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Unread 09-19-2021, 07:27 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2021
Location: Denver, CO
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Waterproofing concrete? River rock?

My partner and I are are installing a shower in our basement. The floor and two of the walls are concrete slab. It's an irregularly shaped space, so if we tile we'll probably use mosaic tile, but I've been researching cheaper alternatives because we are on a budget.
-What are your opinions on non-tile pebble floors? Just pressing pebbles into the waterproofed mud job and grouting around them, them possibly sealing them? I've read that they require weekly cleaning and bi-yearly re-sealing to keep them from getting stained. We don't really care about it getting discolored, but if it's going to be a health hazard unless we scrub it every week, the option is less appealing. I've read everything I can find online about this, but would be curious to get some professional opinions.
-How do we affordably waterproof concrete walls? I've read about coating concrete with epoxies or other waterproofing products to make showers without tile finishes. Epoxies are expensive; has anyone tried this with a product that's cheaper or comparable to using tile as the finish? Or would we be better off attaching cement board to the concrete walls, waterproofing, and then tiling?

My partner is the handyman while I'm just doing grunt work and internet research....so if I sound like I don't know what I'm doing, don't worry; I will be passing your suggestion onto the headman.

Thanks so much for your time,
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Unread 09-19-2021, 08:04 PM   #2
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Location: Boerne, Texas
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Welcome, Eryn.

Couple things you can do to help. First is to add a geographic location to your User Profile. Second would be to post some photos of this shower area. The "irregularly shaped space" could hold a lot of surprises. Use the paper-clip icon above the Reply dialog box to attach photos from storage on your computer.

I don't favor pebble shower floors, but many of our visitors install them. We (TYW) recommend you slope your shower floor steeper than the minimum required 1/4" per foot when using such pebbles. As for cleaning? That depends upon the amount of use, type of use, quality of water, and sensitivity of the users. I've never owned a pebble shower floor, but I'd guess it to be more difficult to clean that a ceramic tile floor. I do not recommend sealing shower floors of any kind. See my warranty information below.

I know of no DIY friendly method of putting an effective epoxy coating on concrete walls, but perhaps someone else will. I also don't know how you would incorporate that with your shower receptor, 'specially since we don't have any idea what your plan for the receptor might be, other than that the surface will be covered in pebbles.

My first thought would be that you have a very good opportunity to use the newer foam boards now made for wet area walls. They can be spot-bonded directly to your concrete walls (well, I'll wait for the photos) and provide for plumbing and to some degree squaring of the walls for your ceramic tile installation.

It's good that you're planning well ahead of the project. Keep that up and you should have fewer unwelcome surprises along the way.

My opinion; worth price charged.


Last edited by cx; 09-20-2021 at 07:47 AM. Reason: Typo
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Unread 09-20-2021, 05:09 PM   #3
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Location: Milwaukee WI area
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there is always swimming pool epoxy paint. Etch the concrete, apply the epoxy primer, then put 2-3 coats. Follow the swimming pool instructions.

IF I were to do it, that's how I would.

As to the floor, You are asking for trouble. IF I were to do it, I would use a drain like a Schluter Kerdi drain set with a sloped concrete floor, not traditional mud. I would paint the floor with the same pool epoxy with some fine sand mixed in it for traction.

This is all kind of shooting from the hip. Good luck! Hope there is nothing under this shower you care about.

Last edited by speed51133; 09-20-2021 at 05:36 PM.
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