Christo's cabin bath remodel [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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11-23-2009, 09:46 AM
I'm remodelling a bathroom at a cabin in NH. I'd like to install a 60 x 36 shower stall where the tub used to be. I have full access to the drain etc underneath.
I've read, with interest, all (I think) the posts encouraging people to build a mud base.

There are two reasons that I'm leaning toward a prefab base.
1. The cabin is 3.5 hours drive from home, so I only have so many weekends I can devote to the project. The prefab base will be a big time saver. the stock size fits my space perfectly.

2. Most importantly. I let the cabin freeze in winter when I'm not there. It will get to -20 degrees in there. I'm affraid that if I have a mud base that water will be trapped in the weep holes etc and pop the tiles.

My question is, do you think that if I go with a prefab base like KBRS Tile Basin or Tile Redi, I would still have problems with water getting in and popping the tiles?
I like the KBRS product because it has the flange around the edges and uses regular modefied thinset.

I'm planning on a small mosaic or pebble floor in the base.

I'm also considering just using an acrylic base like a Kohler that is finished and not tiled to aviod possible problems with freezing.

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11-23-2009, 10:01 AM
I assume you go around and pour potable antifreeze in all your traps before you leave for the winter?

I'd go with an acrylic base if freezing is the primary consideration. The other products would work, but depending on how long your shower takes to dry out, and how quickly the cabin freezes, you may have some issues.

11-23-2009, 10:29 AM
I'd go with a mud base and use Kerdi and the Kerdi Drain. No weep holes to worry about and no saturated mud base (Kerdi is a sheet membrane providing waterproofing just below the tile.) to worry about.

11-23-2009, 10:32 AM
I just checked the KBRS product out. Like the Tile Redi, very expensive solution. In my opinion, you'd be way better off going with Kerdi. A great product and certainly could be done for less than one of those ready made bases.

11-23-2009, 12:28 PM
Thanks to all for the quick replies!

my concern is not just freeze. It's freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw. I do use the cabin one or two weekends a month in winter and turn the heat off when I'm not there. (yes I use RV antifreeze in the traps and toilet, I just didnt want to bore you guys with those details).

My concern with the kerdi system is the same as with the Tile Redi/Tile Basin systems - that is if any water gets between the tile and the pan or the Kerdi membrane, it will pop the tiles/grout out over time.

Even with a top quality sealer, would I still have significant risk of the tiles in the pan or Kerdi system blowing up on me? Or am I worrying too much?

12-14-2009, 06:34 PM
I've started a couple of threads for different questions for my remodel and just realized you guys only like one string for each project so henceforth this is it.

12-14-2009, 06:44 PM
Just to let you guys know where I'm at on this. I've chickened out of doing the shower base because I'm too worried about the freezing and popping out the tiles. Also this is the only bathroom there and the wife thinks the tub will be good for the kids when they come.
So I'm doing a tub.

This question is regarding Hardibacker board and Redguard. I read the label on the redguard and it says it can't be used in places where freezing my be encountered. My cabin will definitely get frozen so that is out. So I think I'm going to go with the Kerdi membrane in the tub surround and my question is how to I seal around the base where it goes over the flange? If water gets behind the caulking at that spot, what is to prevent it from wicking up the hardibacker?
Is the membrane even necessary for a bathtub/shower wall there?

Brian in San Diego
12-14-2009, 10:26 PM

You need some type of waterproofing. Your choices are roofing felt or 6 mil poly attached to studs then CBU, CBU then a surface applied liquid membrane like Laticrete Hyrdoban or RedGard or finally drywall then a sheet membrane like kerdi. With kerdi the gap between the tile and the tub is caulked with 100% silicone. Some folks believe it's a good idea to leave a couple of small gaps to let any water drain back into the tub. Any water that does get back there is going to evaporate long before it freezes.


12-15-2009, 07:15 AM
If I use 6 mill poly on the studs then CBU (is that the Hardibacker?), then liquid membrane on the CBU, am I not creating two vapor barriers and trapping moisture between the two?

Brian in San Diego
12-15-2009, 07:32 AM
Yes, it's an either or. I guess I wasn't clear. Poly or roofing felt OR liquid applied membrane OR kerdi. Choose one method of the three.

12-15-2009, 09:12 PM
Is there a preferred method of the three options?

12-16-2009, 05:27 AM
Any method that puts the moisture barrier directly behind the tile is better than one that puts it behind the substrate (backerboard). This allows the shower to dry out more quickly, reducing the chance for mold growth. So that puts Kerdi or roll-on membranes ahead of plastic/tarpaper.

