Shower HELP! [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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07-26-2001, 05:52 AM

First of all, I want to thank you for a very informative web site. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with everyone!

I have a cultured marble shower enclosure very similar to the one you show on your site where you had to replace a faulty shower pan. Well, I removed my wall panels and found out that mine does not have a pan at all. As a result, the sheetrock had gotten wet and mildewed about 8" inches up the wall. The installer had placed a cultured marble shower base down on the concrete slab and set the wall panels on top of the base and caulked. A sorry job to say the least!

I am trying to consider my options on whether I can somehow re-use the cultured marble wall panels with some type of new base. Since the drain is not centered in the base, my guess is that a preformed standard base with some type of lip is not available. I don't suppose that the existing cultured marble base is usable since it does not have any type of lip around the edges. Any ideas/suggestions? I have considered replacing the entire shower with a ceramic tile shower.

If I go with a tile shower, my question is: After removing the old sheetrock, can I go back with "Durock" and use thinset mortar on that for my tiles instead of the sheetrock, wire lath and mortar bed?

Any ideas will be greatly appreciated,


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John Bridge
07-26-2001, 06:03 AM
Hi James, Welcome aboard.

I don't have much for you beyond what I said in the email, but the others will be along with their ideas. We are currently tutoring several people in building their own ceramic tile showers. Look around at some of the other threads.

John Bridge
07-27-2001, 06:40 AM
C'mon folks. I figured everyone would have something to say about this. Geez, I've been hanging for a couple days here. Startin' to feel right lonely.

Rob Z
07-27-2001, 07:09 AM
Hi James

You could reuse the panels and the base if you waterproof the substrate behind (as you've learned, the caulk is letting water through at the joints).

Here's an idea, lets see what others think.

you could install new drywall, Denshield or cement board and bond a sheet membrane like Nobleseal TS to the wall. The seams can be treated with their proprietary sealants, and the lower edge can be glued/sealed to the base with Nobleseal 150. Contact Noble for advice on this one. I've never installed any cultured marble surrounds so i don't know.

The marble panels could then be installed to the Noble with adhesive recommended by the Noble people. I think 150 would do it. Its got a heck of a lot of stick to it. Or maybe just silicone.

Noble's website

I'll see if Art's company has anything equivalant to Noble's products.


07-27-2001, 01:22 PM
We do have something comparable, it' called composeal gold, it is a sheet good. 5'x 90' rolls.

I'm wondering though, if you just couldn't put some type of hanger on the studs or backer board and mechanically fasten the cultured marble slabs.

I would build a convential shower pan and run the slabs into the mud bed.


Bud Cline
07-27-2001, 02:41 PM
The installer had placed a cultured marble shower base down on the concrete slab and set the wall panels on top of the base and caulked. A sorry job to say the least!

So what's wrong with that, this is done all the time. What am I missing? Just because the seal gave up doesn't mean it was a sorry job when it was installed. How old is the thing?

I guess I'm not following the little bouncing ball on this!

If I go with a tile shower, my question is: After removing the old sheetrock, can I go back with "Durock" and use thinset mortar on that for my tiles instead of the sheetrock, wire lath and mortar bed?

"Absolutely", but, don't tell John I said so. OK?

07-27-2001, 04:48 PM
What was wrong with the installation was that the installer had no shower pan under the cultured marble base to stop the water from getting the the sheetrock and studs. When the caulk joint failed/leaked, water soaked the sheetrock causing mold and mildew and would have eventually rotted the studs.

What do you guys think of constructing a conventional shower pan with mortar bed, membrane, etc with a tile floor and re-use the marble panels fo rthe walls. Do you think I could put cement board on the walls and use a thin set mortar to adhere the cultured panels to the walls?
Shouold I embed the panels in the mortar bed or leave them a 1/4" above and then caulk?
Thanks for your help!

John Bridge
07-27-2001, 05:03 PM

Constructing the tile shower floor over the pan liner and then re-using the cultured marble panels will give you a much better installation than you began with. But if you are going to go to the trouble, I'm having a hard time understanding why you want to go back with the cultured marble. I mean, it's crap to begin with. Why not go back with ceramic over backer board (these guys are experts on the process and will help you step by step)?


I think he's talking about the cultured marble base that is nothing more than a sloped floor. You've seen them. They don't go up the wall at all and are supposed to have a pan installed under them.

07-27-2001, 05:08 PM

I was just thinking of saving money! However, I agree with you I really do not like the cultured marble.

I am a little unclear on how you would cover the wooden curb with ceramic. Can you explain?

I think you cover the wood with the membrane and then, do you cover that with cement board followed by thin set and tile?


