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Unread 06-09-2015, 09:16 PM   #1
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Shower Niche Insulation and Waterproofing Questions - Redgard on studs?

Hello there. I was hoping to get some advice on various shower tile installation issues. First issue, our shower niche is built on an exterior wall and I believe there is no insulation between the tile and the exterior wall. Is that OK? Is that to code? Do all exterior walls need insulation? Second issue with this niche, the tile installer used Redgard on the studs and OSB (I think it’s OSB) behind the niche. He did not install cement backer board. This doesn’t seem right to me. I feel like there should be a cement backer board, then the Redgard, and then install the tile onto the Redgard -ed cement backer board. Third issue, he did not mortar the tile completely before installing it. It looks like he just dotted it. I read somewhere that there needs to be 95% adhesion in the shower. Is that correct? After he initially installed it, the grout started cracking so he had to take the tiles off and start again. The first picture is of the cracked grout. The 2nd picture is after he took off the tiles. Any other issues you see with this?

We have a few of the same issues in the master shower. Our niche has Redgard directly applied on the studs without any cement backer board. I also think he directly placed Redgard on the drywall. Here’s a picture. Is this not correctly done? Also, for this bench, does this need to have more waterproofing behind it such as a liner or Redgard? Is there an industry code/standard for that?

Thank you so much everyone on this forum. I know there’s a lot of questions on here (but we’ve had multiple issues with this tile company including a steeply pitch shower pan which will be replaced). I ask a lot about industry code/standards because our contractor won’t do anything unless we can prove things aren’t to code. I’ve never posted on any forum so please let me know if you need more info or if I put too much under one thread. You are truly educating a newbie remodeling homeowner. Thank you so much!!
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Unread 06-09-2015, 09:51 PM   #2
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Hello, Claire. Welcome the forum.

Your installer should not have applied Redgard directly on the framing or the OSB. It can actually be applied directly to OSB, but not in a wet area like a shower. The niches are done incorrectly. And I also wouldn't want them installed in an exterior wall where the climate is cold. You might get away with that in Florida or Texas, but not up north. What you'll have there is a little mini-fridge in the shower come winter time. That joint with the cracking grout should have been caulked, but I'm wondering why it's there to begin with. Did they install the USG tile backer directly over sheetrock? And the dot set method is also incorrect. You are right, there should be much more coverage than what they have there.

I'm not seeing a picture of the bench you mentioned, so I can't offer any help on that.

Do you have any other pictures of the construction in progress? I'd be interested to know how the shower was constructed from the ground up. Feel free to describe it if you don't have any other pictures.
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Unread 06-09-2015, 10:53 PM   #3
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My first response - thanks Kevin!! The installer said the tile and grout cracked because the stud was wet and expanded and then shrunk while it dried. I don't think there is any USG tile backer (this is Fiberock?) there on that shower niche. I think it's just the studs and the OSB. I hope I understood that question correctly

On to the master shower niche, the bench is really a floating piece of quartz in the shower picture that has the marble like tiles. They placed the quartz bench on top of the porcelain tiles. I think it might have some adhesive on the back.

Here are some more pictures of the construction. The first two pictures are of the kids shower bathroom. The first is what it looked like down to the insulation. The second is after most of the tile was installed. Unfortunately, I can't find any more pictures of the tiling process. We installed a fiberglass tub and then they installed ceramic tiles up the the walls. When the tile installer was tiling the shower wall, I noticed that he didn't mortar the whole tile. Again, I seem to remember that he did the dotting method again. (I didn't think anything of it at the time.) I don't think you can see on these pictures but there is a thick grout line on the edges of the tile where the tile meets the blue walls. I'll find more pictures and post them. He said the walls weren't level so he had to fill the gap on the edge with the thick grout line. The 3rd and 4th pictures are of the master shower. This is the shower floor that is not to code. It's greater than 1/2" per foot for the slope. There are also nails on top of the curb.

This has been a learning curve as I've been trying to read up on the terminology, look at forums and youtube videos, and ANSI codes. Overall, we didn't really supervise the tile installation since we trusted that they would do it correctly and I have never installed tile in my life. I am starting from zero knowledge and trying to educate myself quickly so I feel more prepared when I talk to my contractor to fix these things. Thank you again!!
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Unread 06-09-2015, 11:06 PM   #4
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I can't tell for sure, but it looks like that pan liner is flat on the floor (no pre-slope)....the pros (you know, the ones who have actually done this numerous times) seem to have a better eye for such things...but if the liner is in fact flat on the floor, that's a problem. The nails in the liner on the curb are probably a bigger issue. Not looking good from over here in Denver.

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Unread 06-09-2015, 11:56 PM   #5
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I'm guessing the pre slope wasn't flat because all the water drained when I took out the plug but the final tiled floor was sloped over 1/2" per foot, some areas even 3/4" - 1" per foot. Thanks Steve!
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Unread 06-10-2015, 05:05 AM   #6
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I think you have multiple issues with the shower. I can't tell from the pictures if any waterproofing was used on the walls. There could be some plastic behind the tile board, but there's no way to tell at this point. There certainly isn't any on the surface.

For the bench (I thought it was a shelf) that's an acceptable installation. I have done several myself. Waterproofing is not needed for that type of bench.

