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tvrgeek

Scott
User
Getting ready for a full gut-master bath refurb. I know what I want, basically, but am having so much trouble finding it in the market.
First, I contacted four contractors, as well, maybe this time I would have it done.
1: We don't do tile, we don't do wall toilets
2: We only do existing footprint
3: Price less than proper materials
4: Price would pay for a Trump gold plated tasteless mess
5: Would have talked, but said not this year. Did not want it tomorrow, but this year for sure.

So, doing it myself. I want to do the cabinets anyway.
Wife does not want tile on the shower floor. OK. One piece. I was about to buy a cheap acrylic pan when I found, if you go through the right path only Swan has the 36 x 60 pan I want. WEB site messed up. Seems a lot of companies have not maintaining their WEB.
Two plumbing supply houses said I had to use a sharkbite to splice my PB into new Pex. Well, now told SB does not guarantee that but there is a comp ring for standard PEX B fittings.
Every tile store tells me not to use epoxy grout, but the new acrylic is great. Search the WEB. Maybe better than portlad only, but still stains and gets soft when wet. So epoxy it is.
Now, finding a tub I fit in. They make deep soakers with huge cavities to fit a pump so the floor is too short. Sure you need a little for head room, a little for the drain, but some of these are just plain stupid. Heck, my Jack&Jill one piece fits me! ( 46 on the floor) Some are as short as 38 inches in a 5 foot tub! OK, go for a 66. Some of them are as short, just wider flange!
Finding half the tiles on display in showrooms are NLA. Come on folks, manage your displays!

OK bitch, bitch bitch. Anyway, Laticrete and Mapi are the popular brands for grout, but I have a hint there are better brands pros use. Any ideas?

I was originally thinking Wenge cabinet faces, but talked out of them as hard to work with. Flipped the light and dark. Maple cabinets and darker floor. Of course, for a darker floor, it is not the $.79 from BORG, but may have to pay real money. Go figure that out. $.79/ft or $15/foot. Cant tell the difference. ( Except 20 to 30% additional shipping on the expensive stuff. )

Thinking Redseal or similar for the shower walls and floor. Used it in my last shower and it seemed to work well, but only used it for about 4 years.

I had found nice china 31 inch vanity tops where the sink was slid over a few inches giving more useable space for her "stuff" Can't find them now. I did find a similar one out of Germany labeled: " Not for use with potable water in the US" WHAT! It is a china sink!

Darn over broad search results. I say china vanity top and 90% of the results are plastic if it is even a vanity top. Lowe's and HD WEBs are terrible. Even the clerks can't find stuff.

Of course, have a lot of work to do to make the room square and strait. Need additional blocking the floor, structure around drain etc. Stupid popcorn ceiling and so on.

The good:
Found really nice broken jade wall tiles
Sothern Tile seems to have everything
Swan does actually make the pan I want
I can splice into PB as I am not ready to redo the entire house this year.
Fastcabinentdoors ( I used for my kitchen) has a couple maple doors that would do just fine
Can't quite make it fully accessible by ADA standards, but close enough.
 

Oka

Board of Directors, Vice President
Casey
Staff member
Corporate Member
Scott a couple of comments

1. Not a fan of tile floors unless you heat the floor. Your area gets cold in the winter.
Slipping is not as much a concern unless you are using stone, mostly materiel meet the min surface slip resistant code requirements.

2. Epoxy grout is all we use on our projects and have for at least 10 years. Most spec for 2 main reasons A- bonds better and B- water proofing afterwards is unnecessary.
The main caveat is repairing back is difficult and color matching can be harder.

The other thing you might consider is converting the water lines to copper where they come into the bathroom. Then, the only potential leak would be at the pex-copper connection adapter.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
I had thought about making the risers copper. Easier to make firm. Actually, I have half a mind to do the whole house in copper as I know it, but listening to the pro's they suggest against it. PEX is so cheap folks do home run layout which would cost a bit more in copper, but we have "put up" with branch layout for 100 years, so I don't have a problem with it. At least I can get lead free solder. I am sure my last house ( Levitt circa 1963) was all lead. Lots of asbestos too, but strangely, no lead paint.

