How to Add a Bench to an Existing Shower?

adding a bench to shower

Adding a bench to an existing shower requires several steps.

First, gather necessary tools and prepare the installation area.

Measure the shower space to determine the appropriate size for the bench.

Choose a suitable bench that fits the design and ensures safety.

Next, install the bench carefully, making sure it is stable and secure.

Waterproofing is essential to prevent water damage. Consider using membrane installation or topical solutions.

After waterproofing, finish by tiling the bench to blend with the shower's look.

Seal the bench to further protect it from water damage.

It's important that the bench is secure and enhances the shower's functionality.

Assess Shower Dimensions

Before adding a bench, measure your shower's interior to ensure it meets space requirements and consider the feasibility of the addition. A shower bench must be planned to preserve functionality and safety. Showers need to be at least 900 square inches, or 30 inches by 30 inches, as per building codes. This size ensures enough space for users to move safely after installing a bench.

Most modern showers are larger than this minimum, typically 48 inches wide by 36 inches deep, allowing room for a bench. However, the shower's layout, including doors, fixtures, and showerhead, can affect bench placement and size.

A bench should be added for practical reasons, not just for looks or comfort. If a bench reduces the shower area below 900 square inches, it may not comply with regulations and could be uncomfortable. Ensure there is enough space for a bench without restricting movement or function in the shower. Proceed with designing and installing a shower bench only after a thorough size assessment.

Choose the Right Bench

When choosing a shower bench, consider both material and design to ensure it suits your needs and enhances functionality. Teak benches are durable and moisture-resistant, suitable for shower environments. The bench material must also withstand water and humidity.

There are shower-specific benches available, such as prefabricated Styrofoam options from Schluter and Laticrete, which are lightweight, simple to install, and can be tiled to match your shower. Look for designs like corner benches or arced frames to save space and add style.

Ensure the bench construction allows for water runoff, with the bench top being at least 1 inch above the frame to prevent water pooling. Use traditional waterproofing, like a membrane behind the substrate, to protect the bench and shower area.

Gather Necessary Tools

To install a bench in an existing shower, gather the necessary tools: a drill, level, measuring tape, mortar trowel, and safety gear including gloves, goggles, and a dust mask. Use the drill for pilot holes, the level to ensure the bench is flat, the measuring tape for accurate sizing, and the trowel to apply mortar.

For safety, wear the protective equipment to shield against dust and debris. If using a Better Bench by Aqua-fit U.S.A., obtain the manufacturer's recommended fasteners to attach it to cement board or tile.

Prepare the Installation Area

After selecting the necessary tools, the next step is to prepare the shower area for the bench installation. The area should be clean, level, and clear of debris. Inspect the existing tile for damage, repairing or replacing any loose or cracked tiles to ensure a stable foundation. Assess the wall's integrity where the bench will be installed, as it needs to support the bench and users.

Clean the surface to eliminate mold, mildew, or soap residue, ensuring proper bonding for waterproofing or adhesive materials. If installing over tile, roughen the surface to enhance mortar or adhesive adherence.

Use a level to verify the floor is even where the bench will be placed, making adjustments as necessary for stability and correct water drainage.

Inspect the wall for moisture resistance. Apply a waterproof membrane if the wall is not already waterproofed to prevent water damage and mold.

Measure the space again to confirm the bench dimensions, ensuring it fits without interfering with the shower's function or violating building codes. Once the area is prepared, installation of the bench can proceed with assurance of its support and longevity.

Secure the Bench Properly

Secure the bench to the shower by using anchors and fasteners suitable for humid conditions and weight support. Utilize corrosion-resistant materials and hardware. A cement board is an ideal base for the bench due to its durability and compatibility with waterproofing materials.

Begin by attaching a frame to the wall studs with heavy-duty screws and anchors fit for wet environments. The screws should be of adequate length to penetrate the studs without damaging any waterproofing membrane behind the cement board. Make sure the bench frame is level and at the correct height before securing it.

Next, cover the frame with cement board, sealing all joints with waterproofing sealant to prevent water damage. After securing the cement board and allowing the sealant to cure, apply a waterproof membrane such as Hydroban or Redgard, ensuring it extends over the edges and down the face of the bench.

Ensure the bench can support various users by considering its weight capacity. It should be stable and not move under pressure. Regularly check and tighten any loose fasteners to keep the bench secure and safe.

Waterproofing Your Bench

After installing the bench frame and cement board, apply a waterproofing membrane, like Hydroban or Redgard, for watertightness. This is essential in preventing water damage and mold when adding a bench to an existing shower. Apply the membrane from the wall across the bench top and down the front continuously.

Use topical membranes for extra shower protection. They create a waterproof surface on the cement board, effectively blocking moisture. Hydroban and Redgard can be applied with a roller or brush and once dry, they form a flexible coating that resists cracking.

Alternatively, sheet membranes such as Kerdi can be attached to the bench with unmodified thin-set mortar for reliable waterproofing. Kerdi-board also provides protection and simplifies installation as it acts as both backer board and waterproof layer.

Regardless of the waterproofing method, extend it to integrate with the shower's existing system. This ensures the moisture barrier remains intact. Properly waterproofing your bench safeguards your shower's longevity and functionality against water exposure.

Finishing Touches and Sealing

Select appropriate materials to ensure the shower bench is aesthetically pleasing, sealed, and water-resistant. For benches inside the shower, high-level waterproofing is essential due to constant water exposure.

First, apply a waterproofing layer using products like Hydroban or Redgard. Then, use deck mud to form a flat, stable surface on the bench top. After curing, attach tiles directly to the deck mud for a durable and water-resistant surface.

The sealing process is vital and involves applying a continuous waterproofing layer over the bench from the wall, across the top, and down the face to prevent water damage. Use topical membranes for waterproofing, suitable for all bench types, including pre-formed ones.

Following these steps ensures the shower bench is functional, visually appealing, and remains intact over time. Seal all areas thoroughly to prevent water leakage, mold, and material degradation, enhancing the shower experience.

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