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02-27-2008, 09:55 AM
Hi all,
I'm remodeling my basement bathroom, and I've run into some problems.

The first problem is that one side of the shower pan is broken, but all the rest of it is in excellent shape.

I've attached pictures to this post. You can see pictures of the rest at my home page, or by clicking on the URL in my signature.

The shower is in my basement, and is a non-standard size (26"x50") nestled in a corner formed by a the masonry foundations and a masonry load-bearing wall. Opposite the load-bearing wall is a stud wall, where the plumbing for the shower is located.

I can't really enlarge the shower - the bathroom is TINY TINY TINY, and there's no good way to make it bigger. I'm limited by the masonry walls on two sides, a set of stairs on another, and not wanting to remove any space from the small bedroom the bathroom is attached to.

I can, if I must, replace the shower pan, but I would very much like to avoid that if possible. I'm already over budget, and out of work in the bargain.

So, right now, I'm looking at pouring cement into the broken out area, painting everything with a waterproof membrane, and then.... what? I need some overlapping layers to prevent water from going out of the shower in the event of a crack. I need something L-shaped to sit behind the cement board that's going to go up. I don't really have any place to go upwards - the pan is already in place, and the slope is already built.

Any ideas of what I could do to make this work? It doesn't have to be perfect, just ... reasonable, I guess. For what it's worth, the area where the broken concrete was, hasn't been touched by water. The studs are bone dry, with no hint of rot whatsoever. I can't say the same for the opposite side of the shower, where water HAD gone under the tile (masonite sheets), and wicked upward along the plywood it was mounted to, staining the foundations in the process.

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02-27-2008, 10:17 AM
"Hmmm....are those tiles under the orange layer on the floor?

02-27-2008, 10:24 AM

The orange layer, is actually kind of a light brown/tan color - I know the colors can look a bit strange in photos. It's some sort of water-resistant paint, on concrete. The photos show only concrete, and masonry walls, and one stud wall. There will be denshield cement board up over those walls.

02-27-2008, 10:46 AM
I looked at all your photos and on one I can see the orange layer covering what looks like white 6x6 tiles in a diagonal pattern - or its masonite again -bad idea IMO to start. And where's the drain? under the mat the photographer is standing on?

It doesn't look like you have a pan at all...what I would call a pan is a sloped tray that catches and channels water to the drain. With no pan the water stays on the floor eventually wicking up the walls causing what you see.

I don't think Masonite is waterproof nor recommended for shower walls, but I guess you know that now.

Given you are limited by the size, I'd suggest you make a mud pan (follow the directions in this forum) use a proper membrane brought up the sides of the shower and the curb, then putting your cbu (backerboard) over the liner, then a waterproof memberane on the walls then tile. Something like that...OK that was the condensed version but I'm knocking off alternatives like pre-formed pans etc, or an acrylic stall...still rummaging for ideas but that would do the trick.

The problem as I see it is there's no slope in the floor. Continue on with that just creates more problems down the road.

You may have to remove the existing tiles on the floor - that's why I'm considering putting a polyurethane preformed pan right over it, but will have to check for sizes...

02-27-2008, 11:20 AM
" I looked at all your photos and on one I can see the orange layer covering what looks like white 6x6 tiles in a diagonal pattern - or its masonite again -bad idea IMO to start. And where's the drain? under the mat the photographer is standing on?"

The orange is not covering anything. It's just tan-painted concrete. And yes, the drain is under the mat. There's a piece of white chunky stuff that's sitting on the drain in the photos from after the demolition - it's just there to keep dust and small chunks from going into the drain.

There IS a slope. The entire shower flower slopes toward the drain. My contractor even noted that there was a good slope toward the drain. It's unfortunately not evident in the photos. There were never any problems with the water sitting or not channeling toward the drain (except when hair collected on the drain trap) and that was quickly remedied. And heavens no, I'm NOT replacing the masonite with more of the same! I'm going with stone and ceramic tile.

I just added a photo to my album, that shows the entirety of the shower floor. You can even see the leftover chunk of masonite that had been covering the drain, sitting on the floor in the foreground, outside the shower. If you go to my album you can view closeups by clicking on "all sizes" above the photo, but I've attached a new photo here. There is some junk on the floor left over from the plumbing work yesterday (those grey things are metal strips, NOT cracks). Hope this helps.

02-27-2008, 12:11 PM
OK great...! I didn't think it was a Masonite floor but I thought I saw tiles. Anyway...

