Ever since the credit crunch set in a few years ago, many homeowners have gone for the option of carrying out their own DIY projects, rather than browse their Yellow Pages or Thompson Directory for a plumber or tradesman to fit it for them. There are the obvious positives of choosing to do this, such as gaining new skills and more confidence, plus the cost-saving side of thing. However, as reports of embarrassing and common DIY failures becoming more regular, we’ve put a few tips together which we feel will help avoid such issues.**
Be sure to have good quality DIY tools available if you’re fitting a shower enclosure!
Fitting A Shower Tray
The shower tray is the key part of a shower enclosure. Fitting this correctly will ensure a water-tight fit, and allow you to fit the door and panels correctly.
Be sure to choose the most suitable shower tray. By this, we mean that you should pick one suited to either a corner shower enclosure of one designed to fit against a single wall. Many shower trays will include grooves for fitting the side panels, too.
Always ensure that the shower tray is level by using a spirit level – avoid using the modern smartphone apps that are becoming popular, as these require precise calibration and are not guaranteed to be accurate.
A spirit level is essential for ensuring a level shower tray – avoid using your smartphone!
Many shower trays include adjustable legs that allow small and precise adjustment of the height of your shower tray. When fitting, be sure to allow enough space beneath for any minor plumbing repairs, remembering that reaching the waste pipe below can be complicated.
In order to create a good seal between the tray and wall, it’s better to cut a groove of up to 1cm (approximately half an inch) into the wall, and fitting the edge of the shower tray into this groove. This will help create a more professional-looking finish, especially as not all bathrooms have precise right angles in the corners and any minor defects will be more visible. In addition (or as an alternative), tile your shower enclosure with thicker bathroom tiles, as this will help cover any gaps.
Remember to seal the tray with a silicone-based sealant or caulking before you start fitting the panels. If your budget allows you to buy sealant with anti-mould or anti-fungal additives, this is a good investment, especially as any fungal build-up can cause the sealant to deteriorate over a period of time. Don’t be tempted to use the grouting that you used on the tiles, as watertight seals always need to be flexible. When applying the seal, try and sit in the shower tray itself, as this will simulate the weight of a person and expose the gaps that need sealing carefully.
Fitting the Shower Doors or Shower Enclosure Frame
Almost every shower door you buy will have two wall channels. The channels are fixed to the walls either side of the recess which will act as the housing for your new shower door. The frame of the shower door will slide into the channel on each wall and offer several millimetres of adjustment for walls which may not be perfectly level.
Each wall channel usually has a lip running down one long edge. This lip can be tiled over adding extra rigidity to the shower enclosure. In cases where the shower door is replacing an existing door the profiles can sit on top on any existing tiles. If you are installing a complete new cubicle it is advised that you fit your tray, then fit the wall channels, making sure they are fitted straight (vertically) using a spirit level. Once these two stages have been completed you can then tile the inside area of your shower cubicle. Remember to complete any tiling before fitting any of the frame or panels – not only will you find it far easier to work in an unrestricted space, you’ll also negate the risk of getting any glue or grouting on your new shower enclosure (which may damage the glass, even if you’re successful in removing it).
Fitting the Shower Door
Now that your shower tray and shower enclosure frame is installed you are ready to hang the shower door section. Some shower doors like the sliding shower door will need to be assembled first. Once this done you can slide the door into each wall channel either side. There will be a certain amount of adjustment each side of the shower enclosure. This is to account for any walls which are not level or perfectly even.
Once the door is in place and flush at the bottom you can fix the locating screws (usually three) down the side of each profile. It is a good idea to put one screw in each side and test that the door opens and closes smoothly. The door may need to be slightly adjusted before you put the remaining screws in place.
Finishing Touches to your Shower Enclosure
Once you’re satisfied that the door is fitted correctly and that the wheels/hinges are running smoothly, it’s time to push on the cover caps/strips onto the top and edges of the wall channel. Finally, you’ll need a dab of silicon where the metal frame meets the walls and tray, and the small holes at the end of the fixed panel.
If you’re adding wooden panels around the edge of the shower tray (whether to match the wood finishes elsewhere in your bathroom or the floor), remember that any mistakes are likely to be evident in the early days & weeks of using your shower enclosure. Don’t be tempted to seal this paneling too tightly, as you might need urgent access to the wastepipe in the event of a leak.
Also, if you have any tiles left over (even half tiles), you could store these under the shower tray. This will keep them safe and make it easier than trying to find matching tiles in future, should you need to repair any chipped tiles, or cover over plumbing repairs.
Now, you’ll need to leave the shower enclosure for 24 hours before using, in order for the sealant to dry.
** if your shower tray, door or enclosure includes fitting instructions, always follow any such instructions. This advice from First Bathrooms should not be used a substitute for the advice of an experienced shower fitter – should you be unsure, always contact a professional.