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Thread: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    West Kootenay, BC
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    Default Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    SWMBO decided that the basement bathroom needs to be redone. There is currently a 30 year old bath tub and other fixtures that will likely all be replaced. The current issue is that we want to take out the bath tub and replace it with a shower in the 32x60 space. My research has me questioning whether I should by the Schluter kit and tile the space or go with base and wall kit. The price of what appears to be a quality kit come in at about $1500 and is said to be idiot proof and even I could install it. Using the Schluter kit about $800 plus tile at a still unknown price may rival the price of the kit. They tell me that the base and wall kit in acrylic is better than fibreglass.

    The only tile work I have ever done is some floor tile and they are staying in place but to do the Schluter kit and tile it myself may not be the job a do it yourself should take on.

    So my questions are as follows;
    I realize the higher end Acrylic base and wall kit may be more that I really need for a quest bathroom that is used for a few weeks a year but I would like to believe that the advice is sound.
    The second question would be, can I do the Schluter kit and tile or should I hire someone. Hiring someone would cost about $1000 and would put the cost of a tile job well over the kit costs.

    Somehow deep inside me I think I want the tile shower but logic says go for the kit and be done with it. I suppose I could get a cheap kit for a few hundred but it it turns out ugly I will hear about it for the rest of my life.
    If it is reasonable to think that I could do the tile job I can see significant delays in getting the job done because the ball will go to SWMBO court to pick out tile and I can go fishing for a few months.

    Looking for advice on this one
    Thanks
    Jake
    Last edited by Jakevh; 03-16-2010 at 01:39 AM.

  2. #2
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    Jim

    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    My preference is always a nicely tiled shower, looks much better. But, for a bath that is not really a show piece and would be used only once in a while a decent acrylic fiberglass unit might just fit the bill. The acrylic fiberglass is tougher then regular fiberglass.

    We have done at least a hundred tiled showers using the Schluter Kerdi system, and it is pretty much all we have used for tiling showers since it came out. This includes quite a few 32x60 tub replacements. We pay about $500 from our supplier for the base, curb, drain kit and enough fabric to do the walls. This system works great. You can use the fabric over any sound surface. If you are fairly handy, I think you could install the Schluter system, they provide an instructional video. Tiling a shower is a fair bit tougher then doing a floor though, but like any tiling, the key to success is planning the layout well before you start.

    Installing a fiberglass shower unit is fairly straight forward. In almost all circumstances in renovating we have had to use a knock-down unit just to get it into the house and bathroom.

    I think you seem to realize it, but avoid the cheaper kits from the big box stores. Many of these are actually plastic, and in time will really show wear, but may not be real bad if only used a couple times a year. $1,500 for a decent shower and glass is not a bad price, all dependent upon the style/shape of the shower and amount of glass.

    Good luck with your project.
    JIM
    Calgary, AB

  3. #3

    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    That Schluter stuff is pretty amazing. You can basically build a shower without having to caulk anything. They even have corner pieces that get installed that seal the edges and look nicer than caulk. Think it would be easier to do a tile base as the base is pre-sloped. Seems goof proof to me.
    I prefer tile over acrylic just for appearance sake, but as the others said if its going in a rarely used basement I might be convinced to go acrylic.
    Donna,
    Self Imposed Queen of Design Opportunities

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Windsor,On
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    When the Schluter system came out we( most construction guys) thought it was too expensive. So I used the fabric only. You can build a shower base very easily with the drain any where you want it. In the first cement pour, I build wood guides to set the shape of the slope. Then remove the wood and trowel on thinset to give it a smother finish. You can also get a rubber membrane especially for showers to go over the concrete and there is a floor drain that clamps onto it. Put it over the floor and as high as there is rubber up the walls at least 6 inches. Then another 2 inches of cement. Then drywall ! You can then install the Schluter fabric over the walls and then tile. The one I did at my old house I used the same tiles as the floor and there wasn't a curb as such, just 1 1/2 inches higher. I even tiled the ceiling. I would tile the ceiling FIRST, then the floor ,and then the walls.
    I looked like it was from a luxury hotel. This was in our basement apartment, sooooo LOML wanted me to redo our master bathroom shower the same way.
    This way takes more time, so if a contractor were doing the job, then he would go with the complete system for the sake of speed and not having to deal with the little details and waiting for concrete to set up. Also it is a system, so there is little chance it can leak -it's ALMOST fool proof!
    We didn't use a glass door, so I installed a shower light as well. I think even with a glass door I would install the light anyway. It makes a big difference!
    You can make it a little easier on yourself by adjusting measurement of the shower so you don't have to make small slivers of tile. I always overlap tiles in all corners with the thought of which way the water will want to flow. Thats why the ceiling first then floor. Ceiling first so you can do the floor the same time.
    Mike

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    We haven't done many mud pans for showers in ages, only when real large and the Schluter base is not available for the size. What we do though, is to still use the Kerdi membrane and the drain kit. This puts the waterproofing right below the tile, not a ways down like when using a membrane.

