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Unread 05-08-2013, 04:57 AM   #1
MattamyRed
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Shower moisture issue

Hi all,

I bought a 10 year old home 3 years ago with a tiled en-suite shower (35" x 56") that has developed a moisture problem. I first noticed that a few of the white wall tiles that touch the floor had started discolour last fall. By Christmas, every lower wall tiled on 3 of the 4 walls had noticeably darkened. After a little reading, I decided to remove the caulk and stop using the shower for it to dry out. Removing the caulk along the wall-floor joint revealed nothing remarkable, other than some relatively poor tile cutting. Gaps range from 1/4" to just under 1/2" and a lot of caulk was used to seal it.

After a month or two, the tiles returned (mostly) to their original white. Closer inspection of the shower this spring revealed a few places near the entrance curb where the grout had cracked and discoloured. I decided initially to cut this out, re-grout, re-caulk and then re-grout.

However, after removing the grout around the lower tiles this weekend, I found there was basically no adhesion left between these tiles and the backing board and I couldn't resist pulling two of them out. The photos show tiles under the marble topped shower entrance. The tiles and backing board both extend about 2" into the mortar bed.

The backing board is damp to the touch and has crumbled away. There is a green paper that is barely bonded to the back of the tiles. I can see the membrane under the curb and there are rusty fasteners (now missing their heads) which were used to fasten the backing board to the studs. The fasteners pass through the membrane about 2" above the shower floor.

I am able to easily get at the backside of two of the fully tiled walls and one of these appear to be a paperless cement/fibre board of some type (see photo below). However, the inter-cavity space on the backside of the shower also serves as a cold-air return and I found the backing board is a drywall product with a heavy black paper on the backside. Obviously, being part of the cold-air return, I'm not keen to have mould/mildew in this cavity. By the mix of materials, I'm wondering if someone has done a repair on this shower already…

From reading these forums, I gather that the problem is my backing board sitting in water and wicking it up which is discolouring my white wall tiles. I'd really like some input on what my options are for fixing this. Having bought the home resale, I don't have any idea what the pre-slope looks like or anything else. I figure, my options are:

1) Quietly put it back the way it was and cross my fingers that the discoloured tiles don't return.

2) Cut out the bottom two rows of wall tiles + curb, remove the backing board and shower floor. Redo these only.

3) Rip it all out and start over. The shower is a bit of a cave with walls on 4 sides and a narrow 23" entrance so I think I'd probably cut back some of the walls and put up some frosted glass. Honestly, this is a larger job than I really want to do at the moment so it may need to wait.
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Unread 05-08-2013, 07:10 AM   #2
cx
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Welcome, Randy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy
I gather that the problem is my backing board sitting in water and wicking it up which is discolouring my white wall tiles.
Could be, but the bigger problems are that the backing is gypsum drywall (MR Board, but still gypsum drywall) and if it is wicking water you also have a problem with there being standing water at the perimeter of the shower to be wicked. An additional problem is that there appears to be no waterproofing on the inside surface of the improper backing board to keep water from entering through the tiled surface.

Lot wrong with that installation, I fear, and I wouldn't spend any money trying to repair it. I think you'll find it easier and certainly more cost effective to tear it out to the studs and subfloor (or joists) and build another using proper materials and methods.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-08-2013, 08:00 AM   #3
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Hi there.
I see Mr. Mattamy, a multimillionaire, just got the order of Canada or some such nonsense.
I also live in ON, probably near you.
My house was built in '87 (but not by Mattamy) and I hear they are building them cheaper now, no offense. Every possible mistake in the book was made in building our shower.
It literally fell apart after about 6 years. The quick rebuild by a so-called reputable contractor was also done incorrectly and we had terrible mold problems from day 1. Unfortunately I fear that your shower base was not built properly and there is probably no waterproofing. It is impossible to patch this up.
Your best bet is to either re-do it yourself or hire a knowledgeble pro. That is not an oxymoron, but some things make you wonder.
I have just finished renovating my own shower and I have little faith in contractors in general.
Sorry for the bad news. It may help to contact Mattamy and see if they will do anything. Perhaps a complaint to The Toronto Star with pics might help.
Best regards,
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Unread 05-08-2013, 10:41 AM   #4
MattamyRed
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Thanks

