house.  More recent building codes, say within the last 15 years have done a good job of doing away with this problem by requiring pressure balancing valves.  Be aware though, big box stores and discount chains can and do sell the old style valves and the unaware weekend warrior might just end up with an unhappy family.  Fly by night contractors might also include these in non-permitted projects as a way to undercut the pros.  Again, an area for the buyer to be aware of what they are getting with that unbelievable price from Chuck and a truck.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of a linear drain (trench drain)?

Linear drains offer more design options for a tile shower floor since you do not need to use small mosaic tiles.  With a liner drain, you only need on or two planes of slope to the drain.  With a conventional drain, all angles of the shower floor must slope towards the drain.  Linear drains are are useful when designing a stepless entry shower or when you have a tile floor that transitions into a bathing area.  They are however, more expensive than a conventional round drain and you should definitely have an experienced plumber install them.

Are bath fans mandatory or are they just a convenience?

Building codes say you must have either an operable window or an exhaust fan in any bathroom with a bath/shower.  Since most people don’t open windows when they are showering, it is highly recommended that every bathroom have an exhaust fan that vents to outside.  Today your fan can be on a timer, a humidistat or a motion detector to make sure you are venting all that steamy moist air. The biggest mistake made in fan selection is not properly sizing for the bathroom  and venting the exhaust fan completely to the exterior of the home.

How do I plan a bathroom for all members of my family?

Considering how much use a bath gets during the course of the day, not to mention those times where added family or guests puts a real strain on the bath, it should make sense that a bath project starts with a solid plan.  Often times the plan is a simple replacement of fixtures, other times it might involve a full gut job and possible expansion into adjacent space such as a closet or perhaps a dormer addition that would add space not utilized previously.  Grand plans don’t have to be super expensive but the balance of what the space might look and feel like has to make sense for the budget as well.  General space planning would allow for maneuvering space in front of shower and tub areas, the sink area(s) and the toilet. Think of a space as a circle or square that you’d need to be comfortable in front of the fixture and know that those imaginary areas can overlap some for baths that will mainly be used by one person at a time. The more people that might be in the bath at once, the less those areas should overlap.  When laying out the bath, don’t forget about taller persons by making sure ceiling heights and shower heads are at the appropriate heights.  Smaller people, especially kids need some consideration that valves, controls, towel bars and mirrors aren’t too tall for them to use as intended.  A multi-purpose, multi-user room like a bath needs lots of special consideration to pull off a successful design.  If in doubt, seek out a design pro who can help you see the value in building it on paper before you spend the real money remodeling.

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