A sheet membrane is easier to mainain quality control than a roll-on membrane. Roll-on membranes demand a minimum thickness that only you can control, but have little way to verify. That puts Kerdi ahead of Redgard, et al.

Any method that meets your skill set, budget, time constraints, etc, is acceptable if done correctly. Attention to detail is the key. Pick one, learn all about it, then go forth and install.

12-16-2009, 07:57 AM
that sounds like good advice. Thanks.

01-11-2010, 08:36 PM
I'm planning to install a Kohler Archer acrylic tub this weekend and the instructions have two options for installation.
See page 9 of the attachment.

I will say that my subfloor is very sound. (2 layers of 3/4 plywood)
construction adhesive method seems much simpler, but that makes me think the Cement/mortar bed method must have some advantages? If yes, what are they and what recipe of cement/mortar should I use if I go with that method?

01-13-2010, 01:51 PM
I was told there was a problem with my last post so I'm trying again...

I'm planning to install a Kohler acrylic tub this weekend and the instructions have two options for installation.
See page 9 of the attachment.

The Construction Adhesive method seems much simpler, but that makes me think the Cement/Mortar Bed method must have some advantages?
If yes, I'm curious what are they and what recipe or type of cement/mortar should I use if I go with that method?

p.s. I started another thread on this same project a while back, but I couldnt figure out how to change the title to a more general one. If a moderator wants to/can merge these two threads (to this one) that would be great. Thanks again to everyone for sharing your time and expertise.

01-13-2010, 02:17 PM
Having repaired a few cracked poly tubs the main problem i see is the floor being uneven and the tub having stress when you stand in it cracking it.I always use a mud base to firm it up.

01-15-2010, 01:12 PM
I have an exterior wall in my tub/shower alcove.

if I use kraft backed insulation behind the Durarock/Hardibacker, then apply Hydroban or redguard, or schluter membrane to the backerboard, does that not create a trap for vabor around the backerboard?

I like the idea of sealing the backerboard with either membrane or Hydroban, so if I use that, should I be using an insulation with no vapor retarder?


01-15-2010, 08:03 PM
Use unfaced f.g. batts behind CBU with HydroBan OR carefully take off the paper or foil. You can usually just peel the facing off of faced batts pretty easily by running your hand between the facing & f.g. while peeling.

Brian in San Diego
01-15-2010, 08:13 PM
Couldn't one just cut slits in the facing with a razor knife?

01-15-2010, 08:22 PM
Yea, you can cut it or peel it. I peel to eliminate anything that hinders that vapor. Too many wet batts I reckon. :D

09-17-2010, 08:12 AM
OK, I've headed the advice of the kind folks here and decided not to use slate tile in the shower area.

Instead I want to use soapstone tile, but I'm concerned about the weight of them. According to the sales person, a box of 9 tiles is 65 lbs. or 7 1/4 lbs each. (tiles are 12 x 12 x 1/2" thick)

the walls in the shower area are 3' side walls and 5 foot back wall by 7 feet tall. (I plan to tile to the cieling)

that is around 520 lbs of tile (after deducting for the window) hanging on 2x4 wall construction and 1/2" hardibacker.

Is that too much weight for a wall?

09-17-2010, 10:48 AM
I wouldn't expect it to be too much, no.

Unless I'm way off, 0.05 psi shear load oughn't be anywhere near the capacity of your thinset, and I'm willing to believe 4 grown adults could probably stand in this location of your house for a long time without the floor caving in?

09-17-2010, 03:11 PM
I guess I was just worried about the wall sagging somehow or wanting to tip in from the weight?

When you put it the way you did (comparing to 4 grown men standing there in the tub) it is a little disturbing visually, but I agree, it should be fine.

Thanks for your advice.

I promise to post some pics when (if) I ever finish this thing. (good thing I'm not getting paid for it!)

09-17-2010, 03:13 PM
I'm making the assumption that the wall framing is solid and otherwise satisfactory.

You wouldn't wanna have to have those 4 fellas standing there full-time, holding the walls up :D

09-24-2010, 08:50 PM
I'm ready to install my soapstone tile on the walls in the shower. the tiles are 12 x 12 and 1/2" thick. very heavy too. the tiles are all perfectly uniform thickness and the back side is honed smooth. I was planning to use 3/16" space b/w tiles. but I'm second guessing myself there and thinking of using 1/8" spacers.
I'm using Laticrete 4 XLT thinset

question is what size trowel should I use with it?


09-25-2010, 03:50 PM
You need to use a trowel that gives 80-100% coverage once the tiles are pressed into the mortar and a minimum of 3/32 of mortar between tile & wall after press-in. If the tile backs are fairly smooth, AND the tiles are flat (not warped), AND the walls are flat and in-plane, then I'd probably start with skim coating the tile backs and notching the walls with a 1/4 x 3/8 notch.

