• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Dale's living bathroom  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6795
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
266
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Until yesterday, I had plans to build the bathroom with ferro cement on the walls and floor. The reason was simple. Smooth surfaces that clean up very easily with no tile joints or other joints to fail. The plan was to use a steam cleaner or power washer to control mold and mildew. This would produce a very easy to clean, durable but difficult to change space. It would look a little sterile.

Then it hit me, while I was laying a patio block outside. The easy care space that I seek doesn't have to be lifeless. Moss, ferns and other plants that thrive in moist, low light conditions are perfectly suited to living in a bathroom. So, it's just a matter of creating the right conditions, without rotting out the building. I'm going to wrap all walls and the floor, in pond liner. The floor will get a double layer that goes up the walls by 6 inches. The wall sheet will be continuous with no corner joints. The wall sheet will lap over the floor sheet and be glued to it. Absolutely water tight, and ugly. The floor will have a drain. The shower or tub could overflow onto the floor with no harm done.

The wooden floor beneath the pond liner will have a slight slope toward the drain on the outer wall. The pond liner will be covered with very coarse sand and small pea gravel. I like stuff the size of an apple seed, because it drains really well. This stuff is then spread out and tamped perfectly level. On top of this go big thick tile or concrete pavers. They are laid out just as they are done outside. None of my outdoor pavers have ever shifted. These ones will be laid with much more care and with four walls as backstops. Any water that falls on this floor will run into the half inch cracks and will flow through the gravel to the drain. Should the gravel ever clog up with crud, a power washer will be used to blast the joints. At any point, the floor could be watered with a little bleach down the cracks along the wall furthest from the drain.

I expect to give a floor like this very little care. Most of the time it will be dry. The tub, shower and sink get their own drain. They don't piss onto the floor. But sometimes someone does piss on the floor or drip on the floor. When this happens, it can be hosed off.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'm back to finish this as promised. I see that Rufus couldn't wait to tell us that he is fond of all of the things that I hate about regular bathrooms.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The walls --- I like gabion pebble walls. These are walls covered in unmortared pebbles that are held in place by wire mesh. Check out this thread. It shows my experiments with gabion siding. http://www.permies.com/t/12592/green-building/Dry-Stone-Pebble-Wall-Stone#114089
The walls would be covered with an inch of pebbles, so that none of the rubber is visible. Gabion walls have thousands of attachment points where wire baskets could hold ferns and moss.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flora and fauna --- Bathrooms are known for mold and mildew. I say we fill this niche with moss, ferns and other moisture loving plants. Moss should grow well in floor cracks and in wire baskets attached to walls. A bathroom with adequate ventilation and light and with lots of plants, will smell nice. A few bugs and a tree frog may want to live here. That's fine. Check out Jocelyn's bath mat in this thread --- http://www.permies.com/t/13614/art/Moss-art#254037 --- The best substrate for this is dirty pea gravel. It would be a double sided gabion. I could see making one 2 inches thick with a layer of landscape fabric against the bottom wire, so that fine material stays put.An outdoor shower is planned for the same cottage where the bathroom is needed. It is to have a moss floor. That's what happens naturally here, so I'm going to help it along. A few mats will be removable so that they can be swapped out for the one in the bathroom if it starts to look ragged. Lots of other good ideas in the moss art thread. Now check out this roof --- http://www.permies.com/t/29729/green-building/Dale-year-green-roof --- There's a never ending supply of material like this for me to draw from. My outdoor shower floor and the wall against the cottage, will mimic this roof. I'll save moss that I remove from it when I fix the flashings in May. Many of my trees have moss that could be transplanted. A little trick for using moss to walk on. Moss is quite resilient under bare feet. The pressure doesn't seem to hurt it. Feet are soft and bendy. Boots and shoes have sharp edges that rip the moss and crush it against the rock or gravel that it grows on. A bath mat of this material will be self cleaning and largely care free. It should be used for dripping only. Any wiping or grinding action will damage the moss. It would never work at a front door where boots are rubbed on mats.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cleaning --- The whole reason for all of this is to virtually eliminate cleaning. Walls and floor could be cleaned by simply spraying with a garden hose with a suitable sprayer attached. I expect to use a high quality clay tile on the floor. I don't want something that will absorb much water. Something highly vitrified and at least an inch thick. Igneous rock is abundant and will make up most of the gabions. Some color sorting would allow for patterns to be worked into it. This sort of floor and wall could also be power washed annually or whenever the rocks get dusty. Whenever porcelain fixtures need an exterior wash, they could be soaped up and rinsed with the hose.

