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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

How to waterproof window in shower?

acabaJanuary 26, 2013
We have a window in the shower area, similar to this one:

Summer Home · More Info

Contractor suggests tiling the window jambs. I checked many pictures on houzz, but do not see tile on all such windows. Is there an alternative to tiling?
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Hi acaba,

What material is your window made of? Windows cannot effectively be retrofitted to be wet-rated. (The outside is wet-rated of course, but the inside is not, because it was never designed to be) Tiling the jambs, painting with marine varnish etc may help, but they're not going to create a good long-term barrier against moisture.

You can buy windows specifically made for use in showers, they are vinyl, and will have stainless steel hardware if they are a casement type. The other important factor is the window flashing. (This is the waterproofing which is installed prior, and after, the window is installed)

In a dual wet environment like yours, the flashing needs to extend inside and outside, and lap over the waterproofing membrane which should be under your tile and your siding. This is a critical detail.

My recommendation is to to remove the existing window and flash the opening correctly, then use the correct wet rated vinyl window for the shower. This is going to be the only effective long term solution.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 7:37PM
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Ironwood Builders
Steve, well answered! Although there are also fiberglass windows as an alternative to solid vinyl.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 10:00PM
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Thanks for the answer.
The window is vinyl actually, but not specially made for wet places. I'll have to check if the lfashing is done per your description.
Do we need no tiling and such exterior measures if the waterproofing is done properly, then?
    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 5:38AM
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Hi acaba,

Its unlikely that the window is flashed for an internal wet area, unless it was in a wet zone previously. If it wasn't (and you're relocating the shower to the window area for example) it is often possible to add the interior flashing if there's enough room around the window. (In the shim space) For this to work correctly, there does need to be flashing on the rough sill and trimmers (the side framing of the window) Some builders do not add this flashing, as code doesn't require it, so there may only be flashing on the actual window fins. (Unless its in a block or brick wall)

If you don't have the correct flashing in place, the best solution is to remove the window and install it. This isn't so critical if the water from the shower will not be spraying on the window.

Once the flashing has been addressed, the tile around the window is mostly cosmetic but does act as an additional physical barrier. Because of this, you have many options for how you install the tile around it . Most people want to hide as much of the window jamb as possible, and how you do that will depend on whether the window face is flush with the interior wall, or recessed. If you can post a close-up photo of what you have, I can give you some specific ideas.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 11:07AM
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