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Help me choose shower, steam shower module, or DIY custom steam shower

8 years ago
last modified: 8 years ago

Haven't been on GW in a while, first time posting since the Houzz merger! Love the community here, especially Bill Vincent/Mongo, who really go out of their way to help. Our house is in a pretty nice area in NJ, kind of high end. Need to renovate the bathroom, but on a budget.

We are in early design phases, and stuck on the shower. We have existing OLD FIAT CM base with white and avocado 4X4 tile (ugh) that appears to have been put into an existing 60*32" standard bath/shower space, center drain. Tiles have started to pop on base, and the thing just looks awful. We can go 60X36", but no more without hitting door. That being said, the FIAT pan itself has held up great, and it is OLD, so kudos to these guys. I'd keep it, but it has these ugly blue and grey flecks, and I really want to see what's under it....starting fresh. Here are my choices. Budget for the shower is about $4000 if we go no steam, and I'll stretch to ~$6000 with steam.

1. Practical, no steam option: Kohler cast iron base OR USMarble Lowes cultured granite. Subway tiles with some glass accent stripe. Go all out on nice rain shower/hand shower combo. Vigo or Dreamline doors, OR custom 3/8" frameless. Contractor does everything, I can focus on my job and kids, not worry about mistakes on tiled pan. (We did Jacuzzi neo angle base w/ 1ft carrara tiles in our old house, and loved it...I have no desire for tiled base)

2. Steam, Modular- Steam Planet Orion and Ariel Platinum make units fully modular for $3600 that fit the space. These don't look as awful as the stuff from 5 years ago. To keep warranty, they MUST be installed by licensed plumber/electrician, so that will get me to $6000-7000 assuming I don't need to reinforce. Obviously some mixed reviews on how they look/perform...we are both engineers, so we don't care so much about the look....but the resale factor is there, and we don't want to be on the phone with chinese solenoid mfg'ers!

3. Slow and steady Kerdi system DIY steam: I know my limits, and I compensate from not being a pro by making top materials choices, tons of research, take my time, and properly permit everything with the town. I think a custom DIY job is doable, except I will have a glass fitter do the door, which will probably cost around $3000. Another 1000-2000 for the plumber and electrician to hook in the steam unit. i can handle steam unit-fixture plumbing, and drain. Kerdi system pricey, tile relatively cheap, and I have a simple 60X36 application, just need to slope roof from 8 to 7 (currently, it's a 7 ft, tiled soffited ceiling that I need to rip out anyways. I think I can get this to $7000 (i know i said 6k, but we all know the 20% rule!) Will go all kerdi, tray, board, membrane, seals, band, dialek in the corners, etc. Seems that while i don't necessarily care for tiled base, if you go custom steam room, seems silly to pop it over Kohler base or CG base (maybe I'm wrong here) Downside, is dad goes into evening/wkd rabbit hole, no time with kids, prolonged remodel while I do this methodically...will probably take me 2 months, because my day job is demanding.

Help us decide between 1, 2, or 3.....Other info, if you care to keep reading

Our skills: Wife and I made 1 bathroom into 2 in our old house with some major surgery, with contractors (but no design help), link here: 2 small baths. I've done plenty of tiling and minor plumbing, did my last powder room 100% myself, and 2 really nice backsplashes on our last two kitchens. HOwever, our major bathroom guts with plumbing revisions, i've contracted out in the past.

Other details on bath, if interested:

It's relatively small no room for separate tub, and we have one tub in the kids bath. From resale, a steam shower "splurge" in our MB makes sense, since the size of our master closet/master bath is probably the weakest selling point on our 3000 sqft house on some really nice property. We're not relocating anything, but I'm gutting to the studs to be safe that we're starting from clean slate (possible water damage), and we may put in a skylight and/or solatubes with our GC. GC is semiretired, and just awesome at framing, so that's all covered. We are also refinishing existing vanity with stock Pegasus carrara sink counter system with 2 undermounts from HD, because we did this in our powder room, and it is awesome, cheap (for carrara), and sturdy, so long as you do the carpentry to properly support the 3/4" thick material. We also love the classic black and white stock subway tile looks with accent, so our tile prices will be cheap (but I ALWAYS splurge on the best possible thinset/mortar, etc, to compensate for my mediocre tiling skills!) Finally, any recommendations for a good tile installer in Central NJ (Options 1 and 2), let me know.

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