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Old 04-13-2004, 01:09 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 41
Tile over adobe block in shower

Hi all. First let me take the time to thank everyone for all the great information I have found here. I have been what you call a lurker for quite some time.

Ok here is the situationÖ My house is made out of adobe block (the crumbly stuff made out of clay mud poured in a form, then dumped out on the ground and left to slump and dry in the sun), and as such its mortal enemy is water. I have a section of short decorative wall made at the same time as my house that hasnít been waterproofed once a year and if you spray it with a hose it literally washes away the wall.

In my shower the back wall (furthest away from the shower head) is an exterior wall. There is something behind the tile on that wall that is about Ĺ inch thick, and there are cap pieces all the way around the perimeter. Would anyone care to hazard a guess as to whatís behind there?

The one think that worries me is that the adobe isnít very strong when it comes to removing fasteners. Donít get me wrong; it holds to the fasteners like all get out, it just doesnít hold to itself. It has a tendency to leave large craters behind. My fear is to find a mud adhered directly to the adobe and maybe some wire lath. I doubt there is any waterproofing in there. This speculation is based on the fact that in Arizona people seem to be morally apposed to using any kind of waterproofing anywhere.

The reason that I am tearing out the shower is mostly due to the fact that row of tile above the one in the shower ďpanĒ (we here like to make 4 inch depressions in the concrete slab and slope it towards the drain and call it a pan) has come to provide a natural rain shelter for its brother below it due to apparent swelling of the walls at the base. I sure hope the exterior wall hasnít been affected.

Any guesses as to what Iíll find on the tear out, and most importantly any one have any experience with adobe walls? Iím not sure what the best way to re-tile that wall will be. The rest of the wall is just painted over adobe (that is where the paint still sticks to it, but thatís more of a ventilation issue during long hot showers).

Sorry about the long post, I tend to get a little verbose.


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Old 04-13-2004, 04:51 PM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: LaConner, Washington
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Hi Jon and welcome to the Forum.

We'll have to get John Bridge's attention on this one. I think he spent some time out your way, back in the covered wagon days, maybe even played a part in inventing adobe. So he da expert I'd want to hear from. He usually show up 'bout this time so rest easy, he'll be here.
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Old 04-13-2004, 07:14 PM   #3
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Hi Jon,

Last adobe building I toured was the church at San Xavier Mission outside Tucson.

Jon, I'm guessing you have sheetrock or backer board behind the tile. I would give it a pry. It might just pull out. I don't think cement mortar would really bond to the adobe. I think the mesh would have to be attached mechanically. In any case, you're going to be replacing the tiles. A few little chinks that will be covered won't hurt anything.
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Old 04-14-2004, 12:34 PM   #4
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Location: Tucson, AZ
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Smile Thanks John

Thanks for the reply John! That was my best case scenario, I'll let you know what I find when I get in there.

I have a coupla projects ahead of this one. Gonna help my buddy tear out his shower and replace it this weekend (well were going to start this weekend anyway). Then I get to turn the bathtub in my hall into a combination bath/shower on account of me being too 'AHEM' large to take baths for the extended period of time I know it will take me to get my master bathroom done.

I dont know what got into me when I bought an adobe home... I think my wife talked me into it. Its a real pain when it comes to remodeling and even though it isnt painted outside I still have to seal it once a year.

A few years back my dad and I went to San Xavier while they were doing some repair work on the exterior stucco. Since it is a national historic building they were repairing it using "original techniques". The binding ingrediants they used were boiled prickly pear and other native plants and cacti. It was very interesting and stinky.

I have learned that we here in the soutwest have ways of building things that nobody in their right minds would think of or use... I particularily liked your article on slabs. Prior to coming here I would never have given it a second thought. In fact we never give substrates much of a thought arround here. I shudder to mention how I learned to tile but lets just say prep work and proper dry times were not high on the list of priorities with the people I labored for.


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