repairing tile wall [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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01-22-2003, 06:26 AM
I need advice and your patience. I am attempting to repair a leaking tile surround over the bathtub. About a month ago the soapdish came off the wall along with a block of the tile. Due to a hectic work schedule I did not have time to take care of it then, so slapped a trash bag and some duct tape on the wall until I could fix it. I took the trash bag off yesterday and started to look over the situation. Here's what I found:

1. tiles appear to be set over plain drywall (?), the house is about 30-35 years old. There is no barrier, felt or otherwise.

2. the stud where the soapdish was located is rotting.

3. I have removed about a 3' x 3' section of tile and rotting plaster. Leaving about 30" of tile on top of the hole and 18" from where the soapdish was to the back wall of the surround. I had to go all the way to the corner on the front part. The drywall is dry and and appears to be solid in the remaining wall.

4. besides the studs, there are 3 pieces of wood 1-1/2" x 3-1/2, which extend 8" above the tub flange, two between the rotting stud and one to the left of it.

5. old insulation surrounding the tub.

Here are my questions:

1. do I just repair the damaged portion of the wall or should I tear out the tile and replace with backer board and a barrier? I have never done tile work before, but am hoping that all those years I've spent watching Bob Vila and those other guys have not been wasted.

2. how long should I wait before putting the backer board up, allowing for the studs to dry out? I am assuming I will have to cut out the rotted portion of the stud.

3. what are those short pieces of wood all about?

4. I am not replacing the soapdish. So I will be some tiles short. Is there a company that does tile matching?

4. The tiles that I re-install, what's the best way to clean them. Removing the old grout and mastic.

5. the grout line looks about 3/16" wide. Did they use spacers? If I redo the whole thing do I want to use spacers? I'm thinking that the tighter the tiles are to one another the less change for leaking.

I would really like to do this myself. Ok, I heard those snickers. I had rented this house for a number of years and just bought it because the landlord wanted to sell. I still have one more year of paying college tuition for my daughter so money is really tight. I want it done right, so should I bite the bullet and have a professional come in. Any ballpark on prices to reset tile?

Thanks in advance for any info you can give me.

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01-22-2003, 07:12 AM
Hi, Lauren. Welcome!

Sorry 'bout your shower. You axed a bunch of questions, so let's get started!

1) You know what you really got to do, right? Bad installation, it's gotta come out.

2) You can put the backerboard up when the framing is finished. If the wood is not rotted more than, say 1", then you can notch it out and replace the bad wood with a new piece fitted to the notch. It's called a "dutchman." Norm Abrams does this all the time! :D

3) Those short pieces are called "blocking" and are used for a number of reasons. Mainly, they support the edge of the tub, or the backer board, or provide a firm attachment point for grab bars, etc. If you want to do this yourself, we'll help you pick the right spots for them.

4) You can probably find matching tiles, but...(see next answer)

4) If you have mastic, soak them in water untill it turns mushy, then scrape off. If its thinset, you may want to scrap these and get new tiles. It'll be tough going.

5) Yes, you can use spacers and you can change the grout line width. If you go with new 4" wall tiles, they will have little spacer lugs built in. You will also mark layout lines to help keep things going straight. Leaking is a fact of life with tile, so the prep work behind the tile is very important. It's really water management.

You can do this yourself. There are dozens of folks on these boards doing their own bathrooms. You provide the labor and self-confidence, we'll provide the help and advice. Oh, having another bathroom available would be a plus. This does take time.

John Bridge
01-22-2003, 07:35 AM
Hi Lauren,

Ditto what Bob said. :)

Except that the tiles are not worth saving, and you will not be able to match them. New 4-1/4 in. wall tiles are fairly cheap. Try Home Depot.

01-22-2003, 10:54 AM
Thats Home Cheapo