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Old 10-20-2017, 01:57 PM   #1
irishexpat
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Weekend Warrior attacking 3 bathrooms...

Hey All,

I've been trying to absorb a lot of information over that past few weeks about redoing bathrooms, as I've promised my wife updated bathrooms before kiddo #2 arrives next spring.

I have 2 bathrooms upstairs already torn down to studs and subfloor. Bathroom #1 has a built in tub, and bathroom #2 has a standup shower. I am planning on leaving the tub and shower pan as is. Bathroom #3 is the downstairs master, where I will be ripping out the entire shower including pan and rebuilding from the ground up.

As you can imagine, budget is a factor here (when isn't it?). I don't have any problems spending money when the benefits are obvious, but I don't want to overspend to provide a level of protection/finish that isn't warranted in the particular situation.

In all 3 bathrooms I will be using a standard 3x6 subway tile.

This weekend I would love to get cement board up in the tub and shower upstairs. However, to do this I need ot make a decision about vapor membranes.

I've read a lot online about plastic sheeting, liquid membranes, fabric membranes, and foam boards. I've basically struck foam boards out based on price. I really don't like the idea of the liquid membranes, just because I'm too fearful of operator error.

That leaves me with the decision between plastic sheeting and a fabric membrane. Obviously, the fabric membrane is going to be far more expensive. And it will provide a more waterproof end product. I get that. But will my bathtub and shower upstairs be reasonably protected from moisture by using plastic sheeting, assuming that it's properly drained into the pan and weep holes in the grout exist?

The thing that's throwing a wrench in the works for me are niches. I want to put 1 or 2 niches in each bathroom upstairs. If I choose to go with the sheeting, how do I deal with that?
Do I leave enough slack in the plastic sheeting for the niche to simply 'push' the plastic sheeting deeper into the wall cavity?
If I do that, do I need to waterproof the niche at the surface? Or just tape the seams between niche and cement board?
Do I cut the sheeting around the niche?
If I do that, I assume I need to waterproof the niche at the surface?
I tried to search for the answer to this specific question, but didn't find a good answer. Apologies if this has already been asked.

I'm sure I'll have more questions after this weekend too...but if I can get sheeting and cement board up this weekend, I'll feel good about it.
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Old 10-20-2017, 02:36 PM   #2
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Sounds as if you're thinking it out ahead of time...kudos!

My single biggest reason for using surface applied membranes exclusively, whether fabric or trowel-on is that it puts the waterproof layer right below tile and continues it in a single layer all the way to the drain.

No moisture holding mortar on the floor nor potentially damp CBU on walls. Makes the potential for dank, mold and stink much, much less. Makes all kinds of sense to me after removing some pretty nasty messes.


Concerning niches: in general terms, you treat is like wallpaper in the niches. Fold and overlap at least two inches. Typically I make niches out of foam board, which simplifies waterproofing. There are also many ready made.
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Last edited by Carbidetooth; 10-20-2017 at 02:40 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 10-20-2017, 04:02 PM   #3
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So I have about 200sqft of tiling. I estimated $450 for kerdi. Plastic sheeting is basically free. How much would I expect to spend on redgard or something similar for that amount of coverage?

If I can apply it and feel safe about it ill go liquid membrane. I'm just worried after some of the internet pics I've seen showing it peeling off etc.
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Old 10-20-2017, 04:44 PM   #4
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The showers should last 20 - 30 years if done correctly. 450.00/20 is about 22 dollars per year in cost. Sheetrock is cheaper than cement board so that cuts some of the price. Your labor has value. It is less labor to install sheetrock than cement board. It is even easier to install foam boards such as kerdi-board.
If the shower leaks, then the hundreds or thousands of dollars of tile are going to need to be torn out.
Pay me now or pay me later as my Dad used to say.
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Old 10-20-2017, 05:13 PM   #5
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You might also check out USG systems. I've never used it, but others here have and like it, and it's cheaper.

http://www.contractorsdirect.com/USG...ofing-Membrane

Beyond fabric, you'll need proprietary drains and a tube or two of pookey.

http://www.contractorsdirect.com/USG...System-Sealant
http://www.contractorsdirect.com/USG...Drain-Assembly
http://www.contractorsdirect.com/USG...-5-inch-Grates

They require CBU as base material.
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Old 10-20-2017, 06:34 PM   #6
Tool Guy - Kg
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One gallon of RedGard covers 50-55 sq/ft when used for waterproofing. A one gallon pail goes for ~$50 at Home Depot.

They also sell it in a 3.5 gallon pail that covers 175-192 sq/ft when used for waterproofing. It sells for ~$138 at Home Depot.

I appreciate Kirk's math. That's a great way to look at it. But I'd up the ante a bit and say a properly built shower should last more like 50 years.

Lastly, you mentioned one thing that's got my attention and I'm concerned about. You said you're keeping the existing shower pan as is. Do you mean you'll re-use it? If so, they've got a life epectancy to them so I'd want to find out a lot more before I re-used a shower pan. Please tell us more. And pictures would be nice if you can give us some.

