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Ipe in the Bathroom / Shower?

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Forum topic by William Shelley posted 09-28-2017 08:04 PM 8731 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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William Shelley

610 posts in 2804 days


09-28-2017 08:04 PM

I understand that Ipe is a magical wood that is basically impervious to weather and rot. And so…

I’m considering using it to make a frame for a glass shower enclosure. I looked at buying a framed kit but for custom sizes they are $800-1200 for what amounts to three pieces of 3/8” tempered glass, a hinge, and 20ft of aluminum track that the glass goes into. Seems pretty outrageous.

I’d like to buy the glass and the hinge and build the frame out of Ipe stock instead.

My concerns are that over time the porous wood surface could be more difficult to clean soap scum from, and that it could become slimy or otherwise unpleasant. Additionally, harsher cleaning chemicals could be used on aluminum, but on wood I would be concerned about damaging the wood if I used bleach for example.

Thoughts?

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective


15 replies so far

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

3306 posts in 3592 days


#1 posted 09-28-2017 09:19 PM

William, I would be concerned about mold as you mentioned. We are in NoVA and get mold in the shower on grout and tile unless it is cleaned every couple days. I think wood (even magical wood) would be even worse. Have you considered a frame-less glass door?

-- Art

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Loren

11369 posts in 4983 days


#2 posted 09-28-2017 09:40 PM

I’ve showered in outdoor shower enclosures
made of wood and I think the only factor that
made them not-to-smelly was getting struck by
sun and air flow daily. Whatever the wood
species, I doubt an indoor shower enclosure
could be depended upon to dry out well
enough for fungus not to be an issue.

View Ripper70's profile

Ripper70

1379 posts in 2243 days


#3 posted 09-28-2017 10:10 PM

At the very least you may want to consider using something like Messmer’s UV Plus for Hardwoods. Supposedly will prevent mildew but might need re-coating every so often in something like a shower enclosure.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

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AlaskaGuy

6831 posts in 3644 days


#4 posted 09-28-2017 10:30 PM

A lot of years ago when I don’t know crap from shinola I built this bathroom (this is in my home) I use it almost ever day. The tub surround is knotty cedar. Never a problems with mold or anything else for that matter. This was that packaged cedar you get at HD. 3/8 or a 1/4 T&G. Sealed it with something call gym floor. Haven’t touched it since.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

610 posts in 2804 days


#5 posted 09-28-2017 10:39 PM

Thanks for the feedback!

For the record, I wasn’t planning on using the Ipe without any finish. I guess I should have specified that. I was considering either oil-based polyurethane because it’s more resistant to most cleaners/chemicals than a lot of other stuff, or brushing on a thinned epoxy finish.

I made the threshold for the bathroom from Ipe with polyurethane, but it gets only incidental water on it, and because it’s on the ground it’s not subjected to a “steam bath”. However, it’s 4 months old and has been holding up just fine.

I know that there are some additives for paints, like “MicroBan”, but I wasn’t sure if anything like that is available for clear finishes.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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AlaskaGuy

6831 posts in 3644 days


#6 posted 09-28-2017 10:55 PM

View Matt Rogers's profile

Matt Rogers

113 posts in 3305 days


#7 posted 09-28-2017 11:03 PM

I have a shower with ipe walls. This material was also reclaimed from a deck, so it is about 20 years old, run through a planer once to clean up the surface and it looks like new. I made shiplap on my shaper and installed with stainless trim screws onto 2×2 black locust battens that are over a membrane waterproofing. I caulked the few holes made by installing the locust battens through the membrane as they were installed. Caulked the old deck screw holes in the reclaimed planks with a clear non-toxic caulk called EcoBond.

Finish is a single coat of Penofin Verde penetrating oil. So far, I see absolutely no mold, mildew, scum, or dirt at all. It looks cleaner than tile walls as it hides any water spots.

-- Matt Rogers, http://www.cleanairwoodworks.com and http://www.cleanairyurts.com

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

6831 posts in 3644 days


#8 posted 09-28-2017 11:08 PM



I have a shower with ipe walls. This material was also reclaimed from a deck, so it is about 20 years old, run through a planer once to clean up the surface and it looks like new. I made shiplap on my shaper and installed with stainless trim screws onto 2×2 black locust battens that are over a membrane waterproofing. I caulked the few holes made by installing the locust battens through the membrane as they were installed. Caulked the old deck screw holes in the reclaimed planks with a clear non-toxic caulk called EcoBond.

Finish is a single coat of Penofin Verde penetrating oil. So far, I see absolutely no mold, mildew, scum, or dirt at all. It looks cleaner than tile walls as it hides any water spots.

- Matt Rogers


That looks good. How thick is it? How many planer knives did you dull?

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Matt Rogers's profile

Matt Rogers

113 posts in 3305 days


#9 posted 09-28-2017 11:45 PM

I used a 15” Delta planer with a shelix carbide head. Don’t even think I changed the knives after running 1000 square feet of material.

The material was standard 1×6 (3/4”x5.25”) decking. Planed off just a thin layer to get through the grey surface. I think the material is now still at least 11/16”.

-- Matt Rogers, http://www.cleanairwoodworks.com and http://www.cleanairyurts.com

View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

1483 posts in 2151 days


#10 posted 09-29-2017 02:51 AM

How long has it been in service?

View Matt Rogers's profile

Matt Rogers

113 posts in 3305 days


#11 posted 08-24-2021 01:08 PM



If you are like most people, you have a bathroom sink in your house.

- MGRex


What does that have to do with anything?

Also and update. 5 years later and no issues so far with the Ipe shower walls. There is always the possibility of something going on behind, but there is a 1-1/2” air gap with black locust furring and then schluter Kerdi waterproofing the wall, so “first” thing to go would potentially be a locust furring strip.

-- Matt Rogers, http://www.cleanairwoodworks.com and http://www.cleanairyurts.com

View Ken Masco's profile

Ken Masco

914 posts in 4185 days


#12 posted 08-24-2021 03:17 PM

I can’t comment on the mold questions. However I like pie and have made a few things with it. My recommendation is don’t use a top coat finish. It will be a forever maint problem, especially in a wet environment. I would use Penofin oil.

-- Ken

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therealSteveN

9387 posts in 1909 days


#13 posted 08-24-2021 04:38 PM

I like pie too. :-)

Blueberry is my favorite, but for showers I’m old school and use tile. Had a lot of wood once in a bathroom, never again….

Once again an oldie, evidently reincarnated by a spammer.

-- Think safe, be safe

View MattBuilding's profile

MattBuilding

1 post in 49 days


#14 posted 12-02-2021 02:49 PM

I read this with interest. I am building an outdoor shower using Ipe. Should I use Ipe for frame too? I know Ipe lasts 70ish years so I think it would make sense for frame to last that long but is there a reason the frame should not be Ipe?

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

5008 posts in 4444 days


#15 posted 12-03-2021 04:12 PM



A lot of years ago when I don t know crap from shinola I built this bathroom (this is in my home) I use it almost ever day. The tub surround is knotty cedar. Never a problems with mold or anything else for that matter. This was that packaged cedar you get at HD. 3/8 or a 1/4 T&G. Sealed it with something call gym floor. Haven t touched it since.

- AlaskaGuy


That’s beautiful! I love cedar like that. I have enough to do; I hope my wife doesn’t see this.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

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