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fabwash

No tile shower, I'm going crazy!

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Hi,

I am creating a new bathroom of a 5x11 size. Because the width is a bit small, I want to make the bathroom walls part of the shower, all white, a minimalist look.

To achieve this slick design I need the walls to be completely waterproof. I am from Europe, and I've seen numerous bathrooms without tile on the walls, that are completely waterproof. Those walls are usually interlocking panels or waterproof plaster, smooth, and you paint on them the color you want.

I couldn't find anything like this in the US. I finally found this product, Izonil, which is mixed with the plaster to make a completely waterproof thinset, that I can sand to smooth it. But then, few questions come to mind:

1) If this is so difficult to find, how will I pass code (I'm in California). I checked the UBC, and they say "smooth walls, non water absorbant up to 70 inches from the drain", which is perfect, but if an inspector has never seen a non-tiled bathroom, am I going to have to fight?

2) Izonil says I must not put a waterproof paint, so i'm stuck? I've asked for clarification, but if I can't put waterproof paint, then the paint will peal very fast?

Thanks!

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Europe - lots of brick construction. Plastered masonry walls, most likely.

San Diego - wood frame and gypsum-based wallboard (drywall).

You will not have an easy time with this when you go to get your permit.

You can buy vinyl tub surround board in 5 foot and 8 foot lengths. Choose a familiar product. Like a 5 foot tub with a one piece tub surround. If you try to reinvent the American shower, it will fail. Even if it does not leak, it will still be hard to sell in the future.

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John makes a good point. These types of thinset waterproofing materials are not good for application to drywall. At minimum, you should use a Durock or other cement board substrate.

At face, the material meets minimum UBC; it's a smooth waterproof surface. Most (all?) municipal inspectors hate seeing things the first time; with the exception of Fabry and a few others, no one does homework.

Make an appointment, go in, and ask the Building Dept. if it's OK. When I was a muni guy, I always appreciated that, and went out of my way to facilitate someone doing something new that was approved and appropriate. See what they say.

I agree with John on the resale part; most folks are going to wonder what it is, or not like it simply because it's unfamiliar. But, don't jump to an acrylic shower surround right off. That can be market death too. Depending on the market, someone might hate that too. In Chicago, those things are rarely used.

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Thanks for the answers. I am starting to wonder how people do this kind of shower and pass code: http://img.homedit.com/2010/02/samo-sho ... stem-1.jpg

This is way more minimalist than what I want to do, but the glass separation with the wall going seamless from the bathroom to the shower is what I had in mind.

That pic is of a display in a store or a gallery. There's no floor drain. Even if you put a drain in the floor, what happens when you get a clump of sludge and hair caught in the trap? [:(]

Here's a well designed tiny bathroom in a loft in a converted commercial building. It's about 3 X 9. The tiny sink makes it all OK.

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45.81 KBAnd here's a house where my clients hated both bathrooms, and ended up walking. Notice the shower head and floor drain to the right of the sink. Sht, shave and a shower, while keeping an eye on the neighbors. [:-graduat

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Fabwash.......don't be dissuaded from your shower idea. I think it's a good one. I see a few of these minimalist designs, they work great, and they look cool.

You want a nice 4x4 Smith (or equal) shower drain; it isn't going to get clogged up, don't worry about it. Mine never does.

Do some product research, get a sample, talk to the local muni building dept., and get them to OK it. It's not that complicated. If the Izonil product has the appropriate spec's., I don't see why the muni guy would care.

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It's a labor intensive solution, but years ago when I was in Korea the landlord was installing a bathroom to replace the banzo - outside outhouse. They came in and completely lined that sucker with a really hard aggregate bearing colored concrete of some sort; and then, using what looked like mongo-sized rotary sanders with diamond cutting heads, polished those surfaces until they glistened like the fender on a new Benz at the dealership. After that, they sealed the surface with something that I'd guess was a clear acrylic.

Looking at that and realizing that the stuff that looked like granite chips in the surface was gravel that had been ground down flat on one side, I was simply amazed with the result. However, I did feel sorry for the phalanx of middle-aged ladies wearing gloves and sleeve covers that spent a day kneeling or standing there wrestling those heavy electric grinders to achieve that beautiful surface. I can imagine that they all suffered from wrist and tendon ailments.

I don't know if that was a technique the Koreans had dreamed up on their own or they'd seen it somewhere else. Has anyone here ever seen anything similar done?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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. . . I don't know if that was a technique the Koreans had dreamed up on their own or they'd seen it somewhere else. Has anyone here ever seen anything similar done?

How's it different from terrazzo?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim,

I have no idea what terrazzo is; for all I know, it's exactly the same thing. Whatever it was, it produced some damned fine results with a whole lot of labor.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Aw,

I just knew you guys were going to make me look something up in the dictionary. Next thing you know, you'll be trying to get me to do 3rd grade level math.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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It's really pretty simple. Simple, with a lot of hard labor to install it.

