Myth #1: A one-piece shower unit is easier to install than a three-piece unit.
Fact: According to Timothy O'Connor, Sterling's director of brand merchandising, multi-piece shower units are 30% easier to install than a one-piece unit. Sterling's improved Acclaim tub/showers and Ensemble oval baths/wall surrounds have a tongue and groove interlocking wall system that eliminates the need for caulk. The four-piece design allows one person to transport the unit into a house.
Remodeler views: Tim Britton, owner of Tim Britton Construction Services in Falls Creek, Pa., prefers one-piece units because he thinks they're easier to install. He says a multi-piece unit takes longer because he puts it together prior to installation and then has to take it apart and reassemble it in the opening and caulk the joints. But, he says, "multi-piece are necessary in some remodeling environments to get them into small existing bathrooms."
John DeCiantis of DeCiantis Construction, Stonington, Conn., prefers one-piece units because they don't have joints. "A caulk joint is another crevice for mold to grow," he says.
Myth #2: Multi-head shower units are difficult to find and install. It's also hard to find parts for these units because many are made in Europe.
Fact: According to Dale Archer, manager of Hansgrohe's training facility, the company makes many multiple-head shower products in Alpharetta, Ga. This makes it easy to order the units and find parts. "If you need a part you can also call our technical support line and they will send it immediately," Archer says. He says his company's products are easy to install and well made, so plumbers do not have many callbacks.
Remodeler views: Britton says the two plumbing shops in his town do not stock multiple-head showerheads or parts. If he does specify a multiple-head shower, he adds a few days to the schedule to give him time to find the fitting. He says the units are easy to install, and he likes the higher markup he receives from the upscale fittings. DeCiantis has had no problem fulfilling the large demand for multiple-head showers. On one occasion, his local supplier could not deliver a unit in time for a project, and DeCiantis paid extra to order one from California. He did not mind the 10% premium because of the higher profits he received from the expensive unit.
Myth #3: Replacing a tub/shower valve is the most difficult part of a bath remodel because installers must tear out tile or panels. Only on projects where the tub is being replaced should an installer change the valve.
Fact: Colin Thielmann, Delta's product manager for tub and shower systems, says this may have been true at one time, but the availability of rotary cutting tools has made it easy to cut the tile around the valve. "If plumbing professionals make the hole bigger, then it's easy for them to pull an old valve out," he says.
Remodeler views: Britton says replacing valves is not an issue in newer homes that were built with access panels. He usually has to tear out tile in houses built in the 1970s and 1980s. His rotary cutting tool is handy for these projects.
DeCiantis says manufacturers today make repair plates that are 1 inch larger than the diameter of the hole and cover up where you remove the valve. Some valves just need replacement cartridges. He says for those jobs, if a plumber replaces the cartridge and changes the trim, the job is done.