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Cedar clapboard rainscreen instead of tile for bathroom wall?

mateohao | Posted in General Questions on

Hello Community,

I discovered that water from the bathroom shower has leaked into the wall for years through a poorly installed metal alcove. I suspect a complete tear out and replacement of joists, studs, and subfloors will be in order.

I am planing a whole-house energy retrofit in the future, so I do not want to spend time rebuilding a bathroom with a nice interior. So tile is out.

I have access to clear cedar, and I had a thought of painting the interior of the shower with liquid sealer like RedGard, installing vertical furring strips on the wall, then attaching cedar planks to the furring strips like an exterior rain screen. I could reuse them for fencing or decking in the future.

I’ve never seen wood in a shower before, so I am not sure if this is OK to do this. I am in Oakland, California

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  1. GBA Editor
    Brian Pontolilo | | #1


    I have seen wood used on bathroom/shower walls and even shower floors. I think you are right that a lot of builders look at this similarly to the way they look at exterior wall assemblies these days. While they hope the siding will keep a lot of water out, they are really relying on the drainage plane behind the siding. Anyway, here's an example:

  2. jberks | | #2

    It's an interesting concept. I personally hate tile, and have been spending a lot of time trying to think of a good alternative.

    I guess in terms of water protection, doing a siding system would theoretically work. My 2 cents to consider is how dirty the cedar might get and how uneasy it might be to clean. Even sealed grout in a shower still gets super dirty.

    I've been looking for an epoxy based wall system or paint to completely waterproof a shower and be the final finish, but just that would look horrible aesthetically. You've inspired me to one day try an open joint teak wall system for a shower with black epoxy in behind. I think that could look awesome, and if the teak is sanded smooth and sealed, it might possibly clean up well.

    Thank you.

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #3

      Have you considered cultured marble? I used it on several shower enclosures at a res0rt and they have held up very well over the years. One single piece for each wall. Goes over a regular drywall substrate.

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