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BATHROOM FIXTURES : New-Construction Units Offer More Possibilities

August 05, 1995|From Associated Press

When selecting replacement fixtures for a bathroom remodeling project, most homeowners limit their selection to what will fit through their bathroom door.

But a whole new range of possibilities opens up when you consider fixtures designed for new construction. These tend to be built on a grander scale, are more luxurious and have more built-in amenities.

A shower unit in this category, for example, may have features such as one-piece construction and molded-in seat and shelves. The reason these units are designed for new construction is that they can be installed before all the partitions are up.

You can install these oversized fixtures in your remodeling project by opening up an access in an exterior wall. This usually involves removing a window and the framing below it. If you don't have a window, you'll have to cut a hole in the wall, which requires temporary support for the ceiling or roof above.

To remove the window, begin by taking off the interior casing. Moving to the exterior, pry the window from the rough opening. With the window free, lift it out bottom first and let it slide down into the opening as you pull it out.

If you remove the window from the top, there's a danger it can topple and fall on you. Back inside, remove the wall covering under the window frame. Remove the sill and also the cripples, which are the small studs that hold it up. Do not remove the bottom plate.

To install an oversized shower stall in an upstairs bathroom, for example, carry it up two ladders, rather than sliding it up a ladder, to protect the fiberglass. Once the unit is through the opening, reinstall the sill, cripples, sheathing and siding.

Before installing the fixture, relocate the waste pipe if necessary. To make the job easier, you can use flexible, coiled tubing rather than straight pipe.

If your fixture includes a tub unit, gently tap shims underneath the tub to level the unit. Fasten the top flange of the unit to the wall studs with roofing nails.

If the flange is not pre-bored for these nails, bore clearance holes to avoid cracking the fiberglass. Protect the bottom of the tub with some old carpet or cardboard since you'll be standing in it to work.

Install the drain, sealing it with plumber's putty. The overflow riser fits into the port opening with a gasket. Use plumber's putty here too. If you're working in a tight area, it's a good idea to wait to frame out your partition wall at the end of the enclosure until after the plumbing is completed.

Line up your water supply and install the diverter valve. The diverter comes assembled, and the manufacturer supplies working dimensions for the installation. Lay out these dimensions on the enclosure, and drill through the fiberglass into a block of wood with a spade bit to avoid chipping.

Connect the hot and cold supply lines to the diverter, and secure it to the fiberglass by adding the faucet handles on the inside surface. You can install the diverter riser for the shower head above the shower enclosure.

The riser pipe is supported by a block nailed to two studs in the end wall framing. Once the tub is set, frame out a 2-by-4 wall behind the diverter and around the plumbing.

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