Shower Drain Height Problems [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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03-16-2017, 08:41 PM
Hi Everyone,

I'm building a 3x5 shower in my upstairs bathroom. We have a shed roof (18 degree pitch) that is made with 1.5" tongue and groove knotty pine. I painted the ceiling with oil based primer and latex semi-gloss. There are obviously gaps between the planks where moisture could get in. The ceiling is about 7.5' high on one side and a little over 9' on the other. 7.5' is on outside wall.

My wife wants to keep it but we will be here for 20 years or longer most likely and I'm worried the wood will get mold or mildew growing overtime. I'm also concerned about water getting through the wood and then somehow leaking down behind my waterproofed shower walls. I would just as soon cover it with backerboard and waterproof and tile with the rest of the shower.

An image of the ceiling is attached. I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.


Ps. Thanks for all the advice over the years. This is my 6th tiling project and I've been reading the forum for years, just never posted.

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03-16-2017, 08:46 PM
Welcome, Cole. :)

1. How high is the ceiling in the shower?

2. Was there a vapor barrier material installed over the joists before the ceiling boards were installed?

3. Is there a properly sized exhaust fan in the bathroom in question?

If you'll add a geographic location to your User Profile we can better assess whether your fair state has a law against painting over beautiful wood ceilings.

03-16-2017, 09:47 PM
Hi Cx,

1. 7.5' to 9' on the high side.

2. I'd be guessing if I said anything. The house is 40+ years old so not sure if that was common practice then or not. We had to drill a vent pipe and there was definitely some insulation boards over the wood, but not sure what else.

3. Yes I added one and it is sized correctly and will have a timer switch installed.

Updated the bio, I'm in Oklahoma.

03-17-2017, 10:16 AM
there was definitely some insulation boards over the wood,Sorry, don't know what "insulation boards" are.

If you did a proper job of painting that ceiling, I'd not worry about it at all, 'specially if that exhaust fan is used after each shower.

My opinion; worth price charged.

03-17-2017, 10:32 AM
I'm guessing there's no attic space above there that you can access the ceiling from to put a vapor barrier up there?

FWIW we recently installed a cedar T&G ceiling and upper wall paneling in a bathtub area, maybe not quite as much moisture as a shower, but pretty steamy. We did put a vapor barrier behind the wood -a foil one like is used for saunas and the walls are well insulated. The window glass steams up when I fill the tub, but I haven't seen any evidence that the wood collects much if any water, but our house is really seriously dry... the thermometer that I've been using in the tub also reads out humidity. It's been reading in upper the 20%'s. We do have a good exhaust fan, but to tell the truth I haven't been running it much because I don't want to dry the cedar any more - it needs a little moisture at the moment.

Bentley Construction
03-17-2017, 11:57 AM
1.Insulation boards? As in Dow foam panels?

2. When you shower do you see droplets of water condensing on ceiling?

03-17-2017, 01:41 PM
There is no attic space. There is the wood, then what I assume is rigid insulation panels about 1" thick, Plywood, tarpaper, shingles. That's guessing based on what we saw when we ran a 1" hole saw through the ceiling.

I take hot showers that usually steam up a bathroom pretty good, but typically there are not droplets. Sounds like I just need to use the fan afterwards and it will be OK.

Thanks everyone.

03-17-2017, 01:44 PM
I did forget to ask one last question:

Do you think I should caulk between the joints of the tongue and groove or just leave the 1/8 to 3/16" gap between them open?

03-17-2017, 02:21 PM
It's T&G I can't imagine you need to caulk.. And real wood will fare better over time than drywall for example. I think IF you have any problem the first sign will be when the paint blisters. I can't imagine any moisture accumulation behind or any chance of condensation running down or even a lot of condensation since wood is also a good insulator.

03-17-2017, 06:36 PM
I would recommend you not caulk those joints.

Bentley Construction
03-18-2017, 09:04 AM
Keep that exhaust fan on during shower time as well. Not just after you are finished.

04-26-2017, 07:44 PM
Hi All,

I am building a 3x5 shower (DIY'er). I have poured my bed, waterproofed, and laid wall tile except bottom row.

The issue I have is that my drain will only screw down so far due to my slope. I'm left with about 3/8" to the top of the drain. My wife had chosen penny tiles for the floor and they are only 3/16" thick. So basically I have to make up 3/16" with thinset and did a little test run... Did not go well. Thinset oozing up through the tiles.

I see my options as:
1. Put down thinset to raise the height
2. Use a thicker tile

#1 opens up the possibility of screwing up my slope if I don't get it on evenly. I am using medium bed mortar because I have large format on the walls, so thickness of thinset wouldn't be a concern necessarily.

Any thoughts?


04-26-2017, 08:34 PM
So its sounds like you built a traditional receptor using a liner and clamping drain?

04-26-2017, 08:36 PM
Yes, that is correct.

04-26-2017, 08:41 PM
Can you post some pics of your drain and what you have going on? Trying to build up with thinset isn't a good option. Thicker tile would probably be the easiest option.