If the slope is good, then all you need to do is IMO to flatten out the floor where the level is off with some thinset; then it should be possible to recover the whole thing with RedGuard or some other liquid membrane that channels water to the drain. You could tile on top of that but with tiles ni bigger than 4"x4" tiles (for the slope).The bring the backerboard right down to about 1/8" from the floor, silicone that joint, the bring the tiles right down to the floor, silicone that joint.

I'd still suggest a waterproof membrane over the backerboard tho'...May not be the best shower in the world but it'll do. Can you put a ventilating fan in the ceiling?

02-27-2008, 12:22 PM
Thanks, Charles, for bearing with my various explanations.

As for the fan, there is already a fan in the bathroom, though I'm not entirely sure it's venting to the exterior. I think it MIGHT be. There's a small vent on the outside wall, under the kitchen window on the floor above, and the duct with the fan appears to be leading in that direction. I'm not sure how to check that. Any ideas on how to see if it vents outside? We have a new fan because the old one is really, really loud.

Do you really think the membrane backerboard is important? The cement board I'm using is Denshield, and I thought it had an integrated moisture barrier?

If that's not good enough, can I paint one of the paintable membranes on the outside, and then tile directly over that? As a mosaic artist, I am little leery of that idea - we are taught never to mosaic over paint for fear the mosaic will fall off the wall if the paint comes loose. We are also taught to avoid any interference in the substrate-adhesive-tile sandwich. I'm less uncomfortable doing that on the floor, because well, gravity is working in my favor.

02-27-2008, 12:38 PM
Let me be the first to tell you that I think you should just demo the shower.

There is no shower pan membrane, none that I can see. What I should see is a rubber type membrane which is over the floor and pokes up over the first 8 inches of the walls.

I think who ever built this just sloped some concrete toward a floor drain and called it a day.

This is a tear out.

02-27-2008, 12:39 PM
I probably should mention here, that I'm not doing all of the work myself. I really didn't want to do the demolition work, and I haven't got the first notion of how to hang cement board, or plumbing. So, we're hiring folks for those parts. But I do know how to use/cut/shape tile, use thinset, and grout. My husband can do the electrical, and we can figure out how to hang the wood paneling. I've been a mosaic artist for 3 years, but I've never tackled an installation, or done a 94-square-foot job. So I *am* a little daunted by this. But hopefully the end result will be pretty, and decently long-lasting.

02-27-2008, 01:06 PM
Thanks, Scooter,
A new pan would cost $425-$500 depending on problems encountered (I'd already priced it). We are certainly considering it. For one thing, this is the 3rd house I've lived in/owned, and in EVERY SINGLE case, we've had to fix shortcuts previous owners took, that caused problems in the long run. So I have a strong "do it right" streak in me. Plus, since I'm mosaicking the shower - taking months to do it - I want it to last.

House 1: Bathroom remodel - floor vinyl was mildewed from beneath, due to the old lead flange on the toilet leaking water into the subfloor. When my husband was negotiating to buy the house, he got them to agree to fix the floor (though he didn't specify how). They slapped down a new piece of vinyl over the old, which promptly mildewed from below after we'd been in the house for a year. We had to get a plumber out to replace the lead pipe with PVC, and put in a modern flange, replace the subfloor, and put in new vinyl, again.

House 2: They installed a deck without putting footers under it!!!!! And then, they put a hot tub on the deck!!! When we resided the house, we discovered that the side of the deck with the hot tub was 2" lower than than the opposite side, making this nice wedge-shaped gap in the siding. We jacked up the deck, and retrofitted it with a footer.

House 3 (current) they installed a drain tile all the way around the basement except on one wall. They assumed that since the grade of earth was downhill from that wall, that it wasn't needed. March snow melt poured down the hillside, around the house, and into the window well on that side, soaked through the window frame, and soaked my downstairs office carpeting. It would have cost them $700 to have done that wall when they did the rest of the house. It cost us $3000 to get them to come back and do that wall, and attach it into the existing drain system.

The shower we are working on was likely put in long before the previous owners bought it. I'm guessing it's been in place in some form or another for more than 20 years. If the previous owners did anything, it might have been to install the masonite tile and repaint the cement with that tan paint (not a good choices).


02-27-2008, 01:24 PM
Let me be clear on what I saw: I saw a flat floor but you say there is a slope towards the drain...OK so I deduce that someone has already put in a mud (ie cement) floor that has the appropriate slope to the drain. If I'm wrong, then we'll have to rethink the whole thing because then your floor is considered flat.

