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Old 12-20-2017, 01:20 PM   #1
zayd
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Linear drain curbless shower project

Hello, everyone.

I chanced upon this forum while combing the web for linear drain information and I'm glad I did.

I've been researching linear drains for a curbless shower install that I'm currently undertaking. I'm using the USG membrane for waterproofing and am looking for a flanged linear drain. The Kerdi-Line and similar products from the top manufacturers look great, but I am looking for similar performance from less expensive alternatives. I'm a DIYer so the warranty is a moot point.

In my research, I noticed that nearly every design shares a similar feature: the removable grate sits inside a lip that is part of the body, which then has the flange attached to the outside of this. If my membrane/thinset/porcelain tile then sits on top of this flange, wouldn't any moisture that makes its way down to the membrane just run into this lip and then sit there until dry? This may be the intent behind the design, but wouldn't it make more sense for the flange to run directly into the body of the drain to allow this trapped moisture to simply exit down the drain? I don't see this as an extra layer of protection because the moisture will just be sitting on the membrane anyway. Or maybe I'm wrong about the purpose of the lip -- maybe it is there to simply provide a wall for the grout?

After that line of thinking, I came across the Trugard linear drain. The company does not seem to have much reach and I read an old thread here that indicated that their marketing tactics at the time were suspect, but set that aside for a moment. Evaluating only the design of their drain, doesn't it make more sense than the lipped version that most others sell? I've provided a side-by-side graphic below.

To be clear: I am NOT affiliated with Trugard or any other company. I'm just an overly analytical DIYer who thinks through everything. I'd like to hear your experienced opinions on this.

Thank you all.
Zayd
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Old 12-20-2017, 05:58 PM   #2
Davy
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Is it possible that the drain on the right is designed to have a pan liner and mud bed under it? The mud would come up to the flange, then the tiles sit on the flange and mud.
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Old 12-20-2017, 08:26 PM   #3
zayd
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That is a possibility, Davy. But both grates sit approximately the same height above the flange and both are designed to have the membrane/thinset/tile above the flange, so really the mud base could be the case for both. The Kerdi drain follows the design on the right.

I'm inclined to lean towards the design on the right only in deference to companies like Schuter who have products with decadesof use behind them. But the left one still makes more sense to me.
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Old 12-20-2017, 10:54 PM   #4
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As a secondary question, I've decided on the USG Durock membrane to waterproof my shower enclosure. I've read USG's guidance on thinset, but it is vague: "Tile-setting mortar meeting ANSI A118.1, A118.4, A118.11 or A118.15."

1. Practically, how does this translate and what product is reliable and certain to work? I have the typical home centers around and a few tile specialty shops.

2. Do I use the same thinset above the membrane to adhere the tiles? I'll be using porcelain 12x24" tiles.

3. On an unrelated topic, I'll be adhering the Durock membrane to a non-USG linear drain (stainless steel). Based on the glowing reviews here and elsewhere, KerdiFix should work fine. Any objections to that? USG will understandably not recommend an adhesive for a non-USG drain.

Thanks for the guidance.
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Old 12-21-2017, 12:58 AM   #5
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Welcome, Zayd.

Were I to use a linear drain I'd actually prefer one that had a strip of the direct bonded waterproofing membrane as part of the drain. But aside from that, I'd suggest you simply chose the drain you like and install it per the manufacturer's instructions.

1. It doesn't. That translates to: Unmodified thinset mortar; modified thinset mortar; modified thinset mortar for bonding to plywood; and higher performance modified thinset mortar. They all work, some being better for some applications than others. Each manufacturer of such products makes one or more products in each category.

For use in installing the Durock Shower Membrane I'd suggest you use a good quality mortar meeting A118.4.

2. If your substrate is flat and your tiles are flat you can use the same mortar for setting your tiles. Some folks will recommend a LHT (Large and Heavy Tile) mortar and some will recommend a larger notched trowel for your large format tiles.