04-26-2017, 08:52 PM
Cole, 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 to suggest one.
The issue I have is that my drain will only screw down so far due to my slope.Can't say as I understand that at all. The problem is usually the opposite when the top mud bed is at least the minimum required 1 1/2 inches thick.

Maybe some more information on just how you created your receptor and maybe a photo or two as Ryan suggested?

04-26-2017, 09:19 PM
I have attached two images. One is a top view so you can see the layout (and the thinset I scraped up), and the other is a side view of the drain with a single tile sitting next to it so you can see the height difference. The issue is really that the drain is about 3/8 and the tile is 3/16 high.

The wife asked if I could just buy another drain? It's a standard PVC 2" threaded connector so I don't see why I couldn't, but not sure if any will be thinner. She's just in love with her tile, I'm sure you guys know all about that :)

Shady at Best
04-26-2017, 09:42 PM
I am not sure what the fix Will be but I am sure of one thing. You do not want to try to float/set that with a thick layer of thinset. You want no business with cleaning the excess thinset out of those joints

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04-26-2017, 09:58 PM
Not seeing what we need to see there, Cole. What I think I see is RedGard covering something and a drain grate sitting atop that something.

If you had built a traditional shower receptor with a "liner and clamping drain" as you previously said, there would not be any RedGard or similar material visible under your drain grate. Therefore my confusion as to what we're seeing in your photos.

With a traditional shower receptor you would make your final mud bed such that it allowed just enough room above the mud bed to let your selected tile plus bonding mortar finish at about 1/32nd of an inch above your drain grate. There would be no problem with the drain grate section screwing down far enough to make that happen.

Have you any in-progress photos of the top drain section and final mud bed being installed?

04-26-2017, 10:00 PM
Cx, It actually screws down plenty far, The issue is really that the top lip of the drain is almost 3/8" thick. Lookinf at some others online they appear to have athinner lip.

Shady, I found that out quickly and backed out of the situation.

04-26-2017, 10:11 PM
Shouldn't matter at all, Cole. If your final mud bed is 1 1/2" thick, you should be able to screw that drain down until the mud covers it if you want to. If you've waited 'till the mud has cured, you'll need to do some chipping to get it to screw down further, but you should have plenty of room for that. What am I missing?

And what about the RedGard on the floor? If you've got a traditional liner under there, you've got more of a problem than just the drain grate sitting higher than your floor tile.

My opinion; worth price charged.

04-26-2017, 10:29 PM
Cx, I used that Quick Pitch System because I was worried about getting my slope right. Here is what I did:

Poured preslope. Set the bottom portion of the drain flush with preslope.

Installed liner. Clamped next section of drain on the bolts and put in weep hole protector.

Installed mud bed with the Quick Pitch. It has a center ring that your bed comes up to and leaves a hole under the drain free that allows you to screw the drain up or down. I thought that sounded good, but am paying the price now. It sounds like this is non standard installation I've done. I might try to find a drain with a thinner lip or will have to get a different tile.

04-27-2017, 06:06 AM
Hi Cole, I assume the Redgard was added for a second membrane of protection. The problem is the Redgard doesn't seal well at the drain and water will eventually get by the Redgard and into the mud bed. Then it will probably never be able to dry out. More is not better in this case. I would chip away enough mud around the drain to allow the grate to screw down where you need it. Then patch up the mud.

04-27-2017, 06:15 AM
Davy you are correct about the redgard. I did it based on a couple of popular pros on youtube. If its not waterproof, then I understand the mold sandwich issue. I put the regard down pretty thick on the floor to try and make sure it was thick enough to be waterproof, but from what you are saying it is not 100% waterprooof.

Didnt think about chipping away, thats a good idea, thank you.

04-27-2017, 10:05 AM
Guess you were more convincing about chipping than was I, Davy. :)

04-27-2017, 10:27 AM
Ha, no, I was just more awake when reading his post than yours :) Thanks for the help.

04-27-2017, 05:39 PM
Ok. time to wake up again. :) Most likely you have the Redgard thick enough to be waterproof but you can't just paint it up to the drain and it seal real well. In time, water will seep in between the Redgard and grate.

Not only that but eventually shower drains will partially stop up with hair and soap buildup which will slow the water flow. When the water becomes restricted in the drain, it will back up thru the weepholes and into the mud bed between the two membranes.

09-06-2017, 09:06 PM
I wanted to stop by and say thanks for all the help. Not only answering my questions, but all the other answers I found on other threads. I finished the project awhile back, but have attached some finished project photos. The 24x24 was much harder to handle than I anticipated. I told the wife only smaller tiles in the future!

07-08-2018, 08:59 AM
Cole, I read your post and Im curious how the shower floor has lasted with the
Mark E pan liner system and coating with redgard.
Im thinking of doing the same thing and just now reading of potential problems.

07-08-2018, 11:22 AM
I would re-think the idea of doing the same thing. And then I would decide not to do the same thing. Pick one waterproofing method and do it correctly. Thatís all you need.

07-08-2018, 12:02 PM
I'm with Lou, more isn't better in this situation. Install the liner correctly and test it. Then protect it while working on it and trust it.