I mentioned a pre-sloped pan made from polyurethane that cost something like $400, but they are meant to sit on a flat surface, not a slope and if they came in the dimensions of your shower would be the ideal replacement for the existing floor. But they'd not be OK for a slope as I said unless you made the floor flat which means bringing up the drain by an inch or so. That involves a plumber...

Let me think a bit. OK I"m back.

I still think that no matter if there's a sloped surface there or not, the floor will have to be redone; this means a new mud bed, complete with liner. That'll mean hooking it up to the drain and there may need to have a plumber do that.

Once that is done, then you can work on the walls. You can attach backerbord to the concrete walls or to thin furring strips attached to the walls but no matter what system you do with, I think all of us here would suggest a waterproof membrane. Not necessarily ONLY Densshield...

Densshield does have an acrylic membrane attached to it but it may not be sufficient IMO to keep water away from the walls. But if that's all you have fine. Put that on the walls and attach tiles to it. Do not use the masonite again...please.

02-29-2008, 02:26 PM
Hi all,
A couple of things - we decided to have the shower pan redone. I just can't see spending months to create an elaborate mosaic on my shower walls and NOT have everything be perfect underneath. And it would really break my heart to have to tear into it to make repairs, or have it fail on me.

The other thing - we have to build a stud wall in front of the masonry load-bearing wall, to make sure there is enough space for the plumbing rough-in. We decided to have our contractor do that. We'll put up the wallboard ourselves, once the studs are in place.

It's going to be interesting. This is a mixture of DIY and using contractors. We're hiring folks for the demolition, rebuilding the shower pan, plumbing, shimming out a wall, and putting up cement board. We are are laying all tile, doing all the electrical and putting up the wall-treatments ourselves. (Well, my husband is doing the electrical - I'll just be handing him tools).

Question: We are putting up wood paneling on the walls (not in the shower, obviously, but elsewhere in the bathroom). After the wall has been shimmed out, do we have to use sheetrock on the stud wall? Could it be plywood? The wood panelling has to be affixed to something - it's pretty thin stuff (it's called "interior siding"). It can't just be affixed to the studs - I think it's too flimsy, and would flex if you pressed on it between studs. My worry about plywood is that it's being used in a bathroom. It would be used only behind the sink and toilet, and that's it - no regular water exposure, though humidity is certainly there (yes, we have an exhaust fan. How do you test if it's vented outdoors?)

02-29-2008, 03:31 PM
I would use greenboard instead of drywall.

Basements are humid and damp. Depending on where you live, and your fan capacity, I might add some 6mil plastic over that greenboard, then nail the veneer siding.

Exhaust fans are selected by the cubic feet in the area and the number of times per minute you want to exchange the air. You probably want a factor of "2" so your fan capacity (cfm) ought to be the the total cubic feet of the bath times 2.

02-29-2008, 05:43 PM
So the cubic foot measurement of my bathroom is just under 200 (79"x50"x84"). The measurement on the new fan I bought is 70 cfm. From your recommendation, it sounds like I should have bought a fan rated for 400 cfm?

The fan I bought is unopened, and I have the receipt, so it's not a big deal.

02-29-2008, 07:43 PM
Check with the manufacturer and what they recommend. Most sites will have the application and the recommended sizing for the application.

Your fan will exchange the air every three minutes, which is not bad.

I am of the opinion that bigger is better.

03-01-2008, 07:39 AM
A 50 cfm fan is one of the smallest ones I've seen and they do fine for a powder room; 70 cfm should be fine too for your application but we like 100+cfms up here...but more important than the number of air changes it gives you per unit time, is the amount of time it is left on. IMO there's little point in putting in a correct fan if it doesn't run long enough to change the air. Hence timer switches. After a shower, the fan should run for 10-15' afterwards and should be vented outdoors not to another location indoors.

The electrician (husband?) can do that easily... that will ensure that a medium fan like yours does it's job.

You should see a 4-5-inch, perhaps flexible, conduit heading towards the roof or some vent on the outside of your house. Bear in mind many fans are just vented to the garage, the attic or the basement and I personally don't think much of that, up here. Maybe where you are it's allowed, but here it's against code. Turn it on and check is all I can suggest.

03-01-2008, 10:30 AM
Yes, I'm the tile person, and the husband is the electrician in the family. :-)

We *think* it's vented outdoors. I can see into the vent and it heads into the floor space between the first floor and the basement. There's an external vent outside our kitchen in the general direction of the duct leading from the bathroom where the old fan is mounted.

