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Old 09-20-2016, 07:17 PM   #1
Eric Woollen
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South Florida Drop Down Shower

Hello Everyone! First, thanks for all the advice! What a fantastic resource this has been.

I'm working on a first floor master bathroom remodel which includes a complete shower redesign and redo. I live in South Florida where it is common to see drop down shower designs. In this design there is a 6" deep depression in the concrete slab foundation where the shower is supposed to go. My shower was in the corner of the bathroom with the door on the diagonal. I've demo'd the two interior walls and will replace with a frameless glass enclosure. In the attached picture, you're looking down at the recessed area from the upper corner of the shower. There is a tub to the right and a toilet to the left (out of frame, but you can see the brush). I've been told that's a our very best hand towel shoved into the drain (oops). I intend to build a short knee wall to separate the tub from the shower (the wall will rest on the right section of the step). The left and middle sections of the step will be floor to ceiling glass (middle being the door). I don't intend on building a curb because the drop down serves that purpose. My problem is that the recessed area must be a little bit smaller to accommodate the knee wall and to limit the width of the door. The original builder seems to have solved this by shoving deck mud under the walls but this doesn't seem correct to my untrained eye. The blue tape on the floor indicates the desired size of the slab recession. On the right and left (where I need to build out the step by approx. 4" and 2", respectively), I figure I can install tapcon anchors, build wood forms, apply concrete bonding agent, and dump in high strength concrete as though I were repairing a patio step. However, the middle section only needs to be built out by 1/2" on average. I'm afraid if I were to use the same method, I would end up with a crumbled mess when I pull back the wood form. My other thought was to use "Quikrete Wall Float" (described as a leveling mortar designed for vertical and overhead applications over tile lath or concrete masonry) but was not sure if this was the correct application. Thoughts? I would greatly appreciate suggestions on the correct product/method (specifically, for correcting the size of the recessed area)? I'm open to anything that makes good sense.
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Old 09-20-2016, 07:44 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, Eric.

What's the distance marked in red for your door opening?

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Old 09-20-2016, 08:22 PM   #3
Eric Woollen
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I'm planning a 28" door. The finished distance of the opening from one side to the other at the edge of the step will be a bit smaller due to the door being about three inches from the step.


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Old 09-20-2016, 11:27 PM   #4
jadnashua
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It's my understanding that code requires a minimum of a 24" opening into the shower, and many people find that a bit small. It sounds like you're going to be a bit close because of the door, jam, and pivot point.

My preference is to use a surface sheet membrane for waterproofing. Schluter makes one along with various other companies. You could build your knee wall out of their foam, waterproof panels rather than using wood, and then having to try to waterproof things. You might want to check out some of their videos to get an idea of the concept at www.schluter.com.

Florida seems to ignore the national plumbing code and allows a shower to be built without a waterproof liner over a concrete slab, which I find to be a really stupid idea, especially with the prevalence of carpenter ants and termites that are attracted to moisture. IMHO, it's really best to contain it, and direct it down the drain.
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Old 09-21-2016, 05:34 AM   #5
Eric Woollen
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Thanks Jim. I'm planning a three piece frameless enclosure. That way the door panel takes up the entire 28". Interesting idea about the knee wall. I've been impressed with schluter products (expensive though!) so I will definitely give that a look. You're not kidding about Florida. It seems like everywhere I turn in this house there are questionable building methods. Mostly just sloppy work, but still highly annoying. Thanks.


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Old 09-21-2016, 08:07 AM   #6
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Hi Eric, I clicked on your post because I have the exact same shower layout in my SoFlo home and will be starting on it soon. As it turns out, we have a product that can help. I'd suggest Mapecem Premix. Mix it like a typical dry pack consistency, checking that you can form a firm ball in your hand without excess moisture on the surface. Prior to placing the Premix, apply some Ultraflex 3 to act as a bond coat to the existing concrete.
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Old 09-21-2016, 09:12 AM   #7
Eric Woollen
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Thanks for the input Dan. Just a few questions:
  1. Are you suggesting that I use the Mapecem Premix on the middle segment only, or also on the left and right where the application will be thicker?
  2. Will I be able to pack/shape this without using wood forms while it cures?
  3. Will I need to use any sort of anchoring mechanism other than the Ultraflex 3 (i.e., wire mesh, etc.)?

Thanks again,
Eric.
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Old 09-21-2016, 09:25 AM   #8
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1. All three areas. It's good up to 4" thick but since you're in a small area there, if you go slightly over the 4" it should still be OK
2. You won't need a form. Pack and shape (a wooden float can help you get a nice, finished face)
3. The scrub coat of Ultraflex 3 should be all you need to achieve a mechanic bond to the existing surface, you shouldn't need Tapcons, wire mesh, etc. If you want to add mesh it certainly won't hurt anything.

If you have any additional questions call the number below and ask for John, I've had him read through your thread and he can help you work through it.

Thanks!
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Old 09-21-2016, 04:02 PM   #9
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Deck mud is sort of similar to wet beach sand...it doesn't flow, but you can pack it together which is very unlike a concrete mix. You usually do pack it against something, but because it doesn't flow, you might not need anything, especially if just filling in and shaping your depression some.
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Old 04-30-2017, 10:47 PM   #10
Eric Woollen
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I installed my shower pan and I'm looking for advice as to whether this is salvageable. Everything seemed great when I finished but things started crumbling when I went to lightly brush the surface. I decided then to brush up as much as I could to determine the extent of the problem. What you see in the pictures is quite solid. I'm hopeful that I can patch the problem areas with thinset and move on with the job. My main concern here is that there seems to be crumbling from under the lip of the kerdi drain (which moves a tiny bit when I push down on it). My current plan is to scrape out enough from under the lip that I can push thinset under it so that it is fully supported. Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 04-30-2017, 11:40 PM   #11
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Personally I would redo, looks like the perimeter screed is separating from the in fill. Deck mud is cheap and the more you use it the better you get at it.
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Old 05-01-2017, 12:18 AM   #12
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I second pulling it out and starting over.
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Old 05-01-2017, 09:06 AM   #13
Eric Woollen
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Any idea what I did wrong here? I used 5 bags of mapei 4 to 1 with 2 quarts water per bag. I didn't take any breaks but took at least 5-8 minutes to mix each bag manually with a mortar hoe (back is broken). I mixed a wetter batch special for under the drain. I packed it all down pretty hard. All I can think of is that I took too long between each pour due to time spent mixing and I'm not sure how I could improve much on that. What's left at this point is hard as a rock and I used thinset to bond it to the slab. Also afraid of damaging the drain in a removal attempt. Very disappointed.


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Old 05-01-2017, 09:29 AM   #14
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I doubt you'll damage the drain, if it's loose you should be able to chisel around it.

There's a tool called the bucket mortar mixer. Its a spiral mixer that fits on a drill and will save your back. It's about $80 but it will mix a bag of 4:1 in about 30 seconds.

It looks like it took too long between batches but I can't say for sure. It may be hard but it doesn't look very smooth and trying to install kerdi over what you have wont turn out well. I like to hit the mud with a steel trowel at the end to really get it nice and smooth.
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Old 05-01-2017, 09:33 AM   #15
Eric Woollen
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Thanks for the tip. I saw people using that tool but couldn't justify the expense for one time use. Boy do I regret that decision. Btw, I plan on painting the aquadefense instead of the kerdi membrane.


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