Simon's tub/shower surround [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : Simon's tub/shower surround

Simon in AK
01-07-2011, 01:23 AM
First Post- thanks to all who contribute to making this a very helpful and encouraging site. I've enjoyed browsing around and have learned plenty, but still have some Q's specific to installing Rondec, and other details.

Quick intro, I'm in a new home, about to tile a three-sided tub/ shower surround in the master bath. It's straightforward enough, except for two niches in the end wall. I'm pretty handy with DIY and home-improvement, but this is my first time with tile. I've read up online quite a bit, read Michael Byrne's book, and hit up some friends for advice and quality tools for the project. Right now I'm mostly concerned about getting all my ducks in a row before I start committing to stuff which could be a PITA to undo if it doesn't go right the first time.

Installed Substrate is 5/8" DuRock covered with RedGuard. Tile is Statements "Sites" by Provenza porcelain tile, all in 12" field tiles. Thinset will be Mapei Ultralight Lightweight Tile Morter w/ Polymer. Tec grout with liquid latex additive, and color-matched silicone. 1/8" grout joint. Environment is interior Alaska, with seismic considerations and also the potential for severe temperature ranges.

Because of the 12" field tiles and the dimensions of the niches, I will have to deal with both factory and cut tile edges on outside corners. I got some anodized aluminum Schluter Rondec in order to deal with this. I also got a good selection of the inside and outside rondec corner pieces.

When I dry-fit the rondec corner pieces into the rondec strips, there is more play then I expected. For instance, there's small but noticeable lippage from one stick of rondec, to the corner piece, to the next stick of rondec. When I do the real install, how to I minimize this factor? Also, how do I go about sealing this loose-fitting connection against water-infiltration? Squirt some clear silicone into the joint? And finally, where I need to butt-joint two sticks of Rondec, how should I tie them together, and waterproof the joint?

Are there any other tricks of the trade in dealing with Rondec, that aren't listed on the schluter page?

I did see the recommendations on this forum about mitering the outside corner tiles. Early on in the planning I was advised against that, which is why I got the rondec. Even now, I imagine that rondec would be more forgiving if you ever cracked your head against it, and with two little kids, that's a concern I have.

Sorry to have gotten so windy the first time out.:o

Thanks for a great site,


Sponsored Links

Simon in AK
01-07-2011, 01:57 AM
I am getting ready to tile a shower. The DuRock was hung and the Redguard was cured, while visions of sugarplums... (ahem, sorry :x:). Anyway, I just discovered that my Kohler mixer valve is installed too deep in the wall (the plastic plaster guard ring is flush to the DuRock surface, instead of the finish surface.) There is no good access behind the DuRock. I realize this site is for tiling, not plumbing, but this must come up for tile-setters from time to time, right??

The shower trim is Kohler "Lyntier", and the stem adapter is P/N 1018647. Right now the stem adapter is the right length if I hold the trim up to the Durock, but once I tile it is going to be about 3/8" too short. I've tried looking for a longer one from Kohler, but am coming up empty.

Hopefully I can attach a pic here. Any solutions greatly appreciated- Thanks!

01-07-2011, 02:03 AM
You don't have to worry about sealing around the rondec to make it watertight, the reguard is your membrane. Water gets through your grout anyway.

If you position them just right, you should be able to get the corner pieces in place so there is little or no lippage.

Sometimes I have just put a little thinset into the ends when I put in the corner pieces so they don't wiggle, but you could also use a little silicon caulk too.

I have never had to but joint rondec, do you have sections that are longer than 8'? Just try to line them up as best you can, and make sure the ends are cleanly cut and bur free.

01-07-2011, 02:07 AM
I think your best bet is to call Kohler and ask if they have any extension fittings.

I have plumbed lots of showers and I always worry about doing what you did, but luckily never have. I always quadruple check those measurements before I cover up the plumbing.

Good Luck.

Simon in AK
01-07-2011, 02:10 AM
Thanks for the reply Muddman. Makes sense to me. I do have a couple edges in excess of 8' due to a raked ceiling and tiling all the way up the wall. Going to go try and get a picture of it right now.