Stick a tile up there, press it in, then remove it to check for coverage. If you've got good coverage, then carry on. If you need a bit more, use a bigger notch. :)

09-25-2010, 06:06 PM
thank Dana,

that is what i ended up going with. The tiles are perfectly uniform and very smooth. some saw marks on the backs.

I had to start this morning and ended up going with just what you recommended. 1/4 x 3/8. its 3/8 deep and 1/4 wide square notches.

the laticrete 4 XLT still sagging a little under the weight of these tiles so i'm glad i have the spacers.

I finished for tonight with a 4" accent strip of pepple tiles.

since I can't use the pebble tiles as a base I'm wondering how I'll keep the next row of 12x12's from sagging when I start up again tomorrow?

09-25-2010, 06:37 PM
After the pebbles set up over night, you can use a combination of spacers and little wedges to get the next row where you want it.

...or little chunks of cardboard, or toothpicks, or whatever...

09-25-2010, 06:47 PM
guess I won't throw out the chicken bones from dinner tonight!

09-25-2010, 07:27 PM
lol. Chicken bones... hmmmmmmmm hadn't thought of that one. :D

09-26-2010, 09:03 AM
With those light colored tile, I'd use bones from the white meat, instead of the dark. It's all in the details...:D

09-27-2010, 08:00 AM
Now the dog cant wait to take a shower!

It dawned on my as i was shimming up the tiles above the pebble on Sunday. I should have just placed a 4" piece of plywood as a spacer where the pebbles go and could have continued tiling, then all I would need to do the next day would have been to pop in the pebbles - walla! no chicken bones (shims) necessary!

It also would have made it much easier to figure out where that row should start on either side of the window as well.

the tiles are actually much darker than they looked in that picture.

here are a couple more pics. pardon the quality, I took them with my blackberry.

09-28-2010, 12:50 PM
does anyone have experience with grout for soapstone tiles? Soapstone is totally impervious and very soft, so not sure if that poses a problem for grouting? I was thinking about using Quartz Lock II? or just a regular Laticrete sanded grout. the joints are 3/16"

As for color, I'm thinking about a very dark grey or black.
Its the classic soapstone color. When it gets wet or oiled, it turns very dark grey (almost black) with white/creme veins. When dry and untreated it is grey like the pics.

any suggestions are welcome!

10-13-2010, 06:38 PM
can I use the spectralock where you would normally use caulking at the connection where the tiles meet the tub. I committed a rookie mistake and spaced the tile too far of the deck of the tub. it is about 7/16" space between tub and tile. The spectra lock did great on the larger joints of the pebble tile and I was thinking about using it at the joint of the tub and tile. is that a big no no?

Houston Remodeler
10-13-2010, 06:42 PM

For wall to wall I think spectralock is OK, but when it comes to a differing material, esp a tub, compared to a tile wall I think Latisil would be the way to go.

Even with the grout joint a little wider than you'd like, remember neatness reigns supreme. As long as you do a nice neat job, it will look just fine.

The caulking tutorial ( help

10-13-2010, 07:31 PM
I already purchased the above in the matching grout color that I used which is Platinum.

would you recommend returning that for the Latisil? I've worked my butt off on this room and don't want to cut corners now.


Brian in San Diego
10-13-2010, 07:38 PM
I would. Latisil is 100% silicone which is what you want in a wet location.

10-13-2010, 07:56 PM
thanks, I just read the caulking tutorial in the Library. Great stuff.

you guys are the greatest!

10-13-2010, 09:17 PM
Another option, maybe better, is to grout to the tub, then after the grout sets up a bit, cut out 1/8" or so right at the tub. Next day, caulk that little gap. Caulking BIG gaps like that, especially if it bonds to the backer, could be trouble.

Houston Remodeler
10-13-2010, 09:27 PM
Always 100% silicone in wet areas.

10-13-2010, 09:47 PM
What Brian and Paul said. :tup2:

10-13-2010, 09:52 PM
Thanks Dana, I was just thinking the same thing. Grout that gap and then use the latisil where it meets the tub.

the floor under the tub is very solid since I had to rebuild it, replaced joists and build up the floor with 3 layers of 3/4" exterior grade plywood, mortar bed then the Kohler acrylic tub that is also screwed to the wall studs. I don't think it will move much, but depending on the flexibility of the Spectra Lock after full cure it will still separate in all probability.

Why would you remove 1/8" of the grout there rather than leave it and run a bead of silicone where it meets the tub deck?

10-13-2010, 09:54 PM
You want room for the tile work and tub to move, expand & contract independently of each other. The gap does this, grouting tight does not.