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Non-Toxic Shower Options that I Considered
My first plan when designing my tiny house was to use tiles. But because grout without additives (plain Portland Cement) may not hold up in the long run to mold or to cracks in a mobile house I decided against it.
Even with the recommended Schulter shower system, I still wasn’t confident that the area around the drain would hold up to cracks when the house moved. This would be better in a non-mobile tiny home.
(I go through non-toxic tile options in the post on bathrooms)
We came up with some ideas to give it a little flex including adding glue to the plaster and maybe a mesh underneath on the wall, but no one had tried this yet in a mobile home so it was big risk and I don’t think it’s a good idea.
In a tiny house (not on a trailer) this would be a good choice for many people.
Though it requires a lot of upkeep. (For the base/floor you still need tiles, fiberglass, or metal) otherwise it tends towards mold.
Make sure you can commit!
Fiberglass or Acrylic
These will last a lifetime without getting moldy but if you get a company to install it they need to use their own adhesive, which could be toxic.
Fiberglass offgasses and most highly sensitive people say they react to it. Acrylic is much more tolerable and should become odorless quite quickly. You can offgass them outside until they are ready.
If you use one of these showers in a new build you have to design the size of the bathroom around that (I didn’t!).
Use AFM Almighty Adhesive to install them.
Solid surface showers are beautiful and non-toxic but be sure to check the glue.
In a larger house, polished concrete might work really well, if you can find someone who can do that finish on walls and tight spaces.
Glass walls are something to consider.
An outdoor shower could be made of cedar, glass, or concrete.
More discussion on these materials in my post on bathrooms.
My Shower for Tiny Houses on Wheels (Could work in Trailers, and RVs too)
It took four people, five months to design, make, and install a totally toxin-free shower for my tiny house on wheels that will:
-last a very long time
-and hold up in a tiny mobile home (that flexes when it moves)!
-not aggravate my chemical sensitivities
But we did it! We were this close to giving up and building an outdoor shower. In the end, the shower enclosure was made of aluminum and stainless steel with a zero VOC adhesive.
A basin with 2-inch sides is made of stainless steel and the pipe in the center is welded in so will never leak around the drain (Stainless is going to hold up better than aluminum in the basin).
I would have done more of a grade and a higher lip on the basin if I did it again.
Underneath we used pieces of acrylic and Butyl Sealant Tape to support the grade.
There are two sheets of thin aluminum panels that wrap around the three-wall shower enclosure.
The first piece of aluminum wraps around the three walls (no seams in the corners) and overlaps with the basin at the bottom (will never leak at that point).
The second piece of aluminum overlaps over the first piece and goes up to the ceiling. A vent is right in the middle of the shower on the ceiling to reduce moisture.
Please consider that these sheets of aluminum and stainless pan are a vapor barrier and can cause a point of condensation and potentially mold if you use AC inside.
The shower curtain is this EVA non-toxic one (had a slight plastic smell but was fine for me) (other curtain options to try are polyester or polyethylene – or, even better make a glass door).
My curtain has magnetic pieces that stick to the walls – to prevent water from splashing out onto the tiles which are not 100% waterproof (magnetic strips from Bed Bath…….and Beyond!)
After testing many adhesives with no luck I finally found Almighty Adhesive by AFM and had no reaction at all to it even when wet!
The problem of finding an adhesive was holding up the project for months and I was so excited to finally find this. It is also the only adhesive (including silicones) I have ever smelled that really is non-toxic. Even a regular non-toxic white glue smells more than this stuff.
Around the edge of the aluminum will be sealed with AFM caulk which does take about a week to offgas.
I really want all the edges to be sealed. Strangely (happily) I no longer find this caulking to be problematic.
So there you have it! A shower that will never leak and with no toxins!
Another thing to consider is to weld all the parts together. See Tiny Green Cabins stainless steel showers if you are interested in that route.
The custom aluminum and stainless cost 800 CAD + installation which took 2 people all day. (We had to re-do some plumbing though which took longer than expected)
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