3. Kerdi Fix will likely work just fine, but USG makes a similar proprietary adhesive that would likely work also. You mix manufacturers in your selection of products and you'll always get that same response about recommendations and warranties. The folks who created the Durock Shower System for USG would acknowledge that the Kerdi Fix or USG's own adhesive would be adequate for your application. I would use the Kerdi Fix if it were available.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 12-21-2017, 04:15 AM   #6
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Welcome Zayd,

One quick note is that if you're considering using 12x24 tiles for the floor you need to think about the coefficient of friction of the finished surface of the tile. With a smooth or glossy tile your finished floor could be very slippery when wet making it difficult to deal with given the slope of the tiles.
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Old 12-21-2017, 08:42 AM   #7
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Thank you kindly for the information, CX. Good to validate what I was thinking.

JerseyDIYGuy, great point. I purchased a matte tile with a mid-range CoF, so I am not anticipating any problems. And I was also contemplating dropping my pitch very slightly to 3/16" over 12" as an added protection against slippage.
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Old 12-21-2017, 10:27 AM   #8
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I think reducing the slope of your shower floor is more likely to exacerbate the problem of slip/fall rather than reduce it. Allowing the water to pool or build up more on the surface of the tiles rather than moving quickly to the drain would seem to me to be more of a problem than decreasing the slope of the floor a tiny fraction.

No, I have no test results to support my theory and it could be false, but keep in mind that the 1/4" per foot is the minimum required slope for the shower floor. And a COF higher than the minimum for horizontal floors subject to wetting doesn't change the fact that ceramic tile is slippery when wet, which is why we recommend mosaic tiles for shower floors. The grout lines help substantially in surface traction.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 12-22-2017, 09:22 AM   #9
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That's certainly a possibility, CX. My own intuition is that significantly more pooling would be needed to change the scenario from just a wet floor to a real hazard. But like you, that's just me thinking... no data to back that up.

I'll be finalizing plumbing and electrical over the holidays and hopefully begin waterproofing within the next couple of weeks. I'll be sure to keep you all updated.

All the best and enjoy the holidays.

Zayd
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Old 03-10-2018, 04:30 AM   #10
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Hello, folks. Just an update on my project.

This bathroom project was expected to be a slow-go and it's certainly working out that way. I've just finished waterproofing with the USG membrane and thought I'd offer my own experience to other first-timers who go the membrane route. I'm sure all of this advice has been given here, but my own experience reiterates it. These are not necessarily best practices, but my own lessons learned:

1. I applied the membrane over Hardibacker, so it sucked a lot of moisture out of the mortar. I sponged it twice before applying and that kept the issue at bay, especially on the second and third walls when my technique was improving and I was able to move faster. However, I did forget to wet down one section before applying the membrane. Thankfully, a soupier-than-normal mortar mix helped there.

2. Build-up caused by multiple layers is a real thing. Be mindful of how you plan out your approach to minimize this. My installation was a little more complicated in that regard because I have a linear drain running wall to wall, so the attached membrane took some thoughtful folding and tucking in the corners.

3. Although it is not required per the manufacturer for a watertight layer, I still began with the floor and worked my way up, arranging any overlapping layers as you would shingles on a roof. To me, that was extra peace of mind.

4. The membrane did not negotiate outside corners well. Even when creased, I still had some areas where the membrane separated from the wall right by the corner. In retrospect, I would have prepped a 90-degree jig to force contact on those outside corners while the mortar set up. Again, this is my own experience and I'm sure that the pros here routinely wrap outside corners without a problem. Perhaps my creasing wasn't crisp enough.

5. When pushing the membrane into the notched mortar, don't push too hard or you will be peeling back the membrane to apply more mortar -- don't ask how I know. Finding the happy middle ground where there is 100% contact yet still enough mortar to actually make the bond was key. Practice this with scraps.

I am about 12 hours into my water test and everything looks good. I'll begin tiling the floor today with 12x24" porcelain.

The attached images don't show the walls taped or waterproofed, but they are

Thanks to all the generous experts here who share daily. This site has been my go-to source for anything tile related.

Zayd
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