We spent the last few days in Colorado and Wyoming, recharging and celebrating our anniversary. Mike and I love to visit different areas and try to find places we’d love to retire…it might be too cold in Colorado for me. I got a couple emails from people asking why we didn’t demo the bath tub or toilet area yet. Since Mike and I are doing all the work ourselves (except shower glass and counters) we are keeping the toilet in place until we do the floor tile – which will be almost last. We are keeping the tub in place until we need to measure for counters. It will be an under-mount rectangle tub. Also, there are two benches in the shower. Yes. I like to actually sit in the shower. But not on a plastic chair like some old lady. Mike and I often take showers together, this way we each have our own spots. Mike like’s his showers a little cooler than mine – now we don’t have to fight over the temperature. In our last shower (at our last house) we only had one bench, we would often vie for who got to sit there…not anymore 🙂

Mike wiring the light switch to my future sconces. Don’t worry, the power is off.
Shower shelf framed, benches framed, half of the Schluter-Kerdi board hung.

I honestly can’t believe Mike got this far on the shower. He did all the rough plumbing, electrical and hung the Kerdi board in one week.

Why we chose a shower ledge instead of a niche

We decided on a shower shelf instead of a niche for several factors: it didn’t have height restrictions (because in real life I buy shampoo from Sam’s Club); it didn’t require framing a header into the existing wall-so totally faster to frame up; it’s easier to water proof; easier to tile around; perfect spot for a shower beer; new trend/cleaner look…so lots of pros. The only con was that it cut into the floor space by ~4″ – however, since it’s only part way up it doesn’t actually remove any visual space.

What I think about when planing a layout

I helped out by placing the receptacle switches, cutting blocking for the walls, and marking where the can lights and plumbing fixtures go. I made sure the rain heads would not hit us on the heads while we were sitting on our benches, I wanted to be “rained on” while I was standing just in front of it. I wanted the shower wands to be closer to the back wall instead of centered on the bench walls, so that when leaning back on the bench you could use the wand easily. I also didn’t want the lights to be positioned over head, nothing feels less cozy than a huge spot light on you when you’re naked and vulnerable in a shower. So the can lights are 10″ from the bench walls and centered. I was also working on the vanities and door fronts. This part of the project I am often Mike’s gopher…but at the other side of the project when it’s trim and finish work, he becomes mine.

Cold water gets plumbed into the steam unit as you see above. Hot water comes out. The red Pex above goes to Mike’s shower head. Slightly above and to the right in the picture you can see the copper pipe for the steam head. This picture was taken before we built the shower shelf. It shows the “brains” of the shower. The two digital valves, the steam unit, the electrical, its all there and it’s all accessible through two access panels in the garage on the other side of this wall.

Plumbing a steam shower with Pex

The Pex plumbing and the Schluter Kerdi board really help make the project go faster. This will be a steam shower. I think it’s important to note that the plumbing for a steam unit has to be done with copper because Pex can’t handle the steam it puts out. The rest was plumbed with Pex. Also, the type of shower we are doing doesn’t have any visible valve trim (you know, the on/off lever). It’s made by Kohler. We can control the shower/steam with a digital interface that will be installed in the shower. You can see it hanging down from a cable one of the pictures above. We can also control it with our phones and using voice command. Mike also plumbed a shut off valve in the access panel so if we ever need to work on it we don’t have to turn off the water to the whole house – just the area that services our shower. He’s smart. That’s why I like him.

Here’s a link to Kohler’s website for more info on the digital valve: https://www.us.kohler.com/us/DTV+-Digital-Showering-Experience/content/dtvplus.htm

Here’s the garage side of the master bathroom wall with the access panels I keep talking about. You can also see we had to move the clean out access to the garage side of the wall – the original access was in the master bathroom. Cool, right?
This is a little dark, but you can see that Mike and I put back the drywall where we removed it for pulling wire and re-plumbing the bathroom. The tub to the left still isn’t demoed…
My side. Mudded/taped, Mike did my wall, I did his.
Mike’s side. The electrical receptacles by the drains are for the power strip in our vanities.
I also got a little over zealous and started some finish work by putting up shiplap so that we could bring in the vanities. I also did not realize how blurry this photo was…

What we did differently than most

1. We pulled wire for the sconces but did not install any light boxes. We decided to put in “old work” boxes after the shiplap was in to end up with a much cleaner look, since there was drywall and shiplap between the studs it would make a 1/2 gap with “new construction” boxes.

2. We abandoned all the old plumbing. Our old plumbing was copper in this area and most of it was rolled copper – coming up from the slab. That type of plumbing is known to fail in our area because the copper breaks down from all the ions/minerals in our water. So we re-plumbed from the main with Pex. We hope to have most of the house re-plumbed by the time we are done renovating everything.

3. We also walled over the medicine cabinet alcoves. I built enough storage into each vanity so that we wouldn’t need the cabinets…because…I loathe medicine cabinets. Some people love them – so don’t feel like if you have one you love I don’t agree, just me, personally, I’m not in to them.

picture of the vanity I built for Mike with tons of storage and drawers
I usually would fit my drawers in the shop but Mike wanted company while he was doing the Kerdi Board, so I brought my work in to the house.

We chose to go with Schluter-Kerdi board as our waterproofing membrane. It did cost a little more than a traditional shower, but we were able to do it ourselves – so that didn’t make us dependent on someone else’s timeline. Mike also had read a lot about it and wanted to try doing one. It’s the easiest/fail-proof way to waterproof a steam shower. We loved that the shower pan and drain were all integrated together and it allowed us to use large format tile on the floor of the shower; we loved that we could cut it with a utility knife and easily lift/hold/screw it in to place; we loved not exposing ourselves to needless carcinogens when cutting it; we loved everything about it (except maybe the price…but it was worth paying for). In the end, I would do a Schluter-Kerdi shower again. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t even need Mike’s help and could do one myself.

So where are we headed for week three? We need to move the shower drain, place the Kerdi shower pan, finish the Kerdi board, water proof the Kerdi. And whatever else we can fit into another week of work between our family time, work and other stuff.

Now you can shop our Primary Bath Remodel here!

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  1. Omg you guys are unbelievable!!!!!!wow!!! Keep us posted and again thank you for giving us the information on your blog about how to weigh the kitchen cabinets they’re turning out awesome thank you

  2. Wow! That shower will be spectacular! I’m not a fan of Pex but probably because I’ve had to deal with cheap plastic elbows failing in our 2008 trailer and I don’t have the right tools. I’m sure you all will have better fittings. Looking forward to seeing the finished project!

    1. Thanks Steve! I’m not sure about the type of pex used in rv’s/trailers if it’s the same rating but we use elbow guides instead of cutting and putting in elbows – so hopefully that minimizes turbulence ??‍♀️ You can see a couple of them in the access panel picture. Thanks for following along!!!

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