Darling, When Are You Going to Fit Me a Shower?

Fitting a replacement shower cubicle in an existing bathroom is a relatively easy job, although one that will require some DIY experience.  For completely new installations some professional help may be needed as there will be more complex plumbing and electrical fitting to be done; the latter in particular should be done by an expert to ensure the new shower is fitted to current safety standards.  For a simple replacement and upgrade however, it’s normally possible to complete the work needed to create a better bathroom.

Tools and Ingredients

Time, while not exactly a tool, it’s an essential ingredient.  For a basic replacement it will take a couple of days at the most, with some time set to one side to allow mortar and sealants to dry before using the new shower cubicle.  In addition you’ll need standard DIY tools including a claw hammer, set of wood chisels, a spirit level, tape measure, pipe wrench, hack saw, sealant gun and screw drivers.  A cordless drill will also be needed and a jigsaw (borrowed if necessary) will normally come in handy.

Foundations and Access

The shower tray will be the first part of the shower to install.  This needs to be installed following the manufacturer’s instructions and should be level to ensure that water will drain correctly.  Once the shower tray is fixed in place you’ll find that you can’t access the plumbing beneath and this is where careful planning and an access hatch will come in very useful indeed! The access hatch will need to be cut to the side of the tray using a jigsaw and it will need to be suitable to give access to the waste water outlet, which should be within easy reach.  Once the shower tray has been fitted you can replace the flooring that you have cut to create the hatch permanently or (a better solution) fit batons around the inner edge of the hole and screw the cut-out floor to this which will then provide an easy access space for the future, should any problem arise with the waste outlet.

Setting the Tray

Before fitting the shower tray spread a thin coating of diluted PVA over the area that will be covered by the tray – one to five PVA to water should be strong enough.  Next, spread a strong mortar to fit the tray to the floor.  This should be thinly spread – strong enough to hold the tray securely but not so deep as to make a thick, visible layer of mortar.  Once the tray is in place ensure that it’s completely level, adjusting as necessary and then leave to dry for twenty-four hours.

Water, Panels and Piping

Attach the outlet pipe to the outlet in the tray using the access hatch, ensure every joint is screwed in place correctly and that the joints are water tight and leak proof (a bucket of water comes in handy here).  Make adjustments as necessary and once you are sure that all is watertight, apply a layer of sealant in a continuous line around the base of the shower tray.  The shower panels and door should come supplied with necessary fixings and, in most cases, you’ll only need one panel and one door; assuming that the shower is placed in the corner of the room.  The fittings should include channels to fit directly to the wall into which the panels can slotted; some drilling will be required and a cordless drill is better used in the bathroom to avoid the often deadly combination of trailing wires and water filled sinks, toilets and baths.  Ensure channels are straight using a spirit level before screwing firmly to the wall and fit panels according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Additional Plumbing Tips

Although not an entry level DIY project, fitting a shower in an existing bathroom in which the necessary water and electrical connections are easily available is relatively straightforward.  If it’s necessary to run additional water pipes consider using the modern plastic versions.  Designed to make life easier than traditional copper piping (to which they can be added to extend a system) they are easy to manoeuvre into difficult spaces and to fit around corners, avoiding the need for additional tools, pipe cutters and soldering gear.  Joints are push fit, also making life much easier – and less leaky!

Better bathrooms are not hard to achieve and if you have moderate level DIY skills a shower tray and cubicle should prove to be a simple job.

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