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Author Topic: Tile vs Preformed Shower Pros? CONs?  (Read 5690 times)
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Michael & Christi Hargis
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« on: March 16, 2009, 09:15:05 PM »

Tile vs Preformed Shower Pros? CONs?
Mama wants tile. Putting in 3x3 shower in our MCI. What say you?
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2009, 10:20:24 PM »

I also used a 3x3 shower pan from Kohler with the drain in the corner since where the shower is where the floor slightly raises up-hence is drains down to one end.  Then did the enclosure with 3/4" plywood (like all my cabinetry) then covered it with the same fiberglass sheets that are used in refer trailers (the name escapes me at the moment).  Easy to clean and light weight.  Remember-you're having to pay for the fuel to haul around all this stuff. Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2009, 03:25:53 AM »

I didn't want to raise my roof so I looked long and hard and found a unit at the Home Depot made by Lasco Bath. I bought the 72" high 36"x36" acrylic model in Bone color. $440.  My inside is only 76" max so this is why I went this route. I looked at tile and Swanstone which was beautiful, but at $1800 for the pan and wall sheets etc no way. I like to keep it simple and functional. They also make them taller and also have two and three piece units so you can get them into the bus easier. Google Lasco Bath and you can see all the models on line.
Good Luck.
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Steve Canzellarini
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2009, 03:46:13 AM »

Home Depot 36x36 neo-angle. Less weight over tile and wanted it right then so I could move forward! I think I paid 450.00, roughly!

Ace
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JackConrad
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2009, 05:17:00 AM »

    We both wanted ceramic tile. I built the shower enclosure using 3/4" oak plywood for 2 1/3 of the walls. Other 2/3 is the glass shower door. 4th wall is a sliding shower door glass panel set in place.  All wood was covered with fiberglass mat, cloth and resin. Ceramic tile was then glued to the fiberglass covered wood.
  Floor was built using 4 pie shaped pieces of 3/4" plywood that sloped to the drain. This was also sealed with fiberglass and covered with ceramic tile.  We used 4" X 6" tile on the walls and 1" X 1" tile (comes in 12" x 12" sheets) on the floor (more grout lines = better traction). Let me know if you need more details.  Jack                
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2009, 07:55:19 AM »

Just don't use the sheeting that comes with some of these showers in you live where it gets cold. It's kind of a plastic sheeting that you glue on. I went in my bus the other day and the sheeting did not survive the winter, spider cracks all over. Sucks when a person has to redo when one isn't even done yet. I kind of like the idea of the lining that is used in reefer trailers, not very thick and very durable to movement and temp fluxuations.
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2009, 08:40:35 AM »

  more grout lines = better traction

This generally isn't a problem unless you park on a really extreme angle, or are trying to shower while the coach is taking a twisty road . . .   Wink
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2009, 09:24:47 AM »

Jack, Nice looking shower.  Tom Y
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2009, 09:34:09 AM »

The single most important "con" is weight.  For those concerned about fuel economy, #=$ .
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2009, 09:43:30 AM »

I put a fiberglass/plastic 4 piece in mine from Lowes.  I had to fit around the roof, still need to caulk it in. I do not have a free standing unit, but I do like the looks of them. Tom Y
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2009, 10:04:58 AM »

We looked at both, and eventually went with a Swanstone 36" neo-angle enclosure from Home Depot.  (I forget what that cost five years ago, but it was not as much as $1,800.)

You asked for pros/cons each way, and here's what we decided:

There are, as far as we can tell, exactly three advantages for tile over a prefabricated enclosure:

1. With tile, you can make your shower any shape and size you like.  If you need to cram it into a weird space, for example, this can be a tremendous advantage.  Prefabs, OTOH, are only available in specific shapes and sizes.

2. Appearance.  If you like the look of tile, or granite, etc., then there is no way a prefab enclosure can measure up.  Prefabs are available in a wide range of materials, finishes, and colors, but nowhere near the selection of tiles.

3. If you accidentally whack your tile shower with the screw gun, or whatever, and chip or break a tile, you can probably replace just that tile.  If the same thing happens with a prefab, you could be looking at having to replace the entire enclosure.

By contrast, there are many advantages to prefab over tile:

1. For an enclosure of the same size, a correctly executed tile installation will weigh considerably more than any prefab.  Of course, prefab weight varies widely as well -- a Corian enclosure will weigh more than a fiberglass one, for instance.  But all will be less than tile.

2. The interlocking/overlapping nature of prefab components generally means a leak-free, water-tight installation in almost all cases.  There are very few seams to leak or seal, and the one- or two-piece nature of them means leaks, if they can even happen, will be in one or two spots, which can get extra treatment in the underlayment.  Tile, OTOH, can leak at the grout lines.  This means you need to have a second, water-tight layer behind/underneath the tiles, usually cement-board or the like.

3. Buses move, creak, and flex.  No matter how stiff you try to make the foundation of your enclosure, there will be movement.  For this reason, adhesives, mastic, and even the grout in a tile shower needs to have flexibility, usually achieved with a latex admixture.  Even so, the potential exists for grout cracking down the road, and even tile adhesive failures.  In any case, expect at minimum to have to maintain the grout periodically.  With no grout and a massive adhesive surface area, prefabs do not have this problem.