So how does one check that that vent IS the one from the bathroom? Would I be able to feel air coming out? It's about 20 feet away from the bathroom, and is perfectly horizontal.

I AM going to return the fan though. Now that I've read up on how to choose, I discovered that the fan is rated at 4 sones. I want a quieter one!

03-01-2008, 11:43 AM
I forgot to mention noise...good point.

Also the smaller fans have a smaller fan unit that may be too weak to propel moist air further than 5-6 feet so it might be hard to establish if your vent is working or not, especially if there are bends to go around. If the vent is ribbed, it'll slow down the air too. But if there's a vent on the outside, turn on the fan, have someone on the inside spray a room deodorizer and see if the person on the outside can tell...

03-04-2008, 09:39 AM
As my husband and I work on this bathroom, we are going to rush through parts of it - the floor and wall in the area outside the shower, we plan to do quickly, so that we can re-install the toilet and sink, and have at least that much available to us as we work on the shower, which we expect to take months.

Anyway, I was wondering what book is best for explaining how to install wood paneling? Can anyone recommend a good book for helping beginners with that sort of thing?

To get an idea of what we are planning - click on the link in my signature - there's a scanned photo there toward the end of the list, that shows a paneled bathroom, similar to what we are planning (the wood will go all the way down).

03-04-2008, 10:06 AM
Ok, I do have some questions - I know this is off-topic, but I'm hoping there are folks here with experience with it.

1. At lowes, I found tongue-and-groove wood paneling. It's called "interior siding", and it's very thin - less than 1/2" thick. It's pretty enough. But, after doing a google search on how to install wood paneling, the stuff I was reading suggested that it's thicker - 1/2 - 3/4" thick, and can be installed on studs. The stuff I saw looked flimsy - if it was installed on studs, then it would flex between studs when pushed on, and have difficulty supporting anything installed on the wood (shelf brackets, artwork, etc). It looks to me like it's intended as a wall-treatment that is meant to go OVER drywall.

I looked at wood flooring, but it's rather expensive and all of it comes pre-finished. I also considered just using boards, and to heck with anything special. The advantage to the latter, is it COULD be installed on bare studs.

Anyway, I was wondering what people use when installing wood paneling.

03-05-2008, 07:54 PM
Ok, my husband wants to do a significant portion of our shower mosaic in marble. The woman at the tile store said that it's more work than unglazed porcelain (which is essentially no work to maintain).

What kind of maintenance work is needed with Marble? I know it has to be sealed with a good stone sealer. But how often? What is needed long-term to keep it looking nice? What if we only cleaned that bathroom... once a month?

And what about slate?

Also, my husband brought home some beautiful rose-colored marble from Home Depot, for about $1-$2 per square foot. The slate was only about $1.75 per square foot. The stuff I've looked at, at the Tile Shop is WAAAAY more expensive. Is there different grades? Or is the markup at the Tileshop just hugely inflated (marble there runs $10/sqft and slate around $6)?

03-08-2008, 08:17 AM
Hi all,
I've been to a number of stores looking at slate for our bathroom and shower floor, and I've got some questions:

1. Home Depot has wildly cheaper slate ($1.79/sqft) than does the Tile Shop ($6+). Is there a difference in quality, or does TS just have a greater markup?

2. Is there a trick to using epoxy grout with slate? I'm quite accustomed to regular cement-based sanded grout, but I've never used epoxy-based. I'm assuming I should seal the slate first?

3. I've been a mosaic artist for years, but I've got little to no experience with stone, or with installations - any overall things I should consider?

4. Tile Shop doesn't like the custom building products thinset - they said it's not modified with ENOUGH latex, and that it's not sticky enough for stone, or for showers. Would you agree with that? (the mosaics I've made with it have been plenty tough - if I'd needed to re-do anything - it would take a hammer and chisel to get the tiles back up).

5. Does John Bridge's book "Tile your world" include considerations like how to handle partial tiles? Specifically, if my floor's dimensions don't accomodate the pattern I've decided on, where should the partial tiles go? (in other words - how to make it less obvious, so that it doesn't jump out at you?)

6. Would someone add my old thread "shower pan repairable?" to this thread? but keep the "Cathy's bathroom - various questions" title?

