With the tub in place we could build the wall between the toilet and tub. Originally I had drawn a slightly longer wall to give the toilet more privacy but Flannel Man was concerned about it being too dark over there. So we compromised with a shorter We also adjusted the shower tile layout a this time. Flannel Man wanted the bullnose edge tile to go in front of the tub down to the floor to protect the wall from any water that might splash out of the tub or come off the shower curtain. We also decided to take the tile all the way up to the ceiling. With those considerations in mind we made the wall just the right length to have the bullnose go to and create the corner of the wall.
We hung the cement board on two of the three walls and finally it was time to get to some finish plumbing! We are using a hand shower with a tall wall bar that allow you to use it as an overhead shower.
So there is a tub spout, the wall outlet for the hand shower hose, and a rough in valve in the wall. I saved us some space by ordering an all in one thermostatic valve from Hansgrohe, the ThermoBalance II, that would give us all of the features we wanted in one valve (temperature control, volume control, and diverter between hand shower and tub spout). Unfortunately, this model is being discontinued by Hansgrohe so I made sure to order it in advance along with the rough in valve extender just in case we needed it.
I had drawn everything up in CAD and it looked fine. What seemed pretty straight forward turned out to be a confusing mess for us amateur plumbers.
What height should the valve be at? What seemed like a natural height while showering was way too high for someone taking a bath to reach.
How many inches above your head should the hand shower be? Originally I wanted is just a few inches over my 6′ tall head but I quickly realized that it needed to be higher but I didn’t want it towering over my 5′-6″ husband.
How many inches above the tub should the tub spout be?
What height should the wall outlet be placed to keep the hose from hooking on the tub spout but yet still lay naturally?
How can we route the piping so that no two pipes have to cross in this small wall?
Which fittings work best for the tub and wall outlet?
What kind of bracing is needed behind those fittings?
How thick will the cement board, tile, and thinset be and how exact do we need to get the depth of the fittings?
When the wall outlet and tub spout are on tightly will they point the right direction? Is there any play there?
Where can the second niche fit into this busy wall?
How tall does the niche need to be and what are the thickness of the shelves?
What is the best way to line the niche up with the tile pattern?
How the heck do we solder these elbows and fittings without charring everything in sight?
There were so many things to figure out in such a short amount of time! Flannel Man was taking this project on himself being the best solderer in the house and I was just trying help with the location questions. After a week and a half of trying to figure it all out he was feeling pretty defeated.
I don’t know how professional plumbers do it. Do they just assume what you want and use some standard numbers they always use unless you tell them otherwise? With so many different styles of shower fixtures out there I would think it’s hard to make anything standard. Do they take into consideration the height of the clients? Moving plumbing around isn’t too hard but as soon as you cut that cement board that is where everything is staying unless you trash that piece and buy some more. The outlet locations are so permanent it’s scary to finalize these locations so early in the game! What if we hate the shower head/tub spout/wall outlet/niche locations after using the shower?! So much pressure to get it right the first time!
Eventually we guessed decided on all of the locations and Flannel Man got to work putting everything together. There was clamped cement board, samples of tile, foil backed insulation, a pitcher of water, and far too many copper fittings that were bought among other things.
What a mess!
Over the last couple years Flannel Man has become pretty good at soldering if I do say so myself. Installing the new water heater, adding shut off valves around the house, replacing leaking valves, and putting in the new water softener have given him plenty of practice.
It was looking pretty nice when it was all done! Didn’t he do a great job? Now let’s hope these locations work well for us! Some shims were added to correct the wavy walls.
Here is the nipple used for the handheld shower wall outlet.
The thermostatic rough in valve.
And the tub spout elbow fitting.
With the plumbing in place we finished up the cement board. We use screws that are specifically made for cement board and wet locations but we still had to countersink each screw. There are supposed to be cement board screws with small nubs on the back of the head that act as a built in countersink but those weren’t readily available at our hardware stores. Maybe next time we’ll order those ahead of time.
On the wall with the lower niche we forgot to put shims on the wavy wall before hanging the cement board. But when we sat on the edge of the tub it flexed enough to rub against the back of the cement board creating a high pitched squeaking noise. A combination of dremeling and shimming fixed this. I can’t imagine how much it would have flexed if we hadn’t cemented the tub in place.
Next up the drywall for the rest of the space went up.
The wall with the sink backsplash has a strip of cement board.
And the backside of the shower wall we’re going to keep open to create a hidden access panel there in the future.
We also worked on the wall with the two master bathroom vanities on it.