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Old 09-10-2005, 02:00 PM   #1
jgv
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Lower tiles in shower popping

Hello,

I have recently had a low level bathroom remodel done (plumbing all stayed in the same place, really more of a redecorating). I am still suprised about how much I need to know about actually how to do the work in order to supervise professionals.

My ugly shower was replicated with a new fiberglass Jacuzzi brand shower pan, ceramic tile walls on two sides and a shower door and enclosure on two sides.

Shortly after beginning to use the shower, the lower row of tile started popping out--the grout (essentially a "no grout" app-the tiles were butted together) started chipping off the top, the tile started to flex. I can tell now that there is definitely water behind the tile.

It would be hard for me to believe that there is a breach in the integrity of the tile after watching the shower put in--it seemed very professional and careful.

I am now thinking I have a leveling problem on the shower base which was set into a large amount of mortar. It seems that the two sides of the pan slope in opposite ways, creating an area for the water to improperly pool in the weep channel in the back instead of flowing out the weep holes. I would guess that if the water pools then it could wick up into the backer board and pop the tiles out.

What I'm looking for is advice on my assessment of the problem.

Also, this was all done professionally by liscenced, bonded people. No corners were cut on my end in paying for pro services. What can I expect these pro's to do to make it right? If the shower pan is the problem (plumber), should they pay to fix the tile and reinstall the shower enclosure?

Thank you in advance for any assistance. Jgv
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Old 09-10-2005, 02:30 PM   #2
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What was installed behind the tile? And did they use mastic on the wall tiles?
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Old 09-10-2005, 02:44 PM   #3
Tool Guy - Kg
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Welcome jgv
This smells real bad already.

We would love more details. Answer what you know, I'm sure there will be more questions.
What is this talk of no grout?
What type of tiles did you use? Ceramic, Porcelain, or Stone?
What material is your substrate? Drywall, Greenboard, or Cementboard?
What material did they use to set the tiles? Ready to use mastic, Pre-mixed mortar, or Bags of powdered thinset that they mixed with water/liquid from a jug?

If there is extra materials left over, look at the packaging to find some of these answers. And shoot us a first name to use...makes it friendlier around here.
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Old 09-10-2005, 02:51 PM   #4
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Behind the tile

as I recall:

studs
3/4" cement backer board
"red guard"-a stinky paint on bright red membrane

I can't remember exactly what the thinset was. I understand from looking around the site that mastic is a problem. I remember sanded grout for the floor and non-sanded grout for the wall tile. I remember a bag that was mixed with water.

tile
grout
sealer

Other details:
When I say "no grout" I mean that the shower wall tiles were butted together so there isn't a wide grout line.

Wall tiles are Westminster Brand ceramic 4x8" bricks

Thanks
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Old 09-10-2005, 02:53 PM   #5
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tile stickem

I think I recall the material used for sticking the tile to the wall was premixed in a bucket. I think the bag that was mixed was the grout.

If it is any help, the tile supplies came straight from the tile store. I don't have any leftover supplies except for the tile.

I'm sorry I can't use my first name, It's VERY unusual. Thank you for all your help.

Last edited by jgv; 09-10-2005 at 03:06 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 09-10-2005, 03:01 PM   #6
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If the wall tiles have relatively squared edges and they were butted there is a big problem right there. Not likely that much grout got in those tiny cracks to seal them.

The premixed adhesive they used (basically a glue) is the next big problem, as it is not waterproof. Plus it takes a very long time for it to dry out behind a tile. Stick it up against a waterproof membrane like Redgard and it will take even longer to dry.

Now start taking showers and water will find those tiny cracks that grout couldn't get into and it will start waterlogging the premixed goo. Now you have tiles mushing on the walls and even more water is getting in.

I may not be asking all the questions I need to but already am certain that the only fix is a complete tear-out and re-build by someone who understands what they are doing. Anyone can cut tiles and carefully lay them. It takes an understanding of how things work to make a shower last for generations. Sorry to be the one breaking this to you. I'll let more chime in and ask more if they would like. I think the best thing to do is document everything you know because this may get ugly. Spend time now and you'll be more successful in getting this fixed properly later.

