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Unread 10-06-2019, 11:05 AM   #1
chaz69
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Shower Bench leak

Hello all,
My shower bench has been leaking for a bit now. And only noticed it after seeing grout lines cracked, oh and the water coming out from under the base boards on the reverse wall lol. I've been researching to find what would be best (weight bearing) to use, Durock or Hardi. I cant tell what was used before as it had turned to mush. Whatever it was had fiberglass in/on it, my skin found out the hard way. The site isn't allowing me to post a link or pic. Any info is greatly appreciated.
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Unread 10-06-2019, 12:01 PM   #2
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Neither Hardie Backer or Durock would be considered structural elements. They may enhance framing stiffness to a limited degree, but don't think I'd put either in the "weight bearing " category. That would be the job of the supporting structure.

Your description of the leak would cause me to think a further into what is actually failing. Cracked grout lines in situations like you're describing almost always point to wet framing expanding.

What, if anything, do you know about existing construction? If forced to guess, I'd say your troubles are more significant than may be evident. Water inside walls is never good.
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Unread 10-06-2019, 01:19 PM   #3
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The frame of the bench is structurally secure, I'm not using the backer as the weight bearer. I'm not finding anything online whether anyone says "if you're placing your foot on it for leg shaving use this brand, and if you're actually sitting on it for showering use this.
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Unread 10-06-2019, 01:47 PM   #4
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Either would have the compressive strength to bear weight when installed on suitable structure for tasks you've described. More important is how the whole shower is waterproofed as it appears that has failed per your description.

As to what prior substrate was:

Durock has a fiber mesh imbedded in cemetitious sheet. Denshield and similar gypsum based boards have fiberglass on surface using gypsum core, which doesn't like to get wet. Was the core material white-ish?
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Unread 10-06-2019, 02:45 PM   #5
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A bench should have a plywood cover on top, with a minimum thickness of 5/8", followed by a tile membrane or cement board, then waterproofing and tile.

The top of the bench should be sloped so water runs off toward the drain, and this slope has to be at the waterproofing layer, although it's best to just slope it at the framing stage.
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Unread 10-06-2019, 06:08 PM   #6
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@ carbidetooth Yes it was white-ish with a yellow fiberglass paper cover.
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Unread 10-06-2019, 06:17 PM   #7
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I copied your Imgur photos. I think you can attach after three posts.

From what I can see this was a redo of previous shower and original probably leaked too, judging from the white paint on framing. Painting over previously wet and moldy frame work once mold is remediated is advocated by some.

That looks like a real hodge-podge. I think I see Kerdi on the walls, but that yellow stuff is nothing Schluter makes and I don't see any Kerdi on bench. I'm guessing the saw cuts were made to accommodate something, perhaps a photo of drain would help us identify. The black stains on framing are from moisture that never should have been there.

All that said, a properly implemented waterproofing strategy would have prevented the leak and subsequent damage. As was pointed out, the bench structure is inadequate. You're basically building a raised floor, and I guarantee someone will stand and certainly sit on that bench sometime in it's life. Now I see the point of your earlier questions, but what to replace it with is the tip of now exposed iceberg.

To get it right, I think you're in for some demo and rebuilding. Understanding waterproofing would be a good place to start. We can help if you DIY. Lots of info on threads here about improperly built showers and how to rebuild. Much reading in your future.
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Unread 10-06-2019, 07:49 PM   #8
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You need three post for posting links, but you can post photos on day one.
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Unread 10-07-2019, 12:05 PM   #9
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Gotcha, Thanks for the info. The cuts in the concrete were made due to the builders not having slope. House is on slab, so they added more concrete and cut lines to chip away to create the slope.
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Unread 10-07-2019, 12:51 PM   #10
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FWIW, slope is rarely built into the slab itself. From what I gather here, Florida is a notable exception. Curb often conceals the difference between height of floor and shower pan.

Sure wish I knew the whole story here. Was it new construction? Remodel? Clearly the construction lacked foresight, or plans changed midstream. Did you pay to have work done?

I suppose you owe me nothing in the way of explanation, but it might be helpful to others who encounter this thread.
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Unread 10-07-2019, 07:06 PM   #11
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Looks like a good application for a solid foam bench, that can be installed after the waterproofing is completed.
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