Restoring an old cottage...

Tag: shower

The Endless Tiling

“Let’s create a niche in the shower!” they said.

Narrator: they should not have created a niche.

The tiling of the shower cubicle is, finally, nearing an end. Except we’ve run out of grout with the final few tiles and corner crack to go. Which really is a suitable thing to happen given how inept we’ve been with the whole thing so far.

It started with the niche.

We didn’t want those wire baskety things in our shower because Vicky is a snob and thinks they’re skanky.

So a niche it was.

Then Vicky found The Most Expensive Shelf in the World, so now we have a very complicated niche and a cool shelf. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Back to the beginning.

The Tiles

After at least 14 different tile samples, we finally decided on these:

These are much more gorgeous in real life.

They come in random packs and deciding where to place them became a fun game. We bought a load and then they sat there in the bathroom for literally weeks as we procrastinated on actually sticking them to the wall.


Because we were scared. Joe has never tiled before, and Vicky hasn’t tiled in about 15 years. And never textured tiles.

So our friend Jodie came round with her tile cutting machine and pointing finger, and made us begin. (Thank you Jodes!)

Jodie, wearing paint-covered grey clothes, kneels on our grey slate shower tray holding a tile, and Joe slathers tiles in adhesive from a bucket.
We get by with a little help from our buddy Jodes

I actually love tiling. It’s super zen squishing them into place. The cutting was no problem either because I didn’t do it, Joe did. And he did an amazing job, whilst hating every moment of it because he can deal with loud noises and my brain can’t.

We got so excited about the tiling activities that we just tiled right up to the niche without stopping to consider whether we should.

We made a grave error.

The niche itself was no problem, we built it out of Wedi boards which are magical. But tiling the niche? That required more thought than we gave it, and more planning, and more general common sense, which is in embarrassingly short supply anywhere within three metres of Vicky.

So we tiled up to the edge of the niche, and then thought about the corner trim.

Public Service Announcement: this is the wrong order to do that in. Do not do this. Get your trim first, then do the tiling, so it all fits.

What followed was a nonsense of epic and needlessly expensive proportions.

The Niche Trim Shenanigans

Because the tiles are thick and have unglazed edges, we needed to hide the edges. So normal tile trim wouldn’t work. We wanted anthracite grey tile trim to go with the grout, the shower tray, and the general ambiance.

But because we needed a really big wide trim to hide all our mistakes, all we could find was school-changing-room steel, which looked, frankly, gash.

What we needed was T-trim because it’s the only thing wide enough to cover the edges.

So the search began, and eventually we found some floor edging trim that actually looked great. And it was an acceptable colour. But we didn’t buy enough of it because… well. I think I’ve explained why.

So we did three-quarters of the niche trim, and then it sat there for another week.

Niche with missing trim from the top.

Eventually, another shipment arrived — this time far more than we needed, and we finished.

And so our niche looked like this:

Ungrouted niche looks pretty swish with its ludicriously expensive trim.
Not worth the faff.

It does look pretty swish but was it worth the trouble? Absolutely not.

The Most Expensive Shelf in the World

While searching for tile trim, I got distracted by other cool stuff, some of which was this funky steel shelf that gets grouted into the wall between the tiles:

The world’s most expensive shower shelf in the corner casts cool shadows onto the turquoise tiles below.
Does look cool tho

And yes that is how much it cost.

It’s super-thin, powder-coated texture with funky slots for drainage, and it just looks aces. Really easy to fit. I want another one now to put high up and put a plant on. Joe says no but I’ll just order one at some point and then fit it and he probs won’t notice.


We finally did get around to the grouting, after procrastinating on that by going to London to see our friend Edd and Cirque du Soleil for the weekend, but we almost finished it today.

Except for the bit at the top and the corner, because we bloody ran out of grout. Joe says they were 150g short of 5kg, so I’m wondering if I can complain about it and get some free grout. I’ll report back if I remember to do that.

Joe wears an orange fleece, back to the camera, and kneels in the shower cubicle grouting the turquoise textured tiles.
Looks aces!

Still to do…

So yeah, we’re almost done in the shower cubicle. Still no idea what we’re doing about the shower screen, but we’ve decided it needs to be floor to ceiling to prevent Joe from bouncing water off his head into the rest of the bathroom, and it needs to be a fixed pane and a sliding door because we’re worried about water sloshing everywhere.

