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Unread 01-15-2020, 08:34 PM   #1
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Slab Tub to Shower - Decisions Decisions

First off...Thanks to this forum, I completed a tub to Schluter shower install last year. Took an offline bathroom that sat useless for 5 years and made a beautiful marble shower, complete with bench, niche, frameless door, mud pan with river rocks, Spectra Lock epoxy grout all over etc. No big deal for the pros here, but quite an accomplishment for me. Couldn't have done it without the hours of studying this site.

So THANK YOU to everyone who gives so generously of their expertise and time!

Unfortunately, I prefer DIY because I'm a control freak who wants things done perfectly. I hate the way the few contractors I've hired on projects have been willing to cut corners for expediency. I don't care if my projects take me years...I firmly believe in "if you want something done right, do it yourself." My mistakes get redone until they're right.

So... I'm on to my next project, which will be a tub to shower conversion of a basement bathroom. I'm currently trying to pick a direction of travel to have the most bullet proof install possible by a DiY'er.

The wife handles the easy stuff...I'm told that I will be laying marble on the wall, 6x9 in a subway pattern. The floor will be a small mosaic marble that has diamonds with little squares in between. There will be a niche, no windows. This is on my basement slab. The slab is multilevel because I live on a hill, so there are essentially 4 levels to my slab foundation, this is the second to highest level.

I would appreciate opinions about what to do about waterproofing. While my Schluter install was a success, I didn't like the restrictions regarding thinset, and disliked the whole process of fabric membrane application. The bubbling of the membrane drove me crazy, and I made a bunch of mistakes that I had to correct while learning the system.

I really don't care about warranties. My goal is the combination of best products to make this thing last for years. So mixing systems doesn't bother me at all, if I know it can be done.

For this project, I'm really interested in a liquid membrane. I used Redgard in another bathroom, but it was a tub re-tile without having to worry about a shower pan. I will be laying a mud pan for this shower. I plan on a bonded drain. I don't want to mess with preslope, pvc liners, hot mopping, or prefabricated pans. My first choice was going to be to lay down Kerdi on the pan, Kerdi drain and then use Kerdi board walls. I don't like the Kerdi board. The fabric seems flimsy and the washer fasteners turn me off. I really like GoBoard. I had a piece of it outside in a bucket of water for 2 years now...just got it out washed it off with an SOS pad, and other than being faded, its still intact and tile-able. So my thought was to use GoBoard walls, dry pack pan. Then Hydroban the entire installation with 2-3 coats.

I'm torn about which way to go. I think it might come down to which drain to use. I disliked the Kerdi drain due to setting the height with thinset. I don't like depending on thinset for structural support. Thinset is so easy to pick off of plastic so I question its longevity. The drain was easy to use and that was a positive. I've seen Sal use a Kerdi drain with Hydroban sheet membrane. I've seen hybrid intalls like geuze, that intrique me. I've also watched Isaac use a sheet membrane and then use Ardex 8+9 over the entire thing which seems like a super solid install. But, again, I'd really rather avoid the sheets. I'm leaning toward Hydroban because everyone raves about it and I don't have to mix water with it. I can find it locally. But then again, I do have access to HD, Lowes, Menards, as well as local distributors of Bostik, Laticrete, Ardex, TEC so I can get my hands on just about anything...

I was just about set on going forward with a Laticrete drain, Hydroban liquid membrane, GoBoard walls, but then I saw that the drains only have 4 choices of grate which is going to be a tough sell to the wife. She likes custom grates and more unique finishes. The USG drain seems promising, it has a shocking number of custom grates available. I've just never seen anyone use one. I looked at an Ebbe...which is intriguing. The Kerdi membrane and drain has the best aftermarket support, I know, but I think if I go that way, then I'm not going to be able to resist going over everything with Ardex 8+9. I already talked to Laticrete and they said they don't endorse Hydroban over sheet membrane, so I couldn't use what I'm really wanting to use.

I'm way overthinking things...maybe I just need to rip more bathrooms apart because I like to experiment with new systems...or maybe I should just swallow that orange kool aid and move on with life...

Can anybody offer advice who has been here and considered these things as well?
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Unread 01-15-2020, 09:02 PM   #2
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Welcome, Jeb.

I would forget all the mixing of manufacturers and also forget the use of any liquid-applied waterproofing membrane for the shower receptor. Given all my choices today I'd go with the USG Durock Shower System membrane and drain. Build a sloped floor of deck mud to precisely match the shower footprint and drain location and build your walls of a CBU or your Go-Board if you really like it.

The USG membrane is easier to work with than is Kerdi and you can use a single, reasonably priced, modified thinset mortar for the entire project.

You're correct about not needing a warranty because any problem you have with one of these new systems will be due to installer error.

I recommend you hurry to purchase your material (USG is no longer involved and you're currently limited to supply on hand) and I'd first ensure you can get a drain grate that suits SWMBO. The membrane and drain are still available on Amazon, but the grate selection might not be overwhelming.

My opinion; worth price charged.

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Unread 01-16-2020, 07:25 AM   #3
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You might also consider the Durock foam panels for the walls, they install using nothing more than the same screws as called for with Durock's cement backers. No special washers, and nothing more than a dab of their sealant over the screws.
If I recall correctly my memory is excellent, but my ability to access it is intermittent.
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