Reading (watching) the epoxy grout has changed a lot. I guess my fight with it was when it first came out and it was too sandy. Basically hell but the results were great. Going to get a batch and some tile to do a porch table top as practice. Actually was about to leave after I mowed the yard, but it seems I found a yellowjacket nest. Got hit about 10 times. So I put some juice/boric acid baits out but need to find the nest. I used to have a lot of voles, so probably several cavities under there. Anyway, miserable right now.

I have a "converted" crawl space, so the cold floor is not a problem. It is tile now ( which I get to remove) I thought about the Laterite or Kurdi electric heat, but it really is not a problem.

Kitchen is tile and I will probably do my sunroom, currently oak, in tile as it can't take the sun or the casters in our chairs.

Any preferences on grout brands, or is Laticrete/Mapi and the rest really all bout the same?
 

Oka

Board of Directors, Vice President
Casey
Staff member
Corporate Member
Here is a kinda common thing here in Hawaii for not using Pex.
You run Pex in your home - you get rodents in the future- you buy Decon or equal rodent killer - Rodents eat Decon --- Decon severely dehydrates the animal (part of the symptoms of the poison). The Rodent is going crazy looking for water --- eats through the Pex and voila' !!! you have have a home flooded.

As a licensed Plumbing contractor and a past RME for different companies totally disagree with the Pex fan boys. Copper is the best system there is .......... Unless your ground is High Alkali then you use HDPE or PVC for the underground.
Now ........ if you use Uponor Pex, that is an excellent product but, it is nothing like the orange and blue Pex everyone uses in Homes.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
PEX A is not that common here. I like the fittings are full diameter. Hand expanders cost about the same as crimpers. Supplier said they started with it but it takes too long. Seconds I guess for the slap-em-up tract builders so it is all PEX B.
I had not heard of rodents eating PEX like the do on electrical insulation. You have about convinced me to go copper. My entrance pipe is some flexible black plastic. I assume PVC. I only need to open a couple walls to replace it all, so not a terrible job.

Only disagreement. PEX is basically HDPE.
 

Oka

Board of Directors, Vice President
Casey
Staff member
Corporate Member
Well you are kinda correct about Pex being a HDPE product, but it is not the same mix design as the (Crosslinked Polyethylene vs HDPE High density polyethylene) we use in underground isn't the same stuff as Pex HDPE. The city mains are HDPE. But, the pipe is 1/4-1/2"thick. Additionally, the HDPE I am referring to is Heat fused/ Essentially melted together. . It can be a pain to work with (heavy) but it is faster on long runs to be sure.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I built my last house and 3.5 bathrooms were done by "professionals" and I did the finish, including the floor, for the other. They used Lacticrete from the home center just like you would buy. Not a large sample but I would not assume it would be different in your area.

I have used epoxy grout when I first put tile over a double layer plywood subfloor but in my opinion it is not necessary. In my most recent three bathrooms I just used regular powdered grout that had latex in it. Normal grout. Maybe it stains a little. But it isn't obvious to me. I rarely get down on the floor and scrub all the grout lines so it would be hard to know what is grout staining and what is just dirt. These bathrooms are 1-3 years old.

The only functional criteria I use for floor tile is that it be good and hard. Softer tile cuts easier but also cracks much easier. I pick tile, other than that, by appearance. If the home center has something I like for $1/ft2 that is great but if it is 2-3 dollars it's no big deal for the little bathrooms I am dealing with. I have purchased more expensive tile but not recently.

You did not ask but I use a "cracker" for straight cuts and an angle grinder for more complicated cuts unless I am installing granite or another natural material. Then I rent a wet saw. What I call a "cracker" is a device which scores the tile like you score glass and then cracks it. Hugely faster than a wet saw for straight cuts. I have cut round holes for a toilet flange with an angle grinder with an abrasive blade sold to cut concrete. Makes a lot of dust but works fine. I've used a diamond blade but I prefer the cheap abrasive blades.

I have a little pex in my house because that is what the tankless water heater installation guy insisted upon and it is only in one confined space - one room where it is exposed. I have some CPVC which I used in the last house for about 15 years and never was a problem. But I prefer copper which I also have in this house. It is much more expensive for material and takes a lot longer to install but you only do it once.

