Yuck! My shower floor is oozing white stuff [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : Yuck! My shower floor is oozing white stuff

12-21-2006, 12:05 PM
Not the most professional title for a thread but Iím guessing may of you have a good idea what happened ;)
First, introductions.

Just a handyman homeowner that knows just a little about tile construction.
Iíve been looking over the site the last day and think I know whatís wrong with my shower but thought Iíd ask for an expert or at least more knowledgeable explanation.
(nice site btw, lots of good info)

Iíve been doing some remodeling of my house and had a few water spots on the ceiling under one of the showers. I had part the ceiling out for some plumbing replacement and took out he insulation and such, cleaned the wood and checked for mold. Couldnít see exactly where the water was coming from but I knew it was in the shower area.
Shower is around 12 years old, 4x4 floor and had a few loose tiles on the bottom.
I took out all the tiles and the original mud bed (boy that stuff is heavy).
Thereís a blue/grey liner that looks good. Cleaned everything up, filled it with water up to the drain and let it sit for three days. No drop in the level and no leak on the ceiling.
Closer inspection showed a lot of gaps in the grout wall right where the shower water hits. My guess is it seeped in there and also where the glass shower meets the tile and dripped down.

Ok, enough background.

On advice from our interior decorator I contracted with someone to put in a new mud bed, and floor tiles. I also had him replace a few accent wall tiles to match the new paint.

I wonít go into all the details but the mud bed did sit for at least three days before the floor tiles were installed. To be honest, I didnít think the job was done that well but I have high standards.

I waited a few days, applied a sealer, waited another two days and started using the shower again.

So itís been around two weeks since we started using that shower again.
I did notice that some of the floor tiles seemed to be a little high in spots and one seemed to have a little movement. Then this weekend I noticed some white goo coming out of one of the tiles. Not good. Now a couple of days later itís coming out of several tiles, grouts breaking free and several tiles are moving.

I went ahead and stopped using the shower (boy, the wife is real happy about that).
I pulled one of the tiles and it looks like all the thinset is mush.
It also appears to me that the thinset is REALLY thick.
Not being the expert I donít know but it sure looks way to thick.
So it looks like after a short time the water got under the time and the thinset started to re-emulsify.

Iím going to send the installer some pictures and ask his opinion on what happened and his course of action.

So my list of questions:

My guess is he didnít get the mud bed right?
Tried to compensate by putting in too much thinset?

Maybe used the wrong thinset?
(I donít know exactly what he used but thereís a picture of the back of the bucket down at the bottom)

Course of action (comments and suggestions welcome)
Take out all the tile.
Clean old thinset off tile.
Clean out all the old thinset off the shower floor.
Put the floor back down

Here's the pictures.....

...ah, you have the "can't post a picture till you post twice" hack in place.
Pictures in next post

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12-21-2006, 12:09 PM
Still can't post the pictures.
Are img /img codes not allowed?
Or I'm guessing you post count must be higher than 2 to include images?

12-21-2006, 12:15 PM
Just a guess but it sounds like the installer might have used mastic instead of thinset. Mastic would probably never dry in that environment and cause the oozing you are seeing. If you take dry mastic and rewet it, it will become pasty again. Thinset will not reemulsify when it gets wet.

12-21-2006, 12:15 PM
Your main problem is that thinset in a "bucket" isn't really thinset but mastic. It should not be used in a wet area, which your shower floor certainly qualifies as. Your tile guy should have known better and the fact that he used premixed adhesive in a bucket is a major warning flag for trusting him to get other aspects of the job done right.

Now, it's great the pan held water for three days. While the top mud bed was taken off you should have been able to determine if their was a preslope under the liner. the liner would be pitched to the drain, 1/4" per foot. Was it pitched? If not then the pan liner should come out. It is good it held water though.

Check out the (Liberry) for excellent information on proper methods of shower construction.

12-21-2006, 12:16 PM
Yep, post count has to be a little higher to use images. Helps keep the spammers at bay. ;)

12-21-2006, 12:38 PM
Sorry about the pictures.
I resized them and attached.

I'll be sending an email to the installer asking what he used on the floor.
Would you agree that whatever he used he put it on much too thick?

The shower liner looked good when I had all the mud bed off. It held water fine and went up the sides of the wall quite a ways from what I can tell.
Threre was a slight slope from edge to drain. I don't know the exact amount but the "installer" didn't say anything about it. I've lost faith in his abilities though.
Good news is I haven't seen any leaks since the wall tiles were regrouted.

