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Installing A Shower Surround

Shower surrounds are quick and easy to install and have built-in soap and shampoo caddies. Surrounds can be installed directly over securely fastened ceramic tile. Loose ceramic tiles—and any plastic tiles—must be removed and the walls sanded smooth before installation. In new installations the enclosure should be applied over waterproof backerboard.

THE RIGHT STUFF - Use only an adhesive made specifically for shower surrounds. Other adhesives may melt through the plastic,

PROVIDING VENTILATION - Bathrooms are the wettest places in the house and, therefore, need adequate ventilation to keep the buildup of moisture at a level that won’t make the paint peel and the floor warp. A new shower surround will often cover a window that is the primary source of ventilation for the bathroom. If that’s the case, you’ll need to install a vent fan or make a cutout in the surround to allow access to the window. Kits contain all the materials you’ll need to do the framing job, or you can trim it out with a primed, painted, and sealed wooden frame.

MATERIALS: Tub enclosure, detergent, cardboard for template, double-stick tape, tub surround adhesive, silicone caulk, expanding foam

TOOLS: Tape measure, pipe wrench, screwdriver or hex wrench set, bucket, sponge, hole saw, utility knife, carpenter’s pencil, caulking gun, rags

1 PREPARE THE ENCLOSURE. Shut off the main water supply. Remove all fittings. Clean film and dirt from the wall surface and dry thoroughly. Prep cement backerboard with a stain-blocking primer to create good bonding. Allow the surface to dry completely before installing the surround.

2 SELECT A CORNER PANEL. It doesn’t matter which corner you start in. Select a corner panel and test-fit it. Remove the panel and lay it on the floor with the surface that goes next to the wall facing up. Apply a pressure-sensitive, double-sided, 1 -inch tape along the vertical edges of the panel.

3 APPLY ADHESIVE TO THE PANEL using a caulking gun. Apply dots of the adhesive at intervals of no more than 12 inches along the vertical length of the panel. Rows of adhesive near the edge should be set back from it by 3 inches.

4 INSTALL THE FIRST CORNER PANEL. Position the panel. Press it firmly onto the wall, then pull it back about 6 inches for a few minutes (or per the manufacturer’s instructions] to let the adhesive set up. Push the panel back in place. Firmly apply pressure, up and down, and side to side, making firm contact with the wall. Repeat in the opposite corner.

5 MEASURE THE OUTLETS. Create a cardboard template for the openings into one end panel for the faucet and spout piping. Determine the height from the bottom of the panel and the distance of each fitting from the inside edge of the panel.

6 TEST-FIT THE TEMPLATE by laying it against the wall, making sure the template openings line up with the pipe outlets. If they don't, re-measure them and make a new template.

7 CUT THE OPENINGS IN THE PANEL. Mark the positions of the openings on the back of the panel with the template—drilling from the back will minimize chipping. Placing a piece of scrap wood beneath the panel will produce a cleaner cut. Test-fit a final time and use a hole saw to cut the openings.

8 APPLY PRESSURE TAPE AND ADHESIVE. You can fill the crevices in the panel with expanding foam to make them more rigid. Apply carefully; too much foam can expand and crack the panel. Position the panel onto the wall. Apply pressure by hand—side to side—to mount. Install the remaining panels.

9 SEAL WITH A BEAD OF CAULK. Use a caulking gun to apply a quality tub-and-tile sealant. Seal along the outside edges of the panel and around the fixtures. To get a "perfect bead," use a small spoon dipped in soapy water to smooth the caulk line. Avoid using the shower for at least 2 A hours, or follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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