Thursday, January 29, 2015

Building a Better Steam Shower Bench: Two levels and L Shaped

There are not too many things I have not tried in a shower build.  One of those that I have yet to add to my experience list is the two story or double level shower bench.  Very common in steam showers around the world and the added height gained places the heat seekers a little closer to the warmth they are after.

So how do you build a steam shower bench with two levels?

What is the best way to waterproof it?

Should the sides be sloped a little?

How do you address the inside and outside corners?

Should stone be used?

Any heat?

All good questions.  I have a strong idea on how I will build it.  I'm worried about the weight of a fully loaded bench and the effects of vibration and abuse to the construction.  Because of this I will surly overbuild the steam shower benches and then cover with backer board and vapour proofing.

Here is the design of the room.  The ceiling will slope from the right side to the left at 2" per foot.  The ceiling height will be based on what elevation the city inspectors will pass for headroom on the first bench.  I'm unsure of this code and will need to visit city hall to find out.

Here is the design.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tile to Glass Transitions: Dilex BWA for Tile Work around your Sky Light Well

I have never tiled a sky light well before, nor have I ever read any specifications on how it should be properly done.  More red flags get raised than anything else when I tried to figure out the best options for tiling one of these sky light bulk heads or wells.  Place the skylight inside the shower and the task gets harder.  Make the shower also a steam shower and now there are many factors to consider.

The largest and most weighing factor I think is thermal expansion.  You have a window in a steam room and at the very top you have glass.  I wanted to seal my tile installation to the glass of the skylight but I wanted some room for movement.  I elected to use an expansion strip (Dilex BWA White shown below) designed for this and order a couple different sizes to have options at install time.

One of the issues I had with the skylight was how to vapour proof it.  Tying the skylight into the Hydro Ban Sheet Membrane Vapour proofing was not that hard, but at the very top I had only a 1/4" of seeming room.  Here are nine photos I unploaded today to my private photo albums.  The original files are all full size and around 3-4 MB each.  You need the password I email out to open the folder.  Anyone who has made a previous donation can view these new pictures and album as well.

Open Pictures in Private Album

I ended up using one piece of expansion strip installed the wrong way to act as a cap (lower left photo shows this) for the skylight's lip and another installed back to back (look and middle photo) with the first as my finished piece.  This piece got sealed to the glass and the expansion strips themselves sealed to the vapour proofing.

Here is a look at some of the installation pictures.  Remember, when you are looking at these there is no proper way of doing this.  No specification from the TCNA or the TTMAC.  None.  It the big picture no window should be in the shower at all, but - this is not what people like so we are often asked to push the boundaries.  I did not contact any of the suppliers of these materials for permission since I know all ready none exist.

SkyLight Expansion Profile: Dilex BWA White

The illustration above shows a cross section of a Dilex BWA tile expansion profile edge.  The photo of the Dilex BWA the exact product I used.  The entire product is made from one type of plastic and another type of rubber.  I found cutting these strips super easy and just used my box cutter to do so.

I tried using these same profile for the other window in the steam shower and found that the sharp ninety degree edges made it impossible with my rolled Hydro ban Sheet Membrane.  With the window however the install was much simpler.

In this photo you can see a tile mobile.  I made this so I could measure the cuts for the ceiling tile.  I want the edges perfect.  No lips.  No tilted sides. I used fishing line and set it when I set the Dilex BWA expansion strips.  This work extremely well and I am so pleased with the simple use of basic tools to get such a killer end result.

Today I might start setting a few of the tile pieces for the skylight well.  I will get some better pictures of the Dilex BWA strip.  Show how I cut it and keep adding to this post as I go.

I got up on the roof the other day when the builder was there adding in grills to keep the roof drain's clear of debris. You can see the Dilex BWA strips in this photo.  So the picture is of me looking down into the shower from the roof.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tools for adjusting and cleaning grout joints: The Diamond Grout Joint Widener

Sometimes despite all the care you might take setting tile you can come in the next day and find a tile slide or shifted on you.  This is exactly what happened to me yesterday.  I like to start my day by removing the spacers used from the previous one and I noticed then that one of my large tiles had shifted and I had a less than ideal grout joint to look at.

Here is the poorly installed tile:

See how the top right tile is lower than the top left?

With no work done to straighten the grout joint

The top photo shows the work I did with maybe five to ten pulls with the diamond grout joint widening tool.  I pull the tool softly across the joint.  I do not want to widen the entire grout joint.  Just the center right section.  The tool I use is tapered from a point to 1/8".  That is the make spacer I used on this tile installation.

After the photo was taken I spend about two minutes carefully drawing the tool from left to right.  I held the tool on an angle so that I only used the top edge.  This ensure the lower tile dod not get filed down and only some of the excess of the top right tile was tooled.

I need to do some more cleanup and move around some lights before I'm happy but the fix was easy and made a huge difference.

It is safer to leave well enough alone.  But this little dip was too noticable and right at eye level.  it had to be fixed.

These tools are fairly inexpensive.  The one in the picture worth about $4.00 and came part of a set.  I need t0 study more the effects of the tool on the fine powder it creates and if the tool can add to iron deposits in a the grout joint.  The repair work shown above did not take place in the home's shower.  I will first see with a little test if the tool leaves behind iron filings from the smell handle.  If not then I think this is a real winning tool that will speed up the job of preparing for grout.  Do a better job of grout prep and help to improve those few spots where a finer grout joint was used but not needed.

I got these tools from Santa for Christmas.  I have been looking for tools like this for around four years.  I was very pleased to find them in my Christmas Stocking.  I will send a note of to the North Pole and ask if Santa can make more.