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Old 12-27-2017, 07:56 AM   #1
iggie1222
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River Rock Shower Floor rocks coming loose

Hello! Iíve searched the discussion forums but havenít really been able to find a solution to my problem.

About a year ago I tore out a fiberglass drop in shower frame and replaced it with a full tile shower. I stuffed out the walls and put up the Durock thin set the joints and then red guarded the entire shower. I used a KBRS Hard Core shower slope. I am not worried about water leaking through my floor as Iím rather confident in my water barrier.

My issue is that I should have done some more reasearch on the river rock floor before setting it. The rocks are starting to fall off of the flooor and the grout around the drain has been cracking for sometime. This I initially thought was because I didnít allow enough cure time for the grout. I was just too excited to use my shower.

What is the best way to fix my floor? If I need to tear up the entire floor that can be done Iíd just prefer not to since the issue is really only around the drain.

A few needed details would probably be that I used tec sanded grout for wide gaps, I used tec modified thin set for heavy tiles since I used 12Ēx24Ē porcelain tiles on the walls. I did all the work myself my brother and father are general contractors and Iíve worked with them for many years. The only thing new to any of us was the river rock floor and the KBRS hard core pan.

Any insight is greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-27-2017, 08:48 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, Heather.

Sorry for the problem you're having. Can you tell us if you put thinset down on the subfloor before setting the shower tray?

Also, some manufacturer of shower trays recommend not using pebbles on them. I don't find anything in the KBRS literature about that, but I would recommend you call them and ask.

What size trowel did you use to spread mortar before setting the pebbles? Is there any chance it dried out a little before the pebbles were set? If you didn't allow the mortar to dry before using the shower, that can certainly be a problem.
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Old 12-27-2017, 05:31 PM   #3
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I assume you bedded it in mortar?
The main causes I could think of off hand are...
Deflection
Skimmed over thinset when setting stones
Improper coverage under the pan
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Old 12-27-2017, 08:04 PM   #4
iggie1222
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@kman - I did mortar between the subfloor and the pan and the mortar was set before I grouted the floor. I used a thicker layer or mortar than my trowel really allotted for because I wanted to make sure there was proper coverage. When I asked the company about using river rock they said it shouldnít be a problem before I even purchased the slope. The mortar under the river rock was thick enough that it came up between stones on several sections and I had to wipe it away before it set.

@rmckee84 you are coreect I did mortar before the pan

How do I fix this though? Do I need to tear out the entire floor or should I just tear out the stones around the drain an re thin set them and re grout. Or is there an easier solution.
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Old 12-27-2017, 08:27 PM   #5
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You can attempt to do that but its impossible to say how long it will last. The problem is without knowing the cause you never know how long it will be until it happens again. That and you're trying to adhere to thinset and grout that has soap scum and everything else on it. You could clean and dry as best as you can then try and reset the area. You may need to carefully scrape the area so you dont end up with that area higher than the drain.

What is your subfloor?
What is your joist structure/spacing/longest unsupported span?
Is the hole through the subfloor for the drain oversized or possibly too big? This would also contribute to failure around a drain.
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Old 12-27-2017, 08:42 PM   #6
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The subfloor is traditional subfloor I had to cut it out to the run the pipes and drainage. So Iím honestly not sure how thick it is. I bought what was at Loweís that matched what I had.
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Old 12-27-2017, 10:25 PM   #7
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From the pics I cant see anything too glaring, but I dont what what the joist spacing, sizes, or unsupported span is. At this point everything is speculation. You can try and repair the loose stones and see how long that lasts.
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Old 12-28-2017, 09:06 AM   #8
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I'm wondering how you incorporated the clamping drain with Redgard.
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:54 PM   #9
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The shower pan is compressing because the rocks are small. In my opinion foam isn't good for shower pans unless you are using tile bigger than 2 x 2.

Peel the tile off carefully. When removing the tile don't use anything that is sharp as you increase the risk of gouging the pan. If you do take a small chunk out re waterproof it.

