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March 2008
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Master Bath Project Episode 8

Solid Surface Hell
One of the earliest design decisions made was solid surface for the shower. If you have a tiled bath/shower enclosure, you have experienced the heartbreak of keeping it clean, grouted, sealed, killing mold and mildew.
Since we were building a custom shower in both size and function, we interviewed a number of companies. Most could not produce the off center shower pan. Most of them were installers using buyout materials.
We finally found a local company who could produce the shower pan, and manufactured their own solid surface.

In addition to the shower pan, and side panels, they were also making the vanity top with integral sink, the makeup top, tub surrounds, modesty panel, and the caps for the pony walls.

We explained that we were going to have a swinging shower door with a simple glass panel on the top of the pony wall. ON the Inside Edge. Horizontal surfaces in showers and baths are breeding grounds for mold,mildew, and dirt. They were brought on site early enough to be able to discuss their requirements for installation. Which is one of the reasons that we left the bottom sheets of drywall off until the shower pan was installed.

The day of installation arrived with a couple of stout lads as this pan was heavy. In wresting the pan in place they chopped up a corner of the pony wall. It sucked but I can fix anything.

The first major problem is here, where they brought the edge of the pan completely into the opening and created an area that would have the water splashing onto the floor. Remember the shower door and glass were to be placed on the inside edge of the pony wall and inset on the other side. Also floor tile selection was finalized.

The next morning, I hung, corner beaded and taped the rest of the drywall, and bagged off the solid surface, cabs and counters so the texture guys could come and spray the walls.

After some discussion as to fixing the drainage issue the solid surface guys showed up to install the walls. They must not talk a whole lot as there is a new problem. See in the corner where they did not extend the solid surface to the floor? Yep, looks like crap.

The decision was made to fill in the edge and machine it in the field. There was a lot of delay in what they said was a color matching issue. This is weird because this material was a ‘standard’ color from their collection, and should have been a no brainer. It wasn’t. It took multiple applications, a lot of sanding which creates a dust storm to rival anything you see on National Geographic.

Complicating this was the scheduling of the tile. The tile was laid and they had to return with a new crew and redo it. There was no reason but carelessness for the first tile job. There were no cracks, bumps, or other problems that prevented them getting it right the first around.
Not square, flat or consistent in grout lines.

1/2” gaps on the edges and incomplete grouting was an issue as well.

The second time got the job done.

Smooth, flat and consistent.

I will be reluctant to recommend either of these two companies, as a first choice unlike my plumber and texture guys. To be fair, both of them did repair their mistakes, but it did push the project into February.

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