01-07-2011, 02:12 AM
Just make sure to put your but joints in inconspicuous places, like at knee level, or above eye level.

Simon in AK
01-07-2011, 02:22 AM
I didn't even do it!! My ace plumber (a pro and a perfectionist), who did a dynamite job on everything else in the entire house, did this- but probably only because I was driving him too hard and we were putting in crazy hours! :whip:

I'll still own the blame for it. :bang:

Simon in AK
01-07-2011, 02:35 AM
Here's a detail of the niches in the endwall. Note that they have a framed 9" return on the left side, but on the right side, the return is simply the long wall of the surround. That's presenting a little challenge in terms of the layout right now, but I think I've got it wrestled to submission. The greater-than 8' runs of rondec are on the room side of the installation, but I can place those joints high, and therefore out-of notice.

Thanks again,

Simon in AK
01-07-2011, 02:46 AM
Here's another take on it, from Sketchup, showing alternate layouts. Critiques welcome!

Alex Mathilda
01-07-2011, 05:46 AM
Hi Simon

Just installed a Kohler valve like yours and even though I had carefully measured I was I would say near 1/4 too short.

What I did is unscrewed the valve itself : you know those 2 big metal screws that secured that big black plastic part. Then I installed two big nuts between the black plastic part and the backplate. This gave me the 1/4'' I was missing. Those two screws are very long so I'm pretty sure you could install even two nuts under or even replace the screws with longer ones if needed.

Hope this helps,

01-07-2011, 06:02 AM
Hi Simon,

This is a source of concern for me when I install mixing valves. So much so that I've already put together a contingency plan in the event it ever happens. I'm not sure if it'll actually work - perhaps some of the others here can validate it - but here it goes:

Is it possible to cut out a square of the Durock - maybe 12"x12" - just enough to allow access to the plumbing, and then repair it as you would drywall? In other words, once you've corrected the valve depth, cut a 12x12" patch out of Durock (including the hole for the valve), and install the patch by framing out the inside edges of your hole with 2x4's. You can then tape and mud the seams, then reapply Redguard to the patched area.

I have constructed shower niches this way. If it's difficult to conceptualize, then check out the link below on how to build a shower niche. I like to run my horizontal cross members all the way to the adjacent studs for support, and you'll need to position the 2x4's so that there's a 3/4" reveal, this so you will have a solid backing to resecure/screw both your patch and the edges of your rough opening. You may also have to notch some of the 2x4's to accomodate the copper supply lines.

I hope this hasn't been too confusing.

Good luck!

01-07-2011, 06:38 AM
If you can't get the parts you need to extend the valve-works, you might be able to work with it from the back side. Depends on what is on the other side of that wall. Drywall would be easier to repair than what you have in that picture.

01-07-2011, 06:54 AM
You've put it together and tested it?I've done that and it always worked for me..

Simon in AK
01-07-2011, 11:46 AM
You've put it together and tested it?I've done that and it always worked for me..

Is that in response to Alex's suggestion? I was just looking at a parts schematic, trying to wrap my head around how you could get away with this. I gotta think the mixer cartridge needs to be seated all the way into the valve body, but maybe I'm missing something. It sure sounds better than tear-out.

Two other ideas I had were to 1) add some spacers to the female receiver in the trim, in a similar fashion, to make it reach closer to the valve stem, or 2) buy another one of those square stem adapters (they're about $2.90 ea), and then get the right star-shaped shaft to connect them in-line. the only way to get a machined shaft for this scenario might be to by a new mixer cartridge for $39.50, but that still sounds better than tear-out.

In response to the question above, access behind the wall is not an option.

Thanks, and keep 'em coming

Simon in AK
01-07-2011, 12:02 PM
Update- A family member in town has also been looking into this for me. It sounds like the plumbing supply house tracked down a purpose-made extender from Kohler, and it is headed my way. I'll post the info here when it arrives.

