How To Add A Tile Shower Nook

Anything that adds convenience to your day and value to your home is a plus. In the bathroom, one great option for shower enclosures is designing and installing a tile shower nook. Built into the wall and then finished with tile, a nook gives you the perfect place to stash shampoo, conditioner and soap, without taking up shower space or having to hang a clumsy shower caddy. It makes the shower look more customized, and it adds functionality and style. If you’re thinking about taking on a weekend shower remodel project that you’ll simply love, here are some of the basic steps involved with adding a tile shower nook:
  1. Pick a place. Before you do anything else, you must figure out where you want your new nook. Use a stud finder to locate studs in the wall, because a sturdy foundation makes for the best anchor for anything that must be attached. Try to determine where wiring or pipes might run, and avoid those spots. Also avoid an exterior wall that lacks insulation, as your bath products otherwise will be chilled in the colder months. You may also want to line up your niche with the grout lines, although this is optional.
  2. Mark the area. Once you’ve decided where to place your nook, mark the area that needs to be cut with a china marker, which doesn’t stain or discolor tile. After marking it, measure it and remeasure it to make sure your nook will be square and level.
  3. Cut out the space for your nook. Wearing a dust mask and working slowly, use a tile saw to cut out tile from a small portion of the wall that you’ve marked. Only cut as deeply as the tile during this step. Next, cut through the existing backer board to leave an exposed hole in the wall. Starting with a small hole allows you to look through the opening to determine whether pipes or wiring are behind that part of the wall. Once it’s established that the area is clear, cut the opening to your niche outline. Make sure everything’s straight and square. Make sure your nook is deep enough (typically 4 to 6 inches).
  4. Frame out the nook. Measure the space between the studs in your opening, and cut two pieces of a 2-by-4 that will be the top and bottom bases. They probably will be about 16 or 32 inches long each, depending on the planned width of your nook. It’s better to cut them a bit long and trim some off than to cut too short! Install the bottom one at a slight angle, downward toward the tub, so any water will run back into the shower rather than accumulating. This can be done by adding a shim along the back edge for the 2-by-4 to sit on. Even a grade slope of 1/16 of an inch can be sufficient.
  5. Put in a back wall and side walls. Your best bet to avoid future leaks and the bigger problems that accompany them is to use backer board as the shell for the nook. Cut a piece that will fit as the back wall, then cut pieces of backer board for the two sides and the top and bottom of the niche. The backer board, usually made with cement, generally is secured to the framing with thinset adhesive and screws or nails. Make sure everything’s level and that your bottom shelf is angled slightly downward toward you so water will run back into the shower.
  6. Tape the seams. Use tile backer tape or fiberglass mesh tape to tape the backer board seams, and then apply quick-drying thinset to seal the seams and crevices. Waterproof the seams with a waterproofing liquid and then coat the whole niche with two coats of a waterproof applicant.
  7. Tile the niche. Using bullnose around the edges and regular tile inside, apply tile to backer board within the niche, using thinset. Tape will hold the tile in place temporarily as things set. Apply grout between the tiles, and use caulk along the seams at corners and along the bottom as needed.
Once you’ve completed your niche, you may find yourself inspired with other ideas for the bathroom, whether that means putting in a new door or rethinking the vanity. Any time you’re tackling a shower remodel, you want the best products at the best prices — which is exactly why you want to visit From shower door enclosures to fixtures and faucets, we offer bathroom products at factory-direct prices that can save you up to 70 percent off retail costs. We have several showrooms for Southern California customers to view products such as shower enclosures in person, but we also provide free shipping to the 48 contiguous states for our customers who are farther away. Ready to learn more? Come check us out at today, and find the right sinks, faucets, shower enclosures and other products for your next remodeling project!