Pebble art --- You've probably seen those Chinese sand drawings where sand of different colors is poured into a glass vessel to create a scene. This can be done with pebbles. Rammed earth homes often use colored earth bands to mimic sedimentary rock strata or waves. Similar things can be done with pebbles.

--------- Getting tired. I'll finish tomorrow.



 
Rufus Laggren
Posts: 481
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, OK. But.

The gravel creates a wetter area than impervious stuff which will keep moisture on the surface where it dries fast; and "loose" gravel can/will move. The moisture in the bath probably won't be pure water - soap scum, various spills, sweat, foot crud... etc. Solid floors clean easily, open gravel (between stones or tiles) does not and will provide a growth medium. I think your first instinct was better. You don't need concrete walls - just a 12-16" stub wall to keep the bottom of any other type of wall construction well clear of the wet area. You don't even need much water proofing on the floor if it's good concrete finished hard (and skilfully) w/a steel trowel. Color the concrete, paint it, tile over it... It doesn't much care and can provide a good surface for all types of finish. Many beautiful baths have be built this way. If you want foot comfort, use heavy bath mats; or lay insulation below the 'crete and put in radiant tubing; or cover the 'crete with good wooden slats, 3' square sections built on 3/4" sleepers - lots of woods will do that job easily and you take up the sections for cleaning once a year.

But I'd vote tile. There are _really_ beautiful and warm tile floor possibilities and it's one of the strongest of the old proven methods. You can lay it effectively over wood with, of course good waterproofing. Methods are covered excellently on many tile sites, the main issue being a strong (read stiff) floor structure. Note that the tile industry is like the fashion industry - there are traditional styles and influences but every year a new set of slightly different products comes out and this means that it can be impossible to find the exact same tiles for sale 2 or 3 years after an initial purchase. So if you think you're going to want an exact match, buy it all at one time.

The thing most needed in most baths that I have seen is 1) fresh air (in such a way that the bath air doesn't draft into the living space), 2) natural light and 3) a pleasant view to the outdoors. Plants can be nice, but are potentially a high maintenance issue and/or can fail in a most dreary way. Best to allow plants but not rely on them for the basic design, IMHO.

FWIW Sounds like you're in that fun design phase when anythings possible. <g>

Rufus
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6795
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
266
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Swamp Cooler --- This room will have a very large surface area once plants have taken off. On a hot summer day, the entire room could be wet down intermittently. The moss and pebbles will give up moisture to the air. The floor drain could be blocked and the floor flooded with 1/4 inch of water. The bathroom window could be cracked open and the little window in the upstairs gable end could be opened. The chimney effect would draw the moist air through the home. Our summers are quite dry, so humidity is unlikely to be a problem. In winter, the walls would be kept drier, unless the wood heat makes more moisture desirable.
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1436
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
100
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a great thread. Really dug the living moss roof thread as well. I'm really glad to see these here. My buddy Keith and I dreamed up something similar to this years ago, but until now I haven't had the land to put it into action. Not sure about the gambion wall thing, but the mosses and ferns and lichens and whatnot I'm all about in the bathroom.

If the bathroom has plenty of sunlight, and the plants are thriving with the residual moisture from the shower and the dripping of feet/body, there would be little maintenance. I would think that you could easily build a system that was completely free of the need to clean it, including the shower area itself. With enough thought into creating this space properly (designed as an outdoor space, but indoors).

There is no reason, in my opinion, why an entire house can not be built along these lines.

My Opinion: The whole idea that mold and mildew and all the rest are necessarily bad things is out of whack with the reality that they are pioneer species which are trying to reach a balance in an imposed/unnatural zone/state of sterility. From an ecological point of view, all the growth, if allowed to proceed, will eventually (and probably quite quickly) consume the so called negative species in a succession towards more complex life forms, such as moss, if we stopped trying to kill it and sterilize the space.

I would think that you could create the entire bathroom to easily drain, just like a landscape project, with plenty of drain rock, and layers of stone slabs on top.

You could even have the bath mats be made out of wood (like cedar shakes), with drain holes so that they don't get too saturated. A grid of cedar one inch material, with the square spaces of the grid being about two inch by two inches would be a great media that is joined to the shakes, providing a lot of stability (from excess wear) for the mosses to inhabit, and feet would not be able to kill the moss as they would be impacting the wood edges (the odd moss piece breaking would just grow again elsewhere).

These squares, as you mentioned with the bath mats, could be also removed and swapped out with others in less traveled locations so that they might recover from too much wear or the unlikely event of too much water.

