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LISAinTN 02-09-2011 01:13 PM

Making a whirlpool tub into a shower
Hello All,

I have a question about a whirlpool tub. We are building a new home and I would like to get this whirlpool tub.

KOHLER: K-856-M: Tea-for-TwoŽ 5.5' whirlpool: Whirlpools & Air Baths: Spa Products: Bathroom

It does not have an integrated tile flange. Kohler recommends using this vinyl tiling in bead for tiling around the alcove to make the whirlpool into a shower as well:

KOHLER: K-1179: Vinyl tiling-in bead:

Here's my problem: The plumber and tile guy say they won't guarantee it won't leak. I wish I could find a tub like the one I want with an integrated flange, but I can't. I have two auto-immune disorders, one being a pain disorder, plus arthritis in my neck and shoulders. I need the therapy that this tubs massage system can provide or there's really no sense in me getting a whirlpool. Anyway, I want this tub, but I don't want to be foolish and put something in that may cause major problems down the line in our new house.

I just wanted to know if anyone here has every made a whirlpool tub without an integrated flange into a shower and how it went for you. Or any other suggestions/ideas/opinions are welcome. My builder wanted me to have a tub picked out a week ago and this is just not going well. lol Thanks so much.


Jaz 02-09-2011 03:04 PM

Hi Lisa,

Sorry about your health issues.

That tub will not work as a shower base. You'd have to depend solely on a bead of silicone to make it waterproof. One little crack and it's leaking underneath where you won't see the damage for a long time.

Most people think that putting tiles on a surface and a bead of chalk makes the installation waterproof, no way!.

Would you like to offer how the other bath walls are being built? Especially the shower. I only ask because most showers are built wrong, even by good builders and some tile setters alike. Good time to avoid future problems.


LISAinTN 02-09-2011 04:22 PM

Hi Jaz,

Thank you for your reply. You confirmed what my husband and I thought, but I just wanted the tub so bad I thought I'd ask in case there was a way to do it. We won't take the chance.

As for the wall in the tub/shower, I'm not exactly sure, but I think they're putting down some kind of concrete board on the wall and I think a rubber mat over that and then tile. Something along those lines. Do you recommend something specific? Thank you.


Jaz 02-09-2011 05:12 PM


A tub/shower is pretty straight forward, (unlike a stall shower which most DIY"ers shouldn't attempt unless they are very handy and have lots of time).

There are many brands of cement backer units (CBU), they will all work fine IF used as directed. Couple different methods depending on the CBU and if or which waterproofing method you use. You can apply a membrane on the studs, then apply the CBU and then the tiles using a thin set mortar. Real 'thin set' mortar comes ONLY in a bag, so it's powder mixed as you go.

Another method, (and I believe it's much better), is to apply the CBU on the studs skipping the membrane, but applying the membrane on the CBU instead. It's a different type of membrane of course, and it waterproofs the surface that way the CBU never gets wet. These membranes come in the form of a thick liquid such as Redgard, Hydroban or in sheet form such as Kerdi.

The liquid ones will work fine if applied to the right film thickness following all directions. Often though they are not applied correctly.


but I think they're putting down some kind of concrete board on the wall and I think a rubber mat over that
By 'down' did you mean to say 'up' like on the wall? How about the floor?


LISAinTN 02-09-2011 05:29 PM

Yep, I meant up, not down. :o I'm not sure what they're doing to the floor. They are putting a tiled shower stall downstairs. Thank you for all your information.


inspectorD 02-09-2011 05:42 PM

Howdy, :welcome:

Jaz is right on with the questions he is asking.:)
The issue with the tub you want, is when it gets filled with water, it usually sags and creates a void in the seal at the tub wall connection. The flange allows it to move up and down.. Any pinhole leak will cause issues.

As for the applied membranes to the CBU, go for it. This so far is the best way to ward off issues down the road. Only thing is, they create another vapor barrier on any outside walls. So if you are building up against the outside wall ,you will want to remove any plastic over the insulation stapled to the framming or any paper attached to any insulation.
Sounds like a fun project.

Jaz 02-09-2011 06:02 PM


You need to do some research, but most of all you need to find out exactly how the work is going to be done, and with what, especially the shower. The critical part of the shower is bottom part, from about the curb down.

Ask questions, go watch their work at another home in progress. We see over 95% of all the showers built wrong. It's not gonna ruin your home with the first use, but in time they may leak or become stagnant or worse. Mold, mildew, efflorescence are common after a short time.

If you discover the right way, you can save yourself $4-6k min. 5-10 years from now.


Mark_41 02-06-2013 09:43 PM

Hi.... I am having the same problem/question that Lisa did above... only thing is I don't want to give up looking for an answer yet.. Is there anyway I could possibly make a flange and cement it onto the tub..... Like use a plastic "L" shaped plastic corner piece or something? I have on my current shower a flange that was cemented on to hold a large splash guard in the front of the tub.... so.. use something like that only make it for the back wall and sides.

nealtw 02-07-2013 05:32 PM

We can order tubs with this kind of kit installed, but I don't know how well the work.

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