Thanks everyone

01-07-2011, 12:03 PM
Honestly both look good, I kind of like option #2 a little better.

Don't you love sketch up, I use it all the time.

Simon in AK
01-07-2011, 12:11 PM
Don't you love sketch up, I use it all the time

I'm a sketchup addict.

# 2 seems to complement the layout and the grout lines best in the real deal

01-07-2011, 12:16 PM
Install instructions are not as well written or the drawings as clear as they should be most of the time :deal:. I have a good plumber but we still have to read the instructions 2 or 3 times on a new fixture and still some times argue about what they are trying to tell us .
Good luck

01-07-2011, 01:51 PM
Call Kohler tech support. I know that Grohe sells an extension kit for this situation, maybe Kohler does also.

01-07-2011, 01:58 PM
Kohler offers more than one stem extension. If that one doesn't work, call their technical support (not the regular cust service area) Have your part#s handy and ask for the stem extension.
They also have deep rough in trim kits if your trim doesn't line up properly... Good luck

01-07-2011, 05:41 PM
Hindsight, but maybe will help someone's always best to take the valve, mount the trim and then check how far the handle, etc. sticks out. While the manufacturer generally considers 'if it fits, it's okay'...sometimes you end up with the handle sticking too far out or too close for your preference. Once you have the trim installed, double check how much leniency you have in the valve location - THEN install it.

01-07-2011, 08:20 PM
And I went a step farther than that and made up a board with all the layers of my tile install and used that to test my valve placement. In my case I was limited in how far back I could set my valve so I ended up shimming out my wallboard a tad to make everything nice.

01-08-2011, 05:27 PM
Hi Simon, I prefer your second illustration over your first. Thanks for posting - it introduced me to Sketchup! I figured out how to replicate my shower stall, but I can't figure out or find any tile material to play with layouts. Any chance you can point me in the right direction? Thanks. Chris.

coping skills
01-08-2011, 05:44 PM
You may want to put on a couple more coats of redgard, I can still see the white of your thinset through it. Did you embed 6" wide fiberglass in the redgard?

Simon in AK
01-08-2011, 07:49 PM
Hi Chris. Indeed, Sketchup is a handy program. I designed our house with it, as well as a commercial kitchen and timber frame dining hall. But that's nothing compared to what a lot of people seem to be able to do with it.

To play with colors, click on the paint bucket tool. Then click on the brick when a toolbar window pops up. Scroll through various materials, colors, and shades. In the example in my post, I just used some stone materials that were relatively close to my tile.


01-09-2011, 12:12 PM
The free version of sketchup doesn't have lots of textures, only a few tile patterns, but you can change the colors to get a good feel for the look.

I really want to get the PRO version, you can make some amazing mock-ups with it, but it is spendy.

Simon in AK
01-11-2011, 06:12 PM
The DuRock for my tub-surround is coated with redguard. Some of the redguard got onto things it wasn't supposed to, notably the 1/2" copper pipe for the slip-fit tub spout. Any suggestions for getting it off without damaging the copper? I've got products ranging from Goof-Off to Methyl Ethyl Ketone.


01-11-2011, 07:27 PM
If it is not to old ,try to wet a wash cloth with the hottest water you can safely handle and rap the pipe . Let it sit and it should soften a little so you can scrape it off with less effort . It works for me when I :sick:get some on a tub and don't see it in tell its to late .

Jim wood
01-11-2011, 07:37 PM
Razor blade.

Brian in San Diego
01-11-2011, 08:01 PM

I merged the three threads you have started for this project. Please ask all your questions on this thread. It helps us keep track of what's been asked and answered.

If you'd like a more generic name let us know and a friendly moderator will change it for you.


Simon in AK
01-11-2011, 08:35 PM
I merged the three threads you have started for this project. Please ask all your questions on this thread. It helps us keep track of what's been asked and answered.

If you'd like a more generic name let us know and a friendly moderator will change it for you.

Thanks for the housekeeping. I was trying to compartmentalize different topics, but I see your point.

