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Unread 02-03-2015, 12:28 PM   #1
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Questions about fixing my "professionally" installed shower

album at: imgur.com/a/kjNee

Someone at Reddit directed me here. I could use some advice.

The drain pipe fell off of our old shower and flooded our downstairs. So we took the opportunity to remove our old shower and bath tub, and install a walk in. We hired the company that did the water remediation to do the work.
So the shower is about two weeks old now. as you can see from the pictures, it's a mess. The grout is already cracking. they used tiles from two different lots so their colors are off, the floor pan was never graded or smoothed and there are spots on the floor that are lower than the drain. They installed cement board on the walls, nailed directly to the studs but I don't think they added anything to cover the nail holes or fill in the joints. They didn't even wipe off all the grout from the tiles.

so I'm in negotiation with them now to see how much of my money they are going to give back to me.

My base assumption is that this really isn't worth fixing. if the grout is already cracking in some places, then I'm guessing that it wasn't mixed properly and will eventually crack all over and fail. So my plan is to rip out what they've done, and replace it with some nice 12x12 wall tiles and a mosaic floor.

I have some questions.
  • since the pan wasn't smoothed out or graded, can I add more mortar to the existing pan to give it some shape and a smooth surface or do I need to remove it and replace it entirely?
  • should there be something filling in the joints on the cement board? if so what?
  • What should I be saying to my contractor? he offered me $400 back from what I paid him. His estimate for the tiling the shower was about $1900. plus another 300 for the shower pan and another 200 for whatever "R&R Mortar bed for tile floors" is.

anything else that I might need to know would be helpful as well.
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Unread 02-03-2015, 01:05 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Styxtraveler
as you can see from the pictures, it's a mess
Can't see any pics here? But sounds like a real hack job?

I'm not a Pro, and sure others will sort through the install to help you. But just knowing they didn't tape and fill joints and used nails is enough for me to tear it all out, questioning the waterproofing which probably don't exist?

If the pros here do lead you to a complete tear out, I'd personally insist on all the money back?
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Unread 02-03-2015, 01:25 PM   #3
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It is difficult without a visual. But if the shower is as bad as it may sound, nothing less than a full refund would be reasonable. You still will be left with having to remove everything and starting all over. Please send pics. Good Luck
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Unread 02-03-2015, 01:34 PM   #4
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the forum won't let me post a link to the imgur album.

if you copy imgur.com/a/kjNee and paste it into a browser you should be able to see the pics.

if not I'll try to attach the files when I get home later.
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Unread 02-03-2015, 01:35 PM   #5
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I picked a few of your more interesting photos to post. I think you know the answer to this, but it's going to be a complete gut and start over. There are a variety of problems with this installation and the chances are good that it will be leaking again soon. To answer some of your specific questions, there are ways to add a slope to the floor (adding more mortar is not one of them) but without knowing specifically what is under the existing floor, I don't know how long they would last. Yes, the cement board joints should have been filled per the manufacturer's instructions, usually with special tape and mortar.
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Unread 02-03-2015, 01:58 PM   #6
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The floor is a standard plywood board used in second floor construction. I think it's like 3/4 inch. they framed the shower area with 2x4s and then laid some kind of membrane over the floor cutting a hole out for the drain. the membrane went over the threshold of the shower entrance, and up the walls for maybe 6 inches. Inside the shower area they put in roughly 2 inches of mortar. I think it came to about a half inch below the drain. though I don't recall for sure. on top of that they put the tile. I don't think he added anything between the tile and the mortar bed other than standard tile mortar. then I believe he used sandless grout between the tiles. I was hoping I could get by without removing the mortar bed he put in, because that sounds like a royal pain in the rear.
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Unread 02-03-2015, 02:11 PM   #7
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Matthew, sorry for your situation. The pros here will help you get it sorted.

For posting pictures, you can use the little paperclip icon when making a post. We prefer the pictures to be stored on the servers here so they never disappear. Dan has nicely copied over a few of your many pictures, though.

I'm not a pro, but a few things that I see, comments, and thoughts:
-This is an obvious hack job, with nothing lining up and no attention to detail. That makes me very concerned about the prep work done underneath the tile and the waterproofing (if any, which I doubt).
-Ask your contractor what waterproofing method he used, with product names. CBU is not a waterproofing method. The shower must be completely waterproof prior to the first tile and grout being placed. You need something like plastic or tar paper under the CBU, or a surface applied membrane (paint-on or sheet membrane). There are plenty of options for the latter (Redguard, Hydroban, Kerdi, etc.). And the waterproofing must extend all the way up the wall to the height of the shower head at least.
-You mentioned a membrane on the floor. It is required that there is a pre-slope between the plywood floor and that membrane (sloped at least 1/4" per foot toward the drain from all directions). Then another layer of the mud bed is put over the membrane and the tile attached to that.
-The membrane on the floor cannot be punctured by nails or anything else below a certain level. I think it's 2" above the height of the curb(?). Someone will correct me. Make sure he didn't put any holes in it.
-The membrane cannot be punctured in any way as it goes over the curb, except on the outside. That means no nails/screws on the top or inside of the curb. The only way to do this is with lathe and mud. Only way. Not CBU in any way.
-He should have used 100% silicone caulk on all corners and transitions between surfaces, not grout. And not siliconized caulk.

Those are just a few thoughts. I'm sure others will have more. If there's no slope under the membrane or no waterproofing going up the walls or the membrane was punctured too low, it's definitely a complete tear out. Although, given what you can see on the surface, I think I'd tear it all out anyway.

A lot of the things mentioned are tile industry standards. If he didn't meet them, I'd think that you could get all your money back, although I also understand that you have to give him the opportunity to try again and do it correctly, which I wouldn't really want to do. And getting it all back is probably easier said than done.

Good luck!
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Unread 02-03-2015, 02:33 PM   #8
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Saw all the pics... That's pretty awful... Sorry to say, it should be ripped out and rebuilt properly.
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Unread 02-03-2015, 05:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Matthew
We hired the company that did the water remediation to do the work.

Are they looking for repeat business. You'd think they would know the difference!

Hate to tell you this, but I think you already know. It's a complete tearout.

Was there a contract on this?

Don't know where you are located but typically by law the contractor must be allowed to fix this first. BUT, it appears as if he don't know the difference between good and bad. Don't know where this will go.

And one more thing, don't let your lawnmower repairman do your tax preparation either!


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