4. We find the prefab much easier to keep clean.  There are no grout lines to retain dirt, and the walls of our Swanstone are mirror flat and smooth.  We clean the shower walls after each use with the same squeegee we use to clean the glass part of the enclosure, and I think we've had to get in there and actually scrub anything with cleanser maybe five times in that many years, and that's with daily use.  The pan, which has a pebbled non-skid surface, is a bit harder, requiring a bristle brush periodically, but still less effort (IMO) than grouted tile.  I think the non-skid is actually also a safer surface than even Jack's "more grout lines" tile.

5. Less maintenance.  I've recaulked our three seams exactly once in five years, and that's in a moving bus.  The last tile shower I had, in a condo, I think I was in there maintaining grout lines and caulking seams every year or two.  Also, the glass edging joins the enclosure along a flat surface, so that, too, is an easy bead of caulk.  Where the edging meets tile, you have little valleys at the grout lines, requiring a more skilled touch with the caulk.

So, that was our thought process.  I have to say, for us the issue of appearance was solved by going with the Swanstone, which looks nearly as nice as tile, at least on the walls.  The pan a little less so, but your eye does not really go there.

Hope that helps.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2009, 05:00:55 PM »

We went with a one piece MAX shower

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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2009, 09:20:42 AM »

Don't forget about plastic laminate.....many colors and styles to choose from. The shower walls in my coach are laminate on 1/2" plywood with the floor done in sheet vinyl. Done 25+ years ago and no signs of leakage......
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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2009, 11:52:30 AM »

Tile, with a well planned layout and execution looks much better than a prefab.  Done badly much worse.  Around here high end homes have usually have tiles, mid range pre fab, low end tile again (usually really badly installed). My experience in this  is all  residential,  for a bus I would go prefab for ease and weight and because the surface cleans faster, also in a tight space tile can look too fussy. 
Here's a thought : mirror.  If properly installed no leaks, it actually does make small spaces feel larger (IMHO) in fact every time I do it it surprises me how much it helps.  The cost is decent if your source it well (horrible if you don't).
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2009, 11:55:28 AM »

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention with mirror you can watch yourself age and sag..I mean mature and be kindly indulgent of gravity.
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« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2009, 12:15:41 PM »

I tried to use mirrors to increase my closet space.  It worked but the amount of clothing also doubled, so there was no net gain.  Anyway, tile is too heavy, less tolerant of flexing, and requires extra labor and maintenance.  But then, I generally lean to function over form.
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« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2009, 04:58:12 PM »

Anyway, tile is too heavy, less tolerant of flexing, and requires extra labor and maintenance.  But then, I generally lean to function over form.

Have to disagree with most of that.... Weight is minor, when compared to the rest of the conversion. Hardibacker is something like 2 lbs per sq ft. Tile and grout don't add that much more.
Labor for installation can be just as simple or as complex as you desire and when compared to cutting and fitting a prefab fiberglass unit, it might be easier to custom fab than to fit. As stated above, you can build it to fit whatever space you need it to fit. Maintenance is also no more than a fiberglass unit, if properly installed. 

I installed Italian glass mosaic tiles in our custom shower enclosure. Been working great for 4 years now, and probably close to 30K miles. No maintenance necessary and it looks so much better than a prefab unit. Now if I can only get the rest of the interior to look as nice as the shower.

I would do it that way again, in a heartbeat!

craig


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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2009, 05:29:27 PM »

Craig's shower does indeed look very nice.
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« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2009, 06:05:41 PM »

Michael,

After looking at, and considering my options I went with a 30" x 30" premade shower base with a tile upper and ceiling.

I  used a plywood backing with 1/4 backer board over that.

All of the tile was applied with Type 3 tile mastic and an admix was used with the grout.

The tile is actually floor tile of various sizes in the same color.

The only real drawback to the floor tile is that it was a class 5 (very hard surface) and I went through several diamind bits to cut the holes for the shower controls and head.

Because of where and how I wanted my shower to look, I don't believe any plastic enclosure would look as nice, in my personal situation.

Here a few pictures:






Cliff
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« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2009, 06:07:01 PM »

Another view:

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« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2009, 08:05:19 AM »

Gentlemen, Thank you all for the great insite. I was worried about the weight issue to start but, not so much now. We will be going with Tile and a 1/2 inch Dura-rock base. You guys showed some wonderful examples of your shower builds. Christi said " I like that one, I like that one, I like that one..." Now that we going with tile, the Boss is looking at styles. All the Best, M&C
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« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2009, 08:20:54 AM »

I used 1/4" not the 1/2" (to save weight) backer board and have not had any issues at all.  I was originally going to put in glass and a glass door, but Gumpy suggested that I use a shower curtain for a while.  The benefits are more space, and the shower area dries faster.  The glass looks better, but I've been very happy with just a curtain.
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