The nails in the top of the curb are a deal-breaker for me. And the niche with Redgard directly on the framing and OSB is another.
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Unread 06-10-2015, 08:45 AM   #7
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Clare, when you do a pre-slope correctly with the perimeter level and a slope of a minimum of 1/4" per foot to the farthest corner from the drain, you will have a steeper slope where the drain is closer to the walls. That's to be expected and your code compliance official should understand that.

But it sure doesn't look to me like that liner is installed over a sloped base.

And the liner does not appear to rise the required minimum of 3" above the top of the curb, either.

I can only echo the concerns about the mechanical fasteners in the curb and lack of water containment in the walls.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-10-2015, 09:37 AM   #8
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Thank you CX and Kevin! I didn't see if they put plastic behind the walls. Glad to hear the bench/shelf is installed fine.

CX - the farthest point from the drain was more than 1/4" per foot (from one corner is was close to 3/4" per foot) which made the closer walls to the drain feel even more steep. I did not realize there needs to be a minimum of 3" above the top of the curb. Is there anything else you see wrong?

I e-mailed and showed my contractor a picture of the nailed curb and he said he's worked with many tile installers who do it this way so he would consider that industry standard. I forwarded over our Oregon codes to him to show him that nails shouldn't be on the curb but he says there's no verbiage about nailing the cement board to the curb - only the liner. I would think that if you nail the curb you would also penetrate the liner. Is that correct?

Does anyone know about the insulation question about the exterior wall shower niche? Is it required to put insulation between the tiled shower niche since it's up against an exterior wall?

Thanks!
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Unread 06-10-2015, 01:57 PM   #9
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The tile industry standards are contained in ANSI A108 and A118, and the accepted installation methods are published in the Tile Council of North America (NTCA) Handbook, Clare. He'll not find anything in either document that will permit mechanical fasteners through the waterproof membrane on a shower curb. That's also unacceptable in all plumbing codes, which also address the height of the liner up the walls in a traditional pan construction.

The niche being in the exterior walls is not addressed in any code or standard with which I'm familiar, it's just a poor choice, 'specially in freeze/thaw climates. But the installation of the waterproofing membrane directly over the OSB sheathing and wood framing is still wrong according to the membrane manufacturer. And building code always requires that manufacturer's recommendations be followed, as should your contract with that contractor.

It also appears in your photos that the RedGard was not even applied to the niche area until the walls had been tiled. That means there is no way the niche waterproofing is tied into any wall waterproofing of any kind.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-10-2015, 09:42 PM   #10
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Thank you CX for the ANSI codes! I think I might get a hold of a TCNA Handbook too while I'm at it. For the shower niche, it does look like in the one photo that he didn't use Redgard until after the tile was installed. So it should be installed prior to the wall tiles going up? How should the niche waterproofing be tied into the wall waterproofing? Sorry, I'm still learning!
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Unread 06-10-2015, 09:50 PM   #11
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Claire,

Everywhere the tile is going should be waterproofed before the tile is applied.

Makes sense right ?
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Unread 06-10-2015, 11:52 PM   #12
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Got it Paul! That makes sense to me but unfortunately, I don't know which materials are the right ones to use and what steps need to be taken. I don't think the tile installer put any plastic lining against the studs. Thinking back to what I saw during the tiled shower wall installation, my best guess would be this...

1. He nailed the Fiberock directly onto the studs
2. Put some sort of mesh and compound (not sure what exactly) on the corner seams
3. Cut out the shower niche in the Fiberock
4. Installed the shower wall tiles by dotting them
5. Put Redgard on the niche (directly onto the studs - no Fiberock was installed in the niche area
6. Tiled the niche
7. Grouted

He said the Fiberock was enough for waterproofing and Redgard only on the niche was fine since I don't have a steam shower. Is Fiberock as the waterproof barrier enough?

Thanks again for everyone help!
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Unread 06-11-2015, 12:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
Is Fiberock as the waterproof barrier enough?
It is not. The board itself is water-resistant, which means it will not break down in the presence of moisture. It won't stop water from infiltrating the walls and framing, though. That's the reason you either want plastic between the board and studs, or some type of surface-applied waterproofing on the face of the board.

All niches should be waterproofed, and if he wanted to do it correctly, he could have glued a piece of 1/4" backer to the OSB and nailed 1/4" backer to the studs, then waterproofed all of it for a foot or so all the way around. With plastic on the studs, the water would have been contained within the shower and directed to the drain by gravity. As it is now, when the water permeates the board, it's going to get into the wall cavity and framing and never come out.
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Unread 06-11-2015, 01:25 AM   #14
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Thank you Kevin. Now, I have more issues than just the niches, dotting of the tile, shower pan and curb. We're talking about the whole waterproofing of the shower. Yikes. Appreciate your knowledge.
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Unread 06-11-2015, 04:14 AM   #15
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Shower

We see so called tile installers doing it wrong all the time. I am removing a shower next week that was built just like yours that isn't even a month old because the wall board is soaking up water and causing damage to the interior wall. Looks like your guy there took that saturday tile class at home depot. Sorry for your trouble I wish you the best of luck. MarkName:  image.jpg
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