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Adding Vanities

Vanities are popular because they add much-needed storage space. They’re easier to install than a wall-hung or pedestal unit because the sink sits on the vanity rather than hanging from the wall. As a result, measurements and cuts don’t have to be as exact. If your vanity has a back panel, you don’t have to finish the wall around the plumbing—the vanity covers it. Install a stop valve if one is not already there. Note: Be sure to shut off the water and drain the line.

1. Install plumbing, cabinet. Install the supply lines and drain line. Be sure they will be covered by the cabinet and won’t interfere with the sink. If the cabinet has a back, measure carefully, and cut out holes. Slide the cabinet into position and level it from side to side and front to back with shims. Anchor it to the wall by driving screws through the cabinet frame and into studs.

2. Hook up the sink top. Turn the sink top on its side, and install the faucet, the flexible supply lines, and the drain assembly. Run a bead of silicone caulk under the sink to anchor it to the cabinet. Set it on top of the cabinet, and make the final connections. Restore water pressure, and check for leaks.

Installing Showers

A successful shower Installation requires careful planning and plenty of work. In most cases, you will need to do three kinds of tasks: frame walls, install the plumbing, and finish the walls. For information about framing, finishing, and tiling shower stall walls for the projects, look for books at your local library. First decide where you would like to put the shower. You need a space at least 32 inches square— 36 inches makes for a more comfortable shower—not including the thickness of any new walls you may have to build. Be sure to leave room for the shower door to open and close.

Next plan the rough plumbing. The most important planning issue is how the unit will be vented. Make sure the drain line can be installed without seriously weakening your joists. The supply lines are usually easy to plan for— you simply tap into and extend existing lines. Sometimes during new house construction, plumbers install plumbing lines for possible future use. You may be lucky enough to already have the drain line you need poking up through the basement floor.

The final step in planning a shower is choosing the material the shower is made from. There are several kinds, including one-, two-, and three-piece prefabricated fiberglass stalls. In addition, you can purchase knockdown units with a base and walls that you put together, freestanding metal units that require no framing, and plastic or concrete shower bases with tiled walls. A large variety of glass doors are available, or you can simply hang a shower curtain.

Tips for Planning a New Shower

  • For a coordinated look, choose the whole ensemble at once: door, enclosure, base, faucet, and showerhead.
  • Unless you have better than average ventilation or live in an extra-dry area, install a bathroom vent fan near the shower. The shower will introduce a great deal of moisture that could damage walls and lead to mildew problems if it is not properly vented.
  • Consider hiring a professional to install the shower base with drain and vent. Installing the showerhead and controls and finishing the walls are comparatively easy tasks.
  • Although 32-inch bases and prefab units are available, most adults will feel cramped in them. If at all possible, install a 36-inch base.

Three types of prefab shower stalls - Prefabricated stalls usually include the base and come with framing instructions. A freestanding one-piece unit is the easiest to install, but may be too bulky to haul into your bathroom. When logistics require, use a multipiece unit. Other options include a freestanding metal unit, usually installed in basements as utility showers. Or you may choose to construct tiled walls around a shower base. Tile also offers wide color options.

Installing Prefab Units

Purchase the unit before you build the framing. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions closely regarding the exact dimensions needed. You may need to leave one wall of framing open until the unit is in place. Install the drain in the center of the stall, following manufacturer’s instructions. Frame for the unit, providing a nailing surface where needed. Check framing for plumb.

1. Anchor plumbing. Anchor supply lines, the faucet, and the shower arm to framing— don’t rely on the unit’s walls for support. To reduce noise, install insulation between the studs. Slice the insulation’s foil or paper face so moisture will not get trapped between the insulation and the walls of the prefab shower.

2. Attach unit, finish walls. Drill holes in the unit’s walls for the faucet and shower arm. Slide the parts into place and attach to the framing. Install the finish plumbing pieces: drain piece, shower handle, escutcheon, and showerhead. Caulk the seams and check for leaks. Finish the walls and install a shower door or curtain bar.

Preparing for Tile

Install the drain and the shower base. Check for leaks by pouring water down the drain. Install any necessary new framing. Be sure to leave an opening that’s the right size for your shower door. Purchase the door kit in advance so you can check the finished opening dimensions. Make sure new and old walls are plumb or you’ll end up with crooked grout lines. Install the shower supply lines, faucet, and shower arm before preparing the walls for tile.

1. Install, tape cement board. Check for plumb and any waviness in the walls. Shim the walls as required. Use cement board for the most stable and long-lasting subsurface. Cut this material with a utility knife in the same way as drywall, and attach it with galvanized screws. Cover the screws or nails and the corner joints with wallboard compound using a taping knife.

2. Install tile. Plan your tile job carefully. Use field tiles for most of the walls, but at all exposed edges, use caps. These have one finished edge. Special corner pieces have two finished edges. Apply the adhesive with a notched trowel, set the tiles, and let them dry for 24 hours. Apply grout with a grout float, wipe away excess, and clean it several times. Apply bathroom caulk to all inside corners.

Installing Hand Showers

A hand shower attached to an existing shower is a luxurious addition to a shower/tub area. A hand shower attached to a tub faucet can be an economical alternative to a complete shower installation, giving you a shower without the trouble of cutting open walls and installing new plumbing. Whichever type of unit you choose, a variety of showerheads are available, ranging from the simple to the exotic. Installing them is quick and easy: a straightforward bathroom upgrade well within the skill level of any do-it-yourselfer.

At an existing shower - Remove the showerhead. Protect chrome parts from scratches by taping the jaws of the pliers. Clean the threads. If your shower arm does not have male threads, replace it with one that does. Wrap the threads with Teflon tape, and screw on the hand shower with pliers. The hand shower connector may have a diverter (which allows you to choose either the fixed or the hand-held head), a hanger bracket (the new head fits on it), or a direct hose hookup (the hose attaches to the shower arm). For the last, install a shower hanger.

A tub-only unit - Remove the old spout by inserting the handle of a hammer into the spout opening and turning counterclockwise. Clean the pipe threads to which the spout was attached. You may need to remove the existing nipple and install one that is longer or shorter. Apply Teflon tape and screw on the new spout with diverter valve. Attach the hose to the shower-hose fitting.

Mount the shower hanger. Be sure the wall is absolutely clean and dry before starting. Some hangers can be mounted by simply peeling the paper off the backs and sticking them in place. For a more permanent attachment, hold the hanger in position and mark for the screw holes. With a hammer and a sharp-pointed awl or nail, tap a little nick in the tile—gently, so you don’t crack the tile. This will keep your masonry bit from slipping on the ceramic glaze as you start the hole. Drill the holes, push plastic anchors in place, and secure the hanger with screws.

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