Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Building a better tile shampoo shower niche - a how to guide

There is a lot going on in the one photo above.  Lots to take in and lots to discuss.  But the reason I took this picture was to show a few key points.

1). The scrap tile at the back is to help square up the side tiles with the bottom.
2). On the right the thin-set is very thick.  I oversized this niche and to make sure the thin-set does not shrink I used thick bed thin-set.  The white stuff is Ardex X32
3). There is a slight grade from the back of the niche to the front

The dark material is Ardex 8+9 waterproofing.

Building a better shampoo niche takes time and skill. There are so many ways to do this and so many ways to screw it up badly.

The reason the posts on my similar discussion on Terry Love's Forum and many hundreds more are gone is all the indirect act of me trying to build a better shower niche - the testing I did - the failure of these tests and the resulting call from the manufacture of the niches I tested.

So how do you build a better shampoo niche?  Easy.

You need to max out space for most shower niches.  Or you will want to.  So at some point you need to decide if you are going to tile and waterproof the back side of the wall where the niche is going to go or add in a layer of 1/4" cement board.  The later is stronger and safer....

Typically the largest a shower niche can be is the width of the wall framing plus 1/4". With a 2"x4" wall this equals 3 3/4". With a 2"x6" wall this equals 5 3/4".

Layout of the niche is critical to the over all design. This is why we design the tile layout before we even do the framing upgrades.

Tile layout and lighting layout should be done first - at the very beginning.

Have a look at this shower niche...

 The niche is three full tile width's tall.  One full tile width wide.  Has a down light LED feature.  A glass shelf so the lady's razor and soap can fit below and the shampoo and conditioner bottles can fit above.

Looks simple.  Looks easy.  But this was the result of careful planning and tile layout from the very beginning.

We opened up a hole in this bathroom's ceiling to inspect the framing of this wall.  We found the wall to be nothing more than a part ion wall so moving wall studs around was easy and required no engineer.

No look again at the picture.  See how the niche is right in the corner.  The wall actually runs right to the back of the niche.  In order to do this a little repair to the homes vapour barrier and a little chopping out of a wall stud are required.  Again easy but these steps need to be planned from the very beginning.

I'm going to pull out my shower niche photos, my niche illustrations and upload a load more pictures.  Most will be secured behind the password albums but this discussion will include more as well.

Photo's of Shower Niches Designed by John Whipple

If the shower is getting steam then plan on using NobleSeal TS as your vapour proofing material.

Not quite perfect. 

Recommend Fix

The fix !!!

The little step back on the back wall is for the future resting place of some 1/2" shower glass.  Four shelves will be placed in this niche soon.