12-21-2006, 12:48 PM

I'm sure one of the pro's will chime in but that is Mastic and it will have to come out.

12-21-2006, 12:50 PM
Looks like the wrong stuff for the floor. You need a real thinset, comes in a bag and mixes with water. Versabond is usually available at HD. If that trowel is what he used I'd say that is also a major problem. The notch is way too big on that for the tile that is being set. 1/4" square notch would be a better choice.

12-21-2006, 12:56 PM
Welcome, sg789. Please give us a first name to use. :)

Looks like you been had. :(

The floor must all be replaced, of course. Did this alleged tile man install a new mud floor before he installed the new tiles with mastic?

For a 12-year-old shower that was known to leak from somewhere other than the floor, and now requires a second floor replacement, I'm gonna suggest it's time to tear out and replace the whole thing.

First I'd wanna check the plumbing for leaks. If the pan didn't leak, but water was reaching the ceiling below, you may have a leak between the shower valve and shower head that leaks only when the shower is in use.

You can likely repair that pan (assuming it doesn't have a leak now after the "repair" job), but comes a time when you gotta wonder if you may be throwing good money after bad. :shades:

In any case, look in our (Liberry) and read the Shower Construction section to see how showers are s'posta be built. You may note other discrepancies with your shower that would influence your decision.

My opinion; worth price charged.

12-21-2006, 01:01 PM
I watched him set some of the tile.
First name is Scott, thanks for asking.

He put some of that "stuff"
(I have other words for it right now but we can't use those here)
on the back of a tile, placed it and "squiggled" it back and forth a little.

I was a little worried earlier with some other warning signs but gave him the benefit of the doubt. Guess I shouldn't have.

I'll be marking and pulling the rest out. Good news is it won't take much to get the crap off the tiles.

I figure I'll either set it myself with Versbond or get a professional.
Actually I'll get a pro in to at least go over the project and give advice if not do the whole thing.

Thanks for any advice.

12-21-2006, 01:14 PM
The floor must all be replaced, of course. Did this alleged tile man install a new mud floor before he installed the new tiles with mastic?

Some of the original tiles were loose and cracked. I pulled all of them up and of course some of the original mud floor stuck to the bottom of many of the tiles. At that time I gently pulled up the mud floor down to the rubber liner.
Cleaned it all up good and did a three day leak test. It's fine.

Wider shower view attached.

Shower is on the right wall.
Tiles with missing grout were on the left 1/2 wall.
I was able to get access to the left wall and saw that water had come from that area. I'm guessing it could be from those tiles.
Like I said earlier, it's not leaking now.

There is a slight slope on the mud floor but I'll get more pictures when I get all the crap cleaned up.

I'm also going into the back wall next week to replace the shower controls.
When I'm there I'll look for leaks. If there's any leaks there I'll most likely punt and go for the full replacement. :mad:

I'm not opposed to redoing the whole thing if needed but if it's not leaking now I may wait a while.

12-21-2006, 01:17 PM
You have several options here. You could call in someone for a consult. You could ask another Tile Setter to come in and work (Most likely he'll want to replace most everything as you will be asking him to guarantee "his" work) He won't like guaranteeing someone elses.. OR, you could do it yourownself... Depending on what you find behind the walls :D Oh, and words like oozing ARE technical terms that we use here quite often...
This forum will help you step by step and stay with you through the entire repair.. Actually, there isn't much left to do.... Yu can doit... :)
I hope that sg789 isn't your first name.... :shake:

12-21-2006, 02:14 PM
At that time I gently pulled up the mud floor down to the rubber liner.
Cleaned it all up good and did a three day leak test. It's fine.I understood that part, but did you install a new bed of deck mud over the liner before tiling?

The old mud bed should have been in the neighborhood of 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" thick. That what you found? And was the liner sloped of laying flat on the subfloor?

The fact that you identified a leak from the tiled area on the half-wall indicates you have a waterproofing problem there. The tile and grout will always allow some water to pass through and simply repairing the tile surface will not repair the leak but for a short time, if at all. That's my point in suggesting that you may have enough other deficiencies in the shower construction to warrant replacement rather than just spending money re-repairing the floor.

Up to you, of course. :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

12-21-2006, 02:21 PM
Ah, I see your point.
There should be a liner all the way up that wall or SOMETHING that will block the water.

The old mud bed was around 2 inches thick and was replaced with a new mud bed. I have a few pieces of the original tile and can measure the bed off those when I get home.
(more pictures to come)

Oh.. I did get a response from the "installer" I reply'd back asking EXACTLY what he used on the floor. (I smell a lie coming)

Hello Scott...

