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Old 06-22-2011, 01:13 PM   #1
misfit
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Backerboard - Drywall Transition

I am preparing a shower to be rebuilt. I know my limits and know that I do not have the skills to build the floor or set the tiles, so I have a 'tile guy' who will handle that part for me. My job is simply to prepare the site so it is ready for him. I have torn out the old shower and exposed the studs and concrete foundation, and I had the plumber out to install the new valves, so now I am ready to close up the walls. The plan is to tile 7 feet up the wall, leaving a foot of drywall above the tile and on the ceiling. I am using Hardibacker board for the tile area, but I am unsure how to handle the transition from backerboard to drywall. I'm using 12X12 tiles for the wall and those will be topped off with 3X12 bullnose tiles. My tile guy said to have the drywall come down far enough to fall behind the top row of 12-inch tiles because he was concerned that the 3-inch bullnose tiles would be too small to adhere well to the drywall while covering the seam. So I have the drywall stopping about 4 inches down from the top of the 12-inch tile and backerboard below that.

In the meantime, I have been reading these forums and learning that greenboard as a tile backer is not ideal. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that. But if I fix the wall so that the tiles are all completely on the backerboard, I'm not sure how to get a clean transition to the drywall, especially if a gap is needed between that and the backerboard. So what is the proper way (or ways) to handle this?

Another concern is that I noticed too late that the 1/2 Hardibacker board is actually 7/16 inch while the drywall is 1/2 inch. Is that a problem for setting the tiles?

I should also explain that I may have made a mistake in the drywall I picked out. I have always heard of 'greenboard' but never really investigated it. When I went to buy my greenboard, I found the stores here had only a blue/purple board that was marked as moisture resitant. No problem, I thought; I don't care about the color. Different manufactures must use different colors to differentiate their types of drywall. But later I learned that this drywall is not recommended as a tile backer, even though it is definitely labeled as 'moisture resistant'. It isn't too late to replace it. Should I?

I appreciate any feedback. I'm ignorant, but not stupid, and I'm always willing to learn.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:22 PM   #2
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Martin, I think you may be getting the cart before the horse. The backerboard doesn't go up until the pan is set, whether it is a site made PVC liner and mud pan or pre-fabricated plastic receptor. The only exception I know of is Kerdi showers, and I didn't read you were doing one.

Hardibacker can be shimmed out with strips of tarpaper tacked to the studs before the moisture barrier is installed. You can get a even transition between Hardi and drywall. If this joint is above the shower head (and it should be) then use regular drywall tape and a setting type compound and finish that joint as if you were going to paint it. It'll be fine for tile.

If you have any doubts about the choice of building material, take it back. That applies to everything in your house. You, and only you, must be completely happy with your choices. Those choices are best made informed, or you will always have doubt. There is no room for doubt in a shower, no matter how big you make it.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:04 PM   #3
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Bob,

Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, it does sound like I have the cart before the horse, but I failed to explain that I am just getting the pieces ready to put together in advance so that the tile guy doesn't have to spend his time doing that. I am not permanently installing the backerboard yet. Let's just say I'm getting the horses out of the barn and ready to hook up to the cart.

That is a good idea about shimming the backerboard with strips of tar paper on the studs. I can do that.

I have since had another idea and I'm wondering how this will work. Is there any reason why I can't use the Hardibacker for the entire shower wall all the way to the ceiling and dispense with the drywall? With the smooth side out and painted where the drywall would normally show, it should look as good as drywall, or would it? I only need it in the shower wall area and those walls are distinct and separate from the rest of the bathroom walls. Is that feasible, ill-advised or just plain dumb?
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:12 PM   #4
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As long as your shower walls are discrete from the rest of the room, why don't you tile all the way to the ceiling. I like that look better unless you have some fancy edging planned for the top of your tile. It also saves on trim pieces.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:24 PM   #5
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While I have not tried it, I've read that the backer board can be painted just like if it were drywall.

