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Unread 02-16-2015, 07:21 AM   #1
Jeff1976
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Yellow Stains in Brand New Shower

Greetings, all. Newbie here. Thanks in advance for your advice.

I installed a marble tile shower in my master bathroom. After only one week of normal use, some (but not all) of the floor tiles began yellowing.

The tile is a white marble branded by The Tile Shop as San Dona. It’s installed upon a mortar bed of Michigan Mud floor mix and adhered with a white thinset called Proflex Platinum. The floor tiles came on 1 sq ft sheets with a fiberglass mesh backing.

I've allowed the stone to dry for over week with no significant change in appearance.

Any guesses as to what could be causing this?
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Unread 02-16-2015, 09:26 AM   #2
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What waterproofing system was used? That's moisture. Since just at corners I would guess they ran mud level then when sloping mud did not get slope all they way to edge of wall. Leaving small flat areas for water to absorb into tile. Or not enough slope or bird bath in slope. How did you treat the weep holes?
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Unread 02-16-2015, 09:33 AM   #3
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Welcome, Jeff.

Pretty common complaint.

Is there a pre-slope under the "Michigan Mud" bed? Have you any "during" photos of the shower receptor under construction?
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Unread 02-16-2015, 10:04 AM   #4
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@CSS When you say it's moisture, what do you mean? I would think moisture would merely darken the stone - not discolor it. Also, do you think it is moisture from the top surface or from underneath?

The only waterproofing performed was a brush-on membrane applied to the mortar bed at the corners only.

I believe the weep holes are part of the drain assembly and are untreated.

@CX I do not believe there is a pre-slope. I think the mortar bed was formed onto a flat cement board. I will look for pictures of the bed in construction, but I do not believe they exist.
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Unread 02-16-2015, 10:36 AM   #5
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Jeff~"No Preslope" will allow water to "pool" and remain there indefinitely.

There should have been no cement board, untreated or not as the base for the shower. You MUST have a preslope beneath your pan liner, with a final mud bet over that, to which you tile. Moisture will then penetrate the upper, sloped bed, onto the liner which is attached to the drain, allowing water to move down and out thru the "weep holes," which should have been protected by something like pea gravel, so that they do not become obstructed.

Quite likely that you will always have moisture-settling and discoloration problems with this shower.

The only solution will be to remove it and have it done properly. At the least, this will also entail the removal of a couple of rows of wall tile, as well, in an effort to tie in the membrane to the wall vapor barrier. Then again, the way this was built, I have serious doubts that the wall membrane was done properly, either...
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Unread 02-16-2015, 11:38 AM   #6
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Thanks, Laz.

I confirmed that no pre-slope was installed. Rather, the shower pan liner was laid directly over the sub-floor. The mortar bed was built on top of that. So, it sounds like moisture is trapped between the shower pan liner and bottom of the mortar bed. Correct?

So I'm still left wondering what is giving off the color. Is the water picking up particles of the mortar bed and oxidizing?

The tile supplier is convinced that the stain is from oxidized iron from within the stone. I ordered some RSR-2000 rust stain remover to perform a test. Supposedly the RSR will turn purple when in contact with iron. If no purple, then no iron.
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Unread 02-16-2015, 12:00 PM   #7
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Correct. The liner is almost certainly holding stagnant water.

Could be iron oxides or stagnant water or soap/shampoo/skin residue.

Previous advice stands.....
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Unread 02-16-2015, 12:01 PM   #8
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You have a more serious problem than discolored stone. I would say you are headed towards a waterlogged, smelly mud bed, if it was built has you have been told. The discoloration is just the start. And leaks would not be shocking.
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Unread 02-16-2015, 12:02 PM   #9
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I think your tile supplier is likely correct, Jeff. Again, we see that complaint regularly here on the forums.

But the iron would be far less likely to be showing its colors had your shower pan been properly constructed. The lack of a pre-slope can be called the direct cause for your stone staying wet enough to create the problem so quickly.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 02-16-2015, 04:29 PM   #10
jadnashua
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Plumbing code requires the waterproofing layer to be sloped (like ANY drainage system). Putting it flat on the floor is poor practice, does not meet plumbing codes, does not meet industry standards, but, unfortunately, is overlooked by some plumbing inspectors.

THere's more to making a shower than making it look nice upon completion! It's supposed to work right long-term.
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Unread 02-16-2015, 06:01 PM   #11
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This is one of the reasons I discourage natural stone, particularly light-colored marble, to all my customers. When it's installed on the floor and/or lower parts of the walls, the problem you have there is a common complaint.

If you do have the option of having the floor replaced, you should give some serious consideration to using a different tile.
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Unread 02-17-2015, 05:50 AM   #12
Jeff1976
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Thanks, everybody, for your input.

The stone came with no disclaimer or special instructions. Even now, the tile supplier is stating that the stone is perfectly suitable for the application. There is nothing in the MIA or TCNA standards stating not to use white stone in a shower. I am forced to conclude that either the stone or the installation is defective. If I get a do-over, I will definitely consider using different stone.

I have a couple questions about the MIA standards. Maybe someone can lend some insight.

1) The MIA Tech Module for Wet Areas recommends white Portland cement, as opposed to ordinary or gray, be used with light-colored stone. Why is that? What can go wrong with OPC and white marble?

2) The MIA Tech Modules forbids the use of tiles pre-adhered to a fiberglass mesh backing. Again, why? What problems can the mesh backing cause?

Thanks for your help.
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Unread 02-17-2015, 06:20 AM   #13
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Perhaps the discoloration is from the adhesive, used to secure the mesh backing, breaking down in a saturated enviroment. That and your pan appears to hold water as been previously stated.
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Unread 02-17-2015, 09:06 AM   #14
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While there may be no disclaimer regarding the use of light marble in a shower, the fact remains that material like Carrera is far more subject to staining, bleeding and print-thru than material like porcelain...

Which brings us to using white thinset as opposed to gray...for the reasons stated above.
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Unread 02-17-2015, 10:09 AM   #15
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1. The white Portland is recommended to avoid any potential discoloration of the white stones.

2. I think you'll find that admonition is primarily for wet areas such as your shower floor and is because of the water soluble adhesives used to bond the mesh backing to the stones. In far too many cases there is too much mesh and far too much glue on the backs of the tiles and your mortar is bonding only to mesh and glue rather than stone. After prolonged, or not so prolonged, exposure to moisture the adhesive can dissolve and your stones become unbonded. Same problem with a lot of ceramic mosaic sheets.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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