Bathroom - Making the frame work for shower & toilet

Welcome to Part 2 of the bathroom conversion!

The bathroom in the van has taken the longest to do as other parts of the van must be done at the same time so that you can measure the distances properly to know what works best.

The next job on the list was to built to toilet area. This has to be raised off the ground to give it some height so that it isnt too far to sit down! Just like a real toilet. I used ply for the entire job and coated it with a thick mix of PVA and water so that it was all waterproof. This is the same method I have used for just about every ply panel I put in the camper so any condensation or wet or spills is not a worry.

I then cut out a frame to place the shower tray in. This helps support the sides of the shower as it is only made out of plastic and I plan to put a bed of plastic cement/grout under the shower tray to set it in hard.

I have cut a hole in the back of the toilet ready to fit the rear end of the toilet, the cassette part which will be taken in and out from the garage area. This avoids having to take it out through the cabin. I also made a hole in the floor which fits the sink plug (no trap here just straight out) the pipe that will plug into this sink plug has an inline trap a little further down the line to stop smells. This then goes straight into the rear grey waste tank.

For the shower tray I used a floor tile grout/adhesive mixed with a 5:1 ratio of grout:latex as the latex makes the grout nice and flexible for vehicle vibrations but yet still firm and strong. This worked perfect and the tray was weighted down with all the weights i could find in the garage. I walked on this about 24hours later and it is rock solid! feels very firm. I should mention that when i put the plastic tray into its position around the wood block i made i did put a small amount of pinkgrip along the wood to make sure the plastic stuck to the wood too.

I coated the ceiling with insulation and silver bubble wrap to keep the condensation out and then made wooden supports to attach the plywood too. Again the ply was coated in PVA:water mix then when dried I used a 2.5mm plastic sheet cut to the shape of the area and then stuck with pinkgrip to the wood. This plastic sheeting is absolutely great. It is fully waterproof, hygienically made and resistant to bacteria/mould and tough wearing. I have used it to coat the entire bathroom. Its also lightweight so the thin plywood and plastic make a good combination to keep the weight down, which is essential in this build! The blue plastic is just a cover it comes with to stop and unwanted scratches during installation.

Next was to install the shower system. I used a standard Mira shower with a thermostatic valve to control the heat. As with any shower you have two outputs which go through the wall into a block i made out of wood and where the connection is then made to the hot and cold water pipes (more in the next chapter about that). The shower is then secured in place using the screws it comes with and the accessories are screwed into the wall. Job done! Quite easy in fact. The key is planning this and knowing where you want the shower to go before you build the supporting wall it goes on. I made sure as you can see in the pictures that the wooden beams behind are the necessary width apart to take the shower fitting and also enough wooden supports in the right place for me to screw the shower to.

Next was to make the toilet flush button. This is just a hole in the wall which connects the panel to the toilet from behind the wall so that you can flush it using your cold water pipe system which is pressurised. As the van has a pressurized system this is possible. You can get a toilet model with an inbuilt tank, but this adds more room required and so wasn't an option for this build.

Next is to add the external wall behind the shower. This is a panel which i made in two parts so that if there ever was a problem with the shower and i needed to replace parts I could remove the wall screws take the panel off and get to it. This admittedly is not the easiest thing to do but it is possible and that's the difference between a totally locked system which requires half the van coming off to get to one thing. I have also integrated my electric DAB radio, speakers, bluetooth, TV and sound system into this wall so some extra wiring has been put into the wall to facilitate this. I have used CBE wall connectors for making all of these connections. They look very smart on the outside and have neat wiring on the back. Because this wall is made of modular blocks i was able to seal the wiring into areas which are not near the water connectors as we all know water and electric dont mix! I went a few steps further and protected the water pipes with shielding and painted thick PVA and water mix around all of the piping areas. Not to forget that sometimes masking a potential problem is actually worse as you cant see when it does go wrong - I made holes facing downwards in the water compartment areas so that the water will drain on the floor away from the electrics but towards somewhere I would eventually notice and leads out of the van through drain holes in the floor.

Next is to attach the door frame concealing the bathroom. I had originally planned on making a door which would open and close on the bathroom but firstly the door when it was made was incredibly heavy, despite using lightweight material and also it was a pain as it was only wide enough to slightly fully open. I didn't like how big and dominant it was in the room so I gave up using it and decided to use a roller blind instead. This might sound a bit crazy but i bought a custom made one for about 50 pounds which is completely showerproof and comes in whatever pattern or colour you like. It rolls down and stops any splashes coming out the bathroom. It has worked fantastic to be honest. You still have privacy too when using the toilet and it's super lightweight. I used a 'T' frame seal to stick around the hole of the doorway so it has a nice edge to it and it is also fully waterproof.

This leaves the bathroom sink next. I cut out some left over kitchen worktop and found a sink on ebay which was very small (like a dentists sink). Just enough to wash your hands and face. Then i found some taps in Ikea which fitted perfectly. I cut them out and then checked they all fitted ok. I then spent about two weeks adding coat after coat of danish oil to the wood to protect it! This stuff is great and fully waterproof as long as you do 10+ coats. You start with first layer of oil mixed 50/50 with white spirit and rub it in generously. The white spirit allows it to penetrate deep. You then rub it off a few minutes later and let it dry out for 24 hours. Second layer you reduce the white spirit by half replacing with oil and do the same. The next layers you use full oil on each coat allowing a good 24 hours between coats. The final coats i gently used some wire wool, very very fine stuff to lightly polish in the oil, it rubs the oil in nicely whilst removing any burrs giving a very smooth surface.

I also made a shower floor out of cedar wood and coated it with oil using the same method.

The sink then had some of the leftover 2.5mm plastic wrapped around the base of it to seal it. This worked well and was screwed into place with stainless steel screws and a white plastic cap to hide them. After this was done the white bathroom cabinet was placed on the wall above the toilet. This was a plastic unit from B&Q which weighs very little. It is easy to clean and has a mirror on the front. I made a few adaptations by giving it a light and switches which i will mention in another post.