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Unread 02-13-2020, 06:14 PM   #1
bmiano
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Tear out and redo shower pan

Two months ago, I hired a contractor to install a new stone tile floor and a new tile shower in my bathroom. He replaced a one piece acrylic shower with stone tile (travertine) on the floor and walls and small glass dots on the shower pan.

The contractor used an Oatey pre-slope and then Mapei AquaDefense as the waterproofing on the curb, pan and walls. No conventional liner. The shower is on the second floor of a frame-built house, with a plywood subfloor, about 3'x4'.

The shower was not used for 6 days after completion. On first use, we noticed the pan was spongey or squishy in about 75% of the floor area. Soon after, a tile dot popped loose. The pan also seemed to stay wet in the spongey area much longer than other areas. Now three tiles have popped out and we have stopped using the shower. It remains spongey.

Oatey has told us that their product is not tested or approved for use with the AquaDefense liquid membrane product, only with conventional liners.

Contractor has come out and agrees there is a problem and it is his responsibility. He has agreed to tear it out and redo it. My question is not so much what went wrong, but how best to make it right at this point.

I do not want him to use the Oatey pre-slope with AquaDefense, since Oatey recommends against it. I am fine with the AquaDefense instead of a conventional liner, but I want him to build a sloped mortar bed.

If contractor demos the pan and the lowest course of travertine (about 8" high), I am concerned that the travertine will not come off without bringing the backer board with it.

If so, what is the best way to address the joint that is created when new backer board is installed and to make sure it is waterproof? More generally, what is the best way to make this repair without tearing the entire wall out?

Thanks for any advice.

Bert
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Unread 02-13-2020, 08:00 PM   #2
jadnashua
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Do some homework and read the manufacturer's instructions on how to build a shower with their products.

Trying to tie any waterproofing on a wall to a new pan is a tough situation that often doesn't work unless you remove at least enough tile so that it's above the top of the curb.

The type of drain you have now will likely dictate how you can build your shower pan. Not all drains can be used with a surface applied waterproofing membrane.

Spongy could be from the fact that the floor is deteriorating, or, the installer may have used a mastic versus a cement-based mortar. Pretty much nobody recommends their premixed adhesive product to be used on a wet shower pan, but do allow it on a shower wall, depending on the size and composition of the tile.

As to the stone on your floor outside of the shower...that can be problematic, as it requires a substantially stronger structure than normal ceramic AND a two layer plywood subflooring.
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Unread 02-13-2020, 08:17 PM   #3
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I understand the situation you're in, but I would strongly suggest trying to recoup your money and cut this guy loose. I've heard of alot of poor installs using methods that are absurd, but this is the first time I've heard of someone trying to use an oatey preslope as a shower pan by covering it with liquid waterproofing. This shows me that your current contractor has no business attempting to install tile, let alone a shower.

With that said, what was used on the walls for the backer?
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Unread 02-13-2020, 09:41 PM   #4
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Welcome, Bert.

I presume you have some sort of written contract for this work, yes? If so, I'd be curious to know what your were promised in the way of a tiled shower.

In any case, you paid (I'm presuming again) for a properly constructed new shower, not a failed and patched up shower. The problem with trying to do "pan replacement," witch I'm sure is what he's gonna propose, is that there is really no way to guarantee a proper waterproof connection between the previous wall waterproofing and the new receptor waterproofing even with a skilled mechanic doing the work. It may not fail again next week, but it will fail prematurely.

If you allow this guy to clean up his mess, the only acceptable "repair" is to remove the shower and do it over using methods approved by the product manufacturers, the ceramic tile industry standards, and all applicable building codes. But like Ryan above, I'd be very, very reluctant to have this guy do another shower for me. He ain't the right guy.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 02-13-2020, 10:06 PM   #5
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Bert, did he install a mud bed over the Auqa Defense and then set the tile over the mud? Or did he bond the tile directly to the Aqua Defense?
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Unread 02-14-2020, 10:15 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the helpful responses.

I cannot answer all of your questions, unfortunately, because I haven't gotten clear answers from my contractor. I'm working on that.

Ryan, I am unsure exactly what backer board was installed. I am in the process of ascertaining that. I believe it may be "purple board"?

Davy, I think that he installed the thin set directly on the AquaDefense, but I'm not sure.

Jim, I don't know what kind of drain I have or even what the different kinds might be; I assume it is whatever was installed in the house when originally built 20 years ago. No issues or concerns with the stone floor outside the shower.

I made a lot of mistakes in this particular project, and it's not my first rodeo, so I know better. I got no permit, for example, and that is costing me now. I did not go with the cheapest bid, so it's particularly aggravating that it has all turned out this way.

I have read dozens of threads here and watched at least that many videos to try to understand how this shower pan should have been constructed so that I can make sure the next guy does it right. Unfortunately, there seem to be many ways to do it, and it is difficult for a lay person to know they are getting good work without trying to become an expert on the subject themselves. It at least seems advisable to make sure the work is done using compatible products from one manufacturer and to follow their directions on how to install, not just doing what the contractor likes or chooses for his own reasons.