All About Freestanding Tubs

It’s hard to beat the luxurious feeling of coming home from a long day of work to a relaxing soak in a tub. When you’re remodeling, the tough question is whether to go with a freestanding bathtub to enhance that feeling. Beautiful, eye-catching and conveying a sense of luxury, freestanding bathtubs have a lot to offer. That’s not to say, however, that they’re always the best choice. Are you updating a bathroom and trying to shop for bathtubs, wondering which one to pick? Is selecting the right bathtub upgrade proving to be tricky? If so, here’s some information that’s geared toward helping you reach your decision. When you’re thinking about adding a new bathtub, consider these pros and cons of freestanding models.

The Benefits of a Freestanding Bathtub

Designed to stand alone rather than being tucked into a corner of the bathroom, freestanding bathtubs come in a variety of styles. From the classic claw-footed model that hints at yesteryear to the smooth, sculpted varieties popular in modern style, each freestanding tub is special. Here are some of the specific benefits that come from using them in bathrooms:
  • Luxury appeal. Step into a bathroom with a freestanding tub, and you just can’t miss its beauty. Because freestanding tubs have to be placed in bathrooms with enough room to accommodate them, they are signature elements of large, luxurious baths. They are beautiful, make a strong statement and enhance the bathing experience.
  • Available in various styles. Freestanding tubs come in various styles, from modern egg shapes to vintage claw-footed designs. Because they’re not limited by the constraints of walls along the sides, they can create a stronger and more powerful design statement than built-in models.
  • Easy to install. Another benefit of a freestanding tub is the ease with which it can be installed.

The Downsides of a Freestanding Bathtub

Despite their many advantages, freestanding tubs aren’t always the best choice for a bathroom renovation. They come with a few downsides worth considering, too:
  • Price. Freestanding tubs tend to be more expensive than built-ins, partly because they have more design intricacies, and also because they are more complicated to manufacture.
  • Larger space requirements. In contrast to a built-in tub, a freestanding tub usually requires open space on all four sides. (Otherwise, what’s the point?) Thus it takes up more space in a room that typically has precious little square footage.
  • Less efficiency. Freestanding tubs also make it more challenging to store toiletries or bath items that have to be kept on hand.
  • Weight. Freestanding tubs are usually heavier than built-ins, which means they can require the expense and effort of reinforcing floors.

How to Decide

Ultimately, the decision between a freestanding or built-in tub is a personal one. What works perfectly in one space may not be ideal in another. To reach the best decision, ask yourself a few questions:
  • How much space do you have? Because a freestanding tub requires significant space, it only makes sense in a room that has it. Could your bathroom accommodate a tub that stands on its own? Or would it make the room feel cramped? Unless you have the space or can remodel the room to create it, a freestanding tub won’t work.
  • How much can you spend? As stated above, freestanding tubs tend to cost more than built-in models, even though they’re easier to install. Can your budget accommodate the expense? If not, stick to what will fit.
  • What do you like? Assuming you have the space and finances to cover a freestanding tub, your choice is all about preference. Do you like freestanding tubs more than built-in models? Are you craving the luxury they provide? If so, start shopping options to see what you like best.
When you’re ready to shop bathtub models for your new bath, head over to, the web’s leading resource for great deals on bathroom fixtures. We offer factory-direct discounts that save you up to 70 percent on tubs, as well as free shipping to the 48 contiguous United States. Or, if you’re in Southern California, visit one of our showrooms to explore products in person! 

Before Your Bathroom Remodel, Check Out Our Checklist

You know the vanity you want. You can picture the pristine shower stall, rising in your mind’s eye like a gleaming emerald city. However, there is no yellow brick road taking you to the bathroom of your dreams. In fact, starting a project without a pre-bathroom renovations plan is a road to disaster fraught with cost overruns, exploding timelines and disappointing results. That’s why Modern Bathroom suggests a thorough bathroom remodel pre-checklist that will cover the details of your project down to the last soap dish. Carefully considering a bathroom remodel checklist can be every bit the stress buster that our soaker tubs are — well, close, anyway. Here’s one way to approach your plan:

First, the broad strokes:

  • What’s the problem? Face it, if your bathroom was perfect, you wouldn’t be pondering a remodel. Is the water pressure sufficient? If not, piping is likely going to be a larger part of the budget. Just freshening up the space or gutting it? Are you getting ready to put the house on the market? Building the master retreat you’ve always wanted? Prepping a bathroom for the mobility issues of an aging or infirm user? Know the issues and prioritize the solutions to them.
  • What’s the budget? According to Remodeling Magazine, the average bathroom remodel in 2016 cost $17,908. Remember, that’s a national average. If you’re in New York, the number is more like $25,000. A general rule of thumb is to spend 5 to 10 percent of your home’s value on a bathroom remodel — so a $200,000 house shouldn’t have a bathroom job go over $20,000. Too, any budget should have a 10 percent contingency built in for unexpected expenses.
  • What’s the hurry? If you only have one bathroom in the house, we understand — showers at the gym could get old fast. Yet a realistic timeline does not simply include the time it takes to complete the tasks from demo to paint. Ordering tiles, fixtures and cabinetry, as well as nailing down a schedule of a contractor and/or subcontractors, must be considered.

Then, the details:

  • Size matters. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a 62-inch vanity meant for a 58-inch space. Do not — let’s repeat that — do not begin shopping for anything without solid measurements for your space. A floor plan showing plumbing locations and certain interior dimensions — the distance from the existing commode to the edge of the tub, for example — is better yet.
  • Create a shopping list. The items to buy:
    • Floor tile
    • Wall tile
    • Vanity
    • Vanity top
    • Vanity pulls
    • Other cabinetry or shelving
    • Mirrors
    • Towel bars
    • Sink fixtures
    • Shower base
    • Shower door
    • Shower fixtures
    • Commode
    • Tub
    • Tub fixtures
    • Light fixtures
    • Electrical outlets, switches and covers
    • Drywall
    • Subfloor
    • Drywall and subfloor anchors
    • Mastic
    • Grout
    • Sealer
    • Ventilation materials (fan, ductwork)
  • Who’s doing the work? Working with electrical, tile and plumbing is beyond the abilities of many homeowners. Doing the demo and the paint will shave off a day or two of labor on either end of the project and let you rightfully claim you did some of the work. However, honestly appraising one’s skills shouldn’t stop with the homeowner. A contractor should be able to discuss his or her strengths and weaknesses — everyone has both — and let you know when to expect subcontractors. Be wary of the contractor who says he or she can do everything — especially if he or she has no former customers willing to recommend the contractor or, preferably, show you his or her work. Even if you use a contractor, you might be wise to buy some or all of the fixtures yourself. Instead of a convenient or favored supplier, you can hunt down the best deals — for example, at an online supplier that offers free shipping and a low-price guarantee.
  • But, for the DIYers: Have a detailed plan. Typically, you’d start at the top and work your way down. Ceiling first, walls next, floors last. It’s harder to drop a pipe wrench on a freshly drywalled ceiling than it is a newly tiled floor. If possible, stage the bulk of the materials before starting the job. First, you’ll see if there are any unexpected variances in a countertop or floor tile well before you’re ready to put them in place. Second, nothing slows down a project like three or four daily trips to the local home improvement store for those tile spacers or drywall screws you should’ve already had on hand.

    You’re Ready To Start Your Project

    You’ll be singing in the shower in no time, if you’re careful to adhere to a bathroom remodel pre-checklist. You’ll know the issues your current bathroom has and how to solve them; what you hope to spend and what you can spend if you have to; how long it will take; and everything you’ll need to get the job done right.
  • Cutting Costs Vs. Cutting Loose: 5 Spots To Splurge In The Bath

    High-end bathroom remodel spending topped $57,000 in 2016, a long way past the roughly $17,000 national average for a midrange rehab project.

    However, it is possible to go luxe within limits — to get a bathroom with bling on a budget, while walking the line between helpful bathroom remodel savings and necessary, renovation-making bathroom remodel expenses. The trick is knowing when to go big and when to pull back.

