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Unread 01-13-2021, 12:28 PM   #1
tapfc2
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Bathroom renovation turned into a nightmare because of tiler. Do I redo everything?

Hi everyone,

I found this forum by seraching the web for answers to my questions and you seem like very helpful folk.

I've recently purchased a home and started renovating one of the bathrooms. The house is from the 60's and I believe the bathroom was remodeled sometime in the 80's.

We decided on getting a ceramic shower floor and walls and also tiling the continous wall to the shower. Wanting to make sure that everything be perfect, we paid extra for Schluter/KERDI shower kits, although the cement used was Mapei. Note that I had nothing to do with selecting the tiler as that choice was made by our general contractor.

The cement used for the shower floor and walls was epoxy. I was told it was more expensive but a lot more durable.

Once the job was done, two issues became apparent :
  1. Even though the tiler used a KERDI slope, he didn't check his level and the water would simply not drain. (that is with the KERDI foam, it was almost exactly level...)
  2. The tiles on the walls appeared warped, like the inside of each tile was sticking out. Some of the tiles appeared to have been misaligned.

For issue number one, the tiler agreed to fix it. His fix, instead of stripping out the installed tiles, was to cut away the linear drain, tile over the freshly installed tiles and reinstall the drain. Even after his fix, it appears water does NOT properly flow to the drain. The difference between the end of the shower and the drain is 0.75in and the length of the shower is 48in. On top of the slope appearing to be incorrect, there is still some pooling next to the drain.

For the wall, he tells me it's normal and that even if I strip it out and start again, the result will be the same because the wall isn't straight. Note the wall is brand new because we extended the bathroom into the old wardrobe of one of the bedrooms.

My questions are as follow :
  1. Is it okay to tile over the existing tile? Will it create issues down the line? Schluter is saying they won't honour the guarantee if it's installed like that.
  2. What about the wall? Does it need to be redone? Can it be better? I've gotten mixed opinions on this one.
  3. If we redo the shower floor, how will it affect the sealing? The tiler is saying redoing it on top was his only option because there would be no way to seal the shower otherwise?

Please do help me out, I am completely at a loss here.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 01:43 PM   #2
bobiboli
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Bathroom renovation turned into a nightmare because of tiler. Do I redo everything?

Hi there

Gosh i have similar experience and now in the middle of re doing the whole job.

Tbh, if i were you i will ask the guy to redo, i will ask opinions from other tilers, see if its doable.

Re: redoing the shower - i am not an expert here, but i wouldnt want the waterproofing compromised. So that’s probably the reason why he cant re do it?

Re: tile over tile - while i m sure it will be on case by case basis. I personally will never do it again. Our previous tile on tile job was a disaster.

And if there is anything i learned from tiling job gone wrong..i will ensure everything is written down and agreed. As well as assurance that job will be done correctly and with care. Just like any other job.

I hope u can find a solution soon


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Unread 01-13-2021, 01:45 PM   #3
cx
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Welcome, Vincent.

Bad situation. Issues:

1. I don't know specifically about the Schluter foam tray for the linear drain configuration, but the trays for the traditional drains have less than the required 1/4" per horizontal foot slope to drain.

If I understand your description (not always certain), the far end of your shower floor would need to be an absolute minimum of one inch higher than the top of your drain. That would be measured from level and the slope must be near perfectly flat.

If your tile contractor installed a foam tray on a subfloor that was not near perfectly level and flat, you could end up with much less than an optimal slope.

2. In your photos it appears you have used a rather long, narrow tile set in a 50 percent offset pattern. Rarely a good idea unless your tiles are exceptionally flat, which appears not to be your situation. Bad choice of layout, perhaps.

Your tile contractor blaming your wall for not being "straight" is a specious argument at best. When he agreed to tile the wall he effectively accepted ownership of the installation. If the wall was not sufficiently flat or true it was his responsibility to either correct the situation or at least make you aware that it was a problem so you could together agree upon a fix.

Questions:

1. Tile over tile is an accepted installation method, but not in your application. The waterproofing layer of the shower must be properly sloped to drain per code and per tile industry standards, not just the tile surface. Your problem cannot be corrected at the level of the top of the tile surface.

2. See #2 above.

3. One of the drawbacks to the direct bonded waterproofing membrane methods (your Kerdi) of shower receptor creation is the inability to effectively do any repairs or modifications after the tile surface has been set and cured. If the tile was properly installed, your chances of removing the tiles without damage to the membrane are approaching zero.

I'm not sure just what you mean by cement, but I'm assuming you mean the material used to bond the tiles to the Kerdi. And you're saying that was an epoxy. Is that correct?