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Old 10-20-2017, 07:09 PM   #7
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So Redgard is about $1/square ft? Kerdi, when bought in a 323 ft roll is about $1.25/square ft plus the cost of thinset. Even the 200 ft roll comes in at about 1.33. From online authorized dealers. Just need to search.

As for the value of labor, I'll go against the grain and say that pretty much zero. Everyone seems to like to say that but if the time you save is spent with your rear end on a couch instead of billing per 15 mins then it's not a huge part of the equation.

Anything with a shower floor (not a tub), I'm definitely doing a paint on or Kerdi type membrane. If it's a tub, I'd probably cheap out and vapor barrier it.

Again, I'll defer to the experts but just another point of view.
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Old 10-20-2017, 07:53 PM   #8
irishexpat
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I think I'm starting to come around to your way of thinking Ali. I'll probably stick to a vapor barrier in the bathtub, where the tub will also be getting refinished.

In the upstairs shower, I may just spring for the kerdi kit. The house was built in 1970 and I have no reason to assume that the shower pan is not original. So if the shower pan is reaching the end of its lifespan no reason to chance it. Also, I can get the kerdi 48x48 kit on craigslist for 150. And at that price, I can't justify why not. Also I'm seeing a 55sqft roll for 40. So maybe I just do that.

So if i go with the sheeting in the bathtub, how do I handle the niches? leave some extra sheeting to go behind the niche? or cut a hole in the sheeting when I cut a hole in the cbu?

Lets say if I used somethign like a plastic tile redi niche or a kerdi board niche. How would those interface with a sheeting & cbu surround?
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Old 10-20-2017, 07:54 PM   #9
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You need to look at the finished prep's cost. If you use cbu, the screws are lots more expensive than drywall screws used behind a sheet membrane. It's hard sometimes to get the screws properly seated so they aren't a stilt for the tile. Too deep, and things can crack or become less stable. THen, you have the alkali resistant tape you have to install (and create a potential speed bump). The cbu dust contains silica, which is a carcinogenic material. It's harder to cut, carry, and install (tends to crack if you get the screw in the wrong place or the walls aren't perfectly in plumb). A sheet membrane, you don't have to tape the seam of the drywall...the fabric is much stronger than tape. So, when you compare the benefits of only having a layer of thinset immediately underneath the tile, the whole surface waterproof, verses getting a painted on membrane the right thickness without runs or pinholes, and the surface applied sheet membranes start to look both better and cheaper.
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Old 10-20-2017, 07:58 PM   #10
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We estimate that about 80% of the showers built these days are built incorrectly. More showers are built with regular PVC pan liners than all the other methods combined. So naturally, there's going to be a lot of PVC shower failures. I see them just like the other installers. But, when I tear out a leaking shower, regardless of what method was used, I try to figure out what went wrong. I want to learn from this installer's mistakes if I can. Most of the time, it failed from nails in the top of the curb or no moisture barrier on the lower walls. Just because the shower has a mud bed under the tile doesn't mean it's going to be a moldy swamp. It means it wasn't installed right.

Also, just because you build a Kerdi shower doesn't mean it's bullet proof. I tore one of them out a few months ago. Again, wasn't installed right and it leaked around the drain.

I've also ripped out a paint on membrane shower pan that was only a couple years old. There was a little movement in the walls and the membrane tore where the floor meets the walls. It didn't look like fabric was used with the membrane although I don't know if it would kept it from failing.

My point is that regardless of which one you use, it has to be done correctly to last.
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Old 10-20-2017, 08:55 PM   #11
irishexpat
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alright. you guys have talked me into it. a stitch in time saves nine.

membrane it is. kerdi. all over.

and ill pull out that shower pan and use the shower kit.
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Old 10-21-2017, 08:08 PM   #12
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If your preslope is fine, while you do need to mess with it for the required drain, a mortar bed is far cheaper than their foam pan. Now that you've done one, the next one will go both faster and likely be better. The foam pan only works if you first ensure the floor is perfectly flat, you can get a pan that either can be cut down symmetrically, or fits (along with the drain location), then the mudbed works out better. The foam pan can work fine, and it is quicker and easier to carry home, but it comes at a cost.
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Old 10-22-2017, 02:58 PM   #13
irishexpat
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So I just picked up 350sqft of kerdi plus some pipe fitting.

Gonna make my own shower pan with deckmud.

Go hard or go home I guess...
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Old 10-22-2017, 08:31 PM   #14
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The deck mud may initially seem a bit intimidating. But it's really like working with damp beach sand. And it's super cheap, so you can easily justify practicing a mud floor with a little mock up before you do the real thing.

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Old 10-22-2017, 09:01 PM   #15
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Just to add. The premixed deck mud, specifically the TEC stuff from Lowes, I had a horrible time with. I followed the advice of a few threads here and made my own out of sand/topping mix plus additional sand. The QC on the Sakrete sand/topping mix was pretty lackluster 1 out of 5-6 bags was filled with 3/4" aggregate. I think half the bag was aggregate. The other bags had aggregate that was all between 1/8-1/4" and at a much smaller ratio. not sure it would have mattered in most applications but I'd rather see a consistent product.
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