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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:09 PM   #1
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First time bathroom redo with Kerdi: questions and advice

I started a bathroom demolition project after the soggy shower wall tile and mold growth tipped me off that it needed to be done. This is a tub with tile surround in a 1946 house with plaster everything; even behind the tile in the bath. So, I've ripped out everything, replaced what needed replacing, dealt with the mold, ect, so now I'm ready to close the walls up and get ready to tile.

I bought John's book a couple of years ago and used it to help me make a mud bed w/ embedded hydronic tubes and tiled with great success. I downloaded the ebook on Kerdi and decided to go that route for this shower, which I'd planned to do myself. However, working a full time job and trying to redo the bathroom all on a limited timeline (my outlaws are coming in 2 weeks, gotta be done by then), I decided to hire someone to help me with the construction, and he's a pretty experienced tiler, so he's helping get the walls closed and he'll set the tile (the fun part!). Well, I tell him that I want to Kerdi it and he disagrees; he thinks CBU and Redgard is the only choice for professionals. I'm at a loss, I've made my case but he's convinced Kerdi is targeted for amateur homeowners (like myself). Is this right? Is there an advantage of one over the other? Here's his email about it from below (with his permission of course)

Well, it looks like a total pain in the a-- to me. Putting on a membrane with thinset will not be an easy task, and it will be alot of extra labor, and I'm skeptical about how well it will work. It's going to have seams in it, in the corners and here and there, and thinset is not waterproof enough to keep water from working it's way through, water wicks it's way through cement products. This product is marketed to homeowners as a do it yourself thing. No Contractor I know would ever use something like this because you can get better results with a lot less effort and time. I strongly recommend you take it back. I've been doing this for 15 years myself and I learned from a number of guys who had been doing it for 30 or more years. How much did it cost anyway? Go to home depot and get a bucket of Red Gard, Lowe's doesn't carry it. Trust me it'll save a lot of headaches.


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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:21 PM   #2
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This should be interesting.
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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:25 PM   #3
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Ask him how many mils thick he plans on making his Redguard.
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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:26 PM   #4
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While he is ignorant to Kerdi, you can use cbu and redgaurd and produce a quality tile installation. Some installers are just set in their ways and refuse to learn new techniques. Going the Kerdi route will be the more expensive route, but definitely a better job. And he's wrong, Many great installers use Kerdi, many of which are members of this forum and whom he is probably only worthy of carrying their tools. If you've seen his work and are happy with his work, then his method will probably be fine, if you want a really good, educated pro and are insisted on going Kerdi, then find another installer.

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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:28 PM   #5
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First - either way will work just fine when properly installed.

Personally for liquid membrane I prefer hydroban instead of redguard, but that can be splitting hairs. As far as Kerdi vs CBU goes, different people will give you different answers. More than likely those answers will depend on their skill set, preferences, and past experience.

I use Kerdi for a few reasons. One of which is we often run into unusual shaped showers, curves, and angles. As I have grown older I am not into lugging around all that CBU. There is not enough hydrostatic pressure for water to seep through a properly installed 2 inch kerdi seam to cause a leak. I give a lifetime guarantee when we install a complete kerdi shower. I am that confident in the system.

CBU and a liquid waterproofing is also very effective. There may be a few more 'tricks of the trade' with this method to make sure you get it right. Those are all here in our library.

The CBU and liquid method is probably the way for you to go if you can't get the kerdi supplies as quickly.

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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:28 PM   #6
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Hi Heath,

I'll admit it took some time for me to come around to Kerdi. It's a new technology and I'm not one to jump on the latest and greatest thing w/o a significant amount of research - much of which provided by the pros on this site.

I've done many a tub surround with CBU and Redgard and would likely do the same again given the availability of the Kerdi in my area. CBU and Redgard are easy to find and a very good way to do a tub surround.

The problem I have with your tiler is the attitude towards something "new". Sounds like he's just set in his ways.

If you want Kerdi and he won't do it, find someone else. Otherwise, trust the CBU and Redgard and get the place done for your outlaws

Then again, it's just a tub surround. I'm sure we could get you though it if you still want to do it yourself.

