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7 Reasons to Install a Knee Wall
By Sherry Holmes
Thursday, October 11th, 2018 @ 3:06pm
When you think about it, many of us spend a decent amount of time in our bathrooms. For some of us, it’s an oasis – a place where we can enjoy a nice warm bath or shower and relax after a long day. So when it comes time to renovate your bathroom, not only should it look good but it should also be designed to make things work more efficiently and provide more functionality to suit your needs today and for the future. Any feature that improves your bathroom experience is a benefit. One feature many homeowners don’t think to consider is a knee wall.
Knee walls are often referred to as a half-wall or partition wall. They extend from the floor to a height of approximately 3 feet (91.44 cm) and are often constructed around or up against a shower stall or bathtub surround. Knee walls are generally an extension of the side of a bathtub or shower and can be tiled over.
What Is the Purpose Of A Knee Wall?
There are a number of reasons knee walls are constructed. The great thing about a knee wall is that it’s both functional and decorative – you can take advantage and utilize the extra wall space that you would be gaining or something that I personally love to do – get in touch with your inner designer and make it into a unique or beautiful focal point by installing decorative tile on the wall.
There are many different reasons you may decide to build a knee wall in your bathroom. Some of these include:
- Privacy – maybe you don’t want to expose your shower to the rest of the room and have full glass walls installed. Instead you might prefer to have privacy when using the shower or for a toilet that’s located next to the shower.
- Cost – let’s face it, glass is expensive and it can eat up your budget, especially if you’re enclosing your shower with glass walls and a door. Installing a knee wall can help save on the cost. If you like the look of glass in the shower, you can still have it installed above the knee wall to open up the space and bring in more light.
- Plumbing – a knee wall is a convenient way to hide plumbing and install your shower handles, knob and/or tub spout.
- Partitioning – a knee wall defines the shower space. You’re able to separate the shower from the rest of the bathroom, so it is not opened up to the rest of the room, without making the space feel small.
- Functional wall space – depending on your needs, if the knee wall is installed by a vanity, you can make use of the extra wall space by installing a towel rack. If the knee wall happens to be by a toilet, you can install a grab bar or toilet paper holder.
- Added bench or niche – a knee wall provides a simple way to install a shower bench without having to build a floating bench on an existing exterior wall. You also have the ability to install a niche within the knee wall for shower necessities or as a footrest to shave legs without having to cut into an exterior wall.
- Design – I love getting into the design stuff, and using a knee wall as a focal point in your bathroom is a nice option. Adding a splash of colour or a unique pattern with your favourite tile selection can bring it to life.
How Is A Knee Wall Constructed?
Just like with any other renovation project, it all starts with a plan – a drawing, measurements, and some math. You should have a clear plan and drawing or sketch of the design and layout. Measurements play a very important role in the planning and design process. Without the proper measurements, you can run into a long list of issues resulting in a defective knee wall.
Traditional knee walls are built from wood framing, masonry, or sheathing. The traditional way is quite time-consuming, involving much more preparation prior to setting tile and requires multiple supplies and products. Not to mention, it’s also not guaranteed to be water-tight, so there’s always the possibility of leaks, leading to mould in your shower and wall – and that’s not something you want to deal with!
I recently had the opportunity to build a knee wall in a bathroom for one of our homeowners using Schluter®-KERDI-BOARD. Within the knee wall, I installed a shower niche using Schluter®-KERDI-BOARD-SN to provide the homeowner with a place to house their everyday shower essentials.
It was actually much easier and more efficient to build the knee wall with KERDI-BOARD instead of doing it the traditional way. And believe me, that’s something any installer can appreciate! Not to mention, it also provides a water-tight surface. In addition to the KERDI-BOARD, the only products required to complete the knee wall are thin-set mortar and KERDI-FIX, and KERDI-BAND.
Remember, when you’re looking to add more privacy within your bathroom, cut cost on glass walls for your shower, or need more functional wall space within your bathroom, consider installing a knee wall. No matter how you decide to make use of it, it’s the perfect functional wall space for almost any bathroom.