How to Build a Shower Bench in a Tile Shower.

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How to build a bench in a tile shower that will not rot or fall apart.

?Old rotten and moldy shower benches can be a health hazard. As the homes built during the housing boom age, defects in workmanship and design start to show up. One of the common problems that homeowners are facing is the tile benches in their showers. These were often built out of a wood frame. As the grout cracks and the caulking peels water seeps down into the hollow area inside of the bench. Here the water rots the wood and feeds mold. Another common problem is the seat forming a dip and holding water. These can be solved by building a solid bench in its place.

  1. Remove the old bench. Start by using a razor knife to score the caulking and grout along the corners. Remove as much as possible.This will help prevent the wall tiles from being damaged. Use a hammer and chisel to break away the tile along the edges. Be careful to only strike the tile on the bench. This will reveal the backer board. Try to pry each piece of backer board from the seat in one section. If there is a rubber shower pan carefully remove the nails that hold it in place. Use a hammer to remove the wood frame. Remove all of the trash from the bathroom.
  2. Inspect the shower pan. Carefully examine the rubber shower pan if it is equipped. Look to closely for holes below the waterline. Small holes can be repaired with a glue that you will find at a home improvement store. If it is a tear consider replacing the entire shower pan. You will need to remove the shower floor to do this.
  3. Prepare the hole. The opening in the wall where the bench was needs to be sealed. Use a cement backer board for this. Measure the size of the opening. Cut the board 1/8 inch smaller than your measurement. If the house is built with metal studs then screw the board in place, otherwise use nails. Fill the gap with caulking.
  4. Build the base. A permanent shower bench will require a solid base construction. Install the cinder blocks, holes up, where the bench will be. Start at the outside corner and work in. Adjust the spaces in between the blocks if fill the space.  Add a second row. Now the bench is at least 16 inches tall, Add a row of 1/2 blocks if needed. If a rubber pan was used then it should lay against the outside of the blocks.
  5. Install Cement Board. The face of the seat will need durarock installed on it. This will serve two purposes 1) it provides a base for the tile to bond to and 2) it closes the gaps in the cinder block base. To do this measure and cut the durarock to size (cut one for the top also). Mix some thinset mortar in a bucket. Apply the thin set to the cinder blocks and then press the durarock against it. If you have any left over thinset dump it into one of the empty cells. Allow the thinset to dry before continuing.
  6. Fill the cells. The cells of the cinder blocks need to be filled. Use a sand mix mortar for this. Continue to add mortar until the top is smooth. The rear should have slightly more on it than the front. Set the top piece of durarock onto the mortar. Use a small level to slope this durarock away from the wall. This is important. Allow this to dry.
  7. Install tile. Tile the face of the shower bench first. Using thinset start at the top corner and work to the wall. The cuts need to be next to the wall. Continue the rows to the floor before starting the next wall. Run a row of bull-nose tile down the edge. Tile from the bull-nose to the wall as you did on the first side. When you tile the seat start the bull-nose in the corner and work to both walls. A 45* cut will be needed at the corner if there are not corner pieces available. Continue to install the tile on the seat with the cuts next to the wall. After the tile is dry grout everything. Finish by caulking the corners after the tile has dried.

This is a method preferred by many custom home builders. Beauty can be added with decorative trim. It provides the homeowner with a permanent shower bench. One that will not grow mold and mildew on the inside or cave in. Build one of these and you will never have to worry about falling through the seat.    

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