Covid-19 has changed how we operate our businesses. With physical distancing and other health and safety measures, home services and renovation companies have had to adjust. Reinventing how we do things to serve customers is essential for public health, but it is important to remember that how we market our businesses needs to adjust too.
When it comes to choosing siding for your home, you won’t go wrong choosing stucco. It’s a long-lasting and beautiful choice, with high energy-efficiency. The only real choice you have to make is whether to choose traditional or acrylic stucco.
As the heart of any home, your kitchen must not only to be functional; it must also match your lifestyle. Whether you love to entertain, spend time with family, or are an avid home cook, there’s a perfect layout for you. It’s just a matter of finding the right arrangement to fit those needs.
Alternate title: putting the floor in Florida. I’ll pause while you slap your knee. I’m telling you, I’ve got mom jokes for days. And speaking of days, I googled this topic for days on end. And let me tell you, finding someone who shared actual photosand an exact rundown of what floor products they used on pine floors to get the result we were aiming for was BLEAK.
We were looking for a soft and light end result (not darker or more amber-toned/yellowed, which seems to be what pine likes to do, especially if it’s sealed with regular old oil based sealer – even just the clear stuff yellows it significantly). Oak floor refinishing info is endlessly available by the way. But straight pine pics & details about achieving a softer & lighter just-sanded look… not so much. In fact our contractor said most people rip out their old pine floors and replace them with white oak to get that lighter and not amber look and I was like AHHH MY EARS ARE BLEEDING WHO RIPS OUT GORGEOUS ORIGINAL HARDWOOD FLOORS?!
I don’t know if the heat has hit where you live but I can tell you that it has hit California hard and the idea of dipping into a (not too cold because I’m a wimp) pool is what I need. But alas, I have no pool where I am but have decided that I will purchase some kind of “water thing” to help make this already not normal summer a bit more enjoyable. BUT if you are like me and are apparently “late to the kiddie pool party,” we have to act now (like today). Kiddie pools, hot tubs, even non diy slip and slides are selling out like HOT CAKES, and finding them to round up wasn’t easy. So while Sara’s incredible creative “crate pool” was sufficient, even she has moved onto greener (read: larger and more comfortable) pastures (see below). So in an effort to not waste any more time, I think we should jump right in so we can get shopping.
HOT TUBS/SOAKING TUBS
Let’s start big with the most “permanent” option, hot tubs. Now I know saying “hot tubs” feel counterintuitive to cooling off but they can serve you in both ways. You can take a refreshing soak during the day and then warm up in the cool evening if you are so compelled (you just want to time it right so it has time to heat up). Hot tubs are also NOT cheap but if you are wanting one it might just be worth it. However if you don’t care about the “hot” part in “hot tub” there are ways to DIY! Remember our #ShowEmYourDIYOutdoor post where the very talented Bri Moysa showed us hers and it only cost $650? Well, if you don’t it’s that VERY cute soaking bath in the photo above. Again it’s not a hot tub but it is a far more affordable option.
But if DIYing isn’t your thing, here are the ones I found for purchase. Some of the ones I found are “plug and plays” (which sounds almost too easy), some are inflatable and some are a traditional hot tub that require more than just a plug. However they are all above ground and require zero construction (YEA!). And let’s not forget that the great thing about a hot tub is that they are amazing year round (and day round? no, Jess that’s not a real term)…
As someone who would love nothing more than to cool off in waist-deep water with a cocktail in hand while her favorite tunes delighting her eardrums, a kiddie pool is THE ANSWER. Sara, as shown in that stunning above photo, would also agree. Luxury at its quarantine finest. But I guess that kids apparently really love kidde pools too. So whether you are 5, 35, or 65 years old, an inflatable pool is a great summer cool off option. But guys, I am not joking when I say these are selling out fast. These were basically the only ones I could find that could feasibly fit at least one grown adult. So if you are thinking about it, don’t think too long.
