Tiling the shower, part 2

I spent a lot of time working on the shower last week (almost exclusively while the boy is sleeping, so the work progresses in spurts; he desperately wants to help, but power tools and mortar are just a bit above his pay grade right now), and I’ve decided to put up another update rather than wait until it’s completely done to do a final post. I currently have a good chunk of the tiling done, but that won’t be reflected in this update, so stay tuned. Find part 1 here.

The first thing I tackled was installing the glass block. We won’t have a full glass block wall, it’s more of just a window, something to let in some more natural lighting. Of course, I usually shower at night, so it won’t affect me at all. Step 1 is installing the track in which the glass blocks will be set. You can find this in the window section at any big box store – it’s just a 4′ piece of plastic.

Cut to the size you want, then attach to your base (I was down to the studs) using the pre-drilled holes. I also put a bead of silicone caulk on the underside of each piece before I attached them. Make sure you measure for level-ness before you fully secure. When the screws are all in, put a dab of white paint on each screw head so they’re not as noticeable when the blocks are installed.

For the actual installation, you can either go the standard mortar route, or use the silicone adhesive that’s popping up more lately. Since I’m only doing a smallish area, I opted for the silicone route. Starting in the corner, put a bead on two sides of a block (make sure they’re adjacent sides), then push firmly into the track. I did both corners first, then started working my way in. Just make sure you put a line of silicone on each side that will be touching something else (track or another block) before you put the blocks in. You may want to have some sort of caulk scraper around to clean things up when you’re finished, but overall it wasn’t too messy.

The next piece I tackled was putting in a small corner bench. Note that the bench should be installed after the rest of the floor so you have all the appropriate liners in place. You could use the same method to put in a bench along one entire wall, or just a smaller one in the middle.

Start with a few cinder blocks (I think they’re 9 x 18; if that’s not right, they’re at least all standard sized), using a couple for building the main part of the seat, and a couple to smash into smaller chunks (wear eye protection and go to town!). Put an inch or so of a standard mortar mix in the corner where you’ll be installing (it may help to outline the front edge of your seat). Place the first block on the mortar, then wiggle a bit to make sure of good contact. For the sides and any holes or gaps, put in some of the chunks of the broken blocks. This will fill space without requiring a ton of mortar.

Put another layer of mortar on the top of the first block, then put the second block on top. Following the same methodology as above, continue to fill the bulk of the space with pieces of block, and finish the front and top with a smooth layer of mortar. As you finish, make sure that the top slopes slightly toward the floor and drain.

Ready for tile.

 As I mentioned in the first part, I’ve never done this before, so most (or all) of what I’m doing, I’ve carefully researched, using several resources, before I started. There are certainly many better, professional sources than me, though I hope this helps some!

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