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Unread 07-10-2004, 07:33 PM   #1
dkyowell
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Longevity of a Kerdi shower

I am in the middle of a bathroom remodel in a house built c. 1954 with original tile shower and tile bathroom walls done using mud construction. I was intrigued by the thought of doing a Kerdi shower, but after ripping everything down to slab and studs I saw that everything was so out of square that there was absolutely no way I could get a sheetrock wall flat and level enough to go back over with tile. The job was barely do-able with Durock and some *serious* shimming. (In retrospect I wonder whether I should have had a pro come in and float the shower and all the bathroom walls with mud.)

My question is this: Am I looking at extemely poor 1954 construction, or will 2x4 stud walls typically shrink, pull away, twist, and fall out of level due to foundation settling over the course of fifty years? I see John's pictures of his perfectly flat, level, and true sheetrock walls that he is putting Kerdi over. Will those walls stay flat, level, and true over 50 years, especially in an area like Houston with foundation settling problems? If not, will tile over Kerdi over gypsum really hold that shower together?

Skeptically,
David Y.
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Unread 07-11-2004, 08:23 AM   #2
John Bridge
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Hi David,

I think I'm the only Houston tile setter on the boards, so I guess I'm the guy to answer you.

They build crapola production houses back in '54 just like they do now. Blow and go, we call it. They also build some quality homes (just like they do now) that have held up through the decades. So it's not a question of when; it's a question of how.

Our slab problems here are largely due to quality of construction and ground subsidence -- with the ill effects of extremely expansive soil thrown in. But if a house is built well, the shower walls will remain straight. You will always have some minor grout cracks through the years, but these are easily repaired.

Now let me say this. Construction and strength wise, there is nothing better than a mud shower. But from the standpoint of waterproofing, I think the Kerdi shower is the best way to go. In my 22 years of working around here I've determined that most of our shower problems have to do with water penetrating the walls and floors. Structure isn't really part of it.

I don't know how long a Kerdi shower will last, but I think it will last at least as long as a conventionally built mud shower and probably longer. As long as that sheetrock remains dry, it'll make the grade. And if you don't trust the sheetrock, you can install Kerdi over backer board, too.

As an aside, you could have straightened up your framing before you applied the backer board by adding new 2x4s to the sides of the studs and plumbing them. There is usually not much that can be done about a shower that is out of square, but you can still make the walls straight. The nice flat walls you see me placing Kerdi on don't always start out that way.
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Unread 07-11-2004, 08:26 AM   #3
John Bridge
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Here is my most recent effort.
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Unread 07-11-2004, 08:30 AM   #4
John Bridge
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I like these mosaics. 22 bucks a square foot.
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Unread 07-11-2004, 09:26 AM   #5
dave on his knees
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John: Nice tile job, but I have a question? What are those pieces of painters tape doing on the tile????
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Unread 07-11-2004, 12:13 PM   #6
Bill Vincent
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It's tough to speculate the longevity of a system that's relatively new on the market. However, I do agree with John. Although I haven't put one together myself yet, I HAVE seen it done at seminars, and between the ease of the whole operation, and the simpicity of its mechanics (basically turning the shower into the inside of a bubble) I'm lead to believe that this would last a WHOLE lot longer than most showers put up today, whether they be mud, backerboard, or sheetrock, for the simple reason that all the moisture is completely contained, and that's the main reason 99% of all showers fail-- a breech in the watertight integrity. Now, not only are you waterproofing the pan, but also the entire shower. It can only make for a better installation.
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Unread 07-11-2004, 12:46 PM   #7
John Bridge
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Dave,

Notice I'm using little plastic wedges for spacers. The vertical ones have no weight on them, and if you shift the tiles slightly, your spacers fall out. Holding the tiles in place with tape solves the problem.

I use miles of masking tape when I'm doing showers, sometimes a half a roll on one shower, all in bits and pieces.
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Unread 07-11-2004, 03:29 PM   #8
K_Tile
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I always noticed John had kind of a sticky finger for taping his wall installations. I personlly like to use cardboard instead of wedges Just kidding!
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Unread 07-11-2004, 03:40 PM   #9
John Bridge
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I use cardboard, too.

Those small wedges seem to be the ticket, though. They are so adjustable, and you need that when placing large format tiles on the wall.
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Unread 07-11-2004, 04:52 PM   #10
Bill Vincent
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I'd rather the wedges-- cardboard seems to rip off in the joint all too often. Hey-- but whatever works for you-- it's the finished product that counts!!
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