Restore or replace tile shower? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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07-14-2019, 08:46 AM
I have a tile shower of unknown age (at most 25 years) that at the least needs to be re-grouted. During my investigation of the shower I removed an access panel behind the shower to inspect the backer board and plumping. The back of the backer board looks good but if I stick my finger down between the backer board and the lip of the vinyl pan liner it is very moist and my finger then smells like mold. Just wondering how normal this is? I would hate to re-grout the whole shower (walls and floor) only to be ignoring a bigger problem.

My wife is sensitive to mold so I'm wondering if I shouldn't just start over with a solid base or a better waterproofing product like kerdi (which is what I did for my last project).


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07-14-2019, 08:59 AM
Hi Patrick, :wave:

Well I’d say Mrs. Patrick has the say in this decision. More bathroom are updated due to changing tastes and styles than failures.

At 25 years, you’ve had a good run. I redid both of our at that point too but their transformations had to do with terminal ugliness (my wife’s view) and my desire for a walk in shower.

Re the moldy smell by the liner, was it wet back there and did you have mold on you hand where you touched it? If dry and no mold probably just typically musty area smell due to no air circulation. Also could be the original builder didn’t the required water “proofing” layer (6 mil poly, tar paper, etc.) in so you are getting some moisture moving through the CBU.

If it’s wet back there you may want to added a new Kerdi (or Durock!) shower to your to do list!! :D

John Bridge
07-14-2019, 09:14 AM
Welcome aboard, Patrick. :)

Cement boards can wick water upwards, and that's probably what has happened. Replacing the shower is the only way I know to get rid of the mold. :)

07-14-2019, 10:07 AM
Thanks for the comments. The more I look at this the more it seems like I should just start over so that I know things will be done right. It's a bit daunting for me to do the whole thing but you guys were so helpful when I renovated the shower in my last house I feel better about taking it on.

Just for the record, below is a picture of what I was talking about. The black rubber is what I assume to be the pan liner. When I stick my finger down as far as I can between that liner and the backer board it's wet and smelly.


07-14-2019, 12:22 PM
Welcome back, Patrick. :)

At 25 years, I'd think there's a good chance that your drain's weep holes are plugged up. That could result in the top mud bed holding a good deal of water, which could lead to some wicking up the wallboard at the edges. Unplugging those weep holes might be helpful, but it's still gonna be a 25 year-old shower, eh?

My opinion; worth price charged.

07-14-2019, 01:15 PM
Not sure how far down you're taking this demo, but it looks like those valves may have been inaccessible behind drywall?

If it were mine, I'd replace those bleeder screw gate valves with ball valves sans bleeder and put either a cover over them on backside or put in crawlspace, assuming there is one.

Alternately, you can get shower valves with built in stops, which can be handy. I've used a lot of these for clients and would put in my own home:!c1709211100!a66212958429!dc!ng&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpavpBRDQARIsAPfTwiye62eQTLWbo75Farvy7iXIt_o-8hngxmOb810CTPMVOIPiP__TOgYaAl-wEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

07-15-2019, 06:30 PM
Those valves were already behind an access panel. So you would replace them because of the reliability of the screw gate valves?

07-16-2019, 08:00 AM
Can't tell if they're gate valves or just typical saddle valves with drain caps. Regardless, if you're going to demo the shower replace them with full flow ball valves as mentioned above.

07-16-2019, 08:33 AM
Ball valves more reliably shut completely off and do it with 1/4' betta. The bleed screws just add an extra failure point and I can't see how they be used as designed in your application.

FWIW, they may well be saddle valves. I tend to call all valves that aren't ball valves "gate" folly. Most saddle valves depend on a rubber washer to seal when shut and they deteriorate with age and don't stop flow which renders them sorta worthless.

So yeah, I'd replace them because of what they are, (and aren't).

Edit to add: Because I'm curious and some might say OCD, I did some Googling. Turns out what I'm talking about above is called a "globe valve". If I knew that I'd forgotten. Suffice to say, there's always something left to learn even for old dogs!

07-16-2019, 09:22 AM
I ain't never once heard of a globe valve, neither, Peter. I'll mark that down under New Thing Learnt Today. And I second the vote for a ball valve in Patrick's application.

My opinion; worth price charged.