Ok so now that we have the “pool” in place, let’s talk water toys…
Now while I personally may stop at with a simple kiddie pool, water toys are one of the true joys of summer. What kid (or adult) doesn’t love a slip and slide, or a unicorn sprinkler? Only ones that hate fun. But just to be clear, you don’t need to buy a water toy to have fun but they sure do help and will likely keep your children (and you) happy for hours. Here are the ones that we thought were the raddest:)
Shower some love on your home’s most-frequented spaces with these finds from the annual kitchen and bath industry show. We’ve gathered genius gear guaranteed to improve day-to-day life, whether you fancy a hardworking faucet or crave a cool new fridge.
Thinking about remodeling your kitchen or bath this year? We’ve rounded up 31 of our favorite products from the 2020 KBIS show.
Top Kitchen & Bath Trends and Products
1. Timeless profile
A handsome marriage of form and function, this top-of-the-line gooseneck faucet has deft details, a high-shine finish, a pull-down spray, plus a motion sensor for hands- free operation.
A glass-over-platinum finish makes this amenity-filled four-door fridge easy to clean and easy to love. And it fits inside a standard 70-inch cabinet—a first for four-doors in the U.S. Three of the four compartments can be set for frozen or fresh foods, even wine.
In need of a new icebox? Consider the hard spheres coming out of the freezer drawer in this new line of Alexa- and Google Assistant–enabled refrigerators. Crushed and cubed ice, plus auto-measured water, still shoot through the door.
When the rest of the kitchen is cool white, it’s nice to give the sink a little presence. This latest one in an enduring line of basins made from natural quartz and UV-stable acrylic resins comes in a color good enough to eat.
This shapely 88-gallon soaker fits in a standard 5-foot tub alcove, and its matte-white finish can add a soft counterpoint to glossy fixtures and tile. Crafted from a mix of resin and limestone, it has about half the weight of enameled cast iron.
No need to toggle between the showerhead and hand- shower—the latest iteration of this two-in-one lets you use them separately or together. The nesting duo now comes in a popular matte-black finish, too.
We all love a front loader, but not the bacteria and funky smells that a damp door gasket can collect. A new line of Energy Star washers tackles the issue head on, with gaskets that are angled to drain, then dried by a vent setting, and, as an extra measure, are fabricated with an antimicrobial agent that doesn’t get into the laundry.
Instead of cracking open the door to check on dinner, tap twice on the window of this smart range to illuminate the action, which includes air-frying. Picture high-speed convection that produces crispy low-fat French fries and more. It accepts voice commands and downloads recipes; its apps even learn user preferences. If only it could do the dishes.
Everyone is hankering for a beverage fridge these days, and this commercial-grade undercounter helpmate now comes in a delicious custom color called Saffron. Even better, it can live outdoors as well as in, and for a very long time.
This classic chimney-style wall-mount vent hood moves up to 400 cubic feet a minute (pretty quick), with noise levels as low as 1.5 sones (pretty quiet). It comes with LED lights and dishwasher-safe filters, in stainless steel, black stainless, and white.
Two ceramic tile collections enliven walls and floors with the look of cement tile without the high cost—or installation hassles. Optiks has soft-blue geometrics that go down fast in slabs about 17 inches square that appear to be four grout-ready tiles. Daria’s graceful florals come in 7 -inch squares in four colors, including this fresh yellow.
As if grab bars weren’t useful enough, this stainless-steel model has a built-in, noise- activated LED night-light. It comes in five lengths and finishes, including gunmetal (shown), stainless steel, matte black, white, and gold.
Borrowing from baristas and barkeeps, this nifty device blasts lipsticky goblets, hard-to-clean water bottles, and more with high-pressure jets of water that drains back into the sink. All that’s needed: a soap-dispenser-size countertop hole and a tie-in to the undersink water line.
Induction cooktops have a following for their precise, instant-response controls and easy maintenance. This 30-inch stainless-steel range has a 12,000-Btu-equivalent induction zone that can heat water 4 minutes faster than gas, and the oven heats evenly with convection. That’s a lot of pro style for the price.
30-inch Induction Range, $2,299 (starting in November); Thor Kitchen
20. Sleek water miser
A 1-gallon flush that really works? Yep, this quiet, high-powered, low-flow toilet is also a handsome one-piece. The secret to its tankless profile: two water cylinders behind the bowl; compressed air powers the flush.