We haven’t siliconed around the ceiling or around the shower tray yet either. And we haven’t fitted the shower rail riser yet, or finished plumbing in the secondary shower head, or fitted the shower control plate. But we are nearly there, and it’s gonna look amazing.

Advanced Shower Tray Engineering

We’ve done some painting! Which feels a lot like Making Progress.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves because we’ve done lots more than that.

We’ve finished the structure of the shower cubicle!

The Shower

For the ceiling, we decided to use waterproof panels in white, because they’re really easy to fit and keep clean, and easy to cut to size. We chose Multipanel.

We cut it to size, squirted high-grab adhesive on the back, and pressed them into place:

Ceiling panel with zig zags of adhesive ready to go up.
Adding adhesive to the panel

We put pressure on with a complicated arrangement of leftover cork panels to avoid damaging the panels and long battens of wood and leftover floorboards to help hold it all in place while it dried. Worked a treat.

Stud wall visible beneath ceiling panel, held up with cork and pieces of wood to brace.
Not how the pros would do it, but it worked pretty well

Once the ceiling was up, it was time to fit the waterproof Wedi panels to the stud wall frame. We chose Wedi boards because we wanted something that’d be super waterproof and easy to tile onto.

We cut the boards to size, and fitted them butted up against each other, with Wedi sealant between the joins to ensure no leaks.

The boards fix to the stud wall with screws and washers, which we then painted over with liquid membrane to prevent any water seeping through, and also painted over all the joins. We’ve got tons of the stuff, so we also painted the entire subfloor with waterproof membrane too, because why not?

You can see we’ve also fitted the shower head into the ceiling, as well as the extractor fan and spotlight. We cut round holes into the board for the shower valves to poke through as snugly as possible, and are pretty pleased with ourselves at how neat they are.

Grey Wedi boards lining a shower cubicle. All joints, screws, and floor painted with pale blue-green liquid membrane.
Sealed and fitted Wedi boards

Using the Wedi boards, we cut smaller pieces to create a wall niche in the shower for bottles and stuff (see above). It’s really nice to work with.

The Poo Pipe

When we were away in Canada, our neighbour Graham (who is a builder) put a whacking great hole in the side of our house and poked a poo pipe through it, then ran it down the outside wall and into the main sewage pipe. He also dug a trench and put in a new manhole cover for us.

I don’t think he enjoyed that very much, but we are paying him so that takes the edge off. It’s why we didn’t want to do it ourselves…

So, we now have the toilet waste plumbed in, which was a big job we were a little anxious about.

Speaking of big jobs we were anxious about, we’ve also fitted the shower tray.

The Shower Tray

The shower tray weighs approximately 5,273 tonnes and is made of stone resin. The instructions say to lift it up and gently drop it into place.


Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) we’ve built the shower area so precisely that there was definitely no room to “gently drop it into place” so we had to be creative.

We mixed up sand and cement in a 5:1 mix and added water until it was the consistency of mashed potato.

(Vicky’s aside: this gave me immense anxiety because one person’s perfect mashed potato is another’s sloppy disgusting mess. Is it fluffy? Is it smooth and creamy? WHO KNOWS? In the end we decided on our perfect mash and it seems to have worked out fine.)

Whiskey—our little grey cat—thinks every receptacle of water is hers. Here, she’s leaning right over the edge of a bucket to drink water out of it.
Whiskey supervised the whole process which is why it worked so well

Then we spread the base onto the subfloor, which we had painted with the same waterproof stuff we used on the Wedi boards. Rather marvellously, we managed to get the cement pretty much bob on level, so we felt smug about that.

Joe uses a spirit level to check how level the cement base is.
Looking level!

Next, we took some leftover 15mm plumbing pipe to use for runners. Imagine how they built Stonehenge with log rollers? Well, that was our idea for sliding the shower tray into place. There’s no way we could lower it in from above—it’s enclosed on three sides, with not enough room even to slide a piece of paper between the end walls and the tray.

Instead of rolling the tray along rolling pipes, we made little rails from the pipes, and then pushed the tray along them, into the cubicle, and then slide the pipes out afterwards to allow the tray to settle on the cement bed.

Using pipes to slide the shower tray into place onto the cement bed

Again, it was perfectly level all the way around, and there was much rejoicing.

If you want to see us in action, here’s a video:

Next time: the walls and windowsills…

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