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Old 07-09-2011, 06:06 PM   #1
gsuch
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Water/Mold in Shower Greenboard but no leak...

I purchased my home five years ago and soon thereafter removed the one piece surround. There was a bit of moisture in the green board in one area so my father helped me replace the damaged area with new greenboard. For safety measure, he placed a plastic garbage bag between the outside wall insulation and the greenboard to prevent any water damage to my siding if the problem persisted. The installation in the repaired area looked like this: outside wall - plastic bag - green board - tile/grout (the rest of the surround was the same minus the plastic bag).
Five years later I am having to redo this again. It became clear that the green board was wet. We ripped everything out and found soaking wet greenboard and a plastic bag full of a gallon or so of water (note this bag was only on the lower right quadrant of the wall where we "fixed" the previous wet green board).
Checked the window above the wall (as well as the wood around it) - all were dry and in good condition. Checked the nearby water spigot & piping and was unable to find a leak.
None of the contractors that have visited have been able to tell me where the water could have come from - could it be the inclusion of the plastic bag "water barrier" in the first place? Any ideas greatly appreciated as I really do not want to do this again in another five years. -Gretchen
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Old 07-09-2011, 06:23 PM   #2
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Welcome, Gretchen.

If you tiled directly to a sheetrock wall you will have some moisture passing through the tile installation into the sheetrock. If you put a moisture barrier behind the sheetrock, you exacerbate the problem by not permitting the moisture to evaporate into the wall cavity.

You've built a bad situation and the only real remedy is to tear out the whole shower area and start anew with an appropriate shower construction method.

You can visit the shower construction section of our whirl-famous Liberry to see how best to build a proper shower pan in the traditional method. You would then install a proper moisture barrier (better plastic bag) and an appropriate wall board.

Or you can elect to use one of the direct bonded waterproofing membranes on the inside of the shower, including the pan, if you prefer. There are a number of those available.

My opinio; worth price charged.
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Old 07-09-2011, 06:33 PM   #3
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Just to clarify...

It seems like you think the improper installation could easily have caused the water damage... am I right?
I have removed all the tiles and green board - have let the wood dry out & have used mold remover. I am nervous to move forward without 'fixing' what caused the damage in the first place. However, if the installation was the problem, proper installation should be the fix, right?
This forum is amazing.
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Old 07-09-2011, 06:36 PM   #4
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I can't see it from my house, Gretchen.

I'm just telling you what could be the problem based upon your description.

A properly constructed shower will not permit water to exit in any way except through the drain or entry door.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 07-09-2011, 07:27 PM   #5
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Hi Grechen. What CX said, for many years showers were tiled right over the greenboard and we have torn out hundreds of them. It's not a good way to tile a shower.
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Old 07-09-2011, 07:38 PM   #6
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Autumn Gold Slate in bathroom floor?

As a not-too-handy person, it seemed to me like I had to be missing a water leak somewhere - even though my plumber & general contractor couldn't find one. I know that this is no guarantee that we aren't missing something - but your responses make me feel a lot better following their advice and moving forward. Thank you.

Based on what I read in other posts, I have decided to go with a fake-travertine in the shower. We've never had water problems with the floor, so I was thinking slate. Yet, I know it is all different. Is anyone familiar with autumn gold slate - it is around $2 at our local home improvement store - is this an 'ok' slate provided we seal it? Haven't found a 'fake slate' that I like - at least not yet.
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Old 07-09-2011, 07:54 PM   #7
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Find a Dal-tile or other tile shop, they have nice show rooms and better selections than the big box stores. Any natural stone will be harder to maintain. Even with that, we install a lot of stone in showers.
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
A properly constructed shower will not permit water to exit in any way except through the drain or entry door.
or evaporation

or on your body as you walk out of the shower

:
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
but your responses make me feel a lot better following their advice
So... what is their (the contractors) advice? Reading between the lines, you shouldn't assume that just because you use slate, you won't have any "water problems."
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Old 07-09-2011, 09:52 PM   #10
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Contractors feel ok with slate and with travertine - it is mostly me that is nervous (having spent the last few days reading various threads on this forum). I can be a bit of a worrier and want as close to a 'sure bet' as I can get without losing all the appeal of tile (contractors originally steered me towards a three piece surround).
From reading posts, it seems like ditching natural stones and going with porcelain/ceramic tiles could be safer.
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Old 07-09-2011, 09:54 PM   #11
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I try to talk any customer out of travertine. Good quality slate is OK, but will be expensive and not found at big box stores.
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Old 07-10-2011, 09:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gretchen
It seems like you think the improper installation could easily have caused the water damage... am I right?
It was an improper backer for the tile - greenboard - that was the problem. Tile and grout are NOT waterproof. Water can and does get through the grout, as you have discovered. Greenboard is also NOT waterproof, and has no place in a shower. Even when you use cement board, you need to either put a vapor barrier behind it, such as tar paper or plastic sheeting (not a plastic garbage bag), or cover it with waterproofing, either paint on, like Red Guard, or a membrane, like Kerdi. Because water CAN and does get through cement board also. The difference between cement board and greenboard is that the cement board is not damaged by the water and will not grow mold, BUT water can still get through to the studs past the cement board.

So once your shower is built properly it is waterproof before you even put the tile on the wall. So the choice of tile is really not as important as what is done before the tile goes up.

Another option to waterproof your shower is plain ole drywall covered with a sheet membrane, like Kerdi.

And besides unprotected drywall, another thing you don't want anywhere near your shower is mastic or any other adhesive that comes in a bucket. ONLY use thinset that you comes as a powder that you mix up with water.
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Old 07-10-2011, 09:31 AM   #13
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To clarify just a bit on Terri's remarks, you don't need a vapor barrier behind the wall boards for any shower that's not a steam shower. A moisture barrier is adequate.

And there are many organic adhesives (mastic) that are indicated for use in wet areas, including shower walls, but they must be used per manufacturer's instructions and industry guidelines.

I, for one, wouldn't consider using them in a shower*, but it's not a violation of any rule or even common sense to use them as prescribed.

My opinion; worth price charged.




*I'm also a person who would not use those products for any application, but that's just a personal choice.
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:07 PM   #14
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Sorry, I meant to say moisture, not vapor.
I think that Gretchen is where I was years ago, thinking that tile and grout made the shower waterproof. I have since learned a lot, especially from this forum and the great pros who help us out.
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:06 PM   #15
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Lots of folks come here thinking that, Terri, and we try to educate as many as we can. Thanks for trying to help.
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