    We have torn out lots of old showers that used membranes and mud pans, many of which had leaking issues, and most that had mould (and odour) issues due to trapped and stagnant moisture.

    When doing tub surrounds, we often use Denshield, which also waterproofs right below the tile. I quit using concrete board almost 15 years ago, that stuff was a real pain to work with.
    JIM
    Calgary, AB

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    Thanks for the update Jim, just goes to show that the construction industry is changing. Slowly, but none the less changing. Keeping up with new technology.How does the Kerdi system work?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    It sure was tough trying to get some of the tile subs to subscribe to the Kerdi system when it first came out. I often heard "I have been doing this for X year". Yes, but not usually doing it right. A properly done mud job can work good, though I don't believe it could ever be better then the Kerdi system.

    HERE is a link to Schluter, the instructions and videos there will describe it better then I ever could.
    JIM
    Calgary, AB

  8. #8

    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    This is exactly what I've been looking for ever since I saw it on Holmes on Homes. Never any information on what it is called or where to get it. There is even a local stocking dealer! Now I can redo the shower on LAST time.

    Thanks again. This is why I love this forum.
    the other Ken
    ------
    I actually have enough clamps

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    Jake,

    I think your decision is largely aesthetic. If you take your time, are attentive to detail and you will enjoy the process I'd say go for tile and Kerdi.

    But if you are not really into it and rushed for time a nice insert looks better than a rushed tile job.

    Matt
    SPCHT


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    Quote Originally Posted by matt in golden View Post
    Jake,

    I think your decision is largely aesthetic. If you take your time, are attentive to detail and you will enjoy the process I'd say go for tile and Kerdi.

    But if you are not really into it and rushed for time a nice insert looks better than a rushed tile job.

    Matt
    This is very true. I have taken my carpenters who do good work, and get them to do a tiling job. With a little instruction and educating, they do a great job, what with being used to precision work.

    Just about any job rushed, is not worth doing in my books.
    JIM
    Calgary, AB

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    I would like to thank everyone for jumping into the question for me. Lots of good information to go with. I take it that concrete board is not used anymore (not that I know that that actually is) which rasise the question of what is best to put under the Kerdi system? Would that be the Denshield or is there an other product that I should use? If I recall I have plywood nailed to the studs under the current tub surround and I don't think I used any screw on anything back then. I should probably pull the plywood off and start from the studs.

    Jake

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    Jake,

    Denshield or any similar mold resistant product would be fine behind Kerdi. I'd strip it down to the studs, not that the ply would cause any problems that I'm aware of, but just good practice to start with a clean slate. You may have to shim the studs to get a nice flat plane to mount your board to for tiling and this would be simpler without extra layers of old crud.

    If your dealing with an exterior wall you will have to pay attention to repairing any vapor barrier you demolish.

    Matt
    SPCHT


  13. #13
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    Nov 2009
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    Peace River, AB
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    I would look into using the wedi shower system. I was going to use the schluter system in my new house until I was introduced to the Wedi system. I then had a not so handy friend that built his own Wedi shower system and the results were fantastic, and it is very easy to work with. Wedi is a foam concrete board product from Germany. Look it up, I sure was happy with mine and how it went together.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakevh View Post
    I would like to thank everyone for jumping into the question for me. Lots of good information to go with. I take it that concrete board is not used anymore (not that I know that that actually is) which rasise the question of what is best to put under the Kerdi system? Would that be the Denshield or is there an other product that I should use? If I recall I have plywood nailed to the studs under the current tub surround and I don't think I used any screw on anything back then. I should probably pull the plywood off and start from the studs.

    Jake
    We mostly use drywall, attached with shingle nails for the walls. Benches and niches are usually plywood. There is no need to put a waterproof substance behind the Kerdi cloth. The great thing about this system, is that properly installed it completely waterproofs any substrate.
    JIM
    Calgary, AB

  15. #15

    Default Re: Tile versus acrylic shower kit

    I prefer the look of a tile based bathroom over acrylic. It is something that I feel comfortable installing. What are some of the major benefits of using acrylic over the traditional tiling job?
    What kind of seeds do I need to grow my own wood? I already own an emergency seed bank and am familiar with gardening. How long does it take to grow kratom using seeds?

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