Studio S Low Profile Tankless with Power Flo, $995 (starting in July); American Standard
21. Art Deco high rise
With swooping lines and lever handles, this polished lav faucet’s gooseneck spout isn’t just a showpiece—it offers welcome extra space when washing up.
Belshire Widespread High Spout Faucet in chrome, $699 for the faucet and $300 for the handles (starting in August); DXV
22. Drier cleaning
It’s a drag to shelve dishes that look and feel as if they just broke a sweat. Here come dishwashers that use a fan plus a mineral element to create heat when in contact with moisture. The result: plates, glasses, and plastics that are both sparkling clean and bone dry.
Yanking open the fridge or pantry cabinet is more of a pleasure when you’re pulling on hardware with the latest looks and finishes.
Clockwise from top left: Knurled Pull in Aged Brass, from $14; Top Knobs. Apollo Appliance Pull in Bronze, from $200; Ashley Norton. Victoria Collection Pull in Polished Nickel, from $8.60; Atlas Homewares
24. Style and smarts
Customize this pull-down to suit any kitchen by selecting from a menu of finishes, handles, and spouts. Should one’s hands be full, this sink mate takes voice commands, too.
Odin Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet in Brilliance Polished Gold with Square Spout, $676, and Teak Lever Handle, $120 (starting in Fall 2020); Brizo
25. Tradition with a twist
Here’s a nice break from parquets past: marble mosaic in shades of silver and white that goes down not in small pieces but in generous, fresh-looking pattern pieces in 9- or 12-inch squares.
This 29 1/4-inch-wide, app-driven wall duo not only bakes and roasts two at a time but can also steam, air fry, and “air sous vide” (no bag sealers or immersion water heaters needed) at precise temperatures—picture crunchy veggie chips and fall-off-the-bone lamb shanks, no preheating required. It can also take orders from the next room: “Just keep it warm while we finish our cocktails.”
30-inch Connected Double Wall Oven with Air Sous Vide (product and pricing available starting in November); Electrolux
27. Small is beautiful
Downsized appliances tuck in nicely, whether you are outfitting a small kitchen or simply want more space for other things. This suite includes a microwave, fridge, electric cooktop, range hood, dishwasher, and wall oven, none wider than 24 inches or more than $899.
Durable, low-maintenance solid surfacing can move from countertops to walls, and weighs less than natural stone for easier installation. This enticing gray-veined version, made by fusing quartz, glass, and porcelain under pressure, is so tough it can live outdoors.
Serious chefs love the speed and convenience of a pot filler over the range—though you do still need to carry that pot to the sink when the spaghetti’s done. This folding spout pumps out 3 gallons a minute and comes in a black finish that turns pro-style function into modern wall art.
Strip lead, chlorine, bacteria, even pharmaceuticals out of household drinking water with this three-stage sink-cabinet carbon filtration device. It has a leak detector, and there’s an app to help you stay on top of filter replacements.
A heat system is installed in the bathroom floors for extra comfort, and Matt explains the plan to heat and cool the entire home with both efficiency and visual appeal in mind. Outside, the entryway to the ADU gets completed.
The goal is for the Cottage on the Cape to be comfortable year-round, so a heated floor system is being installed in the master bathrooms for some added warmth during cold New England winters.
Cape Associates’ lead tile setter, Billy, gives a few tips for a proper install, from preparing the floor for the membrane to setting the heating cables into place. In the basement, Chris catches up with Matt to talk about how he has structured the forced hot air technology throughout the home to maximize efficiency without sacrificing aesthetic.
While things move along inside, there is still some work to be done on the exterior. Carpenters Mike and Bob get started on the deck at the entryway to the ADU, and then finish the entryway’s roof with decorative brackets.
Join This Old House Pro2Pro Editor Chris Ermides as we chronicle the build of the 2020 Idea Houses in two new video series, Idea House Build: Cottage on the Cape and Idea House Build: Farmhouse in Fairfield County. Follow along as we document everything from breaking ground to the home transformation journey, as well as inspire and educate about the latest products and trends in the industry.
