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Unread 07-21-2021, 12:44 PM   #1
hiddenhype
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Shower Slope Help (Bench, Niche, Curb)

Hi all, long story short. We are recently renovating our bathroom with a GC. When we got to tiling the shower, I noticed that the subcontractor did not build a preslope nor wait for the mortar on top to dry before tiling using the Oatey Shower Liner. I've done extensive research on my end on this forum, Houzz and other platforms so I knew with the rubber shower liner installation we needed the preslope. We pressed for them to demo the floor and redo it with a preslope. The contractor is currently installing a new liner on top of the preslope and will flood test as we requested.

When they demoed they removed the tiles, liner, the backerboard on top of the liner and on the curb.

They nailed in cement backerboards on at least the top and outside of the curb, I think they did the inside too but I don't have proof. Then they had redgard on top of it, but from what I know, it's wrong to nail on the top or inside of the liner. I'm hoping to persuade them to make the curb with mortar this time but it's hard to communicate with the installer.

Currently I believe the curb only has the liner installed. How would I ask to make the curb sloped inwards? Would it be with the mortar when they cover it? I

In my images, we are also building a shower bench and a shower niche. They have redgarded over it, but I don't think they have any slope built in, I'm not too familiar with using a level correctly. Would it be possible to add slope in after the fact?
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Unread 07-21-2021, 01:06 PM   #2
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Quick update: the liner was installed with the outside curb with a cement board screwed in. And some white substance on the shower drain. Picture of progress is attached.

I talked to the subcontractor briefly and they mentioned that they will also cover the entire curb with cement board but will screw in at the very top for the inside. He did mention there is a slope on the curb via the liner but I'll try to double check. Is there any way to install the cement board without nailing it in on the inside and top?
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Unread 07-21-2021, 01:39 PM   #3
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I'm sure others are typing as I type to say to put the brakes on this. Lots of questions here...

Redguard looks to be WAY too thin, are they going to add another coat?

The clamping drain looks to now be done wrong since they have sealed the weepholes... making the preslope ineffective because the weepholes looked to be sealed up with some sort of caulking/sealant?

Hopefully they aren't going to add backer board to the top or inside the curb... even if they plan on waterproofing it topically. From my understanding its ok to fasten into the curb if you are topically waterproofing EVERYTHING including the floor but not ok to mix the liner and topically waterproof dam. -Hopefully I'll have a double check on that from CX.

I personally don't like the concept of fastening the wonderboard so low to add the pieces back they took out for the liner... you aren't supposed to fasten anything 3" above the curb height around the shower. Which means maybe one screw now holding those new pieces.

Edit:I knew CX would chime in... I see I opted for 3" above curb because I've read that more often recently, but was always taught 2" above curb.
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Unread 07-21-2021, 01:51 PM   #4
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Welcome, Jonathan.

I fear you're dealing with the wrong people here.

While your pan liner may now have a pre-slope under it, how does your installer plan to now attach wallboard down in that area?

A closer photo of the ends of the shower curb would likely also show that the waterproofing there is less than optimal.

And there can be absolutely no mechanical fasteners in the top or inside of the curb. Period. There is no correct method of using a CBU on the curb of a traditional shower receptor (what you have). That liner must have no mechanical fasteners anywhere below a line two inches above the curb top.

I don't know what the white substance is on your drain, but it should not be there. It's blocking the channels that are part of your drain's weep system.

All horizontal surfaces in that wet area must be sloped a minimum of 1/4" per horizontal foot to drain. No, you cannot add the slope later, it must be the waterproof surface that is properly sloped.

And the RedGard we see on the walls is not of the thickness required by the product manufacturer.

Lot of corrections needed there before you move forward.

[Edit] I'm a bit slower than young Justin.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 07-21-2021, 01:58 PM   #5
hiddenhype
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This is our first construction project ever so we are struggling to navigate through this.

We can't communicate with any of the tile installers they sent our way unfortunately so my questions in person are bounced back.

When we initially protested the lack of preslope, we were given the "we have over 500 bathrooms done, 18 years of experience, and no one has called us back complaining about lack of preslope", and that we didn't trust their experience enough as professionals because that's how they've always done it.

We've paid a bit over 60% of the project already so we felt like we already put in so much investment and we don't know if the remaining 40% would be worth it to have a reliable tiler in the area complete the project. (Demo and redo the shower completely, tile the bathroom, complete the built in shelf, and install the fixtures) So when they came back and offered to fix their mistake, we accepted.

I'm not sure how to go about bring my concerns to them without questioning the tiler's "experience":
  1. Nailing concrete backer board to the inside of the curb
  2. Ensuring the bench, niche, and shower curb are sloped
  3. Weep hole protection
  4. Cover the corner of liner / curb with dam corners

Edit: After seeing CX's post along with Justin's - I was wondering if anyone know's of a reputable bathroom /tile installer in the Greater Boston Area?
There's a clause in our contract that says "Unless otherwise directed by Contractor, Owner shall not make inquiries with or give direction to any outside service contractor or Contractor personnel" Does this mean we have to cancel our contract before contacting someone else?

Our project started in May and as first time homeowners we are just overwhelmed with not knowing who to trust or navigate these waters. I'm meticulous and just want it done right but unsure how I would approach all of this.

I feel somewhat bad questioning the experience of these professionals, but no where have I read that what they did was correct. When we mentioned the manufacturer's instructions for the shower liner, the GC said he was aware of it but he's always done it this way (without the preslope). So it just feels like cutting corners or lack of knowledge.
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Unread 07-21-2021, 02:34 PM   #6
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Johnathon it sounds like you are already violating the contract by inquiring us on how it should be done ... what a dopey clause. Maybe I'm reading it wrong hah

There is no soft way to address your concerns to the contractor and not create a wave or two IMO because the very nature of it will challenge his perceptions on what is ok and not ok. I know this because I've had my own direct talks and have been talked to directly. In the end you are paying for a service and are expecting professionalism and knowledge from the person hired. It's a shame that YOU have to babysit to make sure it's correct.