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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:31 PM   #7
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Both ways are perfectly acceptable, but the Kerdi is better in my opinion. Of course, thats just an opinion and everybody has one. Yeah, the Kerdi is a little more work than a roll on product, but you already know that. Sounds like you also know, its far more impervious. The pros and cons of each have debated more than the meaning of life, but the bottom line is this: your the boss. If you want Kerdi, than I would find somebody who is happy to do it.
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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:42 PM   #8
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I like how he says it will be a pain in the ass.. Dufus..

Laticrete hydroban showers
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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:48 PM   #9
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Send him to this site and we'll help educate him. Hammy
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Unread 12-08-2009, 08:55 PM   #10
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Heath, I am also a Kerdi installer - there are newer and better ways to prepping and installing tile. Kerdi is the Cadillac of sheet membranes. Noble a close 2nd

sounds like your guy doesn't like change.

if you want kerdi -find a guy that will and knows how to install it correctly.

let us know where you are located and 9 out of 10 times we can find find an installer for ya.
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Unread 12-08-2009, 09:01 PM   #11
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Kerdi wins in my thoughts. TO do it right with the cbu and Redgard, you will take longer in that you need to tape and thinset the seams, let it cure before you can then paint on the Redgard. Then you have to wait for that to dry, then put on another coat, then wait for that to dry before you can think about tiling. You can install the Kerdi, and start tiling. If you aren't careful, your layer may not be thick enough, and it won't work, or you'll end up with a pinhole or voide right where it makes a difference. (This isn't as big a deal on a tub surround as in say the pan of a shower). A lot of people let it sit overnight, but you don't have to.

Note, with Kerdi, you don't tape the seams of your cbu either, saving that step.

Take a square of the stuff, roll it into a funnel, fill it part way with water and show him...it won't let water out the pointed end. Now, take that and make a 2" seam...it will never leak if done right.
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Unread 12-08-2009, 09:11 PM   #12
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Kerdi is nice. I don't like the overlaps with the smaller tiles on it. But every Kerdi shower I have been doing each ones getting better and better its a learning thing. I prefer mud walls. I also don't mind a conventional shower with redgard and a mud curb prepitch and all if its built right it will work the problem is no one knows how to build em right anymore.

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Unread 12-08-2009, 09:17 PM   #13
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Now guys, you just know his next question will be about grouting vs caulking at the corners........

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Unread 12-08-2009, 09:20 PM   #14
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Last week I installed Kerdi on a 4x4 shower with a corner bench. There was nothing but drywall on the studs, but when I left four hours later there was a completely watertight shower there ready for tile. This included the floor and the odd cuts for the bench and a niche, none of which you have there.

With a paint-on waterproofing, I would have had to tape and mud the seams, then wait a few hours for it to dry. Then come back and put on the first coat, and wait for it to dry. Then come back for the second coat, making sure I had the proper thickness. I would have also had to have CBU installed, and figuring it's cost and the trouble involved with cutting and installing it, I don't see a great savings over the cost of Kerdi.

For three walls around a tub, I could probably have installed all four pieces in a hour or two, if that much. If you want to tackle it yourself, we can help.

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Unread 12-09-2009, 12:59 PM   #15
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Hey, thanks for the responses. Thus far what I've leaned from this is that:
1) Kerdi and CBU/Redgard are both good installations and will be bulletproof for a tub surround.

2) Kerdi costs but may be less time to install (if you know what you're doing). Redgard isn't a sheet membrane so it has to be properly applied to reap the waterproofing benefits, meaning cbu is taped and mudded, cured, applied, cured, and applied again.

3) My tiler is set in his ways.

#3 is what bothers me the most. I like the guy and have good rapport with him, but narrow mindedness really irks me. I'm going to use Kerdi because I like the idea of a membrane (just personal opinion), and I've already bought 108 sq.ft of it. I'll do it myself and get his help tiling, or maybe I'll just do it all. Jeez, I'm starting to sound like a control freak. But at the end of the day, it's my bathroom and my decision. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I'm sure I'll be asking questions about the install shortly!
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