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Hardwood flooring for outdoor shower backsplash


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For several years, I've wanted to put a shower in the backyard, to be used for the pool, the hot tub and well, just because it's cool to take a shower outdoors.

It's going against the back wall of the house, which is aluminum siding. I've been racking my brain to come up with a material to put against the siding. I toyed with and discounted a lot of materials, but today I think I came up with a winner - 3/4" oak flooring.

I'll screw vertical battens against the siding, into the studs and screw the flooring to the battens horizontally, tongue side up. I figure with some sanding and a couple of coats of marine varnish, it should hold up pretty well. It'll be under a 24" soffit.

Anybody see any problems with this?

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If the back of the boards are unfinished, the boards will expand/contract, joints will open and they'll cup.

Seal all 4 surfaces with a spit coat of shellac, then a coat of marine varnish. After installation, add an additional coat or 2 to the expose surface.

I'd probably use mahogany, teak or white oak - all quartersawn.

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White Oak it will be, since that's most likely the cheapest (I haven't exactly been swamped with inspections lately).

Thanks for the tip on sealing all four sides. I'd like to say I would have thought of it myself before I installed it, but ...........

Shellac? You can still get shellac? I haven't seen (or smelled) shellac since I was a little kid. Isn't that made from beetle wings, or beetle shells or something like that?

Edit

A quick Google search answered my questions:

http://antiquerestorers.com/Articles/jeff/shellac.htm

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Hey Joe,

You don't live that far away. I may have some 5" Brazilian Cherry left over from a job I am doing right now. If I can get it, which I probably can. you can have it.

I would also consider running the wood vertically so the joints can drain.

I'm really not a wood expert, but won't shellac/varnish constantly crack and peel from expansion/contraction? Would some type of oil work better( Tung Oil?)? I think after a few years, the shellac/varnish will build up.

However you decide to seal it, don't forget the tongues and grooves before you assemble the wood.

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White oak is closed cell; if red oak is icynene, then white oak is urethane.

Boat builders use white oak for keels. Farmers use it for fence posts if they don't have black locust.

For a shower I'd use Abatron's wood consolidator epoxy on all four sides. It penetrates amazingly and cures hard as a rock.

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I've had an outdoor shower @ the shack for 10 years.

I think any north american hardwood T&G material would be horrible for a shower. The best going would be a tropical hardwood, preferrably ipe. If ipe can hold up in Florida sun for decks, it would work fine for a shower.

Oak would look like crap in a couple years. I know, because I tried something similar. Looked OK for about a year, then it went to blazes. Didn't rot; just major discoloration and movement.

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Maybe you should try pergo.

The Brazilian Cherry is being used all over the place here in chicago and when I looked it up a few months back found it is supposed to be twice as hard as oak.Far as the Shellac goes I was using lots of it a few years back for it's unique color but it is not as durable as the marine varnish.Another option is a good epoxy resin which goes around $70.00 @ gallon.Oh yes the shellac is organic.One of my relatives actualy started Elliott paints in Canada by making that with a fish oil.

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Originally posted by Inspectorjoe

For several years, I've wanted to put a shower in the backyard, to be used for the pool, the hot tub and well, just because it's cool to take a shower outdoors.

Why would you need a shower for the well? [;)]

Seriously (just a little), I'm having a hard time picturing the aesthetics of the whole thing. If it's going next to the discarded fridge and the ratty sofa, then maybe corrugated steel would be a good choice. At the other end of the scale, it could be a distinctive art tile job.

If Joe would post a fairly wide picture of the area, maybe someone can photoshop in a few "textures".

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Why would you need a shower for the well?

OK, OK ....... I'll be signing up for Bonnie's next class.

Seriously (just a little), I'm having a hard time picturing the aesthetics of the whole thing. If it's going next to the discarded fridge and the ratty sofa, then maybe corrugated steel would be a good choice. At the other end of the scale, it could be a distinctive art tile job.

We're talking a little bit higher-end than discarded fridge and the ratty sofa, but not much.

If Joe would post a fairly wide picture of the area, maybe someone can photoshop in a few "textures".

If y'all promise not to comment on the vegetation hugging the siding, the flat grade, the high risers ........... here's a picture of the area:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1131/848411076_7166d9c811_o.jpg

Holding my MS Paint skills out for all to ridicule, here's what I want to do:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1316/847548447_b5378738eb_o.jpg

I want a solid impervious wall attached to the house. The shower valve will be a Moen hot and cold frost free hose bib. A hand held shower head will be attached to the wall. During freezing weather, simply laying the shower head down on the deck will allow the hose bib to drain, preventing freeze damage.

A small deck will have a wet side and a dry side with a small corner bench. Below the deck will be some kind of drain pan, draining to a dry well. I still haven't figured out what to use for the pan. I bought a washing machine overflow pan, but I'm thinking that might crack in freezing temps. Maybe rubber pond liner would be better.

Kurt, thanks for sharing your experience. Any North American hardwood is now off the table. I googled ipe and found it pretty intriguing. That would need a lot less finish and would weather a lot better.

Steven, thanks for the offer of the Brazilian Cherry. I'd need a little over 48 square feet. Depending on the size of your job, that's a lot to have left over.

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You do NOT want a slate & mortar shower wall exposed to freezing conditions; it would hold up for about one season. If you drystacked the slate, OK, but I'm not sure how that would be accomplished(?).

I've got an outdoor shower, and built a half dozen for friends & customers. There are a few design requirements, w/the primary one being you better work w/water, not imagine that you're going to overcome the water w/fancy finishes, sealants, mortars, stone, or anything else. Water wins every time.

