Tile shower enclosure [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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06-03-2001, 11:12 PM

My name is Robin. Kingston, Idaho. My wife and I bought a farm house built in 1947 and are rebuilding it. We have put in an upstairs bathroom where there never had been one. Tub downstairs, shower upstairs. I have never done anything like this before, but when the job is done I want to be able to say that the 'lady of the house and her handyman' did it all.

My problem is the shower. There were no shower enclosures in 1947, plus, placement of walls in which to run plumbing left me with non-typical floor dimensions for the enclosure. So, I am building this one from scratch. But, by the time I know that I have done something wrong, a lot of finished work below it could get wet.

As things stand, I have a plywood enclosure with the plumbing installed. I plan to cut tapered strips from two by fours to provide the 1/4" in 1' slope, glued and nailed in place and embedded in cement. Over that I have a 40 mil membrane to install. I plan to run it up the walls 6" to a foot, install prefabbed corners at the door sill, and clamp it between the first and second components of a three part Oatey floor drain. The third component of the floor drain is a grill with about two inches of threads. I assume so much threads so you can adjust its height for differing thickness of cement and tile over the membrane. I will install (glued and screwed) a 1/4" thick water-proof wall board on all inside surfaces of the shower, bringing this wall board on all vertical surfaces, down to meet the membrane at the shower floor, covering the amount of membrane that runs up the wall. Next, water-proof sealer at all corners of the water-proof wall board. From this point on, I think it is a normal tile job. Have I left anything out?

Your advise is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.



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John Bridge
06-04-2001, 06:17 AM
Hi Robin,


Sounds like you've got things pretty much going your way. I have a couple questions for you, though.

You mention a plywood enclosure. Do you mean you have plywood on the inside walls of the shower?

And, why do you need to rip 2/4x to install the pan liner? Normally, a thin mud bed would be used.

Check out Michael Byrne's article on shower pans. http://www.jlconline.com/jlc/archive/kitchen/mortarbed_showers/index.html

The backer board (CBU) you are going to apply should be 1/2 in instead of 1/4 in.

Some of the other guys here have more experience than I do in the CBU department. Stay tuned.

06-04-2001, 08:21 AM
John is right.You definitley want to use 1/2" cement backer on the walls.Don't use Hardibacker for the walls.C-Cure and some other companies, make a cementious backer that is waterproof especially for just such an application.Any reputable Ceramic Tile retailer should have it.No need to seal it,just silicone the corners.Sounds like you've done your homework.

06-04-2001, 10:15 AM
John and Keith,

Thank you for your replies.

Yes, I have completely lined the inside of the enclosure with 1/2" ply. One reason, the house was built with 6" t&g on both sides of all walls, both inside and outside. To replumb and rewire I have removed all that t&g. I have replaced it with ply throughout the whole house. Just putting back what I found in place.

The ripped 2x4's. I had been sold a styrofoam gem-crack to go in the bottom of the shower to set the slope. I have walked past this thing for 6 months reluctant to put it in the bottom of my shower. I got to thinking about how to do the same thing, only with more durable material. John, after writing to you last night I found on another thread where you had recommended to another visitor to your site that she read Michael Byrne's article on pan liners. I went there and read it. Three times. A light bulb came on. No more ripped 2 by. I will do it like Michael suggests.

Keith, Hardibacker is what I had intended to use. I will take your advise and use the 1/2" cementicious board.

I have stalled on this part of my project for 6 months. While I seem to have been on the right track, you guys advise comes at exactly the right moment. And Michael's article is like it was written and photographed at and about my place. (Even the membrane and floor drane are the same brands I am using.) From here it is hard to say how much I appreciate your advise, but I really, really, really do.

If you detect anything else I should do differently, all advise is accepted in the spirit in which it is given. And, you are all invited to a bar-b-que when it is done.

Thanks again.


Bud Cline
06-04-2001, 10:42 AM
Everthing appears to be going swimmingly so far. I do have one concern at this point and that is the recommendation to use silicone. Keith, you can use it, I can use it, John can use it. But I keep thinking that no thinset or organic adhesive will stick to it.

We also are not doing the tile layout. So I would caution Robin to use the silicone sparingly. By that I mean use enough to close all gaps and openings in the junctures at the corners, but any seams in the field areas could be a problem. One should not smear the silicone with a broad stroke onto the surface of the wallboard anywhere. Tile will not stick to it.

John Bridge
06-04-2001, 03:09 PM
All good advice. I'll add one thing. Use 15 lb. felt (tar paper) behind the backer board -- that is, between the plywood and the backer board. And of course the backer board will be taped with fiberglass mesh tape and thin set.

What's wrong with Hardi-backer, Keith?

06-04-2001, 04:08 PM
Good point Bud.I should have been more clear about where or where not to put silicone.

John,Nothing "wrong" with Hardibacker but I've found that where waterproofing in a shower is desired the cement/mesh offers a ready made product.Also, I like the bond on this material better and the fact that the curing time isn't shortened like it is with Hardibacker which "sucks" the moisture from the adhesive faster than I like.
Also,Have you ever had to remove a tile from Hardibacker or Durock(I'll use "Durock" to refer to ALL cement/mesh backers) The Hardibacker only requires a couple good whacks from a hammer/chisel to release it's hold.Actually what happens is it comes apart in layers.Durock,on the otherhand, is like a slab.Since it IS concrete and not a layered product it is much more difficult to remove tile from it.Combine that with a quality latex thinset and you've taken "durability" to a new level!!
Now,in defense of Hardibacker,it is absolutley impervious to rot.It will soak up water like a sponge but it maintains it's integrity and strength.

John Bridge
06-04-2001, 04:32 PM
Okay, you sold me. I think you know I've used very little backer of any sort. I'm learning, and I appreciate the tutoring.

06-04-2001, 05:09 PM
Very interesting, I wasn't aware of the lack of bond strength that you refferenced.

But the layer of, for lack of a better term, paper could affect the bond strength.

Very interesting.