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copper on tub surround

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Mar 24, 2014, 04:16 PM
copper on tub surround
I am thinking about putting copper sheeting on my bathroom wall surrounding a tub/ shower combo. The copper sheeting is only available up to 36" wide, so the install will need to have seams. I am thinking of making the seams decorative- in 12" horizontal strips-running from top of wall to the floor. I think the seams would look best if accented with copper nails running along the overlap. So the install plan would be to start with the drywall made for bath surrounds- cement backer? Then the copper strips would be applied on top of that with liquid nail adhesive. Can I nail into the cement board for the decorative rows of nails? If so, would I need to coat the entire copper wall with a sealant to prevent water from seeping into the seams? Or would silicone caulk be sufficient at the seams? If so, would I need caulk on each nail? Or if that would not work, is there a different kind of water resistant backer I can put behind the copper that I can nail into it?
Mar 24, 2014, 10:30 PM
I think you are looking at a lot of potential problems down the line. While I'm sure a copper lined shower surround is not impossible, it needs to be seamless and without protrusions like nails. If built by a pro, seams can be soldered to be leak proof. Any decorative strips to cover the look of the seam can also be soldered on, but they will also create an area that could mold and/or corrode. I've never build a copper surround but would expect that it would need to be glued to the backer.

However you plan do design this, copper is very difficult to work with (not to mention very expensive) so I would go with a pro.

Mar 25, 2014, 11:43 AM
Actually copper is naturally antimicrobial, and does not corrode. It develops a protective patina over time that makes it an excellent choice for wetter environments which is why it is a common choice for roofing material and gutters. I appreciate your opinion though! Thank you for writing.
Mar 25, 2014, 11:30 PM
Unfortunately, my opinion is based on years of dealing with the stuff. Put copper in constant contact with many of the common minerals found in hard water or chlorine and it will corrode.

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I've torn out way too many older copper shower pans that have become paper-thin and developed holes by nothing more than constant contact with tap water.

Not to say that your copper surround will not work, it will. But it needs to be completely seamless and certainly cannot have any nails through it (unless the copper nails are also sealed via solder). A surround needs to be installed so that it completely sheds water. Any seams that are relying on caulk - even a high grade silicon - will eventually fail.

The most important point I am trying to make in both of my posts is that this is a project best done by a skilled pro. It's the same guys who do the roofs that also make copper shower pans.

Mar 26, 2014, 09:02 PM
copper corrodes readily. it is the corrosion that kills bacteria. in 5 or 10 years, this expensive project will be a major tail-ache.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?