Oh, and if ya don't give us a name to call you by, someone is going to cut off the info flow pretty soon............
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Old 09-10-2005, 03:10 PM   #7
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Name

OK, OK, ...

You can call me Pandora.
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Old 09-10-2005, 03:13 PM   #8
Tool Guy - Kg
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Hi Pandora

Do you have any estimates or invoices with any details showing what materials were to be used?
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Old 09-10-2005, 03:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgv
OK, OK, ...

You can call me Pandora.
Hello there Pandora, can you post a couple pictures, a close up of the back of a tile with adhesive on it would be great - and of the area where the tiles is poping off too!

If the adhesive used was premixed thinset or mastic ( both come out of bucket ) then it will never dry behind the tiles because redguard is acting as a vapor barrier and wont allow moisture to evaporate, just like the lid on a bucket keeps the contents form drying out.
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Old 09-10-2005, 03:54 PM   #10
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more details

My proposal says a generic "set, grout, seal"

I can take pictures, but the tiles are not off yet. The thin grout is flaking out and the worst of the tiles are pulling away, so that when I've taken a shower, I can push the tile, which flexes, and water comes out. I have pulled away an inch of caulk which is between the bottom of the bottom tile and the base--and again, it's wet back there. I am resisting pulling too much away before my hubby starts his serious discussions with the contractors.

So I don't know how much detail I can capture, but I will post some pix to get you a better idea.

Pandora
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Old 09-10-2005, 04:06 PM   #11
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Bummer.
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Old 09-11-2005, 08:06 PM   #12
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Let's see if I can post pix...

The large shower pic is the overall shower. The damage is against the wall the camera is facing, not the wall with the valve. The worst is in the center of the back wall, the lowest row of tile. The damage seems to be working its way around the lower row. There is also a section on the same wall at waist height that seems to be starting the same process.

The closeup is dark but seems to show the damage best.

I look forward to your thoughts on how the shower should be redone correctly. Our first attempt will be to try to get the tile guy to redo the work, and I believe him to be sincere, so I don't know that he will know to do any differently than he has already done.

I've reviewed a number of interesting posts in the Pro's hangout about unsatisfied and unreasonable customers and what you pro's have done to try to make the job good. As you can see, I have a serious issue (not just an eye of the beholder issue) that you suggest requires a complete tear out. Would I expect my tile guy to cover the costs for tile? for a reinstall on the enclosure? the plumber to reinstall the hardware?

Thanks so much, Pandora
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Last edited by jgv; 09-11-2005 at 08:54 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 09-11-2005, 08:09 PM   #13
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next pic

The lower seam is caulk--I've pulled away about an inch to check it out. The top of the tile is grout which has flaked away. After being away a few days, the shower dried out. then our first shower back it was really easy to see that the entire tile flexed and the water was clearly behind it. thanks, pandora
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Last edited by jgv; 09-11-2005 at 08:13 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 09-11-2005, 10:22 PM   #14
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Take a look at your tile. You said you had some left-over. I think it probably has some little "ears" that stick out from the perimeter of the tile. Put a couple of them against each other. Are there little ears that keep the tiles spaced apart a little? Probably. That would explain why you said they were butted tightly together, when it looks like (form pictures) you have a 1/16" grout line. Nothing wrong with a 1/16" grout line and unsanded grout. It is unsanded grout, isn't it?

I think the major problem is the use of pre-mixed mortar that needs to dry via evaporation and it is not going to happen being trapped between the RedGard and the tile. Think about it, the pre-mixed mortar doesn't dry out in the bucket as long as the lid is on it. Now how can it dry being trapped like that? It can't. If he used pre-mixed mortar like you said, this looks like the cause of your grief. It is simply not compatible with a waterproofing membrane.

The tile guy should know what he is doing. If this is indeed what happened, he is unfortunately 100% responsible for replacing everything that is necessary to get you back to a shower built with the proper materials.

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Old 09-12-2005, 07:34 AM   #15
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Ears on tile

There aren't any "ears" on the tile. It is possible to put them completely flush with each other. Tile is Westminster (brand) meridien (style). However, I guess now that the tile is failing and the grout is flaking out, there is a little grout line between the tiles--not much--a 1/16" is possible.

It was unsanded grout.

So I want the shower redone with a thinset that he mixes?

Thanks, Pandora
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