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Unread 11-23-2021, 11:46 AM   #1
BONDOSPECIAL
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Kerdi band install errors? Around niche and over screws

Hello everyone! I have a 4'x4' corner shower project being constructed with Kerdi Board walls that will be tiled, including 2 pre fab kerdi niches, and a pre cast acrylic shower base. I hung the Kerdi board myself over carefully planed and shimmed studs, and then the waterproofing was done by a pro.

Here is the waterproofing the pro left me with, and I have two concerns.

One, the Kerdi Band strips he installed around the niches do not overlap at the corners - they are butted. My reading of Schluter's literature is that anywhere Kerdi band overlaps any other Kerdi product, it needs at least 2" overlap to ensure waterproofing.






Two, the Kerdi strips the installer used to cover the screws mounting the board to the studs are quite small - on average about 2.5"x2.5". Some are as small as 2.25"x2.25", some are 3"x3".






For the butt seams on the kerdi band around the niches - how should this be fixed? The only thing I can think of is to add more Kerdi band, overlapping each existing piece 2" minimum, over each butt seam. This is going to cause so much build-up I anticipate I'd have to float the whole Kerdi Board walls out with more thinset and a darby (the thinset on this job is all Schluter All-set.) I did so much prep work on the framing to ensure the 4x8 Kerdi boards were perfectly flat, I am disheartened at the idea of making such big lumps and then having to deal with them. Could I instead caulk each butt seam in the kerdi band around the niches with Kerdi Fix, to ensure waterproofing?

For the kerdi patches over the screw heads - I am guessing he should have used much larger pieces of Kerdi, probably 5"x5", to also ensure 2" of overlap over the gauze of the Kerdi board. Since this is already done, I don't know what I could do to improve it. Since these are just shower walls and not a floor or a bench, and they will not get that wet, is this a problem?

Luckily where the Kerdi band overlaps the shower base, the pro used Kerdi Fix, and where the horizontal kerdi bands overlapping the base meet the vertical corner piece he did overlap 2"+, so the most critical seams are done correctly. This pro came highly recommended by large trade counters in my area that sell Schluter products, and he has many decades of tile experience, so I trusted he was going to be installing per Schluter's instructions.

I am completing the shower wall tile install myself so I want to make sure I have a plan together on how to remedy the waterproofing deficiencies. I am hoping that since the slight shortcuts taken in the waterproofing are on shower walls that are not going to be holding back pooling water, that the integrity and longevity of my install isn't going to be significantly affected.

Thanks!!
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Unread 11-23-2021, 12:20 PM   #2
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Welcome, Steve.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
...and then the waterproofing was done by a pro.
Seems a shame you did the most difficult parts yourself and then decided to hire out the easier, but more critical parts of your shower construction.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
My reading of Schluter's literature is that anywhere Kerdi band overlaps any other Kerdi product, it needs at least 2" overlap to ensure waterproofing.
That would be correct. You are therein learning what we here on these forums learned years ago and re-learn almost daily, that "pros," especially those who tell you they've been doing this for (insert large number) years and never had a problem, are among the least likely ever to have read and are also least likely to follow the product manufacturer's instructions.

Is what he's done in your shower correct? No, it's not, but you knew that. Will it fail immediately? Not likely. Is it more likely to fail than a properly executed waterproofing? Yes.

What to do? On the niche, I would be inclined to try to "repair" his patching with some Kerdi Fix. I wouldn't use any substitute material in that application. Will that make it right? No, it will not, but given the location and how you apparently installed your niche, I think it will work for a long time. See my warranty information below.

Did you perhaps use some Kerdi Fix or similar between the wall boards and the niche when you installed them?

As for the patches over the fasteners, you might get by with those as is. Again, not at all correct and I can't imagine why he'd go to the extra effort to cut them smaller when he apparently ended up with extra KerdiBand in the end.

I would like to see photos of the wall/receptor treatment. You say he bonded to the receptor with Kerdi Fix, but did he use thinset mortar to bond to the wallboard?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 11-23-2021, 12:25 PM   #3
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Wow, that was a quick reply! I didn't intend to get involved in doing the tile work at all - the original plan was for the pro to do everything. However the tile setting and grouting he did on the hex floor tiles is not to my satisfaction, so that was the end of him working here. When he prepped the floor, which has ditra under it, he also did the shower waterproofing, which is why it's already done.