03-08-2008, 08:26 AM
I've never been unhappy with Custom's thinset in showers or anywhere else. I use their Marble and Granite, Flexbond, and Versabond regularly. Like anything else, folks have their preferences.

Sometimes their preference is based on what they were trained to use.
Sometimes their preference is based on what material is convenient/avaiable.
Sometimes their preference is based on.."what product line do WE sell".

03-08-2008, 09:49 AM
6. Done. Please bookmark this one and use it for all the project questions, Cathy. If you need the title changed, just ask any moderator rather than starting a new thread. :)

03-08-2008, 01:02 PM
"Sometimes their preference is based on what they were trained to use.
Sometimes their preference is based on what material is convenient/avaiable.
Sometimes their preference is based on.."what product line do WE sell".

I suspect that in this case, it's the last one! They want me to use a product called "platinum".

03-08-2008, 01:14 PM
Sounds like that store stocks Laticrete, and they steering you towards 254 platinum. Its a good thinset, and you should have no worries if you decide to use it.

03-08-2008, 01:27 PM
Oh, good! Though I've never worked with Laticrete, I know that it's good stuff. I was more worried about using a proprietary Tileshop brand or something like that.

I have mosaic friends who ONLY use laticrete for swimming pool mosaic applications. And most of them like spectralock epoxy grout, too.

03-10-2008, 10:48 AM
My shower pan has been rebuilt - it was done on Saturday. My building contractor is coming back tomorrow to fur out a wall, hang Denshield, remove the toilet, and take out the old vinyl flooring. In the meantime, I need to paint the masonry walls (exterior foundation wall, and an adjacent load-bearing wall) with redguard along with the new pan.

That leaves today as the day I apply the redguard. However, the fresh mortar in the pan has only been curing for two days. Is that enough time prior to an application of redguard? When my contractor furs out the wall and hangs the cement board, he'll have to step into the pan. Will that hurt the redguard in any way?

I *can* reschedule the work on the bathroom if need be, if the cement needs more time to cure.

03-10-2008, 11:16 AM
I'm confused about this painting of RedGard on the masonry walls in conjunction with the installation of CBU and a mud shower floor. Are you planning to use the RedGard as your shower pan liner and install another layer of mud for your shower floor? Reading back over your posts it appeared you planned to RedGard over the sloped concrete floor you had in place. That no longer the plan?

What sort of drain have you installed for the shower?

I do hope you have read the RedGard installation instructions and plan at least to follow the "for extra protection" parts about using fabric reinforcement at the changes of plane and such. I personally think the liquid-applied membranes are a bit scary at best as a shower pan.

Custom says you need to let concrete cure the customary 28 days before applying RedGard. Don't know for sure what their position is on a deck mud installation. You might wanna call'em.

All your other unanswered questions above seem to be far to general to get you much of a response, or so unrelated to tile work that the right people just haven't seen them. Might want to narrow the questions a bit and see if you get a better response. :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

03-10-2008, 12:14 PM
Oh, no, I'm not taking any shortcuts. I hired a tile guy to rebuild my shower pan -and that's been done, as of Saturday. There's now a 4 mil oatey membrane down, along with a new drain with weep holes, pea gravel, and a fresh layer of mud over everything. The membrane extends 6 inches or so up the walls. I took pictures, but I haven't put them up yet. We had to be super careful with the demolition around the drain - we have drain tile down there, plus our radon-abatement pipes are down there, too.

Both my building contractor and the tile guy told me that I should paint some sort of water-proof paint over the masonry walls (foundation and a loadbearing wall) as a precaution. Since I needed the redguard for the shower pan as the final layer prior to tiling, and needed to buy an entire bucket of the stuff, the tile guy suggested just using that on the masonry.

Denshield will be affixed to the load-bearing wall, after it's been furred out, so it will be attached to studs. I'm not sure yet how it will be attached to the foundation wall. Ever since the demo work was done, it's been freezing in the bathroom. The previous owner had put up a layer of plywood on that wall, and then installed masonite "tile" sheets over that. The plywood really helped to insulate, even if it did provide a nice breeding ground for mildew. So my tile guy suggested using this ultra-thin insulation (basically it's some sort of metallic bubble-wrap?). But if we use that, then I'm not entirely sure how we'll hang the densheild in front of that? Fur that wall out too? I'm not thrilled with that idea, because I don't want to lose any more width in the shower (it's only 26" wide). We had originally planned to glue the densheild to the foundation wall. So I need to talk to my building contractor and figure that part out.