I used that paint on red material for waterproofing in one bathroom in this house that is over the garage. But in the other bath and a half I did in this house I just put concrete board over the subfloor, nailed it down (actually a contractor did) and I installed tile over that. These bathrooms are over the crawl space. The only showers I've installed in this house have been multi piece fiberglass surrounds. I've done a couple bathroom with tile above a tub for the shower. Those were just tile over concrete board with the joints in the concrete board taped with fiberglass tape and coated with thinset. That is how the "professionals" do it in my area. Another way to create shower walls that I haven't used yet but seems like a good idea is to use 1/4 inch thick man made counter top material - typically used for back splashes. A guy I know used it in several million dollar houses and even got somebody to make the shower pan out of it so it could all be the same. I would just put it over a fiberglass shower base. You can cut it with woodworking tools and it should be good and solid - but waterproof. You just caulk the corner (admittedly probably repeatedly).
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
I may do a Corian shower base. Several companies do this to any size and shape, but no way on the walls. Looks like a cheap hotel to me. Where the Swanstone base is OK, their material on the walls looks almost as cheap as Bath-Fitter. Most Corian are traditional drain and I am looking for a flush no barrier and maybe only use a curtain to have ADA spec spin around space, so I may need a threshold linear drain. I need a lot more feedback from people who own them.

I have a wet saw as well as old school cracking cutter. Depends on the kind of tile.
I expect a bath to remain water proof, not resistant, so tile over hardy-board is not water proof. Fine for the main floor, but not good around a shower or tub and for sure not even the shower walls. You need water proof. Regular grout is porous, and water does seep through it. The new super-duper acrylic based is only marginally better. ( You can find several pretty clear tests if you Google.) Epoxy it is. Going to go get some now for testing. Yes, "professionals" do it all kinds of ways. Often wrong and usually the fast way and anything that gets them clear for a year. I expect a bath to last 30 or 40 at least.

The other product I am trying to research are the plastic panels that have weeds or grass embedded in them. I may use them for two "wing" walls separating the vanity from the shower and stool, and another over the window. Again,. a house with a big window to the bathroom on the front porch!

BTW, PVC and CPVC are against most codes for hot water.
 

Oka

Board of Directors, Vice President
Casey
Staff member
Corporate Member
Exception Sch 80 is code compliant because it is 200° temp rated but, it is almost the same price as copper- just use copper. Not a fan of Pex or PVC in a house.

If you do use Pex remember that the manifold cannot be on the wall that divides Garage and home. Unless, you frame it in and fire rate around the entire manifold assembly. Even then, some cities/AHJ's (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) disallow it.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
Thanks. If I do manifold, it will be in the "clean" crawlspace. About 90% sure copper. I know it. I have the tools. I do need to upgrade a few features as my house has no air cushions on the appliances with solenoid valves. I hate the old screw shutoffs and will use ball valves. My hose bibs are not frost free, and the supply's to the hoses are 1/2 and I prefer 3/4. I did get an accumulator and regulator when I bought the house. Inspector was freaked out I had 80 PSI and had the plumber set it at 55. I set it at 70. Might think about a main safety shutoff solenoid.

Making slow progress on material sources. Still looking for the acrylic sheets with embeded weeds. Going t visit a glass supplier to see if they make triple slider shower doors.
 

Rwe2156

DrBob
Senior User
RE: tile, I don't envy you. We couldn't find anyone to do just a couple bathrooms, ended up doing the whole house and they were there in 3 weeks.

They make a very nice marble looking VCT we did both are bathroom floors and they look fantastic. Waterproof/easy to install.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
Yea, some nice vinyl, but I want tile. Fortunately I know how and have the tools as I have done several. Getting a contractor is a real hit or miss.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Scott,

I prefer tile too. I do not install it over hardi board, however, I put it over concrete board. It is completely water proof. It's concrete with fiberglass mesh imbeded in it. Available at home centers here. But it comes in 3x5 sheets. So you could have leaks at seams. I put mesh tape on the seams and cover them with thinset. But I do not do this on shower floors, only walls. I think I've only done it on walls above a tub but I think it would be OK on walls above a shower base. Tile on concrete board will not degrade from use but there may be some reason to worry a little about water passage through seams to framing lumber. I don't, however.

I agree something like corian is a much different appearance than tile and if you don't like it then tile it is. Biggest reason to use the solid material is maintenance but it only works if you like the appearance.