To my knowledge, there isn't any kerdi fix around the niche surrounds.

Where the Kerdi band overlaps the back dam of the pre cast shower pan, he used thinset on the Kerdi board side and Kerdi fix on the back dam.

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Unread 11-23-2021, 12:28 PM   #4
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Help me with "back dam," Steve. I dunno what that is.
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Unread 11-23-2021, 12:37 PM   #5
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The shower pan is a 300 lb monstrosity that is 4'x4'. It is a synthetic stone, poured material like Corian. There is a 1/2" thick dam or lip on the back sides of the shower pan that, when the pan is installed flush to the studs, ends up flush w/ the 1/2" shower walls and enables you to waterproof up to it. Like the lip on a tub but 1/2" thick.



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Unread 11-23-2021, 03:03 PM   #6
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I'd forgotten about the wide flange on those Kerdi niches, Steve. Your waterproofing there is still not technically correct, but you're likely to survive it, 'specially if you put a little Kerdi Fix on the gaps in the Kerdi Band.

The bottom of the installation looks waterproof, too, in your photos. Let's see if the younger eyes see something I've missed, which happens a lot these days.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 11-23-2021, 04:25 PM   #7
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Thank you for the advice, CX. I'm glad to hear I will survive! -Steve
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Unread 12-03-2021, 10:07 AM   #8
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Now that I am planning the tile layout I have a couple questions:

I am going to be using 4.25x4.25" Daltile field tiles and 2x6 bullnose tile for the vertical border of the shower walls. I will also use 2x6 bullnose tile to picture frame my two niches.

For the field tile: I understand a ledger board is often used to support the starter course. I have seen advice to put the ledger board under the first full row of field tiles and then to come back later to fill in the partial tiles (that in this case will meet the prefab shower base). People who use ledger boards seem to screw them into the wall to ensure they don't move. I don't like the idea of penetrating the Kerdi board down this close to the shower pan (presumably I'd have to fill the holes in with Kerdi fix?) If I use a wide enough ledger board it seems like having it (and any required shims to level it) stacked on the prefab shower base would be stable enough for a starter course - agree?

For picture framing the niches in 2x6 bullnose tile and filling in the niche wall and back tiles - I am not sure what my order of operations should be. I know I will have to hang the bullnose picture frame tiles into the niche to cover the thickness of the niche wall tile plus thinset. It seems like it might be easiest for me to tile the back walls of the niche, then the side walls, so I can then see exactly how much to hang the 2x6 bullnose over the niche. But then I was thinking, will the 2x6 bullnose for the niche picture frame need to be supported by a ledger (or field tile under it) while it's setting up? Or just use masking tape to hold the picture frame pieces to the sides of the niche? Does anyone have a few in-progress pictures showing the order of tiles being installed in a niche where it is picture framed in bullnose?

Thanks!

Steve
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Unread 12-03-2021, 11:24 AM   #9
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Steve, you most likely have a ton of perforations near the bottom, if not inside the pan already. Don't be paranoid about a couple of perforations that will likely make the entire job go a lot smoother.

Path of least resistance:
Use the ledger board, then patch the holes with Kerdi Band and All-Set. No need for Kerdi Fix, just use the standard method. You have a ton of examples over the screw heads already. :-)

Path of caution:
Come up with some sort of way (cough: masking tape) to hold one row of tile perfectly in place and use that as your "ledger board". Be sure to stick around and babysit while they set, tape can be a little flaky and they can move around. Just mix up a small batch of thinset and do one row, let it set and set well, and there you go. More work, better sleep. But honestly, Least Resistance is the better way to go here.

Pro-Tip:
Sometimes it makes a lot more sense for your ledger board to be one, two, or several rows higher than the bottom row. Complex layouts, wanting a grout line to fall right under a ledge or niche, etc. If you find yourself still trying to start at the bottom and use math to figure how to exactly land at that magic spot three or five feet up the wall so your grout line is perfect... good luck with that sir. There's a reason your walls were not flat or plumb. Maybe some of the true experts here can do that, but I've found it exceedingly difficult to do and get it right. Having a 1/8" error in either direction can really throw things off.