Good news: I just called Custom, and they said that since it was a dry-pack installation, then I need to wait 72 hour before painting on the redguard. They also said I should prime it, by mixing 1 part redguard with 4 parts water, and painting that on first, THEN doing the customary 2 coats.

03-10-2008, 12:29 PM
I'm still much worried.

I hope the "4 mil Oatey membrane" was a typo?Since I needed the redguard for the shower pan as the final layer prior to tiling, and needed to buy an entire bucket of the stuff, the tile guy suggested just using that on the masonry.Why would you need the RedGard over the shower pan if you've installed a proper pan liner with clamping drain?The membrane extends 6 inches or so up the walls. That would be fine if your were building a curbless "accessible" shower. You appear to have a curb. Your pan liner must extend at least three inches above the top of the rough curb. You also need it to lap over to the outside of the curb or at least past the shower door frame attachment if any. You should have "dam corners" installed in the liner at the ends of the curb, too.

How do you intend to have the waterproofing on the masonry wall lap over the installed sheet membrane shower pan liner?

How do you intend to treat the joints where the new DensShield wall meets the masonry wall?

Have you visited the Shower Construction section of our whorl-famous (Liberry) to see the thread about installing shower pans?

My opinion; worth price charged.

03-10-2008, 12:47 PM
"I hope the "4 mil Oatey membrane" was a typo?"

No? did I use the wrong word? It's this heavy-weight rubbery sheet that went down first. The "4 Mil" part might be wrong - I'm quoting from memory here. - update. I see why you were worried - it's 40 mil, not 4 mil. It's quite thick and rubbery, and yes, it looks EXACTLY like the ones in JB's pics in the shower construction thread.

The tile guy told me the redgard over the cement was just an extra precaution that he likes to take. (and yes, the drain is a clamping drain - sorry, I don't know the terminology).

"Your pan liner must extend at least three inches above the top of the rough curb."

It does. It extends up the curb, and over the top of it, easily past where the shower door frame will be. The opposite and adjacent sides goes up about 6-8 inches.

"How do you intend to have the waterproofing on the masonry wall lap over the installed sheet membrane shower pan liner?"

I thought the densheild would do that? Once the fiberglass tape is on the joints, we are applying thinset over that, and I was told to then paint that with more regard (just the joints). The waterproofing applied directly to the masonry walls was just an added precaution.

As for the Liberry, I've read lots and lots over there, but not everything. I'll go back and reread that thread.

Brian in San Diego
03-10-2008, 02:44 PM

Why would you need the RedGard over the shower pan if you've installed a proper pan liner with clamping drain?I echo CX's concern. The redguard on the floor is a very bad idea IMO. The idea of the final slope is to allow water to pass through it and get to the liner which is sloped to the drain.


03-10-2008, 02:53 PM
I'm still confused, sorry.I thought the densheild would do that? Once the fiberglass tape is on the joints, we are applying thinset over that, and I was told to then paint that with more regard (just the joints). The waterproofing applied directly to the masonry walls was just an added precaution.How are you attaching DensShield to the masonry wall?

03-10-2008, 03:11 PM
First of all, I'm sorry, if I've made this confusing. I'm just grateful you've stuck with my questions!

"How are you attaching DensShield to the masonry wall?"

On the right-hand wall that will be furred out, it will be attached to studs. On the bigger, center wall, I'm not sure yet.

There are some issues:

1. The shower was only 26" wide prior to the demo (it's now about 28" wide). So I'm hoping to avoid anything that will narrow the shower further. If that's possible.

2. The bathroom is really, really cold, now that the plywood that HAD been installed against the masonry is gone. So I'd really like to add some kind of insulation to that exterior masonry wall.

When I was brainstorming with my builder, he suggested gluing the DensShield to the wall so as not to narrow the enclosure. But Chris the Tile Guy didn't like that idea, and when I called custom building products THEY didn't like the idea either - they said that cement board requires mechanical fasteners. And if I use the insulation the tile guy suggested - it's basically a 1/4" thick metallic bubblewrap, I couldn't glue anyway. So right now, I'm thinking about suggesting furring that wall out with REALLY thin wood, and using the insulation. I'm guessing I'd use tapcons to hold the Densshield to the wall?


03-10-2008, 03:17 PM
I guess I'm not sure I see the harm in using the redguard on the floor. However, if you folks really think it's bad, I can skip it!

