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Unread 07-05-2021, 12:14 PM   #1
John Pal
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John's challenging master bath reno

Hey There Folks!

I finally decided to join to ask y'all for some help with my mater bath reno. I'm in a bit of a situation right now and wanted to get some advice before moving forward.

Fortunately, I have the most patient wife in existence, so while she's tired of things taking so long...she knows that I do my DIY things slowly. She said to just be sure it's right.

Background
I'm trying to do a curbless shower and decided to use a Kerdi TT shower base thinking it would be simpler than doing my own mud pan. I needed to relocate the drain (I'm slab on grade construction), so I jacked out the concrete, relocated the drain, and had a guy come in to do the concrete pour. I had him leave it lower than the existing level of the slab by the max thickness of the TT tray.

My problems started when his pour wasn't level. It was too low at one corner by 1/2".

Then I compounded the issue by installing the Kerdi tray without fixing the level issue completely. I thought I could resolve it by just having a thicker thinset base, but I did a crappy job and it's still not level.

Trying to Fix It
I gave my local Schluter rep a call, and unfortunately got him on vacation, so it was a quick conversation...and I wasn't totally clear on the the fix he was communicating to me. He was great, and tried to help by just listening to me describing the issue verbally. He said that I should be able to build up the low parts over the tray that I laid down. I thought he said I should be able to use floor mud rather than thinset since I needed that compressibility strength under the tile. So I bought 50 lbs of floor mud, mixed it per the instructions and tried to put it over the Kerdi tray last night.

As I was putting it down, I was thinking, "There's no way this is going to work." With floor mud, you can't put it down as thin as this (in some spots), and based on the slope I was trying to fix, it was really thin in some places.

But I continued, and below are pics of what I'm looking at today.

Questions
1. Is this salvagable? My idea was to put a kerdi membrane over the top of this, but I don't think this floor mud over kerdi tray will work. It's going to crack once I put weight on the thin areas.

2. Should I just rip out this floor mud AND the kerdi tray and the pour my own pan?

3. If I pull up the floor mud at this point, I suspect I will ruin the kerdi tray below it, so my other thought of just building it up with thinset won't work...or will it?

4. I'm going curbless and planning a shower glass panel that extends almost the entire width of the tray area you see in the pics, so it would be open on the left side for access. Is that going to be sufficient, or do I need to build up a curb?

Thanks for your time, and any advice. I can take all the criticism you want to toss my way, so feel free to rip the job apart!

Cheers!
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Unread 07-05-2021, 01:41 PM   #2
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Welcome, John,

I believe your too thin assessment of the mud is correct. I can see it has almost a feather edge around the drain. While I think you could probably remove the mud from the Kerdi tray with out damaging the tray (since there's not much cement in mud, thus it probably won't bond to the Kerdi like thinset mortar would) you'll still be left with the un-level tray even if you could clean the tray enough so that mortar would bond to it.

My mind jumped to remove the mud and, and if you can get the top of the tray clean enough, try a pour of an SLC product over the tray. But that's something you'd have to ask Schluter about. I've no idea if they'd condone that approach.

If not, It's all gotta come out. That Kerdi tray is, what, 1 1/8" around the perimeter? And considerably less thick at the drain opening. Since you're hoping for a curbless design I don't think you can simply replace the tray with a mud bed and maintain the necessary slope of 1/4" per foot, and end up with the necessary mud thickness near the drain. Assuming you don't/can't raise the rest of the bathroom floor, you're option then is to remove the tray, use an SLC to get the shower foot print level, and install a new tray.

What's the distance from the shower head wall to the shower opening?
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Unread 07-05-2021, 02:57 PM   #3
John Pal
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Thanks Dan...appreciate the reply.
You're right on not being able to raise the surrounding floor.

shower wall to shower opening is 43"
shower wall to center of drain is 19.5"

I purchased a 48" square tray and trimmed it down a bit, so it has a 1" perimeter height that will be a bit less on the side that I trimmed (closest to the shower wall.)

What is the minimum mud thickness that is recommended if I'm were to go that route?
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Unread 07-05-2021, 03:15 PM   #4
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For a single layer mud bed over concrete I believe you need 3/4" minimum, John. Given the size of the shower, with the approximately 1/2" of slope you'll need (1/4" per running foot, measure from the farthest corner to the drain), that'll put you at least 1 1/4" around the perimeter. I've never worked with mud before so one of the folks who has will be along to check my 3/4" minimum statement.

If you intend for the shower to be doorless at the entrance note that 43" probably won't be enough to keep water from splashing out of the end. If you do intend to use a door note that it won't clear a bath mat placed in front of the entrance.
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Unread 07-05-2021, 10:34 PM   #5
Shaklee3
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Mapei's 4:1 mud says the minimum thickness is 3/8", while Quickrete says 1/2". I've never tried that thin, though.
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Unread 07-07-2021, 09:32 PM   #6
John Pal
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Dan, you were right that it was too thin, almost feathered by the drain. It didn't adhere to the top of the tray at all. I was able to just grab at the lip of it and pull up a good chunk, so that idea didn't pan out (ha, see what I did there)

I'm going to rip this out over the weekend and see what I have to work with. I will pull out the mud I put over the top of the kerdi tray, and pull out the tray as well so I can start with a 'clean' surface. Then I can see how much height I have to work with to slope a mud bed in, or install a new tray after properly leveling things.

I'll post again as things progress...
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