other shower pan possibilities? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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06-07-2008, 11:28 AM
I am a new contractor with over 13 yrs experience with masonry & tile. I've been researching the best way to build shower pans. Although everything I've read insists on using a vynal liner, I have talked to a well respected tile setter here who swears by his technique of using ultra set on the first sloped morter bed, right to the weeps. He claims that he has replaced old pans with traditional liners and they were brital, and cracked. I know most will disagree with this method, as did I. He started to sell me on it though. He has done a lot of research on ultra set. Any comments?

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06-07-2008, 12:17 PM
Hello lcmon,
I've not used it, but I'm wondering how much you actually save by doing it this way? Time? The Ultra-Set has to cure. Money? Ultra-Set's not THAt cheap. Does your local inspector sign off on Ultra-Set? Many won't. What sort of a warranty can you get from Bostik? How will you bridge the drain-to-mortar gap to prevent movement from compromising the Ultra-Set envelope?
Too many variables for me to feel comfortable with. I know of other installers who've used Ultra-Set in this manner. I won't take the chance of failure in a clients home though.
As an aside, if the liner was brittle as your installer describes, then there's a chemical incompatibility issue occurring. I'd look at the chance that PVC glue was used on a CPE membrane, or vice-versa. Ask your installer if the "brittle" areas were at seams or in the wide-open field? If it's not a solvent issue, then it's likely some other chemical exposure prior to the final mortar being applied. I've never heard of a PVC or CPE membrane becoming "brittle" without something like this occurring.

06-07-2008, 12:18 PM
Chloraloy since 1964..never seen a piece go bad,has life time warrenty..
(its CPE not PVC)

06-07-2008, 12:21 PM
Chloraloy is my liner of choice. I just wish I could get it in 7-foot widths too. :D

06-07-2008, 12:26 PM
me to but Id rather have 8'.(but dont hold your breath.)

06-07-2008, 12:27 PM
Welcome, lcmon. Please give us a first name to use, preferably in a permanent signature line. :)

I've used nothing but PVC for shower pans for twenty-something years and haven't had a leak yet. And yes, I know every one of my customers on accounta I always built the bathroom for'em, too. If I had a leak, I'd be the second to know.

But I'm told the CPE is even longer lasting. Don't know of any side-by-side testing of that, though. Eric (e3) might.

And all that's before I got Schluerized, of course. Now I'm inclined to sell the customer on a Schluter Kerdi Shower System. Ain't got one older than a couple years, though.

Doubt I'll ever be comfortable using the liquid-applied membranes for a shower pan in this life. At least not until they can show me a way to ensure I get the proper thickness of application over every square inch every time.

And, as Shaughnn points out, I can fold a pan liner and mud it before the liquid stuff dries, and I ain't really a tile guy. They're a lot faster. :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

06-07-2008, 12:41 PM
Wedi is growing in popularity. Pan sizes are now larger. I had a Wedi shower of which the tub wall settled 1/2". The slope still drains and it didn't spring a leak. I repaired some caulk in the corners and had some minor grout cracking where the pan accually bent some being bonded to the substrate. All in all, I believe it was put through the stress test. I believe it passed!
That's me though. I remain open minded to anything that works. I think it will stand the test of time, but time will tell.

06-07-2008, 01:01 PM
Thanks for the info. The other thing i've noticed on these threads is that Densshield has a bad reputation. I'm pretty sure all of the contractors that I know here use it. I have never seen someone mud the shower walls. To me it seems a little bit more involved than nessasary. I am not the most experienced shower builder though. I've spent most of my career doing masonry, and building fireplaces, with tile jobs in between.

06-07-2008, 01:06 PM
Hi Clark,
Mudded showers are rare up here in the Nor'West, but they're as commonplace as Starbucks back down in California. The advantage is "precision" and "longevity". A properly built mortar shower will outlast the occupants and a rendered wall allows you to create your own sturdy planes rather than build on top of some knucklehead's crappy framing. When you want crisp and sharp corners, dead-set plumb and a layout to the exact fraction of an inch, "mud work" will get you there and still make you money.
I don't like Denshield.

06-07-2008, 01:18 PM
If you dont mind me asking, what is your prefered method for shower walls? I was thinking vapor barrier, durock, and red gard or something similar. The guy I talked to first puts densshield right to the sub floor. Then like i was saying ultra sets to the weeps. I don't think I'd do it that way, but It sure sounds quick and clean, with no build up behind the densshield. I live in a small community, and can't afford to do things the wrong way. Word of mouth is everything up here.

06-07-2008, 01:36 PM
I will say that IF applied properly, ultraset is near bullet proof. BUT, it's not cheap, it smells, and to do it right will take two days. First coat, then you have a window for the second coat. You can't do to soon and you can't wait to long.

Look into Kerdi. It's better!

06-07-2008, 02:14 PM
Whoa! Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!!!! :)
Firstly, let's clarify that your installer really is putting Denshield down as a flooring underlayment?? Is that correct?
My preferred method of shower construction, here in Washington, is as follows:
mortar pre-slope
CPE membrane (Chloraloy)
6 mil plastic sheeting as vapor-barrier over studs
1/2" Wonderboard and mortar curb
Tile walls
final float for pan
tile pan and curb
grout and caulk
cash check

if the shower gets a recessed niche or any other sort of penetration, I forego the 6 mil plastic and apply 2 coats of Redgard over the Wonderboard instead. Two vapor-barriers are not advisable.