When I was 16 I decided I wanted to start learning about interior design for the same reason everyone wants start to learning about interior design: my room was ugly and I wanted to redecorate. So I bought two interior design books: Domino’s Book of Decorating and Elements of Style (obviously because Emily’s book wasn’t out yet, okay???) and googled “what computer program do professional interior designers use?” The Google led me straight to a program called AutoCAD so I immediately downloaded the free trial. My thought process was: if I could teach myself photoshop, so how hard could it be to teach myself this? Well, after watching hours of free tutorials online and playing around with it, I realized it was VERY HARD, so I used an old fashioned sketchbook to draw out my room design. Flash forward 6 years later, I landed a job working for an interior design blog –– neigh –– THE INTERIOR DESIGN BLOG –– and I have a confession to make: I walked into the EHD office STILL not knowing what computer programs interior designers actually use.
So I’ll start by answering that million dollar question: what program do interior designers actually use?? Here at EHD, we use a bunch of different programs. Julie (who went to real interior design school) uses SketchUp and AutoCAD, but the vast majority of us use Photoshop and Google Slides. I’ll say that one more time in terms that are more relevant for this post. The EHD team uses 3 professional programs that cost money ANDGOOGLE SLIDES.I couldn’t believe this news. This is a FREE program most people already have on their computers and know how to use. If you don’t know how to use it, it works the same way as PowerPoint or Keynote, and IT’S VERY EASY TO LEARN. So, when it came to designing my studio apartment, I revved up my Google Slides skills and got going. Here’s what I ended up with:
Now I have a couple of things to say here. First off, if you’ve been following my studio apartment saga at all, you may have noticed that this mood board looks completely different from the two versions I’ve shown you before. That’s because I’ve designed and redesigned this mood board probably 300 times. I know I just said “probably” but 300 is actually not an exaggeration. But THAT’S one of the main benefits to doing something like this on Google Slides, it makes switching around furniture pieces SO easy and it allows you to see the entire evolution of a room, so if you want to go back to where you started you can. I’ll get more into the details in a bit, but how we typically layout a room with Photoshop and Google Slides is by “wall” or “perspective” since these aren’t 3-D renderings. As you can see above that’s my bedroom wall or the perspective from the living room. Now let me show you another wall in my apartment where I took it from real life to a real design plan:
REAL LIFE ROOM:
DESIGN PLAN MOCKUP:
I’m sure you get it at this point, but you can make as many of these as you want. I have almost every wall from every angle, but that’s just because I’m very visual and I want to see every detail laid out before I make any big design calls. So, now that you understand what it is exactly that I’m going to teach you how to do, it’s time to actually show you! I made a video tutorial if you’re into that sort of thing (note: it will play after the ad) but if not then, just skip it because I’m going to outline it all too.
START A NEW GOOGLE SLIDE PRESENTATION
Google Slides is free and easy to use. Like I said, it’s basically PowerPoint or Keynote (which you could use instead if you’d rather), but Google Slides is a little easier to share with others and have them edit (which is especially helpful if you’re designing with roommates or a significant other that cares). So, the first thing you need to do is start a new presentation –– it should look something like this when you begin:
I like to give it a title and a title page, but obviously, you don’t have to. Click the little plus sign in the top left corner and make a new blank slide (not text boxes), then you’re pretty much set up to start adding in the goods (yup, it’s that easy).
START BUILDING YOUR SPACE
The next step is to start creating your space from the ground up (literally) so start with the floor. Take a photo of your apartment, OR…
If your house or apartment or whatever you’re designing has EVER been listed online, just google it, and find those professional real estate photos to pull from.
So, I found a professional picture of my apartment listing and took a screenshot of the floor. If you can only screenshot one small section of the floor because of furniture and what not in the photo, don’t worry. Just screenshot as much as you can, then drag that jpeg into your google slide presentation, and then copy and paste your image a bunch of times (like I did below) until you create the whole floor. This will apply to a lot of things once you start adding in furniture pieces (like wallpaper, tile, etc), so just remember that it’s more important to get the scale of your floor (or wallpaper, tile, etc) right than to stretch and morph your photo to try to make it fit across your screen.