    Clear Heads Beat Clearance Racks

    Sure, a smart shopper can find high-quality merchandise at extraordinary prices, but it’s not always about looking for sales. Sometimes, you simply have to know which corners to cut, and areas where you should never skimp. How your bathroom functions should always be more important than how it looks. That’s not to say a beautiful piece of cabinetry can’t be part of a functional design, but it is to say that we’re establishing a ground rule for bathroom remodel expenses — function trumps style.

    Spots to Splurge

  • Toilets. The reason you’re most often in the bathroom is not the place to go cheap. Whether you’re going wall-mounted, one-piece or two-piece, it’s important to seek quality. First, know your rough-in (the space from floor drain to the wall), then consider rim height, bowl size, water-saving features and flush ratings in making your pick.
  • Fixtures. From a design standpoint, sink fixtures should coordinate with shower and tub fixtures, and with the handle on the commode. From a durability standpoint, solid brass bodies last longer than brass- or chrome-plated or plastic-bodied fittings. Don’t worry, solid brass cores can be wrapped in a variety of finishes — from contemporary chrome to traditional polished nickel and, of course, gleaming brass.
  • Countertops. Laminate is an inexpensive option and, for the most part, looks it. Solid-surface material (think Corian) is better, but can scorch and scratch. Granite is lovely and heat-resistant, but needs to be sealed against stains. Marble is similar, though more scratch-prone than granite. Quartz never needs to be sealed and is practically impervious to stains, but you’d better not set a hot curling iron on it. Everything has its pros and cons. For an upscale look, don’t use laminate, solid-surface or tile. The rest is up to you.
  • One luxury touch. What’s a remodel without some wow factor? You don’t have to go for the remote-control bidet, a stock-ticker in your mirror or a wall-mounted urinal. Yet how great would it be to have a defogging mirror? Or radiant heat floors? Or a towel warmer?
  • Accent tiles. We’ll get to the rest of wall and floor coverings in a moment. Though the right wall tile, judiciously used, draws the eye where you want it to go. Though some glass or marble mosaics can go upward of $50 per square foot, the actual expense isn’t much when you’re only running a 6-inch-wide stripe around a 60-inch tub alcove.

    Spots to Save

    • Floor tile. Porcelain or ceramic are cheaper options than marble, limestone or granite, and they hold up well. Further, if you’re going with a more expensive accent tile, you’re going to want that to pop amid less assertive accompaniment. On the other hand, if you’re still trying to make a big impression with your floor tile, that’s often as much about configuration as about material.
    • Lighting. Let’s face it — on a list of items that take a lot of abuse in the bathroom, lights aren’t. In fact, lighting remains above the fray, literally, and those components are generally inexpensive compared with other essential bathroom equipment. Just make sure there’s enough light above the mirror and in the tub/shower unit.
    • Demolition. At some point, most of us are going to want a contractor on a bathroom remodel — but some serious bathroom remodel savings can be gleaned by a homeowner who’s willing to tear out the old bathroom himself or herself. If you’re nervous about it, tell the contractor of your plans to do the demo, and ask him or her for a few tips. Make sure you know where to shut off the water to the sink, tub and toilet; where to shut off the electricity if necessary; and exactly what needs to go. Why pay a contractor’s hourly rate for something that doesn’t require a contractor’s skill?
    • Materials. If you buy the materials yourself, you will avoid what, in some cases, is a 20 to 30 percent markup by the contractor. Further, you’ll have more options than simply the contractor’s preferred suppliers. What’s more, you can do something funky if you’d like — a thrift-store mirror above the sink. An arm surplus locker for extra storage.

    Getting Rid of the Stress

    Whether you’re replacing a faucet or a vanity, or embarking on a complete gut job, Modern Bathroom is your trusted resource. With factory-direct pricing, low-price guarantees and free shipping, plus knowledgeable staffers ready to help you prioritize your bathroom remodel spending, we’re here to help make your decisions as stress-free as possible.