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The present invention relates generally to shower pans, and more particularly, towards a method and apparatus for retrofitting a shower stall.
Over the past several decades, a common method of creating a shower stall has been to tile the floor and walls of the stall. The tiles may range in size and color, and they are generally held in place with commonly used mortar and grout.
The owners of tiled shower stalls often become dissatisfied with the stalls over time and desire a new look for the shower. Such dissatisfaction generally comes from the colors and shapes of the tiles being outdated and/or the grout becoming discolored and cracked.
A commonly used product for renovating old shower stalls is a one-piece shower pan. The one-piece pans are designed to fit over existing shower surfaces, such as tile, to minimize the amount of demolition necessary to create the new stalls. Thus, it is generally cheaper to use such one-piece pans instead of completely demolishing and retiling the stall. These one-piece units, however, have several drawbacks.
First, typical hand-built showers, such as tiled showers, lack uniformity, squareness, and standardized drain locations. For example, hand-built showers may be in non-standard sizes and may have angled corners, depending on the configuration of the space that was used to create the shower. The prior art one-piece pans come in limited size ranges and have standard drain locations. Thus, if the hand built shower is an irregular size, there may not be a one-piece pan available for the job. The undesirable alternative is to make the existing stall much smaller in order to accommodate a one-piece unit. Also, because the prior art one-piece pans have standard drain locations, significant demolition of the shower pan and/or walls is still required if the existing stall's drain is not in the standard location. Particularly, the shower drain plumbing system has to be relocated in order to align with and connect to the new shower pan drain. This requires significant labor, and therefore, money.
In addition, in circumstances where the existing shower has a large footprint, it is unlikely that a one-piece pan is available. If available, the significant weight of the one-piece pan makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for an installer to handle and install in a confined space. In the event that the one-piece pan exceeds the dimensions of the existing cased opening or door opening to the stall, the one-piece pan cannot be brought to the installation location without demolition of the restricted areas.
The forgoing problems are particularly relevant in buildings where there are a large number of shower stalls, such as dormitories, apartments, and hospitals, and all of the stalls require renovation. In order to avoid the high costs of demolition, the owners may desire to use the one-piece shower pan units. However, the sizes of the stalls in these types of buildings are typically irregular with small access openings, such that one-piece units are not available or are too heavy for an installer to maneuver in the confined spaces.
Accordingly, there is a need in the art for a new method of retrofitting a shower stall that does not require significant demolition of the existing shower surface and is able to accommodate stalls with varying shapes, sizes, and drain locations.
The present invention is better understood by a reading of the Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments along with a review of the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a shower manufactured and installed in accordance with the present invention.
FIGS. 2A and 2B are schematic views of alternate embodiments of the shower pan components of the present invention.
FIGS. 3A and 3B are schematic top views of alternate embodiments of the coved sidewall components of the shower system of the present invention.
FIG. 4 is a schematic bottom view of the shower pan of the present invention.
FIG. 5 is a schematic side view of a quadrant with a support rail and a drain hub in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 6 is a schematic bottom view of seamed quadrants and seam support rails in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 7 is a schematic side view of a dam wall in accordance with the present invention.
The present invention solves this need in the art by providing a pan for a retrofit shower system including a drain hub having an aperture for receiving plumbing for a drain hole and several separate quadrants. The quadrants are seamed together and seamed to the drain hub to create a shower floor. Each quadrant includes at least one support rail on the bottom of the quadrant wherein the depth of the support rail gets smaller as the support rail gets closer to the location of the drain hub such that the resulting shower floor is angled towards the drain hub. The pan also includes at least one seam support rail that is configured to straddle the underside of two quadrants to provide support for the seam and wherein the depth of the seam support rail gets smaller as the seam support rail gets closer to the location of the drain hub such that the resulting shower floor is angled towards the drain hub. Sidewalls are also provided that include at least two corner-coved walls and at least two coved wall connectors that are seamed to each other and to the shower floor. The drain hub and quadrants are preferably formed of an acrylic, polyester, or polyester-acrylic blend solid surface material.
A method for retrofitting a shower is provided including the steps of obtaining measurements of the existing shower and manufacturing new shower components based on the measurements of the existing shower. The shower components include a shower pan including a drain hub having an aperture for receiving plumbing for a drain hole and at least two separate quadrants. The method also includes installing the drain hub over the drain hole of the existing shower such that the aperture is aligned with the drain hole, seaming the quadrants to each other, and seaming the quadrants to the drain hub. The method further includes the steps of manufacturing sidewalls including at least two corner-coved walls and at least two coved wall connectors and installing the sidewalls by seaming the at least two corner-coved walls and at least two-coved wall connectors to each other and to the shower pan.
