Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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

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.

I'll be careful with my wording so not to ruffle any feathers so lets not get to deep on details but if a box holding a niche says "Waterproof" on it. It might not mean you can fill it with water for a week.




If a box says vapour proof - it may not be vapour proof....  Now I was called and informed that filling a shower niche like the ones above with water and leaving them for more than two days was to strict of a test and not how they are tested "Officially".  I remember something like incredible force on them.... something like that.  I laugh at this comment.  It's not even 4" of water.... WTF.  Oh Well - the niches above are total and utter crap.  The resulting phone call left such a bad taste in my mouth I have dropped the supplier's complete line up from my recommendation list.

The fact is I was called and told oh so nicely to be careful with my wording.  I am these days.  These niches shown above are all from the same manufacture.  I tested three of them.  Of those three only one held water for more than a week.  The one that did is in fact still holding water to this day, nearly two months later.  The other two started dripping in less than five days.

Who made the niche's above? It doesn't matter.  They are crap.  The fact that the majority of the ones tested by me in my "Red Neck Style" tests failed is no surprise to me.  They look poorly made and are made from a foam based board that uses some kind of paper product to give it strength - the design was flawed from the beginning.

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











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