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Unread 04-29-2007, 11:17 AM   #1
Beko
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To Vapor Barrier or Not to Vapor Barrier, that is the question

I am looking at the TCNA details for a Steam Room Construction. SSR613-05, with cement mortar has a vapor barrier and a waterproof membrane, and SR614-05 thin-set. Has no vapor barrier with the waterproof membrane. I don't have a copy of the TCNA just this detail sheet. So not sure if there is any explaination in the body of the text.

Is it possible that the mortar bed, scratch coat and metal lath, simply do not deteriorate with moisture that becomes trapped, and so the vapor barrier is there to protect the framing? And is it possible that the absence of a reference to a vapor barrier with the cementitious backer unit is because the cement board would decompose due to trapped moisture?

There is no consensus amongst the representatives of the paint on waterproof reps, e.g. Laticrete specify to use the vapor barrier in conjunction with the waterproof membrane, and overlap it with the liner in the mortar bed. Redgard specify not to use any vapor barrier.

I’m in a quandary. I’ve studied this website, and get that the general opinion is not to vapor barrier. At the risk of being repetitive I beg all those who understand, to please elaborate on the pros and cons of whether to vapor barrier or not to vapor barrier, in the steam shower with a waterproof membrane on the tile side.

Thanks a million for being a gigantic team of support and advice and for reading this plea. I'm not a pro, but wanted to direct my question to you. Hope it's o.k. to post in the pro site.
Thanks again,
Beko.
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Unread 04-29-2007, 11:31 AM   #2
TileArt1
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Hello Beko,

In my opinion (and others may vary) If you use Redgard on the tile side of your backerboard, it should create a totally moisture-proof, sealed barrier. In other words, no moisture should be allowed to even reach your backerboard.

In this situation I would not use a vapor barrier behind your backerboard. Any vapor barrier is there to protect your framing, however, with Redgard moisture should not be allowed to reach your backerboard. With the double layer, any moisture trapped initially between the two will remain.

Hope this helps a little?
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Last edited by TileArt1; 04-29-2007 at 11:39 AM.
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Unread 04-29-2007, 03:01 PM   #3
glen
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Shower tub control wall escutions. Moen for exaample at the bottom of the single handle cover inside you will see the foam ring and the space missing. I was told that it is designed to allow the control wall to breathe. Shower head thats another venting area. If the wall cavity cannot breathe thats a problem. I never use a vapor barrior. Most rotted studs I find are from years of water soaking through drywall. Results most likely vary by geographical region.
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Unread 04-29-2007, 03:09 PM   #4
Rd Tile
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Glen, you NEED a barrier if not using a waterproofing membrane over the cementboard, the problem you see is the FACT that drywall was used.
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Unread 04-29-2007, 03:43 PM   #5
duneslider
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Correct me if I am wrong, Redguard is NOT a vapor barrier. That is how I understand the product. Waterproofer yes, vapor barrier no.

You do need a vapor barrier somewhere but using the vapor barrier then a board or cement and another waterproofer would make a sandwich that would cause problems.

From my reading on the subject, I hope I don't have to do a steam shower until the authorities get this all figured out!

Bryan
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Unread 04-29-2007, 07:49 PM   #6
John K
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Beko,

Good luck getting a definative answer on this one. I spoke with a Hardie rep not to long ago. According to them, its up to your local building codes as to whether or not to use one.
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Unread 04-29-2007, 10:31 PM   #7
Beko
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Thanks Roger, Glen, RD Tile and Bryan.

Roger; I was worried the liquid membrane could not be depended on as an effective vapor barrier, what with the steam pressure and all. Any tips on what to pay special attention to that would make a paint on waterproof membrane 100% reliable?

Glen, thank you very much for the examples showing the importance of providing a cavity for breathing and ventilation. That’s exactly what I needed. I don’t know what a Shower tub control wall escution is though.

Bryan, for sure Redgard is a waterproof membrane. And I think the authorities have figured it out, just that they disagree with expert opinion, which is why I was looking for help to understand the reasoning.
I was lucky enough to be sent a full execution statement from Laticrete and they specify you use a vapor barrier and the waterproof membrane, based on the “Handbook for Tile Design and Construction”.
Part 3 section 3.2 Surface Preparation reads as follows:-
"Steam rooms require a waterproofing membrane on all surfaces to prevent moisture from penetrating adjoining spaces. Additionally, a vapor barrier (6mm thick polyethylene sheeting or #15 builders felt) must be installed over the framing and behind the cement backer board. Vapor barrier shall be designed for relative temperature exposure. Install vapor barrier so that it laps over the shower pan waterproofing membrane so that condensation can drain into the shower pan (not behind it). All steam rooms will require adequate insulation on walls and ceilings to reduce moisture condensation at temperature variations".

Thanks again,
Beko.
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Unread 04-29-2007, 10:57 PM   #8
stullis
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Use kerdi.
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Unread 04-30-2007, 05:23 AM   #9
Scottish Tile and Stone
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what scott said.^^^^
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ditra kerdi stone showers waterproof mudset stone backsplashes glass tiles,laticrete, hydroban,ohio,cleveland,painesville,backsplashes,
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Unread 04-30-2007, 10:31 AM   #10
Scooter
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Or anyother sheet membrane.
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Unread 04-30-2007, 12:16 PM   #11
Scottish Tile and Stone
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What Scooter said too ^^^
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Unread 04-30-2007, 12:28 PM   #12
tilemanct
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Two years ago at Coverings I tried to sit down with someone at the TCA booth to discuss the exact thing you describe here. No one could give me any straight answers on steam room construction. I brought up the subject at the Laticrete booth with them saying "use our 9235 with a vapor barrier" I then asked about the "vapor barrier" detail. He laughed and had no idea on how to do it.
The problem with the method using a vapor barrier is the construction of the vapor barrier from ceiling to the drain's weep holes. Very hard to do correctly. Save yourself a whole lot of headaches and research the Schluter Kerdi Shower System. That is the system we use for steam showers and it works!
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Unread 04-30-2007, 05:42 PM   #13
Beko
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Dave, Scott, Scooter;

Thanks, for sure I'm considering the Kerdi, but having trouble finding the perm rating. Any chance you know or can give me a technical contact? I did try the usual sources.

Scooter, the Laticrete 9235 has a waterproof membrane: polyester fabric 1/20 “ thick and the liquid bleeds through it. Waterproof 100% guarantee, 30 years proven record, and examples nearby. If you ever want a contact there let me know. My guy gave me answers to every question, information and details galore and referenced their own Handbook.

One point he made clear was LATICRETE 9235 Waterproofing Membrane has a perm rating of greater than one which means it is not considered to be a vapor barrier. Water in the gas form (as opposed to solid form) can pass through the membrane. That’s why I want to know the perm rating for other membranes.

I noticed Holmes on Homes using a vapor barrier with the Kerdi!

Thank you all for your kindness in giving me your feedback.
Beko
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Unread 05-01-2007, 08:42 PM   #14
Dave Gobis
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Yeah, steam can be confusing, more so when people are trying to sell products. Bottom line, there is no such thing as a vapor-proof liquid applied membrane. Most will recommend that type of product for residential which is an occassional use application. If it is continual use, something under 1 Perm is a better idea, typically a sheet product has a perm rating of less than 1.
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Unread 05-01-2007, 11:10 PM   #15
stullis
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Quit watching TV.

Rare if they ever get anything correct even when they are using good products.
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