Further provided is a retrofit shower system including a pan including a drain hub having an aperture for receiving plumbing for a drain hole and several separate quadrants. The quadrants are seamed together and seamed to the drain hub to create a shower floor. Sidewalls are provided that include at least two corner-coved walls and at least two coved wall connectors that are seamed to each other and to the shower floor. Wall panels are further provided that are seamed to the sidewalls to create the shower stall. A dam wall extends up from the sidewalls and behind the wall panels to prevent water from seeping into the underlying structure behind the wall panels.
The present invention provides a retrofit shower system and method for installing the same that overcomes the disadvantages of the prior art. In particular, FIG. 1 shows a shower 5 including a pan 10, a plurality of separate quadrants 12, a drain hub 14 having an aperture for receiving plumbing for a drain hole, a plurality of coved sidewalls 20, a threshold 26, and a plurality of wall panels 28 wherein the plurality of quadrants 12 are seamed together and seamed to the drain hub 14 to create a shower floor.
When the owner of a shower stall desires renovation of a stall using the retrofit system of the present invention, the first step includes obtaining the measurements of the existing shower, including the floor, side walls, ceiling, angles at the corners, location of the drain hole, and location and orientation of the doorway. This may be done by manually measuring and/or creating a template of the stall using known methods. Once the measurements are obtained, the dimensions are interpreted and used to create specifications and drawings of the proposed new shower. The drawings may be created manually or with computer aided design (CAD) software, and the like. The proposed new shower pan 10 is drawn so that the pan is broken into a plurality of quadrants 12 that abut a drain hub 14, as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B. The drain hub 14 is intended to be positioned directly over the drain hole of the existing shower, and includes an aperture 15 for receiving the plumbing for the drain hole, as discussed in more detail below. In a preferred embodiment, the drain hub 14 may include one or more angled corners 14a to aid in the installation process, which is also discussed further below. The number of quadrants 12 that the pan 10 is broken into and the shape of the quadrants 12 depends on the size and shape of the existing stall and its access opening, however, typically, no more than four quadrants 12 are necessary.
Drawings are also rendered for the coved sidewalls 20 of the new shower. The sidewalls of a shower stall extend up from the shower pan and are generally about three inches tall, with some variation to accommodate a two percent slope necessary for the shower floor to drain water towards the drain hole. Considering a generally rectangular shaped shower stall, there are typically four sidewall units, one for each side. When the sidewalls are installed at the job site, it takes a substantial amount of labor time to seam the corners of shower stall where the ends of sidewall units meet. Therefore, it is preferred that in the present invention, the sidewalls be broken into coved sidewall units that include corner-coved wall connectors 22 and coved wall connectors 24, as shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B. By using corner-coved wall connectors 22, about five to six hours of labor can be saved on the jobsite because less time is required to seam the coved wall connectors 22 to the corner-coved walls 24 than seaming the corners of the sidewalls at the jobsite.
Once the drawings of the proposed new shower 5 are complete, the components of the shower stall 5 are manufactured and cut to size. The shower pan 10 components, namely the quadrants 12, are preferably manufactured by pouring a mold with a known polyester, acrylic, or polyester-acrylic blend solid surface material. This material provides strength and flexibility for the pan 10. Also in a preferred embodiment, a non-skid surface is built into the mold for the floor of the pan 10 to make it safer for the user. As mentioned above, it is necessary for the shower pan 10 to have about a two percent slope towards the drain hole so that water will flow down from the shower floor into the drain. In order to create that angle in the pan 10, support rails 16 are manufactured to go underneath the pan 10, as shown in FIG. 4. Particularly, the depths of the support rails 16 get smaller as the rails 16 get closer to the drain hub 14, as shown in FIG. 5. These support rails 16 may be attached to the various quadrants 12 at the factory to save labor time at the jobsite. However, it is most preferred that the support rails 16 be integrated with the quadrants 12 during the manufacturing process, such as by building them into the mold for the quadrants 12. Seam support rails 18 are also manufactured, however, these seam support 18 rails are generally not molded with the quadrants 12 to provide for easier installation, as described below.
