When building or remodeling your bathroom, getting everything right can be difficult. Thankfully, there are a few clear-cut things that remodelers can focus on avoiding. One of these many avoidable mistakes is installing drywall over the shower flange.
But what is a shower flange, and why is installing drywall over it such an issue? If you’ve been working on remodeling your bathroom, we’re here to help! Read on for a quick guide and what the consequences of a drywall-covered shower flange are.
What Is a Shower Flange?
Whether you’ve remodeled your bath and shower, you’ve almost definitely seen a shower flange. Though the name is strange, it’s one of the most instantly-recognizable parts of any shower.
When looking at the typical shower head, you’ll notice a large, often circular metal component towards the wall. The shower head’s arm will extend from a hole in the center of this circular component. This piece is called the shower flange.
Some remodelers choose to caulk the shower flange to keep it snug against the wall. However, when properly installed, the flange should already fit well against the wall. Caulking is optional, but many DIYers choose not to caulk the flange.
Why Use Shower Flange?
What’s the purpose of a shower flange, and why should you use one? Here are some of the best uses and benefits of a shower flange.
Simply put, a shower flange is essential to a clean and safe restroom. Using a shower flange will make your shower much more coordinated.
If you’ve always had a shower flange, you may not notice it much. But, removing the component can make your shower look unfinished.
It also helps to keep things color-coordinated. Though almost all shower flanges are a reflective silver color, some come in other shades. This is crucial to keeping your restroom nice and presentable.
Of course, it’s more than just a question of presentation. Your shower flange protects the pipes leading to your shower’s arm.
Without a shower flange, this area is exposed. This makes it so water can get down into the pipes, causing them to corrode faster. It also can lead to the growth of mold, fungus, and mildew, which leads to drastic health issues.
In short, a shower flange is just as protective as it is decorative. So make sure you’re not spending time and money fixing your shower just to leave it undone!
Your shower flange will also help keep the shower arm in place. While this may sound unimportant, it’s arguably the most important part.
Without a flange, your shower head will have room to wiggle around. Such movement can strain pipes and impact your water pressure.
It also can lead to the arm bumping against the wall it’s sticking out of. These bumps can chip tile, damage porcelain, and more.
Keeping your shower arm from swinging is crucial! Make sure your shower flange is snug enough to stop the shower arm from moving around.
Protect Shower Head
With some shower heads, you may weigh down the arm. This extra weight can cause the shower head to sag or bend without a proper shower flange.
There’s nothing worse than buying a luxurious shower head and not being able to use it because there’s no flange. So to keep every component of your shower working, make sure your shower flange is in place.
Installing Drywall Over Shower Flange
Now that we know what a shower flange is, what’s the issue with installing drywall over it?
Installing drywall over the flange shouldn’t impact the flange’s performance. It’s likely still snug, and the arm shouldn’t have any complications.
Yet, it can cause shower flange damage and will look unsightly. It also can lead to complications having drywall so close to your water. Read on for more about the risks of drywall over your shower flange.
Risks of Installing Drywall Over Shower Flange
Your shower flange may not suffer much performance-wise, but that doesn’t mean putting drywall over it is fine. Here are some of the most notable consequences of installing drywall over a shower flange.
One of the most prominent issues is that a shower flange typically won’t mold, as metal is a more difficult surface for mold to latch onto. However, covering the metal in drywall will give mold a much easier surface to grow on.
Drywall can mold in moisture, making it a poor choice for your shower. The steam and moisture of a shower will soak it, making mildew almost guaranteed.
Another issue with installing drywall over your shower flange is the damage this will cause. Beginning with the flange, the drywall can cause the metal to become brittle or rust quicker, as it can trap moisture inside. This prevents the metal from drying, quickening corrosion.
However, the drywall is also likely to sustain damage. As more and more showers are taken, the drywall will rarely dry all the way and will likely have moisture damage.
While this can lead to mold and mildew, it can also lead to the drywall falling apart. It’s especially likely if the shower flange moves, as some uncaulked shower flanges may rotate.
The shower flange may also move slightly when you lift or adjust the head. This can damage the seal around the flange, chip away the drywall, and other seemingly-minor issues.
In short, installing drywall over a shower flange will lead to damage.
So avoid drywall in your shower if you can. And especially avoid drywall where it can come in direct contact with moisture.
Mold and mildew aren’t the only things that can grow in your restroom. Fungal growth can also sprout from areas that have the correct conditions.
Drywall around a shower flange is one of these many areas. Studies have shown that moist drywall can lead to moisture-induced fungal growth. While much less common than mold and mildew, such things can grow regardless, and welcoming them into your home is never a good idea.
Preventing Moisture Damage
If you’re concerned about the quality of your shower flange, there are a few tricks you can use to avoid water damage.
One is to caulk the area. Caulking will help to keep water and moisture out of your shower flange and the area behind it (see also ‘Sounds Like Water Running Behind Shower‘). However, this will rarely cause a perfect seal, and water can sometimes still intrude.
If you aren’t certain how to caulk an adequate seal, you should let the professionals handle the task.
Another is to do your best to ensure no leaks begin. Water can often travel down the shower arm and against the flange if your shower head is leaking. If water is constantly present here, water intrusion is much more likely.
Despite your methods, water is difficult to avoid in a shower! Even without leaks or direct water, steam and vapor will often build up around metal. Keep an eye on the area to ensure your flange isn’t damaged.
Perfecting Your Bathroom
Installing drywall over the shower flange or the surrounding area can cause damage to the wall, flange, and shower arm. Additionally, it gives a better surface for mold, mildew, and fungus to grow on. Avoid installing drywall over your shower flange, and keep your flange tightly secured.
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