Hey folks, long ago I used to hang around here, read and learn a lot, and very occasionally comment or ask a question. I think it’s fair to call me an advanced DIYer, or a professional in other fields of hands-on tool-using crafts. 40 years of auto mechanics full or part-time for a living, specializing in diagnostics, but also a modest amount of light electrical, metal fabrication, and interior finish work. I am meticulous but not fast. You probably wouldn’t want to hire me even if I weren’t 68. (Geeze. I don’t feel a day past 50). My wife had a career involving assembling and soldering Milspec aviation diagnostic equipment and high-precision fiber optic/photonics sensing equipment under a microscope. So we aren’t pro contractors, but we aren’t random hacks, either.
About 15 years ago, we finished up the major remodeling of our modest 1200 sf 2 bedroom 1-1/2 bath house. Just a typical 70’s ranch updated in the 80s. Kind of a Chevy Malibu house. We removed a wall to turn a kitchen and living room into a great room, replaced flooring throughout, moved some lights and receptacles, etc. We did it all with our own hands. I mention all of that to establish a baseline of our skills.
We also had a contractor replace doors, windows, siding and roofing, and seal the place up. They did a pretty good job. It really hurt to pay for it, but the results were good.
All good until nearly a year ago when my wife began experiencing mobility issues and other stuff. Spinal stenosis, affecting her balance and other things, plus bad knees and too much weight to get them replaced.
The one full bath currently has a one-piece acrylic 32×60 bath/shower unit in a 5×9 bathroom that has been good enough for the 20 years since we moved in. It’s smooth and easy to clean, which is important with our well water. It was installed against greenboard that has held up well, and we haven’t had any leakage or mold problems, so I think the installers did a decent job.
But I think we each soaked in it once. We are shower people. But now it’s getting to the point where getting into the tub and onto a stool to take a shower is very difficult for her. So we are looking for a shower that I can install by myself, or at least with a helper to assist with the heavy parts. Materials budget maybe $3000 plus or minus excluding plumbing, backerboard, caulk, etc? Just the shower kit.
We both absolutely abhor scrubbing grout lines, and that stuff wouldn’t get easier as we age. We are agreed on wanting the simple big completely smooth slabs of material idea – a solid base, and three flat walls. We don’t have big money for the most exclusive expensive stuff, whatever that is at the moment. But we haven’t been able to tell via Google searches what materials are good for our application, and what are garbage. All of the reviews seem to be interns regurgitating press releases, or manufacturer’s blurbs, or outright AI-generated garbage.
So, all that to ask for recommendations for or warnings against products. Swanstone, Corian, MAAX, Flexstone, Transsolid, Lowe’s or HD house brands, stuff I’ve never heard of, whatever? Has to be something that I as a homeowner can buy and that is likely actually in stock. Assume marble look, totally smooth finish, three piece walls 32 or 36 x 60, and taller than 72 inches, plus a sturdy compatible base. All of which can reasonably be handled by one or two people in a 5 foot wide bathroom, and the installation completed by us in a week or two once the weather warms up enough for outdoor or garage showers.
I could easily install one of the molded wall kits, but we don’t want either the extra seams or the built in shelves. I’m skeptical about handling huge format porcelain tiles, and some of the slabs I’ve seen in my wealthy inlaw’s showers look way too heavy to handle without a full crew, so I’m sure that imposes limits. I’m also aware that properly installing a shower base isn’t just plop it down and caulk a lot.
I’m sure I’ve left several things out, so feel free to ask, or call me an idiot.
Sorry for the novel, and thanks for whatever input you have.