All of the other components for the new stall 5 are also created at the factory, including, a threshold 26 which is located at the entrance into the shower 5 and the sidewall units 20, including the coved units (22,24). These components are also preferably manufactured from acrylic, polyester, or polyester-acrylic blend solid surface materials that are known in the art. Other components which may be manufactured for the stall as specified by the client are wall panels 28, a shower ceiling, cased opening, trim at the cased opening, and trim at the ceiling to allow access to the shower.
At the jobsite, in order for the existing shower to be prepared to receive the new pan 10, a plumber must raise the drainpipe about two to three inches to bring it up to where the new surface will be. This is a relatively simple and non-time consuming process. Then, the existing shower floor is leveled by preferably using a cement thinset mortar that is known in the art. The installer then begins to fit the “puzzle pieces” of the new shower pan 10 together. The first component to be installed is the drain hub 14 such that the aperture 15 is directly aligned over the newly raised drain hole. Next, the installer sets two quadrants 12 and a seam support 18 in place. The seam support rail 18, as shown in FIG. 6, is similar to the other support rails 16, except that it is centered underneath the seam of two quadrants 12. The preferred angled corners 14a of the drain hub 14 allow the ends of the seam support rails 18 to abut the drain hub 14 with a flat surface.
The installer then begins seaming the parts together using known methods and preferably using an epoxy-based adhesive, which is very strong. Particularly, the installer seams the two quadrants 12 to each other and to the seam support rail 16. The seam support rail 18 and the quadrants 12 are also seamed to the drain hub 14. Once all of the seams are complete, the installer adds the additional quadrants 12 one-by-one and seams them to the abutting quadrants 12, the seam support rails 18, and the drain hub 14, until the “puzzle” of the shower pan 10 is complete.
Next, the installer installs the coved sidewalls 20 of the shower 5. The coved units (22,24) are set in place and seamed to one another and to the shower pan 10 using the same process described above. However, it is preferred that a typical acrylic blend seam adhesive be used for the sidewalls 20 because the sidewalls 20 do not require as strong a seam adhesive as the seams in the shower pan 10. It is generally easier to obtain a color match between the solid surface material and the seam adhesive when using an acrylic based seam adhesive versus an epoxy-based adhesive. Thus, the sidewall seams in the finished stall are generally inconspicuous where as the quadrant seams in the pan 10, which are the stronger epoxy based adhesive, are more visible but still compatible.
Next, the installer installs and seams together the threshold 26 for the shower 5, the ceiling, and wall panels 28, if so specified. If the new shower stall is specified for wall panels 28, then the installer adds those panels 28 to the stall and seams them to the sidewalls 20. In preferred embodiment, the sidewalls 20 are seamed to, and even more preferably, molded to, a small dam wall 30 that fits against the underlying walls of the shower and behind the wall panels 28, as shown in FIG. 7. This dam wall 30 prevents any water that may get behind the panels 28 from getting into the underlying wall and floor, which could cause mold and rotting. Finally, the installer installs the cased opening, trim at the cased opening, and trim at the ceiling, if specified.
Once all of the seams are dry, they are sanded and finished in accordance with prior art procedures for finishing solid surface seams. Also, any soft seams in the shower stall 5 are caulked and the unit is cleaned. The resulting product is a brand new shower stall that encloses the original floor, walls, and ceiling in new solid surface material.
In view of the forgoing, the retrofit shower system of the present invention provides a new shower that can be installed in a matter of hours without requiring demolition of the old shower surface. Thus, the owner saves time and money and does not have to deal with the noise, vibration, debris, and extended loss associated with demolition of the existing shower when installing prior art one-piece shower pans. Further, unlike prior art shower pans, the retrofit shower system of the present invention can accommodate any shower regardless of its size, shape, squareness, or plumbness, and can accommodate any existing drain location. The shower system of the present invention also allows for unusually shaped shower designs and very large showers wherein one-piece units are too heavy to be installed.
Certain modifications and improvements will occur to those skilled in the art upon a reading of the forgoing description of the present invention. For example, the present invention is not limited to installation over tiled surfaces. Rather, the shower stall of the present invention may be installed over any type of floor and panel surface, including, but not limited to, tile, stone, solid surface, plastic laminate, and fiber reinforced plastic, etc. Also, the shower stall of the present invention is not limited to retrofit applications. Rather, the shower stall may be installed as a brand new shower in the first instance. All such modifications and improvements of the present invention have been deleted herein for the sake of conciseness and readability but are properly within the scope of the following claims.