If the pan isn't damaged then you could install larger tile back on the pan.

I had to a similar failure with a WEDI pan. Foam is no good in my opinion.
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Old 12-28-2017, 03:07 PM   #10
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The Kerdi sheet membrane is better at reinforcing the foam pan than (IMHO) the coating used on Wedi and apparently, the pan you used. Foam is good if you don't have point loads (they use it in bridge abutments with heavy traffic going over it daily), but it's all about spreading the load well. Wedi calls for epoxy thinset when using smaller tile, or something similar to those rounded pebbles. Some pebbles are cut so that they have a flat back, that might end up being safer.

As was mentioned, making a waterproof seal with RedGard on a clamping drain can get tricky and problematic.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:53 AM   #11
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For the drain I used a s*** Ton of silicone caulk( nearly an entire tube ) ! The pan is cut to fit the drain then I unscrewed the top flange piece siliconed between the pan and the top clamp piece of the drain tightened the bolts down and then red guarded the entire drain/shower. Once all of that dried I filled the pan with water and let it set a few hours and then drained let it dry out and then used a moisture gauge to check for leaks. Iím pretty confident in the ability of this shower to not leak water and cause mold damage.

Honestly the only issue I have in this entire shower is the drain area. The rest of the foam holds up really well and the entire shower has withheld
Some decent pressure loads from 3 full size boxers getting a bath to three full size adults helping me shower when I was in neck brace.

Iím going to try tearing up the small sheet of rocks surrounding the drain and then just attaching the rocks themselves individually. Will epoxy thin set cling to non epoxy? Maybe I should try that around the drain area instead. I had two stones pop off wishing a day of finishing the shower but they were two that never really sat in the thin set and I just siliconed then back down and have had no issues.

Thanks everyone for your opinions.
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:40 AM   #12
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Do you have access to the subfloor underneath? It would be worth it to check for leaks, since your drain/pan connection is tenuous, at best.
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:11 PM   #13
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Around the drain is exactly where the tile came loose on WEDI pan. Its a pattern with foam pans and smaller tile.
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Old 12-29-2017, 07:48 PM   #14
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What do the pebbles look like underneath? Is there thinset bonded to them or did they come off clean?
I've seen some pebble tile that's adhered to the mesh sheets with some kind of adhesive that gets soft when wet. It kinda blocks the thinset from getting through the mesh and making full contact with the pebble too.

I use foam pans but also not a huge fan of them either. I always use epoxy grout on them too, it seems to help.
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Old 01-15-2018, 08:06 AM   #15
iggie1222
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Follow Up

So I decided to try and just replace the rocks that were falling off with tearing up the sheet around the drain, and then I WAS going to apply new thin set, and use epoxy grout around the drain...This did not happen

As I started to pull up the sheet around the drain a large section came up and pulled up all the red guard and thin set within a foot radius of the drain. So I decided to tear out the entire river rock floor. I'm currently trying to grind out the remaining thin set and mortar, since the rest of the shower was sturdy only the rocks popped off the sheets. So that answers my question with the glue of the sheets failing.

I have decided to use regular 2in x 2in porcelain tile and epoxy grout.

Where I am confused is that both Lowes and Home Depot (yes I know they employ idiots) have told me to use a Mastic to set the tile...However all the mastic's I see say specifically do not use on shower floors. Are they figuring that since I am using an Epoxy grout that it will be ok to use a mold/mildew proof Mastic?

Also now that I'm using tile instead of river rock my drain will be to high, is it possible to just twist the inner part of the Oatey PVC drain out, and just replace the twisting part, since the entire clamping part is intact?

I'm just looking for some opinions again, as I know when I go back into lowes they are going to suggest something completely asinine that will get them the most money.

I did also email KBRS, and ask what they suggest to use a a adhesive for the tiles, since most people haven't seen to use their bases/pre-slopes.
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