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Old 07-10-2013, 07:39 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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Never Tiled Before / Old House Bathroom Wall

I tried finding similar posts on this site, but most of them were from people that seemed far more informed on the topic than I am.
So to begin with, if there is a post or a couple of posts that answer my questions, please feel free to provide them, harass me, and promptly delete this post.

My grandmother lives in a house that is about 100 years old (giver or take a decade either direction). In the bathroom, I think the walls are sheetrock (but possibly plaster) over wood slats (she has said more than once that she doesn't think the walls have studs.. I'm not even certain that is possible. I have replaced an old socket with a new GFCI socket and underneath the sheetrock there are just woooden slats with a metal mesh over them).

As far as I'm aware the tub is original and not fiberglass (it feels like porcelain or some similar material). Its surrounded by three walls. One short wall, a long wall, and then the final short wall that is actually part shelf (like a vertical wall then a 90 degree angle to a flat shelf about 1ft long to a 90 degree angle back to verticle wall). Currently, there is just some cheapo plastic crap screwed into the walls for "water proofing". She doesn't like to accept it.. but all the walls in the bathroom have mold and I highly suspect that the cheapo plastic corner pieces that are bulging with mold are an indicator that the cheapo plastic wall covers are not "water proof". They're just psychologically pleasing.
Finally, it might be important to know that this is a second story bathroom in an old house.
So I made the mistake of saying "it surely can't be that hard to tile three small walls". Then I found these forums.

Keeping in mind that I know next to nothing about anything...

I already read that I shouldn't just slab mortar on the sheetrock and just throw tiles on it. Do I remove the sheet rock? Or can I just put something over that and then tile?
If I do remove the sheet rock, and discover that somehow this house has no studs, what do I put on the walls?

I can watch videos of the actual how to.. and even build a small replica practice wall... but what are the basic steps? I.E. I install a waterproof layer, then a base, then tile???

At the bottom edge where the wall / tile would meet the tub can I just grout? Or will I need some sort of special corner to tub thing going on?

Likewise, for the 90 degree angle where the vertical short wall becomes a horizontal shelf, is there some special way to do that corner? Or just... grout?

Also, am I in shit creek naked without either boat or paddle? Or is this doable for someone who's good with hands / tools etc.. but never tiled?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:45 AM   #2
Bodie Powers
Retired cabinet maker/remodeler
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Three Rivers, Oregon
Posts: 1,348
"mold in the walls"

"cheapo plastic crap screwed into the walls for waterproofing".

Sounds like that bathroom is badly in need of a complete tear out and redo. Have you consulted a local contractor to get an opinion?

It helps to post pics so we can see what you're dealing with.
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Old 07-17-2013, 05:29 AM   #3
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Location: Chester County, PA
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Kerdi a possibility

Depending on the condition of the plaster after you remove the plastic and how things would align where the tile meets the tube you might be able to use Kerdi membrane over the plaster and then tile. Kerdi adds very little thickness to the wall.

Of course the plaster would need to be flat enough for you to be satisfied with the end product and solid enough for good adhesion of the Kerdi.

The Kerdi would do a great job of sealing off any remaining mold in the wall from its moisture source essentially shutting down any mold growth, and it would effectively encase any mold that remained there to keep it out of your environment.
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