Maybe it would be best to change the thread title to "Simon's tub/shower surround"


Simon in AK
01-11-2011, 08:37 PM
If [the redguard] is not to old ,try to wet a wash cloth with the hottest water you can safely handle and rap the pipe . Let it sit and it should soften a little so you can scrape it off with less effort . It works for me when I get some on a tub and don't see it in tell its to late .

It is a few months old, but I will give it a try anyway. Thanks.

01-11-2011, 08:46 PM
Simon, as a side note. It looks to me the plaster ring / guard was installed backwards. if you havent tiled it yet can you post a front on photo/


Simon in AK
01-12-2011, 02:39 AM

Thanks for double-checking about the plaster guard. In the photo above, the round protective plastic bell which covers the valve has been temporarily removed. Because of the way it was attached, I'm quite sure the guard is installed as intended (the only way possible, in fact). If I had a handy picture I'd put it here to show you.


Simon in AK
01-12-2011, 02:54 AM
I ended up going with the second layout option (the righthand one in post #9, above). Thanks to those who weighed in. In the actual surround, it made all the grout lines around the niches match up really nicely.

Here's a total noob question: I've got highly visible layout lines right now. (Black sharpie marker on top of redguard.) Can I expect to see them through the combed troughs in the thinset, or are they going to disappear forever once I spread thinset over them? (I am planning on fastening a straightedge to the wall to help with alignment of the first row, and I am also planning to work in fairly small areas at a time, keeping the thinset within the layout lines for the area being worked.)


01-12-2011, 09:59 AM
I've been using pencil over kerdi. I find that the thinset obscures the lines, but after I do the initial place-and-wiggle in approximately the right place I scrap the excess thinset from around the tile with a margin trowel and the lines are quite visible again, even through a thin layer of mortar.

Simon in AK
01-15-2011, 09:10 PM
OK, I spent all of today wrapping up my prep work, and I think it's almost time to mix some thinset.

I'm not sure what the white coating on the back of the tiles if all about (see pic). It's only on the raised part of the diamond grid. I can rub it off with water, a rag and a little elbow grease, but that would be a ton of work. Is it good, bad, or neutral to leave it on?

Tiles are dust-pressed 12" x 12". One place on the box says Porcelain stoneware, but another part of the box says ceramic. (I thought those were different tile types, so I'm curious about how that works too.) Brand is Provenza.


01-15-2011, 09:22 PM
Simon, porcelain is a type of ceramic tyle. The confusion comes from the fact that non-porcelain ceramic tile is commonly called "ceramic", and porcelain ceramic is commonly called "porcelain". The difference is in the way they are manufactured.

Simon in AK
01-15-2011, 09:25 PM
Kind of like mud and mud, huh? I'm starting to see how this all works... :)

Any guidance on the white stuff? Thanks!

Simon in AK
01-16-2011, 12:27 AM
I found some helpful info elsewhere on the forum- if someone could confirm that I'm on the right track, that would be great.

Sounds like the white stuff on the tile back is kiln-release. It's not doing you any favors at this point in the game. Can be removed with water, wire brush and elbow grease if you want.

Most important is to back-burn the back sides of porcelain tile- butter thinset on to the tile back with the flat side of the trowel, and then scrape most of it back off, while really pressing the remainder of it in good.

I'll be using a 1/4 x 3/8 x 1/4 trowel, although I do have a 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/4 as well, if it's more advisable.


Simon in AK
01-16-2011, 03:09 AM
I found I can get most of the kiln-release off pretty quickly (about 40 seconds per) with a power brush that I own. Question is, does anybody think it's worth it?

01-16-2011, 08:14 AM
No i wouldn't bother,you may be making things worse by creating the dust.

Simon in AK
01-22-2011, 03:23 PM
For anyone else who might be interested, I located a Kohler off-the-shelf solution for my shower valve that was recessed too far into the wall. It's called a "Deep Rough-in Kit", and it's nicely made and an easy fix for my situation.

Kohler P/N GP1030932 (Trying to upload a photo...)