John Bridge
07-27-2001, 05:24 PM
No, the curb is done with mud. Or, you might want to buy one of the pre-fab curbs Art sells. I'll post the link to Art's company.

Rob and the rest are better qualified than I am to tell you about backer board showers. (look for the curbs)

Bud Cline
07-27-2001, 05:54 PM
I'm all for getting out of the cultured marble shower business and move on, but I have seen plenty of these things work for as long as anything else, "without a pan".

I'm not bashfull about telling customers that any plumbing fixture requires a certain amount of maintenance over the years. Structures move, caulks seperate, shrink, dry out and just plain fail sometimes. The homeowner must assume some responsibility in these matters and keep a watchful eye on their surroundings. When they see caulk begin to seperate, or mold begin to form, it's time to take a closer look and do something about it. You can't drive your car every day for twenty years without changing the oil one time, then blame the mechanic because the engine seized.

07-27-2001, 06:07 PM
Damn Bud, can you blame the dealership instead of the mechanic? If not, I guess I'll go get the oil changed this weekend and try to get another 100,000 miles out of the "beast". Someone is always shooting holes in my plans for early retirement.

Rob Z
07-27-2001, 06:12 PM
Hi James

Hopefully we will succeed in talking you out of the cultured marble stuff. You could choose an economy wall tile and not spend a fortune. We'll help you through the steps.

First, read Michael Byrne's article on shower pan construction. Buy his book, as well. John's book will help when it comes time to set the tile. Mail it to John and maybe he'll autograph it for you.

Go to , click on Forums, then ceramic tile. You'll see the link to Michael's article.

Let us know when you're done reading and we'll point you in the right direction.


John Bridge
07-27-2001, 07:02 PM

I can't believe you're sticking up for fake marble. I'd rather see a person put in a fiberglass unit. At least then there aren't as many caulk seems to give way. You keep this up, and I'm going to ask you to return your mug.

And your tee shirt!

07-27-2001, 08:03 PM
That could be a problem. You see I called Bud tonight, and it seems he wore the T-shirt to the county fair last night.

Well, you see... he had to get one of those "Elephant Ears" and had the good looking gal, in the green T-shirt put cherries on it.

Well, the next thing you know, ole' Bud is just tearing into that "Elephant Ear", and he's got cherry sauce spread from ear to ear.

You guessed it.

He also got it all over his T-shirt.

He's just sick about it, he worked so hard to earn that shirt.

So he asked me to ask you, if there was any way he could get another shirt.

And now your talking about taking away his shirt, John, the man has been through alot the last 24 hours. Messing up his only shirt and all.

Could you just give him one of the shirts that you send me daily? I can make it tomorrow, I'll have LL wash one.



07-27-2001, 08:48 PM

Thanks for your replies. I did read the article that you mentioned and it was very informative. The part that is unclear to me is the construction of the curb. Some sketches I have seen shows it made from wood with membrane over that followed by cement board, then thinset, then tile. Is this correct? John mentioned that it was made of mortar which I can easily do, I just want to know what is the standard is if there is one. Also what is your thoughts on the cement board on the walls. Should the bottom be held a 1/4" above the finished tile floor and then caulked?
Thanks again for everyones help.

Bud Cline
07-27-2001, 09:03 PM

No tile guy in his right mind would promote a cultured slab shower now days but they did do a good job for a lot of years. When did they come on the scene anyway? I remember dealing with them in the mid seventies.

One good thing about those things was you always knew where to look for a leak, the possibilities were limited.

If you look around you'll see they are making a comeback, only difference is (I am told) the receptors are more sophisticated and they are now simulating granites instead of marble. There is a guy here that is promoting cultured receptors to match real granite slabs but I haven't seen any of them.

By the way John, could I get just one more t-shirt? Something happened to the other one you sent me last night and ....well I just don't want to talk about it right now.

Rob Z
07-27-2001, 09:27 PM
James and all,

Well, after watching "The Sopranos" on video and seeing about 6 people get wacked, I'm back to the JB Forum.

I think that if you are motivated to float a curb out of mud, that's great. We'll tell you how to do it. An easy alternative is to use Bonsal's proform curb.

Cement board is never used on a curb, so I don't know where in MB's article you may have gotten that idea. I'll go re-read it and try to find where it may be unclear.

The issue of the cement board placement in relationship to the sloping mortar floor is one that has much debate. If you are not going to use a waterproofing membrane on the cement board, then you should hold it up off the mortar by 1/4" and seal the bottom edge with silicone. You should also staple heavy poly or roofing felt to the studs behind the cement board (this is MFR recommended as a vapor barrier).