I used Mastic on the walls only and White Thinset on the floor...both dry hard, so I don't understand what has happened. The pasty substance that is shown in the picture...I have not seen this happen before. I can only assume that the grout is not taking because the Thinset did not settle.


12-21-2006, 02:32 PM
I can only assume that the grout is not taking because the Thinset did not settle.That sounds a lot like your auto mechanic tellin' you the wobblin' pin's bent on the shaker-shaft side and it's keepin' the cranny from turnin'. :rolleyes:

I got noooo eye-dee what that means. :scratch:

If you showed him the same pichers you showed us and he claims not to recognize the emulsified mastic, you have yourownself a definite problem there, one way or another.

He has agreed to come and inspect the problem?

How far up the walls did he repair with the mastic? I thought you had only torn out those floor tiles.

And would you please share a first name? Make one up if you don't wanna use yours, eh? :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

12-21-2006, 04:22 PM
Go to the UserCP above and enter your name in the signature so's we all know who you are.. This way your name will appear every time you post... :) and.. If that goo is still soft, it ain't thinset.. Thinset will set up hard in a bucket full of water in a day or so. It's like cement. Exothermic reaction... :nod:
Like cx is saying, splain exactly what the guy did.
also, There doesn't necessarily need to be a liner up the entire wall..
I can only assume that the grout is not taking because the Thinset did not settle. This has no meaning in our world... :confused:

12-21-2006, 04:23 PM

CX has this pretty well in hand. The wobblin pin is definitely bent as far as the fixup this fellow did.

If he used mastic on the wet walls as he obviously did on the floor, you can bet you'll have mush back there sooner rather than later too.

If it was me and I was looking at replacing the shower valve as well, that would clinch my decision to completely redo the shower. Otherwise, I'm thinking you will just be throwing good money after bad.

Honestly, if your standards are high, I don't think you'll be happy with anything less.

If your interior decorator recommended this fellow, I think I'd be havin a chat with him/her too.


12-21-2006, 04:33 PM
This is getting to be a hoot... I understood the shower walls were installed 12 years ago and no demo or fix was alleged to have been done on the walls. There was a couple of tiles that had cracks in the grout lines that caused a leak but is no longer leaking... :suspect:
Scott was to look behind the wall with the valve on it and see if there was any leaking there..
and Charlie, your absolutely right, cx always has a handle on it ,and it's korrect.. He does it hisownself... :nod:

12-24-2006, 12:50 AM
hi scott,

I'm not a master tile setter, but I have some skills and knowledge and I'm a very skilled and honest/ethical remodel contractor.

Your guy ben has no business calling himself a tile contractor or anything to do with tile. Anyone could spend 20 minutes in home depot doing research from some lousy tile books and know better than to tile a shower floor with mastic (strike one) and mud it in like an inch thick (strike two). If he's licensed and bonded contact him demanding a refund for his "services" and if he balks mention you're willing to contact his bonding company, every state has this info online, lic#, insurance and bond carriers, easy to find...
If he's a moonlighter then you got what you paid for and you should leave him alone and take it as a lesson learned... Hire a pro whose fees are commensurate with his skill level, and next time research your project first so you can ask your prospective contractor some savvy, intelligent questions that can help you identify and red flag an idiot such as ben. All the specifics are things you should know ahead of time and ask for. Mortar doesn't "settle" and it's cementitious, they pour concrete underwater, you know. He's a big fat liar or doesn't have a clue...

"The bitter aftertaste of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of cheap price is forgotten."

best of luck fixing this, and if you can find a good contractor, I agree that you should let him re-do everything, I wouldn't put my name or stake my claim-free insurance status on fixing half a job with a water issue I can't verify myself.


12-24-2006, 01:30 AM
Scott --

It sounds like you water tested the liner without plugging the drain. If so, you really didn't test the entire liner, especially the liner's connection to the drain flange. You really should plug the drain pipe with either a balloon or an inflatable plug below the level of the weep holes and fill the shower all the way up to just below the curb.

And do read the Liberry shower construction thread (http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=5434). The info there will come in either fixing the problem yourself or qualifying a new contractor to do the job.

12-30-2006, 03:45 PM
Hey Buddy, what's happenin? The guys here are sounding off because we see this a lot - too much.. They all want you to have the best job available and be happy with it.... Come back and update us so we can help see you through this dilema... :) Happy New Year.....