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Was finishing up some work at a customers house when she asked me about using wood to cover the walls in her shower instead of tile.
My first thought was hell no, but said I would give it some thought. Figured I would get some opinions here. Tell me if this is an awful idea.
Was thinking of using Ipe, with the boards running top to bottom, and a ship lap or tongue and groove joint between. Would fasten the boards along the center with a water proof construction adhesive, and use a clear waterproof silicone in all of the joints, and to seal the perimeter. Should allow expansion and contraction.
Everything would be pre-finished, front and back, with an epoxy and spar varnish, essentially like finishing a boat. The varnish would need to be touched up every once in a while, but I think it would otherwise be pretty resilient.
I've seen wood bathtubs, but they were wetted out with fiberglass. If they can be done, why not a shower? Although I can hear Jeff Goldblum now: "they were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."
Do they have hard water? I see a disaster trying to remove lime and soap scum off of wood. I sure wouldn't do it in my house. I hate cleaning the shower way too much to think about making that more difficult! Also the way wood works when it gets wet all the time, is to incorporate a way for it to dry out. Design a way for air to get all around it. Only expose it on one surface, and attempt to seal it, and somewhere water gets behind it and makes a mess.
Perfect project for faux wood grain solid surface
I have a wood shower that our family has been using for the past 30 years. I used a polyester/fiberglass pan. I pre-finished three sheets of one-half inch luan plywood
I did a couple of showers in cypress some years ago, they sprayed a penetrating waterproofing on the walls and the owners seemed happy with the results