All prices are in Australian Dollar (AUD)
A shower and toilet are the most basic comforts in any house or dwelling. In a van however, this is not as common as you may think. I’ve seen many vans, big, medium and small without a bathroom, and they survive just fine. I have personally lived in a small Mitsubishi Express for 3 months without a bathroom without any problems.
Although there are many public toilet options here in Australia, I am building this van with longevity in mind. Sure I could survive fine without these ammenities, but after 5 years or so I would imagine it would get a little annoying.
I decided to go with a prefabbed shower base, and sit my toilet inside this to combine the bathroom with a toilet/shower combo. I have seen prefab shower bases with the cutout already included for the toilet, although I couldn’t find this product in Australia so I improvised.
This post is just covering the shower construction and sheeting, I will cover the plumbing and electricial in another episode.
Shower Tray Deluxe – AUD$229
I bought the shower base and toilet from a store called Camec, which is a major motorhome/camper supplier. The toilet has a 17L storage, and can be plumbed into your vans water supply for the electric flush function. I believe it could be used as a composting toilet if you wanted too.
Before I built the shower walls, I had to build the wall that divides the front driving cab to the back. I figured once I build this wall I will be able to measure and build everything square from that.
There are many different ways to build your shower, and some companies like DIY RV Solutions even offer a pre-fabbed shower/bathroom unit.
1. I selected 35mm x 70mm Structural Pine timber and used 65mm Batten screws to construct all my frames. Yes, this is heavier than thin timber strips or metal studs, but I wanted cavity space and a very sturdy frame.
Make sure when you select your timbers that they are not bowed or bent, this will make your life a lot easier.
2. I cut the plastic covers on each side of the van flush with the C frame. (Note: Grinder guard was on, but took off to illustrate the point clearer).
3. Next I strung 3 lines of stringline from side to side screwing it to the face of the metal C frame. I strung one at the top, middle and bottom, the aim was to build the vertical studs in line with the C Frame so the sheeting goes on nicely.
4. Next I measured and cut my bottom plate for the wall. I chose 65mm batten screws because they would be able to screw nicely through my pine timber and into the subfloor without penetrating through my van floor.
Batten screws also countersink into timber very easily and bite exceptionally well for a superior hold.
5. I used a timber stud and butted it up so it was just touching all 3 stringlines. I used this as a reference to mark out how much carpet I had to cut out for the top plate.
6. Next I measured and cut the top plate, and also cut 2 vertical studs to jam the top plate into place to screw it. The 2 vertical studs are also used to guage exactly where the top plate goes.
You line your studs flush with your bottom and top plate edges, and then allow your studs to just touch your stringlines. By doing this your wall will be straight with the two metal C frames on either side of the van, allowing your sheets a flat wall to mount to.
I also cut 3 wedges to slot above the top plate to allow it to stay straight, as the van metal batten is slightly curved. I pre drilled the metal batten before screwing the batten screws in.
7. Next I used the shower base as a reference to mark out where I can put my first two vertical timber studs (sides of the cab access door).
I used a large square to get the first stud vertical. This is because my van is parked on an unlevel drivway so you obviously can’t use a spirit level.
8. I completed framing the entire wall getting the studs to cover as much as the wall as possible. Then I put noggins in between the studs for extra support.
9. Next I used a 100mm holesaw to cut out a piece of ply to make essentially a large washer. I will use this to scribe the sheeting to shape with the curved walls.
10. I bought cheap 4mm bracing ply purely to be used to make templates. It’s cheaper to make a mistake on this ply rather than the more expensive ply and melamine shower panels.
I used my 100mm cutout to run my pencil along the sheet to the curve of the van, then cut it with a jig saw. I repeated these 2 steps until the sheet matches the curved edge perfectly.
11. I then used this template to mark the 12mm ply sheet and then mounted this to the wall.
12. The toilet comes with a template for the access door, I used this to make a ply template. I marked center to where my toilet will sit, then drilled a hole at the top of where the toilet door is.
13. I measured off the straight edge to the reference hole, and then transferred this measurement to the bottom of the access door.
I used these two points to centre my ply template and trace, then cut out the metal with a grinder and jigsaw.
14. Next I painted rust coat on all the exposed metal.
15. I used a seperate template supplied with the toilet to cut out 2mm aluminium sheet to fill in the access door hole.
Note: I will probably redo this by using the cutout sheet metal from the van and plastic strip as this will look much more streamlined.
16. I marked the screw holes by holding the door up square, then predrilled them. I used timber strips as something more secure for the screw to bite into. I then sealed the edges with Sika Pro.
17. I put in 2 conduits, 1 x 32mm (for plumbing and 1 x 25mm for electrical. I then used Sika expanding foam to seal off the wall just incase any moisture ever did get in the wall through the toilet access door.
18. I ran some draw wires for future plumbing and electrical, and used Earthwool insulation bats to insulate in the cavities.
19. I used the shower base as a reference to measure and screw the bottom plates down.
I then constructed the top plates and some studs and installed the shower ceiling out of 6mm marine ply. Above the shower celing I installed some thin timber battens for a flat surface for the ply.
20. I completed the framing of the first shower wall.
21. Next I used the 4mm bracing ply to make a template for the curved wall. I used 3mm Melamine wet area sheets as my shower walls. The manufacturer recommends no more then a 450mm gap from noggin to noggin and from stud to stud for a strong adhesion.
22. The melamine sheets butt into corner strips in each of the 4 corners of the shower. I prefilled the strip gaps with Selleys Wet Area Silicone to seal the corner edges. I did the same for the strip that fits on the bottom of the sheets that overhangs the bath tray.
23. I used Sika Pro on the marine ply sheet and studded wall to adhere the melamine sheets to. I clipped the corner and bottom strips on to the sheet before installing.
Cut pieces of conduit and timber offcuts came in handy to put pressure when they were drying. I allowed these first 2 sheets to cure for 48 hours.
24. Next I installed the 3rd sheet, I found filing each edge allowed the sheet to slot in the corner strip much easier.
25. I decided I want recessed shelves in the bathroom for storage of shampoo etc. I used thin timber strip to provide support for the melamine sheets in the recesses.
26. I followed by marking out and cutting this walls melamine sheet, then testing that it fit all correct. Once happy, I marked out the cut outs for the recessed shelves.
27. Next I cut the smaller pieces for the recessed section, and adhered them with Sika Pro. I used small PVC angle and cut mitre joins on the ends so they would all butt up neatly, I used the Selleys silicone to adhere and seal the angles.
28. The shower ceiling sheeting was next, that was pretty straight forward.
29. I marked out the internal dimensions of the access door, then drilled 4 small holes in each corner. I then drew a line from each drill hole on the other side to draw my cut out.
Congratulations! You’ve now constructed your shower and sheeted the walls.
Some of these prices are discounted either from bulk buy or trade price. All prices are in AUD$
|12mm non structural ply||2||35.15||70.3|
|6mm Marine Ply||2||46.55||93.1|
|4mm Bracing Ply||3||20.9||62.7|
|35x75mm 2.4m Pine||9||5.5||49.5|
|Wet area panel 1200x2400mm||2||188||376|
|Wet area panel 900x1800mm||2||130||260|
|Panel Joiner corner/bath mould||6||4.28||25.68|
|Timber strip 30x18mm||4||5.61||22.44|
|Batten screws 14G 65mm||5||6.94||34.7|
|Selleys Wet Area silicone||3||9.69||29.07|
|Timber screws 60mm||1||3.63||3.63|
|Sika Flex nozzels||1||2.18||2.18|
|Insulation roll R2.5||1||40||40|