Thanks for the input guys. My 1st guess when the tiles discolored was that I was going to need to redo it all thinking that either the weep holes are blocked or the pre-slope is inadequate. Over time, I began to hope I could get away with doing less as I have too many other projects going at the moment. My wife and I will be doing the work ourselves and will likely do a basic 3-wall Kerdi-type shower.
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Unread 05-08-2013, 01:21 PM   #5
jim_c
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If you study the info on this forum you will be able to do it.
It is not a weekend project however.
Best of luck to you.
If you need any suggestions for suppliers/sources in the Oakv./Burl. area, just ask.
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Unread 05-08-2013, 02:54 PM   #6
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WHat CX said,

I wouldn't touch this shower without taking it down to the studs (which may be rotted also)
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Unread 05-10-2013, 06:33 AM   #7
MattamyRed
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Suppliers

jim_c, I'm just up the road in Milton so any info on suppliers that you can share would be much appreciated. Did you go with a Kerdi/membrane system? If so, where did you purchase from? There are a few local tile suppliers in town but I'm not familiar with them. I am quite familiar with Noble and Marks Supply from previous plumbing projects.
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Unread 05-11-2013, 08:53 PM   #8
MattamyRed
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MattamyRed's En-Suite Shower

Well, after posting about my moisture issues and getting feedback, it seems clear that I'll need to rip out the existing shower and redo it. I've attached two drawings showing a rough sketch of what I currently have and my proposed replacement. No big changes, but I think paring back the wall and using some glass will make it feel less like a cave. It will also add considerable $$$ to the project cost.

As seems to be the etiquette here, I'll be taking photos and asking questions in this thread as I go along. If the moderators wish, they are welcome to merge this thread with my previous one with photos of my rotten shower.

Background:
- My main goal is that the shower function as intended. No leaks and I would prefer the install to be as simple and straightforward as a tiled shower can be.
- I consider myself quite capable of doing this without hiring a pro.

I have been reading the forums for a few days and, at the risk of this thread turning into chaos, I have some general questions about materials and what the best approach is for a 1st time shower DIY project.

1) I've been reading up on the Kerdi shower system and while it seems like a good option, I must admit that it looks like a lot of work compared with painting on a liquid membrane or even the Frankengueuze method. I know that pros have much different constraints than the average DIY project and I'm curious, what approach you guys recommend as the most likely to succeed.

2) The wall on the back of my shower is load bearing and (stupidly) contains a cold-air return duct (see drawings). There are relatively few options for moving/removing it as my master bedroom is south-facing and I need that return for circulation. In the event of a failure of the shower waterproofing I would like to minimize (and ideally eliminate) any chance for mold/mildew to spread from the shower backing board through the HVAC system. Does anyone have any suggestions?

3) Kerdi recommends drywall as a backing board and I understand that the membrane is impermeable to water when installed correctly. However, after seeing the green board turn to putty under the tiles in my current shower, I'm skeptical of having any drywall inside the shower again. Furthermore, I am not actually sure that local building codes allow it. Cement boards seem to all require a modified thinset which voids the Kerdi warranty. Are there any ways around this?

3b) Kerdi seems very popular and readily available at the local tile shops and big box stores, but if I want to go with a cement board (and therefore a modified thinset) should I consider alternative membranes (eg: Mapei, Laticrete, Custom, Noble, Wedi, Jaegger)? Is there really much difference between these materials in either performance or installation?