If you still want to try that, though, a story pole -- a very accurate one that will predict all the widths of your future grout lines exactly, including all the fiddling you did on the way up -- will be your friend here. Depending on the scenario, a very good sense of how thick your mortar bed for an adjacent tile or feature might eventually be right where that magic spot is will get you the rest of the way. You should understand your odds now, but it is not impossible. You'll have much better results just ledgering off of that magic spot and hanging tiles under that first row with masking tape while the mortar sets. Hanging tiles with tape from already-set tiles is a lot less flaky than when doing the first row and taping to the wall where the tape is not a vertical vector.

More work, more tedious, sucks a little actually, but always hits that magic exact height, because you simply started there and made sure that one linchpin tile is just right. Gets harder when there are two magic reference points...
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Last edited by Platypus; 12-03-2021 at 11:42 AM.
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Unread 12-03-2021, 03:02 PM   #10
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Steve, there is a forum here called the Alumni Photo Album, wherein is an entire thread showing hundreds of photos of various ways to tile a shower niche. You might find something in there that you like.

As for ledger boards, with a pre-fabricated receptor such as you have, there is really no reason for you not to begin your tiling directly over the receptor. Just be sure to shim the first row off the bottom of the receptor and make the tops of the first row as perfectly level as possible, then just continue tiling up from there.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Last edited by cx; 12-03-2021 at 03:11 PM.
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Unread 12-03-2021, 04:31 PM   #11
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Thank you, both!
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Unread 12-09-2021, 03:58 PM   #12
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I am trying to plan on what trowel notch size I will use for my ceramic shower wall tile. I have looked at various tables and there is some overlap in what size is recommended for my tile size. I am going to be using traditional 4.25" square ceramic tiles made by Daltile. They have raised ridges on the back.






It looks like I can use either a 3/16"x1/4" V notch or a 1/4"x1/4" square notched trowel for this tile size. I own both trowels. Should I start w/ the v notch and check my coverage, and only go up to the 1/4" square notch if the coverage looks insufficient, or just go for it and use the 1/4" square notched trowel?

As for technique in setting these tiles - do I need to beat each tile in with a block of wood and a mallet? A lot of videos I've watched on youtube deal with the large, currently-trendy shower wall tiles and use big notch sizes. And I noticed the recommendation to slide each tile perpendicular to the troweled mortar ridges to collapse the mortar to ensure 100% coverage. Does this instruction to slide tiles to collapse the mortar ridges still apply to my tiny 4.25" tiles, or do I just push each one into the mortar and move onto the next one?

The only times I have set tile in the past was 4x4 wall tile. I installed it using mastic and a V notch trowel and I do remember taking to heart something I read about beating the tiles in, and giving each one a few good smacks. I will be using Schluter all-set to set these tiles.

Thanks!
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Unread 12-09-2021, 04:29 PM   #13
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You want to put a skim coat on the tile before putting on the in to the ridges on the wall. With small tiles I like to set up a table and put a ledger board on 2 sides son the tile won't move as skim them. I skim as many tiles as I think I can put up before the thinset glazes over.
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Unread 12-13-2021, 07:03 PM   #14
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Is 1/4"x1/4" square notch a reasonable trowel size to start with for 4.25" square ceramic wall tiles? And should I beat the tiles in using a block of wood and a mallet when I set them (I have the Tavy mallet)? Watching youtube videos (dangerous, I know...) I did not see anyone beating tiles into the mortar bed for shower walls. Nor did I see many people moving tiles side to side to collapse the trowel ridges - it looked like most people were just pushing tiles into the thinset w/ their fingers and moving onto the next tile.

Thanks!
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Unread 12-13-2021, 07:10 PM   #15
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I have never keyed-mortar to the back of tiles as small as 4x4 as Shawn recommends, but it's a fine idea if you wanna do it.

I've also never beat-in a wall tile that small, but if it help you get your tiles flush and get the required coverage, that's fine, too.

And yes, a 1/4" square notched trowel would be a good tool to start with.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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