It seems to me that the idea behind the slope is to channel water to the drain, preferably on the surface of the tile. The liner, the pea gravel, and even a layer of redguard - if used - would all be redundant systems to continue channeling the water to the drain should there be a breach, no?

Really, I'm not set on using the Redguard, but I'd like to understand why it might be harmful.

03-10-2008, 03:56 PM
he suggested gluing the DensShield to the wall so as not to narrow the enclosure............and when I called custom building products THEY didn't like the idea either - they said that cement board requires mechanical fasteners.Well, I'm not surprised Custom didn't like the idea, DensShield is made by a competitor. :D

And it's not cement board, which I'd rather see you using in this situation.

I really think you need to fur that masonry wall out a little with some wood or metal strips that will allow you to properly install a CBU, maybe even with a bit of foam insulation behind it, no matter how slight. Fat mud on lath applied directly to the wall would be another choice, but would rule out the insulation.

How come y'all can't widen the shower out away from that wall some?

On the RegGard on the floor. The mud floor in a traditional shower pan (yours) must be able to dry through the tile installation - the same way it gets wet. You pewt something like RedGard on there and it'll never be able to get dry. Lots of pros don't even recommend sealing the grout joints on shower floors for that same reason, and those sealers at least breathe. RedGard won't.

My opinion; worth price charged.

03-10-2008, 04:11 PM
"And it's not cement board, which I'd rather see you using in this situation."

Why? (again, I'm just curious - the Densshield is already purchased and sitting in my home - but I'd like to know for next time)

"How come y'all can't widen the shower out away from that wall some?"

Practicality. The bathroom is tiny, tiny, tiny - it's only 50" wide (not including the shower). Because I'd have to move both my sink (not a big deal, as it's getting new plumbing anyway) AND my toilet (a VERY big deal - jackhammering and then moving the drain would be too expensive). And finally, I'm not moving the curb out, because, well, it's already installed, and I'm not spending another half grand on pulling out the new one I just had installed, and putting in ANOTHER one. So, I'm keeping it the way it is.

I've also done a lot to try and gain space - the old sink was 20" wide, the new one only 16" wide - I don't want to eat up what space I've just gained.

I'll probably go with some really thin insulation, and fur out the wall slightly, as you suggested. I'd really like to warm up the room if possible.

Thanks for the info on the Redguard. You've given me plenty to think about. :-)

03-10-2008, 05:14 PM
No question at this point, but I'm feeling quite gleeful. You see, my Felker TM-75 wet saw and stand were shipped out to me. They are due in my greedy little hands on Thursday.

This is really exciting - I've been making mosaics for 3 years now, and I've generally had to stick to tesserae types that I could cut with hand tools. vitreous glass tiles by Bissaza and Sicis, stained glass, unglazed porcelain (cinca, Lyric, and Dal). When I have needed to use stone, I've had to rely on already-cut stone tiles, which are really, really expensive (2cm x 1cm x 1cm marble tiles run about $50 per square foot). And, because I'm female, I've had to stick to colors of stone that I had the hand strength to cut. I tried out a dark green marble that another artist cut into rods with his wet saw. My husband could cut it, and I could too ... with a lot of effort. No way could I cover a square foot that way. So I ordered tiles already cut up and to choose the right color I had to have the mosaic guy get his partner (a female) to tell me which colors SHE could cut with nippers, because I didn't trust her husband's recommendation! I can cut white carrera marble ridiculously easily. Lighter green marbles are OK. Black is impossible.

Now... I can cut up any tile that takes my fancy at a tile store. It opens up a whole new palette for me.

03-11-2008, 07:28 PM
Can anyone point me to some good photos that show how to tile around a toilet drain? I'm not looking for stuff like how to cut the tiles - I'm more interested in the end result - what the tiles look like when they are in place, but the toilet hasn't been installed. How far away from the drain, etc.

03-11-2008, 09:41 PM
i would cut it as close as possible so if 10 years down the road i wanted a toilet that has a smaller base im not looking at subfloor around the edges :twitch:

03-12-2008, 07:19 AM
My building contractor suggested taking tile to about 1.25" from the drain. Does that sound reasonable? I wasn't present when they pulled up the toilet, so didn't get a look at how it all fits together. It currently doesn't look like there's a flange, but there are two bolts sticking up.

Brian in San Diego
03-12-2008, 07:29 AM
My building contractor suggested taking tile to about 1.25" from the drain. Does that sound reasonable?I don't understand what either you or he means by this statement. Tile should be laid up to the drain within a grout joint width. Where does the 1 1/4" come from?