If you don’t know how to take a screenshot on your computer, here you go (this is important). If you’re on a mac, press ‘SHIFT’ ‘COMMAND’ and ‘4’ all at the same time, then drag and select the area you want to screenshot. If you’re using a PC or iPad or something else, here’s an article that teaches you how to screenshot on any device, or you can just search for a YouTube tutorial for your specific device. Once you’ve taken a screenshot, it will usually automatically end up on the desktop of your computer and you can access it there.
So once you know how to screenshot (and where to find your screenshot), you can do the same thing you did with the floors with the walls (my walls are white, so I just left the background blank). Then, the next thing to do is to add any architectural features into the space. So, for example, if you have a window, take a photo of the window, (or again, screenshot your apartment/house’s online listing photo), upload it to your computer, then drag it into your google slide presentation, crop, and adjust the size to scale it to the room. You can also use the “shapes” tool on Google Slides to add in any walls, poles, smoke detectors, trim (don’t forget your trim), etc. Then once you have that basis, it should look something like this (but obviously, it will look more like your space, not mine):
Now you have the foundation, so you can fill your room with WHATEVER YOUR LITTLE HEART DESIRES. Sounds easier than it is – trust me, I get it – and I’m going to give you some VERY helpful tips for how to do this (and make it look good). We made it to the fun part, guys!
SCREENSHOT ONLINE FURNITURE PIECES
First, I’d recommend starting with the furniture you already have/want to still use in your space, which, you can either take photos of your items in your apartment, OR if you have anything that’s sold online, you can screenshot the furniture pieces there (the second option will look cleaner and better). For example, we have 2 pieces of art and a World Market dining set that we got off Craigslist, but luckily they were all still being sold online, so I just took screenshots of each item from their respective online stores. Here’s what our current dining chairs look like online (ooh, by the way, they’re on SALE if you’re into them. They’re very comfortable and I highly recommend). Then I’ll ONLY screenshot the chair on the grey background (not the whole page):
I HIGHLY recommend finding pictures that have the most MINIMAL background possible, before you take your screenshot (like this plain grey background in the above photo). This will make the next step MUCH MUCH easier.
So now you should have a screenshot of your furniture item on the desktop of your computer, but it’s not quite ready to go into your Google Slides presentation just yet, here’s what you have to do next…
MAKE THE BACKGROUND TRANSPARENT
“How do you take the backgrounds out of the screenshots?” That is yet another million dollar question, people. You may be shocked to find out the answer is NOT Photoshop (although you can use photoshop to take out a background –– and I often do), this option I’m about to show you is actually EASIER and FREE. These are the instructions for mac users, but if you have a PC, you can follow this video to achieve the same thing
Step One: Screenshot your item by holding down [SHIFT] [COMMAND]  at the same time
Step Two: Go to your “Finder,” and it will appear in your “Desktop Folder”
Step Three: Double click the photo and it will automatically open in an app called, “Preview”
Step Four: Click the “Toolbar” button, and then select the magic wand looking tool (I circled them below)
Step Five: Highlight the background (It will turn red) and then it will become a “selection”
Step Six: Hit “Delete” and the selected background will be deleted
Step Seven: GO TO “FILE” and “SAVE.” There’s no need to rename the photo, if you hit “save” it will save your original screenshot as a .png with no background
Step Eight: Drag and drop your photo into Google Slides and VOILA! No background!
START FILLING IN YOUR SPACE
Remember, I recommend starting with what’s already in your space, especially if you’re going to keep things, that way you can get a sense of what you have and you can start playing around with it from there. So this is how my space looks now…
This is our first apartment, so we don’t have much furniture to add in, clearly. So at this point, your space might look A LOT fuller. If you’re starting from scratch completely or getting rid of every item in your home, obviously you don’t have to do this step, but I found that if you’re planning on keeping some of what you already have, this step will come in handy later.
DUPLICATE YOUR SLIDE AND PLAY AROUND
Now you’re finally ready to design and redesign and redesign again! Once you have your first slide finished and your room virtually mocked-up, you can duplicate your slide and start playing around with it.
Be sure to duplicate your slide every time you add in something new or switch something around.