Your GC, unless you paid the tiler directly, is the only person you need have the discussion with, and he's not gonna want to hear what you have to say, but what you need is to have the shower removed and started over, done correctly this time. I just don't know any other way to correct the receptor problem.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 01:57 PM   #4
Kman
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I figured the epoxy he referred to was the grout.

Who supplied the tile? Did you buy them and bring them to the site?
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Unread 01-13-2021, 03:11 PM   #5
tapfc2
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Hi everyone,

thank you so much for the quick response, very appreciated.

bobiboli:
Compromising the waterproofing seems to be the excuse the tiler is using for not fixing it properly. Seems like the real solution is a way bigger fix than just the slope. And thanks for confirming that tile over tile ends in disaster.


CX:
  • My understanding is that the 1/4 inch per linear feet is standard. Schluter did say that's what their foam tray had for a linear drain. Because the tiler installed it on a subfloor that wasn't nearly level, it gave no slope at all. The slope for the second tiling job (on top of the first one) was done by him, without using a foam tray.
  • The tiles we used for the walls are 4x16. He didn't warn me or the contractor that it would be an issue and says he is entirely satisfied with the job as it stands. I think it won't look that bad once the mirror and vanity are installed. The new tiler seems to think he can do a much better job.
  • Thank you, that is exactly the type of explanation I needed to understand why Schluter would't guarantee such an installation.
  • Sorry for being unclear. The epoxy is the grout, as Kman correctly guessed.
  • The general contractor isn't assuming much responsibility, but that's a whole other ball game.

Kman:
  • Correct, the expoy is the grout.
  • I supplied the tile, but could've returned it had I known it was going to be an issue.


The tiler was also responsible for installing a floor warming system and the rest of tiles, which seems to have been done properly, except for a cold spot next to the toilet (where your feet would go). Is that normal? Is there a minimum distance that needs to be respected between the toilet and the the heating cable?

The tiler doesn't seem to want to budge, but I can't accept the job as it is. Is paying to fix everything and deducting the cost of fixing on the initial tiler bill common practice? Seems like the logical thing to do at this point
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Unread 01-13-2021, 03:39 PM   #6
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The industry standard for a long tile like you have is not to use a 50% offset, more like a third. What you have, when the tile is bowed, is the high point of the tile in the middle sitting over the low point of the ends. By using a smaller offset, that variation is minimized, and is why the industry recommendation exists. Now, there ARE some tile that are very flat, and any arrangement can work, but yours is not unusual, and is why that recommendation is there.

As was mentioned, PLUMBING CODE calls for the waterproof layer to be sloped properly to the drain...that is NOT the tile. There is often enough adjustability in the drain cover to handle a thicker layer, but if he removed the drain (and not just the cover), then the waterproofing was compromised.

Most epoxy grouts are not benefitted with a sealer, so using one can make for less maintenance. You can get them in some neat colors and with some interesting add-ins, like glitter, UV light glow, and metallic, so can offer some more design capabilities over a plain cement based one. Nothing wrong with them, but they take a little more attention to detail when cleaning up to achieve a good end result.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 07:05 PM   #7
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I don't see how an installer could set the tray, waterproofing, and tile, and not check for proper slope. I check my floor at every stage, just so I know there's going to be good drainage at every point in the shower.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 07:25 PM   #8
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These are 4x16 tiles and since they did have a slight bow, I went with a 1/3rd stagger. To also help, I made the joints 1/8 wide. I went over this with the homeowner ahead of time so they weren't surprised.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 07:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davy
I went over this with the homeowner ahead of time so they weren't surprised.
There's the key. Warning the customer about the pitfalls of doing a job a certain way goes a long way toward finishing the job to their satisfaction.
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Unread 01-13-2021, 11:16 PM   #10
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@jim - we were thinking of doing vertical stacking, a la the attached image. Is this an ok extension of 1/2 -> 1/3 -> 0?
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Unread 01-14-2021, 09:25 AM   #11
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Yes.
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Unread 01-14-2021, 11:17 AM   #12
tapfc2
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Thank you everyone for your help. We're demolishing over the weekend and starting over on Monday.

For the walls outside of the shower, since most of the job seems decent and it's only that one part of the wall where the warping effect is apparent, we'll try and destroy only that part of the wall and redo it.

For the shower itself, I've been told only to demo the bottom part of the shower wall so we can re-waterproof everything. Is that correct? Or would it be better to demo everything?
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Unread 01-14-2021, 12:29 PM   #13
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1. Good luck with that. And how do they plan to tie together the previous offset layout with the new stacked layout?

2. Absolutely not. You'll have the same problem with the inability to tie the new waterproofing into the old. They need to tear out the whole thing to the studs and subfloor and start over.

Why are you doing any part of the demo?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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