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Unread 10-19-2020, 10:03 AM   #1
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Location: Tucson, AZ
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Shower remodel question and pictures

Hi all, I'm attempting my first shower remodel and want to make sure I'm on the right track.

The house was built in 1958. A few months ago I noticed some water damage on the exterior (block) wall that was the result of leaks in the shower wall on the interior. I tore out the shower and have started to build back up. The existing shower was drywall with a cement and wire mesh combo and tile on top. Two of the shower walls are interior with wood studs and the third is a block wall with either cement and/or plaster and/or something else on top (apologize in advance for my ignorance). Note: the block wall had no drywall, just the wire mesh + cement combo.

During the teardown the bottom portion of the cement/plaster/whatever needed to be removed since it was weakened/compromised. It peeled off easily with a rotary hammer and chisel bit. The remaining wall covering was solid.

At this point I was at a crossroads and figured I had two options. 1) remove all the cement/plaster down to the block, add furring strips and use cement board. 2) try to redo/replace the cement/plaster on the bottom half.

I opted to try to skim coat the lower portion of the block wall with type S mortar. My thought was that the block underneath was very uneven and trying to fur it out to be flat would have been a challenge. I also wanted the tiling surface to be flat or in-plane with the rest of the bathroom wall and wasn't sure it'd be possible with the furring strips and cement board (it likely would have resulted in a bump out). Anyway, when applying the mortar I used a screed to try and match it with the upper portion of the wall (which is perfectly flat) and have since been grinding down high spots to get it in plane (there are some low/high spots but it's all within 1/16" or so).

I realize it's also possible to cover the cement wall with cement board to ensure a perfectly flat surface, but I'm not sure what to do at the edge where the cement board and tile transition to the rest of the bathroom wall.

I purchased the KBRS shower slope and curb system because it seems to be easy and straight forward. My plan is to set that, put up cement board on the two interior walls and use the third (cement) wall as-is for tiling. They provide a liquid water proofing membrane with the kit which I would use to cover all the surfaces of the shower prior to tiling.

Let me know what you think. Am I on the right rack? Have I doomed myself to an impossible task? Should I sell the house and move on? I searched but couldn't find much info about using a cement or block wall as a tiling surface for a shower. It could be out there and my google skills are lacking. I appreciate the feedback, thanks!
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Unread 10-19-2020, 10:48 PM   #2
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Location: NW Arkansas, Ozark Mountains
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Welcome to the forum.

I think your first step would be to find out for sure what you have on that wall to the left, other than the mortar you put up.

About the only method of waterproofing that you'll be able to use on the shower as it stands now is a surface-applied waterproofing. But that'll work only if you have a substrate over which you can install the membrane. If you don't, you'll have another decision to make, i.e. whether to remove and replace that substrate with something else, or to build that wall out.

How big is the opening now?

The top ten reasons to procrastinate:

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Unread 10-20-2020, 11:31 AM   #3
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Location: Tucson, AZ
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Thanks for the response. Some googling leads me to believe the wall covering is likely plaster, which if I believe the internet, is basically mortar with a finer grain sand. Is that accurate?

I checked the data sheet for the liquid waterproofing membrane that came with the shower kit and it says it's good for use on cement, mortar, gypsum, etc. So from a product compatibility standpoint, it seems like it should work.

The affected area is approximately 36" wide x 28" high.
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