How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 7

How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – assemble and install the shower valve, shower head and copper pipe plumbing connections. This project is continued from How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 6. See the series introduction for the project index.

Shower Valve and Plumbing Connections

I purchased a Moen shower head and valve kit for the basement bathroom:

Basement Bathroom: Moen Shower Head and Valve Kit

Basement Bathroom: Moen Shower Head and Valve Kit

How to Install a Shower Valve in a Tile Wall

Holes in the porcelain tile wall to install the shower valve and shower head. I used 3 inch and 1.5 inch diameter diamond hole saws on a heavy duty drill. Cutting dry like this generates a lot of dust, so my helper held the shop vac hose next to the hole saw to draw away the dust. A contractor probably would’ve cut a square hole in the tile before installing the tile and avoided this step, but I liked the neatness and precision of a perfect round hole.

Basement Bathroom: Cut the Shower Valve Hole with a Diamond Hole Saw

Basement Bathroom: Cut the Shower Valve Hole with a Diamond Hole Saw

I’ve cut the 3 inch hole through the porcelain tile and cement backer board, exposing the drywall:

Basement Bathroom Shower Valve: Diamond Hole Saw Progress in the Shower Tile

Basement Bathroom Shower Valve: Diamond Hole Saw Progress in the Shower Tile

Basement Bathroom – Shower Valve Plumbing Fittings

I chose the SharkBite solderless fittings for the copper plumbing connections, you can find these at Home Depot. The SharkBite fittings are easy to use and a real time-saver.

The shower valve and three (3) threaded fittings for hot water, cold water and the shower head are laid out for assembly:

Finish a Basement Bathroom: Shower Valve and SharkBite Solderless Fittings

Finish a Basement Bathroom: Shower Valve and SharkBite Solderless Fittings

Pipe joint compound is smeared on the threads of the pipe fittings and tightened with a wrench. The joint compound seals the threads to prevent leaks. It’s necessary to torque the fittings tightly with the wrench. I threaded the fittings on by hand and give another two turns with the wrench. Take care to get the up/down orientation two elbows correct to connect to the hot and cold copper water pipes. The two elbows are resting on the workbench here:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve and Pipe Fittings

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve and Pipe Fittings

Mount the Shower Valve

The plastic base of the shower valve is fitted into the wall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions according to a thick or thin wall installation. In my case, I have a thick wall due to the layers of drywall, cement backer board and porcelain tile:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Install the Shower Valve Base

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Install the Shower Valve Base

The shower valve is held in place by screws installed from the bathroom side (opposite side) of the wall:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Mounting the Shower Valve

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Mounting the Shower Valve

This how the shower valve assembly looks from the bathroom side of the shower wall:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Mounting in the Tile Wall

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Mounting in the Tile WallMounting the Shower Valve

The shower valve escutcheon is attached to the shower valve with two screws:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Escutcheon

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Escutcheon

The plastic cogs for the shower valve handle are slipped into place. You can limit the hot water temperature by adjusting the stop position if desired.

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Cogs

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Cogs

The shower handle is secured in place by an Allen screw:

Basement Bathroom: Install the Shower Valve Handle

Basement Bathroom: Install the Shower Valve Handle

Install the Shower Head and Drop Ear Elbow

The shower head assembly consists of the SharkBite drop ear elbow and chrome parts provided in the Moen kit. White Teflon plumbers tape is used to seal the pipe threads.

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Head and Drop Ear Elbow

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Head and Drop Ear Elbow

A 2×4 block is fitted between the wall studs directly behind the hole in the shower wall for the shower head and the center-line of the hole marked.

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Mounting Block for Shower Head Drop Ear Elbow

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Mounting Block for Shower Head Drop Ear Elbow

The drop ear elbow is attached to the mounting block with three (3) wood screws. Teflon tape is applied to the stem pipe threads and screwed into the elbow.

Notice the bottom connection of the elbow extends below the bottom of the 2×4 mounting block to allow access for the copper water pipe connection:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing Rough-in: Shower Head Mounting Block

Basement Bathroom Plumbing Rough-in: Shower Head Mounting Block

The pre-mounted shower head arm is centered in the hole of the tile wall and the 2×4 mounting block attached to the studs with 3 inch wood screws. This way, the shower stem and drop ear elbow are perfectly aligned in the center of the hole in the shower wall:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Head Mounting Block Alignment

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Head Mounting Block Alignment

Full view of the basement bathroom shower head mounting block and shower valve:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Head Mount Block and Valve

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Head Mount Block and Valve

Install the Shower Head and Valve Copper Plumbing

The next photos show the hot and cold water plumbing connections. The SharkBite push-fit system is sweet because you can trial fit the pieces, make precise pipe cuts with no guesswork and disassemble the fittings in seconds. There’s also no worry over torches and open flames.

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Water Supply Connections

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Water Supply Connections

Hot and cold water plumbing connections completed to the shower valve and shower head:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Hot & Cold Water Pipe Connections

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Hot & Cold Water Pipe Connections

Close-up of the shower valve plumbing elbows and T-fittings. The vertical opening of the T-fittings (right side of photo) will be connected to the main water supply lines overhead.

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Copper Pipe Fittings

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Shower Valve Copper Pipe Fittings

I’ll connect the basement bathroom plumbing to the house water supply lines in How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 8.

Take care,

Bob Jackson

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