There is no reason why you should necessarily have a buildup of negative elements. You could even build the system deep enough that you could plant the floor with deeper rooted plants, which would gladly eat any negative elements like a 'swamp monster'. The area could be drained with drain rocks and pipes underneath landscape fabric just like some of the large industrial landscaping that I have done.

My personal thoughts were to clad the walls in stone (not gambions as you describe, but stone slabs and blocks, mortared in place), and have plenty of ledges/flat surfaces, inset built in pots, and water catchments which could all be planted with ferns and mosses, and lichens, and whatnot, even orchids, and other's like spider plants.

I really never understood the need to have the toilet facilities in the "BATH" room. Personally, I think the rooms should be separate, thus eliminating a lot of the worry about cleaning the bathroom, which should only have the bathtub, shower, and a sink, which all drain well on their own, and if they splash a bit, there is no real harm to the floor.

My plans include staircase up to a vermi-compost pit toilet system, with a urinal that drains into a series of bio-char nutrient charging tanks.
 
Bob Knows
Posts: 18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dale Hodgins wrote:Until yesterday, I had plans to build the bathroom with ferro cement on the walls and floor. The reason was simple. Smooth surfaces that clean up very easily with no tile joints or other joints to fail. The plan was to use a steam cleaner or power washer to control mold and mildew. This would produce a very easy to clean, durable but difficult to change space. It would look a little sterile.


When I was in college I rented a house that had a ferro cement floor in the bathroom. It was effective at resisting water spillage and easy to clean.


Then it hit me, while I was laying a patio block outside. The easy care space that I seek doesn't have to be lifeless. Moss, ferns and other plants that thrive in moist, low light conditions are perfectly suited to living in a bathroom. So, it's just a matter of creating the right conditions, without rotting out the building. I'm going to wrap all walls and the floor, in pond liner. The floor will get a double layer that goes up the walls by 6 inches. The wall sheet will be continuous with no corner joints. The wall sheet will lap over the floor sheet and be glued to it. Absolutely water tight, and ugly. The floor will have a drain. The shower or tub could overflow onto the floor with no harm done.




I like the whole concept of having a large well windowed space for body needs. My own bathroom has more windows than any other room in the house. Its a good place to sit on the couch and read a good book. Your indoor greenhouse approach would have some advantages but you would have to think it out carefully. It would necissarily have a lot of moisture for and from the plants, and moisture migrates as a gas. It would condense on cool places in the rest of the home.

Having a gravel base indoors in a warm wet space would rapidly attract mold of various kinds. Gravel isn't a very good planting area anyway.

How about going with the ferro cement over a pond liner, and then putting in dirt rather than gravel. You could plant some lawn and have raised planting areas or gardens. Shower soap and grey water would keep it green. The plants and soil would process and enjoy. Now all you would have to do is to be careful of ventilation and moisture between the bathroom garden and the rest of the house.

 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6795
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
266
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm going with a turf floor in a livable greenhouse with a dirt floor. A push mower replaces the vacuum cleaner. Humidity will be controlled by ventilation.

For the bathroom in the cottage, I want to do the gravel thing. It will be as wet as I choose. It could be kept dry, just as is common with linoleum floors. The drainage system might be only used seasonally. Wood heated buildings can often benefit from a moisture source. Rather than leaving a pot on the stove, the bathroom could be watered. The door can also be closed.

It might take an hour to take up the bricks and gravel, to expose the liner. So, if this proves less than ideal, the materials would go elsewhere and another option explored.
 
Eva Taylor
Posts: 106
Location: eastern panhandle of W.V.
10
books chicken forest garden fungi hugelkultur trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow some pretty amazing ideas! I can hear a carpenter friend of mines voice in my head screaming for some kind of moisture barrier between the bathroom and house though... That being said I Would love to see something like this in action working well, quite the permaculture challenge! I wonder if a trial run could be done in a greenhouse?
Good luck to you, hope to see pictures when you finish!
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1274
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
128
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well this wouldn't work in Canada, but the hands down nicest bathroom I ever experienced was some 25 years ago in Bali. The guesthouse consisted of little two-room bamboo cottages with a veranda on the front, and the attached bathroom under the wide eaves on the back. They were much like your original description at the top of this post, but outdoors in a tropical climate. I think the floor was probably concrete or tile, but the toilet, sink and shower were under the eaves, and the part under the sky was a wavy wall with ferns growing out of pockets, and moss, and everything. There was a wavy shaped raised bed along that outer wall. You could sit on the toilet and look at the stars. Ah, that was the life!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!