Full Bathroom Reno Days 6 and 7: How to Plumb Shower and Cut Cement Board for Plumbing

We left off with the tub being in place, but no pipes to the drain installed. On day 6, we installed all of the piping that leads to the drain. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this because it was a very tedious and hands-on job for both of us. We used a drain pipe kit, but had to make some cuts and modifications to make it the appropriate size. After all of the pipes were fitted, Jake sealed the area around the drain hole with plumbers putty. We checked for leaks and filled the tub without the faucet being on- simply by using the cutoff valve. Jake even took a bath that night! Unfortunately, he spotted a tiny, tiny leak that was letting out a drop every once in a while under the drain.

On day 7, Jake started out by finishing the install on the piping to the faucet and shower head.

how to install plumbing shower

He pieced together all of the sections of PVC pipe, making sure that the shower/tub valve would have two even pipes to connect to.

how to install tub shower valve

Meanwhile, I went back to the home improvement store, to grab some silicone to seal and waterproof that leak.

how to seal plumbing in bathroom

We needed to apply the silicone around the drain hole (under the tub) and the drain pipe (in front of the tub) that goes into the hole in the floor. The only way you can access these is by sitting inside of our cleaned out linen closet, which is a bit of a tight squeeze to say the least.

seal plumbing under tub

Jake started applying the silicone around the drain pipe/hole into the ground, but his hand was too large to be able to access it all. He asked me to try it, as my hand is way smaller than his. I was able to reach most of it, but obviously it is very hard to tell if it is all covered, since it is so hard to get to.
silcone plumbing under tub
You can't see the actual place with silicone, but it is the piece of pipe in the focus of the picture, at the bottom.
Then he asked me to tackle the place under the tub, where the pipe connects to the drain. I really glopped it on because I couldn't see what I had covered and what I hadn't. Jake told me it was better to overdo it than miss places, so that's what I did. Finally, I wised up and I grabbed a small makeup mirror to check my work. With one hand I was holding the makeup mirror and the other hand holding the flashlight to see the backside of the pipes. You know how you can check the back of your hair by holding a mirror in your hand and standing backwards to the bathroom mirror? Same principle.  
silicone seal bathtub drain pipes
You can see that I definitely overdid it, but gravity was working against me. The beige thicker substance is the plumbers putty, and the clear gel is the silicone.
Next, we secured the tub to the studs by placing screws on each stud, allowing the head of the screw to overhang the tub.
screw tub flange to studs

how to screw tub flange to wall
Once the tub was secured, we started to work on rebuilding the walls. We chose to use concrete backer board (aka cement board) with a waterproofing membrane, followed by tile. We wanted to be extra sure that no water would get through, and after a lot of research this seemed like the best method for us. Since we found some issues with moisture getting through, mold, and soft walls, we were only more sure of our method to be extra careful.
how to cut cement board for plumbing

We measured the height and width of the first wall, which was the wall with the pipes. Jake cut it to size with a utility knife. First he scored it well, then he was able to break the board. The height of the board is not tall enough to cover the entire wall, so we will have to use two pieces on each wall. This is simply the first piece.
how to cut cement board
Once it was cut to size, we took it back into the bathroom to double check it. While in there, we also measured the size and placement of the hole for the shower/tub valve and marked it. We tried to cut out this hole the same way, with a utility knife, but it wouldn't work for the circle hole. Instead, we broke the rules and used a reciprocating saw to cut out the hole.
how to cut cement board for plumbing
We went back to the bathroom, checked our work, and then marked for the shower head and faucet pipe holes. This time, Jake used a drill with the appropriate sized circle bit to cut those two holes. That was very quick and easy.
how to cut cement board for pipes in shower

how to cut cement board for faucet

Then, I held it in place as Jake screwed it in. The rule is to attach it about 1/8-1/4" on top of the tub flange then seal, rough side out, which helps with the waterproofing membrane or tile adhesion, and to avoid screwing too close to the edges, no less than 1/2" out. Jake placed screws into the studs about every 6-8" apart to secure the board to the wall.
protect tub while installing cement board
I should note, through every step of this process we used a furniture blanket on top of the tub to avoid any scratches or dings.
cut hole in cement board for valve

We started to assemble some of the faucet hardware, but unfortunately we found out we were missing a piece. At this point, it was pretty late so we called it quits for the evening. But, I'm really excited because we are getting nearer to the end of the shower piece of the renovation! What's left? We need to finish installing the cement board on all sides, waterproof, tile, hardware, and finishing touches. We're getting closer!

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