You are correct, CX, that I contracted for a properly built shower and that is not what I have. That portion of the contract simply says: Labor For Bathroom Remodel (Install hardi boards to floors and wall where needed. Prep to tile. Frame in niche for shower. Frame in curb for shower. Waterproof shower area. Tile and grout entire floor, shower area to the ceiling, tub area,shower floor.)

I am in the process of identifying someone to take on the repair of this work, as unpleasant as that is. Feeling a bit gun-shy on evaluating another contractor accurately, as I got lots of recommendations on the guy I hired.

I am still holding out hope that the entire wall tile will not have to be removed beyond the bottom course of tile, but I am unsure if that is possible or reasonable, especially if the wallboard that was installed was not correct. I don't know if anyone will be able to remove the bottom course of travertine without removing the backer board behind it.
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Unread 02-14-2020, 05:26 PM   #7
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I hope for your sake that he didn't use purple board in the shower. When most say purple/green board they are referring to the drywall that has a waxy coating.

While you shouldn't have to be an expert, it is a good idea to try and educate yourself before the next attempt. The best thing to do is pick a brand and use their system and follow their rules for installation. Laticrete, Schluter, Wedi, Prova are just a few brands that carry a full system to build a proper shower.
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Unread 02-14-2020, 05:35 PM   #8
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Were I to contract someone to build anything with tile for me, I'd have something like the following words in the contract:
"The (construction) shall be done according to the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) guidelines for the method selected (you might prefer some particular method - a bit of review of the various ones would be prudent)."

You're right, there are numerous methods to build a reliable shower. It's not technically hard, but it is VERY detail oriented. Skipping one step or doing it incorrectly can doom the whole install. The TCNA handbook lists them along with the critical steps. That does not overrule the manufacturer's instructions for the materials selected. It's best to choose a method and manufacturer with a good track record.

One method many people do not know is the use of a surface applied sheet membrane. FWIW, NOble, then Schluter started these, and they've been around for about 30-years, so not new.
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Unread 02-14-2020, 06:15 PM   #9
bmiano
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Thanks again for the guidance.

I have confirmed that we have purple board behind the travertine walls in the shower. The purple board was coated entirely with AquaDefense. AquaDefense was also used on the shower floor, then the thin set was applied to that.

In order to repair this properly, do I have to remove the entire shower wall, or are there any good options to replace the shower pan along with the bottom course of wall tile?
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Unread 02-15-2020, 06:39 AM   #10
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Probably not, Bert.

When the bottom row of wall tile is pulled it's more than likely that the AD is going to tear, come off, or otherwise be compromised. If the AD is compromised along the line where the bottom and 2nd row meet there won't be any effective way to re-apply the AD so that it overlaps and bonds to the layer above.

If water gets past the AD and into the purple board it's just a matter of time. Unfortunately it will take a while for the damage to show up, and certainly longer than it'll take your check to the contractor to clear. Yeah, maybe he'll offer an expended warranty to appease you, and maybe he'll even honor that warranty when you call him, but do you really want to go through this again?

IMO, of course.

I've not looked up the specs for AD; is it even allowed to be applied to purple board?
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Unread 02-15-2020, 04:14 PM   #11
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The biggest issue I've seen with "purple" or "greenboard" is that, if I'm not mistaken, it has not been "code" for many years. Yes, it has a "waxy" coating and is about a "half-spit" more resistant to water. Having said that, it still will become soaked and disintegrate in the presence of water.

Perhaps two coatings of HydoBan (from Laticrete) would be sufficient to attain status as to repelling water...I don't know. What I DO know is that applying Kersi to it is "iffy." It simply does not adhere properly because of the wax covering. Could it work? Possibly. Would I stake my reputation on it? No.
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Unread 02-15-2020, 04:41 PM   #12
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The manufacturer does not recommend the purple board for use in a shower... https://askforpurple.com/projects/bathroom/

While Aqua Defense can be used over drywall, it is not specified for use in a shower using drywall. It can be used over a cement board. You might want to call Mapei just for confirmation Phone: 1-888-US-MAPEI

So, it appears that the shower was not installed per industry or manufacturers' guidelines. IMHO, the installer doesn't have a leg to stand on.

People's time horizon is usually pretty short, and when looking at their new shower, they often only judge it based on how it looks on the outside, not that it failed after a bit of time. It's unfortunate, but a very large percentage of tiled showers are not built to industry guidelines. Now, not all of them fail, but far more than would had those guidelines been followed. While getting that looking nice is a skill set, if the 'bones' of the job aren't done right, it really doesn't matter unless it's sitting in a showroom, and never used.
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Unread 02-15-2020, 08:32 PM   #13
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Back to the shower floor, The Oatey foam perfect slope is designed to replace the mud preslope. Then they recommend using a PVC liner over the perfect slope and then a mud bed over the liner. If he applied the Aqua Defense right to the perfect slope and then tiled it, it's no wonder it's spongy. Here's a link.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-9PNUU6LWI
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