Flutterby™! : A few notes on wood shower panels

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A few notes on wood shower panels

2011-04-19 15:07:39.805213+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

This last weekend I repainted the bathroom. In the process, we removed some tacky plastic paneling. That same paneling is also around the tub. Charlene and I have looked at a number of materials to replace that, we've been kind of leaning towards large tiles, but we've seen some really spectacular bathrooms that have wood walls.

Seems like a maintenance nightmare.

However, a few notes that might help:

  • If we can get the wood for the paneling green, and not kiln dried, treatment with Polyethylene Glycol-1000 (PEG) can stabilize the wood so that humidity changes don't cause extreme shifts in size. This usually involves soaking the green wood in a PEG solution at an elevated temperature (105°F to 150°F for a couple of weeks). More in USDA Forest Service: how PEG helps the hobbyist who works with wood (1972, PDF)
  • A commenter on this discussion forum thread says that he had spec'd out, but never built, "teak strips over Kerdi, the adhesive was to be Bostiks Best." Schluter®-KERDI is a polyethylene membrane with a surface you can glue to, Bostik's BEST is a "one-part, trowel-applied, tacking moisture-cure urethane adhesive" used for flooring. I'd assume you'd do them tongue and groove.
  • Jeffco Painting and Coating is a local (okay, Vallejo/Mare Island) company that was recommended to me as knowing a lot about elastomeric epoxies.

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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-21 19:56:21.876014+00 by: andylyke

I think sometimes you need to go with modern materials. I recommend one that's made from clay, baked at a high temperature and coated with a fusible material that's also baked at high temperature. It was developed just a few millenia ago. Just sayin'

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-20 17:34:49.499136+00 by: Dan Lyke

If I can find an elastomeric epoxy that would work for this, maybe the thing to do is build panels of KERDI with tongue-and-groove or shiplap over top, spaced to allow for a little movement, that get flooded in a resin, like what you'd do for a bar top, that hopefully cures fairly hard. Those panels can then be caulked together when they get installed.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-19 18:17:20.288898+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, the one problem I've got with painting before installation is that I'd have to have a fairly flexible coating to let me build the thing in one piece before maneuvering it into the bathroom, and it'd still have to have some flex in it. Whence wanting to learn more about elastomeric epoxies.

(I could get a one-piece into the bathroom, but I'd still need some flex in the sides to do that final rotation, 'cause the bathtub is on the wall opposite the door.)

If I could build the whole thing out of veneered ¼" ply, or even lay a veneer over Kerdi, and then spray the whole assembly that'd probably be better in every way than tile.

But the lack of UV in the bathroom does offer a lot more coating options.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-19 17:19:15.077631+00 by: jims

You could take a page from boat builders. My Shellback dinghy is made of "possibly okuma but who knows what you get" plywood encapsulated in epoxy. The wood never sees the humidity. UV degradation of the epoxy is a problem, but probably not in the shower. The technique probably works with other woods as well, just cover ALL surfaces of the piece after you fabricate it. Including the insides of holes.