06-07-2008, 02:34 PM
no, i was not clear. He brings the densshield walls to the subfloor. I think your method is perfect. I might use densshield though.

06-07-2008, 02:43 PM
Why would you choose a gypsum-core product over one which is entirely resistant to moisture? Is it cheaper? It still requires a topical vapor-barrier, no matter what Georgia-Pacific says. If you are dead-set on using a gypsum-based product, why not invest in Schluter's KERDI system? Schluter hosts training sessions all the time in Vancouver. Just call them up and they'll set you up with "hots and a cot".
Best of luck,

06-07-2008, 04:18 PM
I have been using densshield more and more lately. One reason is because a lot of homes have it installed by the drywallers. No sense tearing it out in my mind. I guess I am not sure what people don't like about it. I water proof all seams and penetrations. These are almost always tub surrounds but I have done a few showers too.

While I guess it still is gypsum based, I think something must be a little different with it. I have had several pieces sitting on the side of my house since last fall. They are still in great shape. They have handled rain, snow, and freezing temps. :shrug:

Has anyone actually had problems with it?

06-07-2008, 04:26 PM
Just curious, have you used kerdi Shaughn?

Keeping water penetration out of the pan and backerboard just makes too much sense. :)

06-07-2008, 05:04 PM
I have used KEDRI, but not enough to think I know what I'm doing. I do plan to attend a Schluter session in Vancouver, but things keep coming up. I've booked three sessions now and had to cancel all three at the near-last minute. Much of what I do involved the removal of existing tile and the replacement of the substrate and new tile. I've just found it faster and easier to build with Wonderboard than rock the wall and cover it with KERDI.
I know I'll get there, but I'm content at the moment with taking my own sweet time about it. :)

06-07-2008, 06:33 PM
Ah Shaughnn~ Go to the Schluter training session...."Go to the Darkside!" (You'll become a convert!) Kerdi rocks!

06-08-2008, 01:07 AM
I won't deny that rocking the walls is quicker than hanging kerdi but doing the pan is quicker with the kerdi system and like I said keeping water out of the pan and backerboard just makes sense.

From a quality and performance standpoint I'd say surface waterproofing would be the preferred method. From a initial cost standpoint the method Shaughnn outlined may be the better option.

06-08-2008, 05:00 AM
Around here as far as I know the liner of choice for the last 25 years in any custom (not tract house) has been a custom laid fiberglass liner. I am very surprised to not see more discussion of them on this forum. I have always known them as the standard!

06-08-2008, 06:24 AM
I've talked to people who have water tested densshield in a bucket of water for a month with no problems. I understand what your saying about cementatious products. So you are basicly depending on the plastic vapor liner stapled to the studs to protect the wood. I guess that seems ok. I think I would red gard it instead. 2 vapor barriers not advisable huh? Makes sense not to trap anything between. I plan on learning kerdi. Most homes here are high end. I think it would sell well. thanks for all the help everyone.

06-08-2008, 07:29 AM
Densshield, densarmour, it's still gypsum. Full waterproofing or failure. Cement board doesn't degrade. Are the contractors lazy that they don't use cement board? Listen to Shaughn, then you can look your customers in the eye and assure them they won't have a failure.

EDIT- oops, I missed page 2 . Or go Kerdi.


06-08-2008, 08:04 AM
The advantage is "precision" and "longevity". A properly built mortar shower will outlast the occupants and a rendered wall allows you to create your own sturdy planes rather than build on top of some knucklehead's crappy framing. When you want crisp and sharp corners, dead-set plumb and a layout to the exact fraction of an inch, "mud work" will get you there and still make you money.

Dead On! :D

06-08-2008, 08:43 AM
I appreciate your endorsement, but I'm no more of an "expert" than many of the other fine professionals here on the forum. We're all drawing from our own experiences. Mine happen to be biased toward mudwork and against gypsum-based wall boards. Others will swear by other products and other procedures. The key to it all however is a happy customer and an installation which testifies to the installers skill for years to come. How we all get there is less important, but we like to quibble about it here anyway. :)

06-08-2008, 10:33 AM
Wish I'd have checked in earlier. I can tell you from experience.
My former boss has an odd shaped pan he did in his personal house. He was
a big ultraset fan, and used it for his liner. It did last about 8 years, but it
failed and he had to do a complete tear-out. I did not do the tear-out so I
don't know where it failed, he seemed to think it was not the ultraset, but
I don't know what else it could have been.

06-09-2008, 04:05 PM
my concern with ultra set is the mud pan to drain connection. Like I said I know people who swear by it. I think I would rather use standard liner. It would be easy to do the ultra set though.

06-09-2008, 07:21 PM
Honestly I don't think there is any danger in using ultraset, even with the drain conection, but I will say that "easy" is not an adjective I'd ascribe. It's messy and WILL take longer than a PVC/CPE pan.

And again, you really ought to look into kerdi!

Northwest Tile Guy
06-09-2008, 07:32 PM
I use hydroban in the same fashion as you are describing ultraset. It works great as far as I know. Do a search here in this forum for the divot method. That should show you the answer for the drain mud bed conection.