I have a nasty bathroom downstairs. It looks like the previous owners built it over a floor drain, not entirely sure if this is a good thing or not (not even sure if that's what they did but see attached photos for the washer height knobs).

Obvious water damage behind the shower area. Needs to be gutted and rebuilt.

I just don't exactly know where to start or what are the obvious noob mistake that will cost me later.

I'm comfortable with soldering, drywall, tiling,etc. I've never built a wall or frame before so I probably need the most guidance there.

Any help is appreciated. Good books or other references would be awesome.

Specific question: Are there any specific issues that might cause bigger problems later on (from first answer full stud replacement vs patch) when I repair/replace this wall?

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12318974/IMG_20130313_230047.jpg http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12318974/IMG_20130313_230054.jpg
Click for larger view

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    This question may be a bit too broad, and could possibly solicit extended discussion and will likely not have a single correct answer.
    – Tester101
    Mar 15, 2013 at 19:13
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    If you add m to the end of the imgur link, a medium size image is displayed (https://i.sstatic.net/9tpXIm.jpg see the m?). If you then surround the image markup with link markup, you can make the image clickable ([![enter image description here][3]](https://i.sstatic.net/sm0TT.jpg))
    – Tester101
    Mar 15, 2013 at 19:18
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    No, i just wanted to reference that point from your question because it is direct and of those gotchas that should be pointed out :)
    – cbrulak
    Mar 15, 2013 at 19:42
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    Okay, i know that all that stuff is a huge job and can't be answered here. My goal: fix that wall and fixtures so that I can put in a basic shower. I'm not worried about the pipes/plubming or tiling or drywall so however we decided shouldn't affect this question, which is specifically how to repair/replace this wall,etc. (i'll update the question with that ) Thanks for your patience.
    – cbrulak
    Mar 15, 2013 at 20:16
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    Replace all the drywall, frame the wall at 16'OC, install horizontal supports for the plumbing, insulate it and add a vapor barrier, then use MR rock, then install the shower stall. Mar 15, 2013 at 21:57

3 Answers 3


A floor drain is no problem in a bathroom, in fact that's a bonus! Just don't let it dry up.

As for where to start, here is a general guideline:

  1. Tear out all the drywall and to expose any rotten areas.
  2. Replace rotten studs, one at a time (full-length, don't patch). You don't won't to remove a whole wall at once, it may be load-bearing. Put in temporary studs for any iffy areas.
  3. Fix the plumbing.
  4. Choose your shower-surround (tile, fibreglass, etc...) and finish accordingly.

Also, whichever product you choose for waterproofing your shower will usually have their own specifications on how to waterproof on their websites. For example: Kerdi and Nobleseal. These two companies also have very helpful technical support departments and local sales reps.

An example of an "iffy area": If there are multiple studs all really rotten next to eachother and you are taking out one to replace it, the remaining load of the floor/roof over your head is now on all those rotten studs... That is an iffy situation, in my opinion.

  • 2: links for that? how would i know if it is iffy? I guess I can use the door as I guide (same wall). Thanks
    – cbrulak
    Mar 15, 2013 at 19:17
  • e.g. If there are multiple studs all really rotten next to eachother and you are taking out one to replace it, the remaining load of the floor/roof over your head is now on all those rotten studs... That is an iffy situation, in my opinion. Mar 15, 2013 at 19:23
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    point 4: MR drywall is no longer approved for showers: Water-resistant gypsum backing board shall not be installed over a vapor barrier in a shower or tub compartment. (R702.3.8.1)  Water-resistant gypsum backing board shall not be used where there will be direct exposure to water, or in areas subject to continuous high humidity, such as saunas, steam rooms, indoor pools, etc. (R702.3.8.1)
    – HerrBag
    Mar 15, 2013 at 19:35
  • @HerrBag which zone/code is that from? I'm sure there are national standards but aren't there local codes too?
    – cbrulak
    Mar 15, 2013 at 19:37
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    I edited #4 to depend on your tub-surround choices. You can get into a waterproofing debate on which product to use when you get that far. Although generally MR drywall is fine in most cases. If you waterproof then it is not being exposed to water. Although, I prefer to use green e-board>kerdi>tile myself (not to be mistaken with greenboard). Mar 15, 2013 at 20:02

You must remove all water damaged drywall.

You should replumb/reframe for proper support of the wall covering (right now, it looks like the piece you tore off spanned over 30".. way too far). The valve should be setback into the stud cavity, unless you are going to use a shower enclosure. If the pipes are where you want them, put studs on either side of the water supply.

  • nice catch on stud spacing. I'd stick with the standard spacing of 16" O.C. especially if tiling. Could just be a camera perspective thing though. Mar 15, 2013 at 20:34

If you haven't done so yet make a list of what you liked and disliked and are willing to change in the original space. Expose as much of the space as you can. Plan your repairs, studs, wiring, plumbing etc with your final goal in mind. You don't want to replace a stud and find out later that it is where you want the shower valve. Also the shower system, fiberglass,tile, etc will all have varied framing requirements so you must have a general plan in place at the start.

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