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Community and Q&A

Bathroom remodel: remove existing window?

Brent_F | Posted in General Questions on

GBA Gents, 

I would like to do a bathroom remodel in my ranch style house.  The bathroom currently has a leaky tub and no shower.  We would like a shower on the main level because showering in the cold non-insulated basement isn’t much fun in the winter months.  The bathroom layout will need to remain as it is currently, there is really no other way to lay it out due to the small size of the bathroom.  My question is, what do I do with my bathroom window? I have attached some photos of it from both the inside and the outside.  I would like to replace the tub and put up a shower surround.  If I remove the window, what do I do the siding?  Will it work to simply put siding in to fill the gap, or do I need to try to stagger the seams on it?  I thought I could possibly pull the siding off between the two bedroom window (left and right sides), which are larger than the bathroom window (center window) that way I could stagger the seams.  Or is it an issue to have stacked seems?  I wouldn’t mind keeping a small window in the bathroom, just for some natural lighting but how do I keep it from rotting due to constant moisture?  Anyone tackled and issue similar to this? thanks


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  1. GBA Editor
    Brian Pontolilo | | #1

    Hi Brent,

    Is that the only window in the bathroom? If so, it sure would be nice to keep it. If you tile the shower surround, you could take Tom Meehan's approach to waterproofing described in this FHB article:

    Detailing a Shower Window

    If you do remove the window, I would peel off some siding so that you can get a WRB behind the siding and stagger the seams for water management and aesthetics.

  2. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #2

    >"We would like a shower on the main level because showering in the cold non-insulated basement isn’t much fun in the winter months. "

    Whatever you do about the window and siding, it's worth air sealing and insulating the foundation walls of that "... cold non-insulated basement..." even if you're not actively heating it!

    Where are you located?

    In climate zones 5 or higher R15 continuous insulation is current code min. It drops to R10 c.i. in zone 4, and R5 c.i. in zone 3, and zero for zones 1 & 2.

    There are good/better/best ways to hit those performance levels without creating a mold farm, and also a wider range of cost for hitting that mark. It doesn't have to be super expensive to get it right.

    >" I wouldn’t mind keeping a small window in the bathroom, just for some natural lighting but how do I keep it from rotting due to constant moisture?"

    Unless the duty-cycle on the shower is insanely high there isn't "...constant moisture...".

    A continuous 20 cfm (code min for bathrooms, if only continuous ventilation is used) does a pretty good job of keeping bathroom moisture levels well bounded in most homes. Do you have 20 people showering daily? There are higher cfm bath fans with moisture sensors that turn them on/off or step the ventilation rates up/down in response to moisture levels too. For a general discussion see:

    If you get rid of the window or have only a fixed (no-operable) window I believe the fan becomes a code requirement in most locations.

    If the window meets (or almost meets) current code minimums for efficiency and is reasonably air tight there is no need to get rid of it. It may be easier for cleaning to install window film rather than resorting to curtains or blinds for privacy. Adding window film to the interior side of an exterior storm window can last for a dozen years or more without needing to be replaced, but would likely need replacement in handful years if applied on the a window exposed to the shower and cleaned frequently.

  3. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #3

    Dana is correct, if you remove that window you MUST have a fan per code. I think that's in the UBC, so it's code basically at a national level, not just per-locality.

    I'd try to find a way to keep the window, move it if you must. A windowless bathroom tends to have that institutional "I'm in an office building" kind of feel.


  4. Expert Member

    With all the diligence in the world on the part of the builder, I've never seen shower windows turn out well. Even if y0u get the surround right windows aren't designed to be constantly wetted from the interior. The hardware rusts, the glazing takes on moisture at the perimeter - I would do it, but with the understanding it will need periodic renovations. One way to mitigate the damage is a second shower curtain on the wall side.

  5. MattJF | | #5

    Growing up, we had a window in a shower just like that. My mom would just shorten a shower curtain to hang from the rod. I think my dad redid that window once in 20 years.

    A more modern styling option would be have a glass shower door installer make a pair of glass interior shutters.

  6. Brent_F | | #6

    Thanks for the feedback,

    One of the reasons I’d prefer removing the window goes back my childhood home which has a window in the bathroom. Twice my sister caught boys peeping in the window on her, being a father of two girls myself I don’t want that happening at my house!

    I guess I could have a short window there, using the top of the existing frame and coming down 12” or so. Being that high on the wall I don’t foresee it getting soaked frequently. It would still give some natural light.

    I am going to upgrade the existing bath fan as well.

    You are correct Dana it will not be constantly wet, it being a wood window currently I assumed it would take awhile to fully dry after a shower. The basement is also a work in progress, getting it insulated before winter is on the list of things to do.

    Brian, thanks for sharing Tom Meehan’s article!!

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