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Some time ago, I built a large walk-in shower with an open, door-free design and lots of decorative tile work. I wanted to install a tiled bench in the shower, too, but I didn't want it to detract from the shower's visual impact or to create a waterproofing headache. So, instead of building the bench frame with pressure-treated lumber, cement board, and membrane, I decided to try Better-Bench (Innovis Corp., 800/382-9653, www.innoviscorp.com), a preformed product I thought might save a lot of time and aggravation. Available in a triangular shape for corner mounting or an adjustable rectangular shape, Better-Bench is a self-supporting aluminum frame that can be used in both wet and dry areas. The seat attaches to most substrates; it can be installed either before or after finish tile; and according to the manufacturer, it has a 400-pound load capacity, even with hollow wall anchors.
Once the frame is in place, it's filled with mortar, then tiled conventionally.