3c) Are the Laticrete pre-sloped shower pans dipped in gold prior to hydro ban? They seem awfully expensive, even compared with the Kerdi pans. I am undecided on whether I'll do pre-sloped pan or a Frankengueuze base.

4) All these pre-built, polystyrene curbs, niches and benches look like they would save time but I'm a bit old-fashioned and wonder about their longevity. Are the tiled polystyrene curbs capable of supporting the weight of a tempered glass corner surround long-term?
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Unread 05-11-2013, 09:16 PM   #9
chuck stevenson
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Randy,

It would be best to keep all of your queries in one thread.

http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/...d.php?t=107201

Easier to follow what has been asked and addressed.
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Unread 05-11-2013, 10:18 PM   #10
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1. Any of the standard shower construction methods will work just fine if properly installed per industry standards and manufacturers' recommendations. I recommend you remain well clear of the Frankengueuze thread. While there is useful information in there, there is too much that you really need to avoid and it's difficult to know one from the other if you're not very familiar with the trade.

2. If your return is ducted I would pay no attention to it at all and just curse your builder for the hole in your insulation.

3. No. But if you install the Kerdi properly, you'll have no need of no steenkin' warranty. If you install it improperly, even using the correct materials, you'll still have no warranty. You can use an unmodified thinset mortar over your CBU and void the CBU manufacturer's warranty. You can use a modified thinset mortar and void the Schluter warranty. Your call.

The Kerdi product is not gonna fail. The CBU product is not gonna fail. If there is a failure it'll be an installer failure. You mix and match, you carry the burden of the warranty.

3b. You've listed some dramatically different products there. Yes, there are dramatic differences in the installation methods and requirements.

3c. I would personally not recommend any shower floor structure other than good ol' deck mud. Never any gold hiding in there and it fits every possible size and shape and drain location you can conjure up. Fits them perfectly.

4. The foam products with which I'm familiar will work just fine. Like the foam floors, I would not use one.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-12-2013, 06:34 AM   #11
MattamyRed
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Thanks for the insight CX and to Chuck for consolidating my posts into one well titled thread.

2) Unfortunately, the cold air return is not ducted and they are using the wall cavity for airflow which is allowed here. Adding a metal duct isn't an option because it passes through the header (structural) in both the basement and the main floor. Basically, the builder cut two openings in the 2x6 headers, floor boards, bottom plate and reinforced with metal straps. I'm looking at moving to another wall but it isn't trivial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cx
Any of the standard shower construction methods will work just fine if properly installed per industry standards and manufacturers' recommendations.
3) This seems to be a contradiction... Drywall is recommended by Schluter but technically against code and generally considered a bad idea in a shower.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cx
You can use an unmodified thinset mortar over your CBU and void the CBU manufacturer's warranty. You can use a modified thinset mortar and void the Schluter warranty. Your call.
Is there no preference here? As a shower tile n00b, I don't have any experience to draw upon.
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Unread 05-12-2013, 06:36 AM   #12
MattamyRed
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jim_c's shower

jim_c, after showing my wife photos of your DIY shower, she wants to know what you would charge to do ours
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Unread 05-12-2013, 06:54 AM   #13
jim_c
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Hi there, Red,
I'm sure your wife was just kidding, so I will not respond to that!
I will be glad to offer you some suggestions and there are many great folks on this site who will help. If you can work as well as you can create nice drawings you will be a hero! It will help if you have an alternate shower to use as this project will take some time. But I obviously support your plan to it it yourself. I'll send you a PM also. Do your research, plan well, and take your time.
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Unread 05-12-2013, 06:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattamyRed View Post
.. Drywall is recommended by Schluter but technically against code and generally considered a bad idea in a shower.
Thanks to the Kerdi the drywall would not be in the shower, it would be outside the shower's waterproof membrane. If you follow the directions, the drywall will never get wet.

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Unread 05-12-2013, 07:06 AM   #15
jim_c
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Oh yeah, and getting John's e-book would also be a good idee.
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