The old stuff used multiple bed layers of concrete or cementitious material, with a final layer of mortar rich mud embedded with marble or stone chips, ground flat and sealed. If there were color variations, metal screed strips were set in the mud as dividers.

The new stuff is polymer or epoxy based. Same basic process, but without all the bed layers.

I'll bet the Korean stuff was a portland rich material, maybe with some volcanic ash, embedded with stone chips, then ground flat just like terrazzo.

Historically, they've found the stuff in neolithic Western Asian archeological digs dating back 8000-9000 years. They used burnt lime and clay, bedded it with stone chips, and I have no idea how it was "ground" or "polished".

The stuff was/is remarkably moisture resistant, which I suspect is due to the high lime content. It had to be if they're digging up 10,000-11,000 year old stuff that's still partially intact.

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. . . They used burnt lime and clay, bedded it with stone chips, and I have no idea how it was "ground" or "polished". . .

I read somewhere (old issue of Smithsonian?) that they'd sprinkle the floor with abrasive grit and then run a "bear" (a large stone with a flat bottom) back & forth over the floor. When they reached a certain level of finish, they'd clean it all up and start over with a finer grit until they reached the desired level of polish.

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Decision has been made, I'm going with smooth walls without tile. I finally took the decision after the company told me that I can just add tile on top of the wall if needed. So if I don't like the result, or if I want to sell and the no-tile wall is a problem, I can always tile on top ! The plumbing valves may have to be pushed out of the wall a bit to leave more space from the wall to the tile top, but my plumber said that was easy to do because I have dry wall in the other room behind the shower valves, and this would just be a quick drywall repair.

To achieve a smooth wall, this will need about 4 coats of cement plaster, lots of wet smoothing, grinding, polishing, but at the end it should look fantastic!

See this video http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2 ... ter-video/ they achieve a pretty smooth wall that way (no i won't use earth bags for the structure :))

I'm not worried about the drainage. The bottom floor will be a standard slopped shower pan built to code, but with a teak shower tray on top to make it look nicer (yes I know, soap scum alert under!!).

That toilet picture made me laugh because right now I have a 6 foot high window that starts 2 feet from the floor where the toilet is going to be. My contractor looked at my architect and myself like if we were aliens or bad people when he saw the toilet in front of the window. He just didn't realize we cut the window in half on the plan so the neighbors wouldn't have to watch me read the newspapers on the toilet in the morning :D

Thanks everyone for all the replies, now I have to get to work!

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It's a labor intensive solution, but years ago when I was in Korea the landlord was installing a bathroom to replace the banzo - outside outhouse. They came in and completely lined that sucker with a really hard aggregate bearing colored concrete of some sort; and then, using what looked like mongo-sized rotary sanders with diamond cutting heads, polished those surfaces until they glistened like the fender on a new Benz at the dealership. After that, they sealed the surface with something that I'd guess was a clear acrylic.

Looking at that and realizing that the stuff that looked like granite chips in the surface was gravel that had been ground down flat on one side, I was simply amazed with the result. However, I did feel sorry for the phalanx of middle-aged ladies wearing gloves and sleeve covers that spent a day kneeling or standing there wrestling those heavy electric grinders to achieve that beautiful surface. I can imagine that they all suffered from wrist and tendon ailments.

I don't know if that was a technique the Koreans had dreamed up on their own or they'd seen it somewhere else. Has anyone here ever seen anything similar done?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Mike,

I did it in Venice CA several years ago for lightweight concrete floors, as well as podium decks. Wealsoinstalled conrete couters with the same techniques. The floors were ground with the same machines used in Terrazo.

And for anyone that has never seen this check out Cheng design (he has a book out that is worth purchasing) and Buddy Rhodes studio (sells propriatary mix) for alot of interesting things. Many things can be added to the mix and ground down.

I have seen some showers where the cement is cast into large panels polished and then adhered to the wall surfaces like tile this created a similar look to the earlier photo.

http://www.chengdesign.com/geocrete-countertops.html

http://www.buddyrhodes.com/

Cheng has videos located her also:

http://www.concretenetwork.com/news/

Here are some pictures of one of the floors:

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For comparison here is one of the unpolished floors:

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Ramon

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Hi Ramon,

Thank you for those photos and thanks to the other guys for letting me know about the terrazo.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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If you want to get a good look at a terrazzo floor, walk into any school in the U.S. and look down. They do some pretty neat stuff with it. floor murals, logos, ect.

Never could figure out how they knew there were no missed spots when they grind them down. There's a gray slurry over the top of the whole thing while they grind it.

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"I saw those floor pictures"

More exactly others like them? Since I don’t believe I have ever posted them before.

To be precise I should have said "I saw other pictures made from the same kind of material" :) I still think it looks like parking floor. Rough inspection is next week, so we'll start on the walls after the inspection. I hope it looks good. Wish me luck!

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