This is why Google Slides is the best program to use. Here’s what my dining nook area looks like after designing and then redesigning it:
It’s pretty fun to use, and I’m basically addicted to going onto my computer and playing around with the space. It’s like rearranging furniture without lifting a finger. Plus, you can see every single version of your design plan and that way, you can compare and see what works best for you (and the design). Like I said, my apartment mockup has about 300 different versions of every single wall in every single version imaginable. But it’s really fun to see where you started and where you end up. Here’s the first slide in my apartment design to prove to you that it’s fun to keep every single version (even if the design you start with is just flat out not good)…
HAHA LOOK AT THAT FIRST DESIGN. This is bananas. I can’t believe I even put that together, but you gotta start somewhere right? Could you imagine if I had just started doing things to my apartment? I could’ve had a zebra rug I wouldn’t know what to do with. Although the zebra rug could come back at any moment –– what do I know? But that’s the joy of Google Slides. You can see THE ENTIRE DESIGN PROCESS ON YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN FROM START TO FINISH.
Let me know if you have any questions on this Google Slides design process! But if you want to know how to start planning your initial design check out Emily’s How to Design a Room post Xx
It’s where we start—and often end—the day. The shower has come a long way since it was hemmed in by tub walls and draped in a clammy curtain. Here’s how to turn the site of your daily drenching into a destination where style and function happily meet
Invented as a way to wash off fast, showers have evolved into a prized source of relaxation, often with spa-like amenities. Steam shower with colored lights and piped-in playlists, anyone?
No wonder showers account for 17 percent of a typical household’s water bill. That’s led to a new generation of showerheads designed to put less water to better use. Thermostatic valves have done away with the shock of temperature swings, exposed shower risers have turned into design statements, and panels of frameless glass show off artfully tiled walls and invite in natural light.
Add built-in niches for essentials, a handheld shower, and a built-in bench, if there’s room. If you’re craving something more special, consider body sprays set in the walls, a steam shower setup, and radiant floor heat to take the chill off all that tile.
How Much Does a Shower Remodel Cost?
Do plan on making an investment: Baths in general cost more per square foot to renovate than other parts of the house, partly because running plumbing is pricey and making wet areas watertight, well lit, and ventilated requires a host of skills. “As with any renovation, an experienced GC can help you decide where to spend and where to save,” says architect Jerry Allan of Afton, MN, who adds that clients often come to him with photos found online and little idea of what is needed to achieve the look they are after.
Even if all you are doing is rebuilding your old leaky shower in the same place but with better waterproofing and updated finishes, it pays to read up on best practices and product choices. Start here.
This double shower’s classic black-and-white tile and custom glass enclosure channel a Victorian-era aesthetic.
Figure out the footprint. One budget-wise and space-efficient solution for creating a nice-size shower is to take over a tub alcove, typically 3 by 5 feet. Even a 3-foot-square space can work well, and “You don’t need to go wider than 42 inches,” says South Carolina designer Sandra Gaylord.
Considering a shower big enough for two? If you’ve got at least 60 inches in length, you may be able to put a showerhead at each end. When possible, Gaylord likes to place mixer controls toward the room side of the shower in lieu of centering them, or on the wall opposite the showerhead if it works with the design. This allows for turning on the water without getting soaked, and, she adds, “it just looks nicer.” Regardless, make sure the controls are easy to reach when you’re standing outside the shower.
Determine Your Drain Location
If you’re rebuilding in kind without making changes to the shower’s size and shape, you’ll save money by keeping the drain where it is. And if the footprint is a standard size and shape, a prefab shower pan that’s presloped toward the drain will also save time and money—one made of solid polyurethane that’s tile-ready can deliver good performance and a high-end look. To move the drain, expect to pay $300 to $600. A new drain with a horizontal outlet and a thick foam board to elevate it (Kerdi-Drain-H and Kerdi-Shower-CB, $164; Schluter) allows you to locate the replacement up to 3 feet away from your existing pipe.