It currently doesn't look like there's a flange, but there are two bolts sticking up. There has to be a flange or you would have had a big mess on your hands previous to this remodel. The bolts should be secured in the flange.


03-12-2008, 07:54 AM
Ok, I just posted a few updated photos of the renovation, including a closeup of the toilet drain. Click on the link in my signature, and click on the last picture (I JUST uploaded it). To get an even closer view, click on "all sizes" just above the picture.

I see no flange, but a lot of crud surrounding the hole. Could it have BEEN a flange, and it just corroded away? The last time I saw a flange was about 12 years ago when we redid another bathroom, and we had to have a plumber put in a new one (that one still had a lead flange, which was leaking toilet water into the subfloor, necessitating the need for the remodel in the first place).

I've got a plumber coming to rough in the wall-mounted fixtures for the sink. I suppose he can put in a new flange?

As for the 1 1/4" thing - that's what my building contractor told me. He meant to take the tile to about 1 1/4" of the edge of the hole. He is NOT a tile guy, which is why I'm posing the question here. Unfortunately, the toilet was still in place when my tile guy was here to build the pan, so I couldn't ask him then.

Either way, it had not leaked at all - there was no evidence of leakage staining the vinyl flooring from the underside, nor had anything ever oozed out above it.

Brian in San Diego
03-12-2008, 08:02 AM

The towel covers most of everything but it looks like a very rusted out flange to the right of the bolt sticking up. If it were my house I would replace the flange and have it set on top of the finished tile height.


03-12-2008, 08:09 AM
Thanks, Brian.

I was thinking it might need a new flange.

I just turned the toilet over, and there's what looks like metal rust stains surrounding the drain on the bottom of the toilet, so I'm thinking that the "crud" I can see surrounding the drain is as you suggested, a severely rusted out flange. My builder also said the bolts are fairly flexible, and might need to be replaced.

My plumber is coming to rough-in the fixtures for the sink, so I'll have him replace the flange at the same time.

I can't wait until I get to do MY part of the renovation (laying tile, and mosaics, installing wood paneling, etc).

03-12-2008, 12:07 PM
I've been reading a couple of tile setting books, and it looks like the recommendation for tiling a cement floor, is to paint it with redGuard first. Is that correct?

The floor (not the shower floor) is bare cement that has had some sort of water-proof paint on it in the past. We'll be stripping that off today.

03-13-2008, 08:47 AM
By "We'll be stripping that off today" I hope you mean removing it by mechanical means, rather than using some sort of chemical stripper.

Some people use RedGard as an antifracture membrane. There are many others avialable.

My opinion; worth price charged.

03-13-2008, 08:51 AM
Yes, I do mean mechanical and not chemical. But is it appropriate (and desirable) to use the Redgard on the floor of the bathroom prior to tiling? I already have RedGuard, which is why I'd like to use that and not something else.

03-13-2008, 08:56 AM
It won't hurt.

My opinion; worth price charged.

Brian in San Diego
03-13-2008, 08:56 AM

I wouldn't bother putting RedGard on the floor unless there was concern of cracks. If there is that concern remember you have to use their fabric over those cracks. If the slab is in good condition I don't think I'd apply RedGard.


03-13-2008, 06:33 PM
It's not entirely clear to me where I'm supposed to leave gaps that are to be filled with caulk instead of grout.

1. Around the perimeter of the room, where tile wall meets sheetrock/wood paneling.
2. What about in the shower? Corners of walls? between wall and floor? Between wall and ceiling?
3. What about where the bathroom floor meets the curb of the shower?


03-13-2008, 06:42 PM
It's easy, Cathy. Industry standards call for a soft joint at every change of plane. Every place you mentioned qualifies under that heading.

Where the change of plane is visible, you must fill it with flexible material (caulking). Where it is not visible, such as under baseboard at room perimeters, you can leave it completely open if you like.

My opinion; worth price charged.

03-13-2008, 06:50 PM
Thanks, CX.
I was afraid that would be the answer. Darn. You see, I'm very confident of my ability to get grout in a joint and get it nice and neat, and well-packed. I'm less confident of getting a joint full of caulk, and sealed and nice and neat when I'm using caulk.

Does caulk come in dark colors? I think I've only seen white and clear.

03-13-2008, 06:51 PM
Caulk comes in all the same colors as does grout. Some is even sanded. You'll hafta wait for one of the big-time tile guys to tell you where to get the gooder stuff.