Installing a prefabricated shower stall often turns out to be a tricky and time-consuming job that takes great practical skill, yet with sensible pre-planning and the right tools for the job, a professional result can be obtained by the average home-handyman. Allow 3-4 days to complete the work and brush up on your carpentry, plumbing, wall-preparation and finishing skills because you're going to need them all!
To begin with, make sure you have the right equipment and tools before you begin the job. Importantly, purchase the shower stall before building the frame it will fit in in order to get accurate dimensions.
You will need: a prefabricated shower, electric drill, plumb level, tape measure, caulk, screws, hole saw, shower/tub adhesive, tape, pencil, leather work gloves, hammer, work boots and an adjustable wrench. Protective eye-wear is also highly advisable (wear when using power tools.)
Getting the prefab shower into position can be the tricky part. You will need to fit it through an existing doorway or an outside window. In some instances, part of an exterior wall may have to be removed in order to get the unit inside; seek professional advice first if required.
Because prefabricated shower stalls have watertight walls, cement-based backer boards are not needed.
It is advisable to install insulation between the studs in order to reduce plumbing noise.
When drilling holes in the unit's walls to fit the faucet and shower arm, measure carefully in advance and always wear protective eye-wear when drilling.
Position parts carefully and attach the unit to the framing. The drain piece, shower handle, escutcheon, and shower-head all need to be fitted correctly to prevent leakages and future problems. All seams need to be caulked efficiently and a thorough checking of any leaks needs careful attention; later corrections to any plumbing faults can be difficult to carry out.
Finally, finish the walls and fit a shower door or curtain bar. It is vital that you seal the joints between the bathroom walls and floor and shower enclosure with a good quality silicone! Installing water-resistant drywall around the top edge of the shower stall can be a wise, long-term investment; tiling the top edge is also a great idea as it will likely last a lot longer than wallpaper or paintwork.
If you aren't adept in skills like demolition, plumbing and drywalling, you may be best served by employing a qualified professional to carry out these tasks.
As a final reminder, installing prefabricated shower stalls can be quite fiddly and time-consuming. The plumbing especially has to be completed with some expertise in order to have a sound unit. Yet having said all this, a successful shower installation is achievable if you take your time, check well for any leaks and consult an expert for advice if the need arises.
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