Plan for extras. Review the plumbing plan with your contractor, making sure the shower valve and showerhead are at a comfortable height, as well as any body sprays—and that they meet local water-usage code. Block out spots for niches, along with a grab bar or two—handy if only when scrubbing your feet—and a bench if space allows. If a steam unit is on your list, you’ll need spots for steam heads and wired controls, plus a steam generator outside the shower. More wiring may be needed for in-floor heat and the latest smart controls.
Two Ways to Waterproof Your Shower
In both of these This Old House-approved methods, a shower’s walls and floor are covered with waterproof materials before the tile goes down.
Mortar bed + membrane
Mark Ferrante and his son and partner, Erik, have tiled showers for Silva Brothers for 30 years and “never had one leak,” Mark says. Their old-school secret: a custom soldered copper pan packed with a thick bed of mortar, which provides a stable substrate for tile. But first, they cover the mortar bed with two coats of a two-part, liquid waterproofing membrane, and skim-coat the walls with thinset—twice. With wait time, the job takes three days.
Prefab foam components
Tiling pro Alex Perez, who works with This Old House home builder Jeff Sweenor, is glad his days of lugging heavy cement board and waiting for plumbers to install pans and drains are behind him. With the lightweight Kerdi-Board foam wall and floor panels and related curb assembly (Schluter), all of which come covered with a waterproof, thinset-compatible membrane, he can prep a 36-by-36-inch stall in just 6 hours, then start tiling.
It’s easier to tile up to the straight edges of a square drain cover than to nibble tiles to fit around circular ones. Trough-style linear drains only require the shower floor to slope in one direction, and are most often placed along the shower’s back wall. Some linear drain covers accept tile. Others, known as wall drains, are located behind a narrow gap at the base of the back wall.
Types of Shower Doors
Frameless glass is widely available today, but style choices still abound. Just don’t forget to hang a squeegee—clear glass is subject to water spotting.
Open and shut
Sheets of glass create an airy feel. Hinges can be adjusted to allow doors to swing into the shower, so wet doors can drip inside the enclosure.
Barrier-free shower enclosures are not only accommodating but also space enhancing, as they impart a luxurious, spa-like feel.
Some things to keep in mind:
For a shower floor to sit flush with the rest of the bathroom, the framing under the shower pan has to be lowered, or the floor outside the shower has to be raised.
Position the drain as far away from the shower door as possible, and extend the pan’s waterproofing membrane at least 4 inches up adjacent walls and at least a foot beyond the pan’s edge (farther can’t hurt).
Be sure to aim the spray away from the door.
4 Things About Shower Fittings
While a showerhead can deliver the goods without breaking the bank, expect to invest in quality valves, controls, and even finishes if you’re after a certain look.
1. Weight matters
That’s one way plumbing pro Kevin Bilo assesses quality valves and fittings: “A cast-bronze or -brass valve body is going to last longer and give you fewer problems than one with lightweight parts.”
The same applies to other fittings. Painted plastic won’t weigh as much, or hold up as well, as solid brass with an electroplated or PVD (physical vapor deposition) finish.
Bilo also recommends valves with ceramic-disc cartridges, which stand up to the gritty minerals that may flow through pipes better than old-style washerless cartridges.
2. Suss out the showerhead
Ones that let loose 2 gallons of water per minute or less earn the coveted EPA WaterSense label, inspiring manufacturers to get creative in achieving maximum sense of drench.
Look for those with easy-to-clean silicone nozzles that aim for full-shoulder coverage, and spray controls that are easy to work. The best showerheads use pressure-compensating flow controls to make the spray feel fuller—like air infusion (Grohe and Kohler), window-wiper-style motion (Delta), crisscrossing patterns (Speakman), or a spiraling spray (Moen)—to trick the body into thinking it’s experiencing heavy rain.
Adjustable sprays can offer differing sensations, from soft to intense. Rain showers are designed to hit the top of your head first, but don’t assume they will deliver more water than wall-mount showerheads.
3. A hand-shower is handy
It can be docked high or low, on or off the shower riser, and unhooked for a targeted spray—also useful when cleaning the walls. Typically, there’s a toggle between the handshower and the showerhead, though some newer systems allow simultaneous use. There are also combo fittings (like the one at left) that make use of an existing valve.
