5 Weird Things We’ve Found Behind Shower Walls

February 28, 2023

“If These Bathroom Walls Could Talk”:
The 5 Weirdest Things We’ve Found
Behind Tub & Shower Walls

From 1980s Beer Cans To A Civil War-Era Journal,
These Hidden Items Had Us Scratching Our Heads.


Your shower walls have a secret.

They’ve been keeping it since they were installed—whether that was 10, 20, or 100 years ago.

And while I’m no shower-wall whisperer, I can make a safe guess as to what their secret is:

“The last contractor stuffed a bunch of trash behind me.”

I’ll explain…

When we tear out shower and bathtub walls during a remodel, we find all kinds of items that shouldn’t be there. Tools. Soda bottles. Rusty screws. And, occasionally, things that are far, far more interesting.

Today, I want to share some of the weirdest “hidden treasures” Focal Point bathroom installers have found behind bathing-space walls. Because, if I’m being honest, there’s a good chance one of them is hiding behind your tub or shower right now.

(Except for #1. There’s no chance it’s #1.)

I’m limiting this list to items that have been accidentally or intentionally left behind. I’m not including things like mold, moisture, and rot because A) they’re not rare and B) every item on this list actually creates a weak spot for moisture and mold to grow. So if your walls contain any of these items, odds are they contain mold and moisture too.

Let the countdown begin.

Old, rusty pliers

#5: Tools

Okay, I lied. Left-behind tools aren’t weird to find behind shower walls. We come across them quite a bit.

But they still deserve a spot on the list. Because to me, forgotten tools provide insight into a bathroom contractor’s clean-up process. Or, more specifically, their lack of a clean-up process.

Any left-behind tool—whether it’s a wrench, level, or tape measure—is a potential moisture trap. And trapped moisture behind your shower walls will lead to mold, mildew, and rot. All of which could have been avoided had the contractor done a quick double-check before they put up the walls.

Crushed cigarette butts on the floor

#4: Trash

Plastic packaging. Rusty screws. Fast-food wrappers. Cigarette butts. Soda bottles. Coffee cups. Empty tubes of caulk. If it’s supposed to be in the trash can or recycle bin, we’ve found it behind a bathroom wall.

I’d estimate we find trash behind walls on about 80% of jobs. That means there’s a really, really good chance a screw or two (or ten) is rusting behind your shower walls right now.

Like tools, trash isn’t weird to find because it’s rare—it’s weird to find because of why it’s there. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake: The contractor simply overlooked the litter. But other times, whoever remodeled the bathroom just didn’t feel like taking out their trash. Instead, they stuffed it in the nooks and crannies behind the walls. (I wish I were kidding.)

Either way, “wall trash” can quickly turn the insides of your new shower or bathtub into a moldy, moisture-laden disaster.

Stack of old newspapers

#3: Newspapers

Remodeling a shower or tub is tough work. I don’t begrudge anyone who takes a quick break to scan the daily headlines of a newspaper. Just don’t leave the newspaper inside the shower walls.

It seems like common sense. Newspapers are moisture sponges and can accumulate mold quickly. Yet we’ve found sections of newspapers in cracks and crevices in the walls of several bathtubs and showers.

Whether this is due to forgetfulness or indifference doesn’t matter—a newspaper that’s accidentally left behind is just as prone to moisture as one purposely left behind. It’ll wreak havoc inside your shower walls just the same.

The funny (and fitting) thing is that we tend to find newspapers behind bathing spaces remodeled before smartphones. I don’t think we’ve yet found a newspaper inside a bathing space built after 2011.

So I guess that’s one good thing about smartphones—less chance you’ll find the sports section or Sunday Funnies in your shower walls.

Old Budweiser beer can inside a hole in a wall

#2: Beer Cans (Especially From The 1980s)

The runner-up for the strangest thing we’ve found behind shower walls is empty beer cans. I could have lumped them in with trash at #4, but they deserve their own spot for a few reasons.

First, remodeling a bathroom while enjoying an adult beverage (or two or three) probably won’t produce the best results. Installing a new tub or shower isn’t bowling or grilling burgers; it requires a clear mind and full concentration to execute properly. Our demanding, rigorous installation training is proof of that.

Second, we find old beer cans more often than you might think—especially behind the walls of tubs and showers last remodeled in the 1980s.

I’m not sure why bathroom remodels from that decade come with a “beer can” bonus. (Lax OSHA standards? A surge in D.I.Y. dads?) What I do know is this: The beer cans we’ve found tend to be positively loaded with moisture, mildew, and mold.

Old open diary with water-damaged pages and cover

#1: A Civil War-Era Journal

In 2013, I found the strangest thing you could possibly discover behind a shower: A civilian’s diary/journal from the Civil War era.

I was performing a tub-to-shower conversion for a historic home in Gettysburg. I had to install an exhaust fan, which required an opening in the ceiling. This required me to cut through multiple layers of material, including horsehair plaster (a really dated type of lath).

That’s when I found it—the journal, just sitting there inside the ceiling.

When I first pulled it out, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I knew it was a diary of some sort. But I could never have guessed who it belonged to.

The journal was dry, dirty, and brittle. The yellowing pages were so frail they felt like they’d crumble. I knew it had been in the ceiling for a long, long time.

As I VERY delicately opened the journal, I saw entries about longing to see a young soldier again… about love and courtship… about the sound of cannon fire. Then I noticed the journal entry dates—and realized exactly how old it was.

The dates were all in the 1860s. I was reading the diary of a young woman waiting for her beau to return from the Civil War.

Now that wasn’t on my bingo card.

I wondered how long the journal had been hidden in the ceiling—and how it had gotten there in the first place. My guess is that it fell under the floorboards of the room directly above the bathroom many, many moons ago.

I gave the journal to the homeowner, and I believe they donated it to a museum. I wish I’d taken pictures of it, but I didn’t think to do so at the time. So if you come across a Civil War journal in a museum in the Gettysburg area, let me know!

Bathroom installer working in the exposed area behind a shower’s walls

Here’s What You’d Find Behind Our Shower Walls

What would you find if you tore out the walls of a Focal Point Remodeling shower or tub?

Nothing… except what needs to be there.

We have a meticulous “behind-the-walls” process we perform on every wet-area remodel:

  1. Clean out and vacuum the space
  2. Fix all moisture, mold, and rot issues
  3. Install top-notch waterproofing
  4. Quadruple-check that we’ve left nothing behind

Only after this will we install your new walls. We do everything possible to ensure your new shower or tub is moisture-proof, mold-proof, and rot-proof—PERIOD. It’s why we guarantee your materials and installation for life.

If you want a new tub or shower free from “hidden treasures” (i.e., moisture traps), give us a call. It would be an honor and a privilege to discuss your dream remodel with you.

Who knows… maybe we’ll find something behind your shower walls to add to this list.

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