I'll be overbearing and say Ipe is the ultimate material for your purpose. It's very hard, dense, and full of oil, very similar to the highest grade teak (that's no longer available). It does not need finishing; in fact, I don't think there is a finish that would hold due to the oily nature of the wood.

One thing. Ipe will dull even the sharpest carbide saw blades in a relatively short time; the stuff is brutally hard.

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Originally posted by kurt

It's very hard, dense, and full of oil....

Ipe will dull even the sharpest carbide saw blades in a relatively short time; the stuff is brutally hard.

Ah. A new doubley-appropriate friendly jab to use on Kurt. You Ipe-Head! [:-dev3]

Brian G.

Hardheads of America President [^]

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Originally posted by kurt

You do NOT want a slate & mortar shower wall exposed to freezing conditions; it would hold up for about one season.

Bullshit. I've got a slate walk here, installed in the mid 70s, that says you're wrong. The PA,VT,VA & NY slates are all impeccable. I had a slate patio at the last house that was definitely even older.

You must have some hardened crap out there that calls itself slate.

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Originally posted by inspecthistoric

Originally posted by kurt

You do NOT want a slate & mortar shower wall exposed to freezing conditions; it would hold up for about one season.

Bullshit. I've got a slate walk here, installed in the mid 70s, that says you're wrong. The PA,VT,VA & NY slates are all impeccable. I had a slate patio at the last house that was definitely even older.

You must have some hardened crap out there that calls itself slate.

Well, maybe, but how does a slate sidewalk compare to a slate & mortar "tiled" wall assembly?

It's not about the slate holding up; it's about a slate & mortar wall, saturation, and freezing.

I see plenty of stone & slate walks; they can work fine. Take that same assembly, turn it up vertical, get it soaking wet, freeze it, and you're saying nothing is going to happen?

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Sorry for the break in answering. An unusual thing happened - I got fairly busy. It was a short lived spurt however.

StevenT Posted - Jul 18 2007 : 7:58:00 PM:

Joe, I'll probably have more than enough left over. The floors are already installed, finishing starts Monday. I'll need a little to mill a few pieces for trim that I'm trying to match. I'll ask for the rest. Whatever I get is yours.

Steven, If you were able to get it and if you still have it, I'm interested. I'm not all that close to LI, but it would be worth a trip if the cost is low. Sorry I didn't get back to you right away. My # is 610-392-3741.

inspecthistoric Posted - Jul 18 2007 : 8:57:21 PM:

Does it have to be wood?

You're a few minutes away from the slate belt, with billions of tons of free scrap PA slate. You have free Portland cement under your lawn.

I really envy the owner of this house in Chapman. Now there's easy access to free scrap!

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1169/891823906_c150cb6ff0_o.jpg

As far as free Portland cement under the lawn, the nearby blasting has probably loosened it up real nice, but I lack a kiln that I can get fired up to 2,700 degrees to form the clinker.

Mike Lamb Posted: Jul 19 2007 - 1:38:14 PM:

Buy a cheap fiberglass shower stall. This will be water proof and will give you some soap trays, etc. Use only one wall. Cut holes in it for your fixture.

Frame yourself a little wall away from the house at least 24". You'll need to get behind it. I think attaching to the house is a bad idea.

Build a wood grate floor for the shower out of 2 x 2's (they are easy on the feet) so you are not standing on dirt. Make sure grade beneath runs away from house. The very light weight wall you make gets attached to the floor you make and then arms or something on the sides keep it upright. Screw the fiberglass shower wall to your framed wall.

Run hot and cold water valves behind the shower from the house. Use clothes washer hose to run to the fixture. This makes disconnecting stuff damned simple. You could also use hose to the shower head though mine is hard piped with plastic.

A Fiberglas stall would look tacky. There's too much tackiness in my life already. I don't see a problem attaching it to a wall. Mounted on battens, it will have an air space behind it.

I can't go out 24 '', because the shower valve is actually going to be a hose bib:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1173/891823172_b0965ac435_o.jpg

I am planning to use 2X2's for flooring. The floor structure is going to be separate from the wall structure. If there's any settling or frost heaving, I don't want the plumbing connections to be stressed.

I have bushes and lattice blinds on the side of the shower for some privacy.

Next time I'm in Mich. at my summer place I will take some pictures. Showering outdoors gives one a wonderful and liberating feeling that is beyond the scope of this discussion.

I agree. I have no need for privacy at the shower since my entire backyard is surrounded by tall Leyland Cypresses. Even my neighbor Gladys Kravitz doesn't see what's goin' on back there:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1076/890982883_4ee426f78c_o.jpg

If you are dead set on wood walls, I'd go with cedar or something pressure treated.

I'm wondering if some nice cedar or redwood fencing might be a way to go.

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Joe,

I still have the wood. The floor is being finished. I have to keep a few pieces on the job to mill some trim. I'll ask for the rest. If they give it to me, it's yours for the cost of the trip to pick it up. I'll give you a call as soon as I get an answer.

I'm in Staten Island, not Long Island... much closer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Steven, I don't want to embarrass you, but I wanted to post a public thank you, so the other members know just what kind of guy you are:

Steven said he had +/- 60 sf of flooring. It turned out to be 70 sf, brand new, in perfect condition. I was really floored (pun intended) when I saw it. He lugged it back and forth from Manhattan (twice), stored it in his garage, took it out of his garage and back in his van again so he could load it into my van. For all of this, he wouldn't take a dime for his efforts.

Thank you, Steven. You are right, "we're all brothers."

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Brazilian Cherry is VERY heavy. I'm not going to attach it to the house as I had planned. I'll use horizontal battens attached to posts. I'm installing the flooring vertically and cutting the horizontal joints at a 45 degree angle to shed the water outward. I'm going to try Stevens suggestion to use an oil finish.

I'll post a pic when it's done.

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