It adds a few hundred dollars to your project, but offers safety and convenience a standard pressure-balance valve cannot. The latter will prevent scalding if a toilet flushes while you’re showering, but doesn’t offer easy or foolproof temperature setting.
With thermostatic valves, you get two controls, one for volume, the other for temperature—the second of which you can set and forget. These valves automatically and quickly adjust the water to within a degree (or less) of your desired temperature. Shown: Delancy Collection Two-Handle Thermostat Valve and Trim, from $225; American Standard
Shower Vents and Lighting
The right light: Plan for one or two recessed ceiling fixtures in the shower ceiling. They must be UL-rated for wet locations, with sealed gaskets to stop moisture from getting into the ceiling cavity. Master electrician Heath Eastman recommends low-profile LED fixtures, which save energy and will operate for years before flickering out. Wire them to a separate GFCI-protected switch outside the shower, and equip the switch with a dimmer for late nights and early A.M.
Vent fan basics: A properly sized bath vent fan—with at least 1 cfm of airflow per square foot of bathroom floor—will suck out moisture that can otherwise condense on ceilings, walls, and mirrors, contributing to peeling paint and mildew growth. A fan located inside a shower enclosure must be wet-rated and installed with GFCI protection.
Look for quiet operation, with a sound level of 1 sone or less—so quiet you might forget it’s running. To eliminate that kind of guesswork, choose an Energy Star–certified fan that will turn on automatically when it senses rising humidity, with a timer you can set to run for at least 20 minutes once the water’s shut off. Want a vent fan with a built-in light? Eastman suggests wiring a separate switch for each function.
Borrow a European idea and make an entire bath space waterproof. In a true wet room there’s no shower enclosure—the whole room is tiled—and the drain is centered.
But the air can get cold, and not everyone wants to squeegee every surface that gets soaked. Many new baths are including a so-called wet area, where shower and bath are coupled on one side of a transparent room divider. Keep in mind that the whole area needs to be finished like a shower enclosure—think about tiling the ceiling as well as the walls—and you will need separate drains for a tub and a shower.
A vent fan coupled with a heating element can provide warmth and moisture control. In-floor radiant heat will help tiled floors dry faster.
Shower Wall Options
Shower-wall surfaces are moving toward the monolithic, with large-format porcelain tiles—measuring 2 by 4 feet and more—and stone or stone-look slabs (akin to countertop material) becoming increasingly popular.
It’s a dramatic, uninterrupted look with the bonus of sidestepping grout’s many issues, including vulnerability to stains, mold, and water penetration.
Because natural stone is heavy and may need sealing, thinly sliced engineered stone and solid surfacing are on the rise. The best new products are as durable as natural stone, more stain resistant, and easier to install—the lighter, the better. One product that’s making waves: Cosentino’s Dekton Slim sintered stone slabs, which come 4 mm thick and as large as 126 by 57 inches (from $58 per square foot, uninstalled).
Adding to the seamless look, the line offers large-format floor tiles with a “grip” finish to match.
No floor is slip-proof, but you need to get it as close to that as you can. Small tiles about 1 1⁄2 or 2 inches in diameter are skid-resistant because there are lots of grout lines, but tile with a grippy surface is even better.
Shop for matte-finish tile that feels sandy or textured, like unglazed quarry tile or a naturally rough or honed stone. If you prefer larger-format tile, look for the “dynamic coefficient of friction” (DCOF) rating, the result of voluntary testing that tile products undergo.
DCOF RATING 0.42 OR HIGHER WHEN WET = GOOD SLIP RESISTANCE
On occasion, a window interrupts an exterior shower wall. If you don’t want to close it up and sacrifice the natural light it provides, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva recommends installing a unit made of waterproof fiberglass and treating it on the inside just as you would on the outside of the house.
Once you’ve taken the steps below, he suggests installing a shower curtain above the window and closing it when the shower is in use, both for privacy and to protect the opening from water.
Protect the rough opening by applying a waterproofing membrane to all exposed wood framing.
Use cellular PVC trim to cover the window’s edges.
Caulk around the trim with a mildew-resistant sealant, except along the bottom edge; that way, any water that gets past the trim can escape.