The trick is going to be in mudding the joints. You won't be able to get the same smooth finish with the morter you are supposed to use over the cement board tape you use to tape the joints. So you'll need to stop covering the joint/tape at the transision point and then use drywall mud from that point up. You should be able to smooth over any irregularities (such as screw holes) with the drywall mud as well. Then just paint as you normally would (one coat of primer, two coats of finish paint).

But I was thinking along the same lines as Wendy... just take the tile to the ceiling.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:40 PM   #6
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Thanks to Wendy and Joseph for the suggestion to tile all the way to the ceiling. For some reason, I just wasn't thinking in those terms and didn't like the idea at first. But now that I have thought about it and pre-visualized it, I like it. Great idea! That solves my problem. Thanks for suggesting it.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:58 PM   #7
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That's why we pay her so much, Martin, even though she is just a girl.
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Old 06-23-2011, 06:53 AM   #8
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Moisture Barrier Hybrid

I am building a traditional shower using 6 mil polyethelene behind tiled Hardibacker walls. But I also plan to have a niche or two on one wall, and, from reading other threads on this forum, I see that it is necessary to use waterproofing (probably RedGard in my case) around and above the niche. Since the RedGard is needed anyway, I am thinking I could use the entire gallon on that one entire wall. (It appears that one gallon will be enough to thoroughly cover that one wall, but I won't know for sure until the time comes.) So would it be workable to use 6 mil poly on the other 3 walls? I'm guessing it would be wise to wrap a few inches of poly around the corners overlapping the RedGard wall, but I'm not sure how many inches.

I have to say I wonder about the longevity of both 6 mil poly and the RedGard. I have seen poly disintegrate over time down here in my hot and humid deep south location, and I have no idea how long RedGard lasts. Does anyone out there have any long-term experience with both?

One other concern: Is this 6 mil poly moisture barrier the same stuff that you buy as 'plastic sheeting' at Home Depot or is it something special you buy at specialty stores? I see that Home Depot has a 6 mil polyethelene roll for around $25, and I'm assuming that is suitable. Please advise if not.
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:20 AM   #9
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Martin, it'll help if you'll keep all your project questions on one thread so folks can see what you're working on and what's been previously asked and answered. We can give it a more generic title any time you'd like.

Your plan will work fine if properly executed. I usually recommend at least a six-inch overlap of the moisture barrier behind the wallboard and the direct bonded waterproofing membrane on the face. But I know of no manufacturer's recommendation nor industry standard for that.

The six-mil poly you find in the paint department at Homer's is fine for the application. I've never known the stuff to deteriorate at all except in the presence of UV radiation. And I've encountered very few shower applications where the sun would be shining on the moisture barrier, eh?

I've cut holes in SOG foundations that were more than twenty years old and found the poly vapor barrier in near perfect condition. Can't say as I've uncovered any RedGard more than seven years old, but it was just fine, too. Dunno just how long either might last, and I'm not likely to be around long enough for a really valid long-term test. Maybe Custom has some data on the RedGard.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:23 AM   #10
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I think polyethylene sheeting will last as long as you'll ever want in a shower. Sunlight (UV) is the great killer of PE sheeting. Your shower walls should never get hot enough to worry it, and water surely won't. Yes, it's the same stuff sold at HD.

I'd not use the Redgard the way you propose if it is simply to use it up. The biggest disadvantage of a roll-on membrane is the potential for not applying enough or leaving voids in the membrane. You increase the probably of that by using more of it than you really need. Add to that the lap joints in the critical corner areas, and, well, I would lose a little sleep over it.
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Old 06-23-2011, 01:16 PM   #11
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Thanks for the replies. But, Bob, I am a little unclear about how to handle this then. If I put the RedGard on the niche area alone, I will still need to have the 6 mil poly behind that wall, I assume. I don't see how to insert a niche into its space and adhere it to the back wall and/or framing without cutting the poly. Is that safe to do, or am I missing something?
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Old 06-24-2011, 11:48 AM   #12
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To add to my previous question: For that matter, what is the proper way to cut and dress the poly around the showerhead and valves? I understand that the first line of defense are the valve trim pieces, but do I need to worry about a second line of defense here?
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