I do not use PVC for hot water, I agree it is against most if not all codes. Here it is totally OK to use CPVC for hot water, however, and I do. But I would rather have copper too. To keep things simpler, I use CPVC for both hot and cold when I use it. I would rather have CPVC than PEX. My son had to tear out his flexible supply lines which admittedly were not PEX. But I worry about longevity. Copper is proven. I paid a plumber to rough in my bathroom and it is CPVC except for the line to the shower head. That is copper. Any of the other materials is much too flexible. My house has mostly copper but there is a bath and a half CPVC and PEX hooking up the tankless.

Jim
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
Corian has a nice dense feel and makes a nice shower base. The Swanstone is not bad either as long as nice wall tile. There are two other brands that seem to be the higher end of low end. Tile ( I like the VIM pan) but the wife does not want to scrub tile shower floors. I really don't want a curb, but have not found anyone who has used a curtain over a trench drain to tell me how well it works.

Cement board is porous. It needs a membrane like RedSeal or some fancy system like Kurdi or Laticrete membranes for at least 4 feet on shower walls. Epoxy grout will reduce the amount of seepage but not perfect. There are cement boards with an applied membrane that only needs seams and screws patched. Liquid membranes are so easy and cheap, no reason not to use them on a full floor and full walls.

Flexible pipes that are not PEX would be Polybutene. ( grey). It breaks down with chlorine, a large batch was stored outside and UV degraded, and some of the original had plastic fittings that fail. I have PB with copper fittings and by date, after the recall, but I don't trust it.
 

waitup

Matt
Senior User
A little late to the party, but I am a remodeling GC by day and am currently building a house for myself, so I've gone pretty deep into the weeds on this stuff. The tile guy I use for all my jobs prefers Laticrete products, including their hydro-ban waterproofing. I asked about that vs. a membrane waterproofing like Schluter makes. His view was that the membrane is probably better if installed perfectly. However, that perfect install is very difficult and brush on waterproofing leaves much more room for error. Make sure you get a good coat on everything and you're good to go.

As far as grout, we are going to have river stone style tile on the shower floor, and he said he would absolutely do epoxy grout for that, as there is a much higher grout to tile ratio and any stains will be more evident (we want white or light gray). He said for darker colors or normal floors that are not in showers, the modern premium grouts are most likely good enough for most applications and the extra material/labor expense of epoxy would not be justified.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
Hydro-Ban and RedSeal are very similar. I have heard good things on the Hydro-Ban too. Two coats and pay attention is all it takes.

That "if installed properly" is the catch-22. Both Schluter and Laticrete systems are similar. The later a little easier and does not build up as much in the corners, but both time/labor and just plain expansive. Their shower pans require you drop the subfloor where the VIM pan is a bit easier. If I go tile, I will use that system. Leaning to the Swanstone 2 inch curb, but not what I want. For future accessibility, it would be nice to have no curb and no glass. I thought about making the "back room" wet and put a glass door as an entry, but the "boss" does not quite understand it. It would mean the toilet in in the wet area, even though on the far wall. I think a 5 x 9 room would not be too drafty on one's butt. Full open showers are chilly in the winter!

Sure is a lot to learn. Between new products, salesmen totally untrustworthy or totally clueless, who knows about Y-tube if honest or not, and a long history of processes that are just plain not that good.

Research is cheaper than re-doing it though.
 

Rwe2156

DrBob
Senior User
CPVC gets brittle with age. That's why unless the customer requested otherwise, I installed copper.
I had to replace the copper pipe at my business after several leaks. Plumber said they didn't clean all the flux off, and that causes the copper to erode. Never heard of this! Plus, he thinks they used AC copper.

This is in an attic space in a metal building (couldn't run pipes underground). What CPVC was there was 25 years old and no leaks, but yes, it was definitely brittle. We replaced all of it.

We talked about PEX but went with PVC instead.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
I guess I could take out a mortgage and use stainless, but it probably would not pass code. :)
Copper does have failure modes. Erosion due to micro bubbles generated by hammer is the most common. Thin-wall would of course fail quicker than sched. 40. It is less tolerant to freeze than PEX. Not cleaning FLUX I do not believe is one of the common modes, but many things are possible. I spend many years doing failure analysis for a multinational computer company and it is darn right amazing how things can fail, designed by bright people to be very reliable!
 

Willemjm

Willem
Corporate Member
Good job tackling this yourself.

The industry is crazy right now. At this time we can no longer afford to do work for home owners or remodeling. Everyone is slammed with new construction and prices have gone crazy.
 

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