My personal opinion is you aren't asking for anything unreasonable, You are asking for things to be done so the shower system functions as it was designed to, making sure each step along the way isn't shortcutted. I find no reason to not politely address the issues with the contractor and see what happens from there.
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Unread 07-21-2021, 02:55 PM   #7
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Should I end up contracting anything tiled, I'd insist a clause something like the following was in there:'
"The xx work shall be done according to all manufacturer's products instructions and abide by the TCNA handbook's approved procedures." The handbook lists multiple methods on how to build a shower that will last and function properly.

The TCNA handbook is the industry bible. In it they also say to follow the manufacturer's instructions. This comes, IMHO, with an implied expectation that the professional involved knows the 'right' way to do things.

You're lucky they didn't insist on putting in a copper pan, that almost always ends up flat on the floor! MA is one place that seems to like them, and it doesn't meet the building code unless it's sloped, but the inspectors seem to only look at the flood test.

For liquid applied waterproofing to work properly, it MUST be installed at the indicated wet film thickness, and each coat must be applied per the instructions. FWIW, it's really not as simple as painting the stuff on...getting it between the min/max thickness takes some skill and knowledge. A wet film thickness gauge is your best way to see during installation if it's correct. Those are cheap, but not everyone will use one, or understand how to use it properly. It's easy, once you understand, but critical. Using the prescribed roller helps, but everyone will apply more/less pressure, and go over things more or less, and each of those aspects will have a huge difference in the thickness of the coat applied.
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Unread 07-21-2021, 03:33 PM   #8
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Jonathan, you should not be having a problem communicating with the tile installer if you have a contract with a GC for this work. You should never try to make changes or get clarification on any part of the work except from the person to whom you write checks. The only time you might talk to the subs (this is a language barrier?) would be to tell them to call or go get the GC before work can continue. Everything done wrong on that shower is the GC's responsibility (said the guy who's been a residential GC for decades). It is he (I presume a he) who should be ensuring that the installers do the work correctly.

And you should be questioning everything you see that does not comply with building code, product manufacturer's instructions, or ceramic tile industry (in this case) standards.

I don't care if they've been doing it that way since Christ was in knee pants, if it's not correct, it's not correct. You're paying for a correctly built shower and you should insist that you get one.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 07-22-2021, 07:28 AM   #9
hiddenhype
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I got up the nerve to tell the GC all my concerns in an email:
  1. Uncover weep holes (is this possible or do they need to replace it?)
  2. Wait for mortar to set before tiling (they didnt wait for curing previously)
  3. Install dam corners
  4. Build the shower curb with metal lath and mortar to not pierce the membrane
  5. Ensure curb, bench and niche are sloped toward the drain
  6. Install the backerboard around the shower correctly and not pierce the liner (would this mean removing the backerboard higher? is this possible?)
  7. Apply the redgard per manufacturer's instructions

I think that was everything covered - please let me know if I missed anything that would be detrimental. It feels like the GC is probably in a deflecting phase, he didn't address anything, and just mentioned he told the tiler boss and they were coming today.

Hope I can hold strong and make sure everything is done properly
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Unread 07-22-2021, 07:57 AM   #10
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2. I don't understand this one?

6. Yes. Yes.
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Unread 07-22-2021, 09:17 AM   #11
hiddenhype
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CX
2. I don't understand this one?
When the first installment was done, they didn't preslope, installed the liner, "sloped" mortar on top of the liner, and then not within 2 hours used thinset and tiled. So in a matter of a morning and afternoon it went from plywood to full tile.

If I'm not mistaken you should let mortar cure for at least a day before tiling or am I wrong?

Update:
When I mentioned this ask to the GC "Use the method of building the shower curb with a metal lath and mortar to avoid piercing the membrane."
This was the tiler's response: "This method is not usual for shower curb. The metal lath could easily rip the shower pan liner that is underneath."
I don't think a properly installed metal lath should rip the shower pan liner.
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Unread 07-22-2021, 10:53 AM   #12
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If they have the skill required to set tile on the fresh mortar bed, it's not a problem. But for tiling on a "cured" mortar bed, the industry standards require a minimum cure time of 20 hours, but longer cures are recommended.

[Edit] Done correctly, there is no danger of the metal lath "ripping" the waterproofing membrane. Even done incorrectly it's unlikely. Get you a piece of lath and a piece of Oatey (or similar) 40mil membrane and see how much damage you can do to one with the other. Caution: Wear heavy gloves. There is a very real danger of ripping your hand in that experiment.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 07-22-2021, 04:08 PM   #13
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Jim said, " TCNA handbook's approved procedures." I would take note of this and ask if they have ever heard of it.

I just want to echo what the others said. I'm sure the installer means well but he really has no clue. You shouldn't have to hold their hand.
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Unread 07-23-2021, 08:52 AM   #14
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Disclaimer: I am a pessimist.

If a contractor is already that far in over his head, I think retraining him will not guarantee a good installation. It'll be a constant headache. You will spend a considerable amount of time supervising him. That is time you could have spent doing it yourself instead. I am speaking from experience here (my project was not tile related, but the principles of this dynamic remained the same).
Either find a competent contractor or consider doing it yourself. Seriously.
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Unread 07-23-2021, 10:27 AM   #15
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Jonathan, I wish you'd re-post the part you removed from post #11 about the metal lath and mud method of making the curb.

I don't think that's pessimistic, Wolfgang. Sounds more like realistic, to me.
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