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Unread 08-13-2020, 09:28 AM   #1
nowk
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White ceramic shower tile turning blue

Hi,
My bathroom was renovated and a few months after the renovation we noticed that our white ceramic shower tiles at the base of the walls was turning blue. I've been told that it is a moisture problem and that rather than grout, siliconized sealant should have been used at the joints. My contractor nor his tile guy have ever seen this problem and I was hoping for some advice as far as trying to fix the problem and ensuring that it doesn't happen again. Is there anything else I should consider besides replacing the tile and having them use sealant rather than grout at the joints?
Thank you!
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Unread 08-13-2020, 10:37 AM   #2
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Welcome, Opal.

While the ceramic tile industry does recommend a flexible sealant at all tile joints where there is a change in plane of the backing material, you do not want to use a "siliconized sealant" at the floor/wall or wall/wall joints in a shower, but rather a 100 percent silicone sealant.

I can't tell much from your photo, but the lack of a flexible sealant at the floor/wall joint is not your problem.

To help diagnose this problem further, we need to know how the shower receptor was constructed and waterproofed and what waterproofing was used in the shower walls. In-progress photos of the shower construction would be helpful.

And very specifically what the wall tile is and what bonding mortar was used to install it.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-13-2020, 11:34 AM   #3
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Could this be from no preslope under the shower pan? Water wicking up the walls? It happens, just haven't seen a good picture of it happening.
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Unread 08-13-2020, 11:57 AM   #4
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Thank you very much for your reply! I looked through my pictures and I have limited photos. The wall tile is ceramic. I noticed that the white grout around the bottom row of tiles has patchy discoloration and after not using the shower for a few days, I could see the color of tile turning less blue in patches. After resuming showering, it has again turned more blue and I also noticed a tile on the second row from the bottom is turning blue. I was told that the water is wicking up but then exiting where it enters from the joint space.
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Unread 08-13-2020, 02:16 PM   #5
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Please read for me the brand name material on the wallboards there, Opal, and the label on that bucket sitting in the shower.

I see some sort of band around the bottom of the wallboards in your photo, but I can't tell what it is.

The PVC liner does appear to be flat on the subfloor, as Donald was questioning before you posted your photos. It's difficult to tell from a photo, but can you recall if that gray ruberish liner was installed directly over the plywood subfloor?

There appears to have been no waterproofing on the walls at all, but it is possible a clear polyethylene sheet was installed over the studs before the wallboard was installed. Can you recall if that was done?

Worst thing I see in the photos is a wood framed bench covered with the pan liner and then CBU installed on the shower walls. We can't see the bench after the CBU walls are installed, but if CBU was installed on the bench you're going to have a much more serious problem than water staining on some of your tiles.

Any other photos you have might also be helpful.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-13-2020, 04:27 PM   #6
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Thats a bucket of Omni Grip cx, shame because it actually doesn't look that bad but the install is another story.
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Unread 08-13-2020, 04:31 PM   #7
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Hi CX,
So the bucket is OmniGrip Premium lightweight tile adhesive.
From what I can make out the wallboard says hardie backer wet area cement board, moisture resistant plus mold technology
There is cement under the membrane. I believe he put waterproofing on the joints/edges only but I don't have any pictures.
The ceramic tiles I purchased from Porcelanosa.
Thank you for your time!
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Unread 08-13-2020, 06:33 PM   #8
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I was looking for more specifics on your tiles, Opal. Are they a porcelain tile as opposed to a glazed wall tile, for example. Makes a lot of difference in how they might act in a wet environment.

The Omni Grip is a Type 1 organic adhesive, commonly called mastic. While it is industry approved for shower walls, but not shower floors, we generally recommend against its use in showers at all because environmentally it's arguable that the bottom portion of the shower walls, that part from the top of the curb down, is actually part of the shower floor. If your installer used that material to bond the floor tiles you may expect some more serious problems there, too.

But that doesn't really answer the question you came here with. Now that we see that you have a traditional shower receptor, it is possible that water is backing up in the final mud bed to the extent that the wallboard, if burried in the final mud bed, could potentially be wicking enough water to cause the lower portion of the walls to remain wet. That would be expected if you had no pre-slope under your pan liner or/and if the weep holes in your drain were plugged and not operating properly.

If the Hardiebacker were properly installed, it would not be burried in the mud bed at all, but then you have no good way of securing the bottom of the panels where mechanical fasteners cannot be used.

Do you see wet grout lines anywhere on your floor tile installation?

The lack of any wall waterproofing is another problem in your shower construction. The Hardiebacker is not waterproof and must either have a moisture barrier behind it or a direct bonded waterproofing membrane on the face of it.

And, again, can you identify the darker band around the shower at the bottom of the walls in your photo?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-14-2020, 08:56 AM   #9
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Oh my, so many issues
So the tile is a glazed wall tile.

I do not notice retained moisture in the grout lines on the floor but rather in the wall grout surrounding the tiles on the bottom row of the wall. There is significant cracking of the grout in the interface between the floor and the walls.

The water seems to flow to the center drain and I do not notice water collecting at the edges of the shower floor.

The dark border I believe is the waterproofing? But I am just guessing.

How would I know if the Hardiebacker is actually embedded in the mudbase and if it is, what would be my solution to that problem?

I am fearful of more problems arising from trying to fix this problem.
Thanks again
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Unread 08-14-2020, 10:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opal
I do not notice retained moisture in the grout lines on the floor but rather in the wall grout surrounding the tiles on the bottom row of the wall. There is significant cracking of the grout in the interface between the floor and the walls.
That's the reason for the tile industry recommendation of a flexible sealant at that joint rather than grout, Opal. What you have is not correct, but that has nothing to do with your current problem.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Opal
The water seems to flow to the center drain and I do not notice water collecting at the edges of the shower floor.
We're not concerned with water collection near the walls on the surface of the floor, we're concerned with water collection near the walls on top of the waterproof layer of your floor. That's the reason we asked about a pre-slope. You say there is "cement under the membrane," but cement, usually Portland cement, is just one component of materials such as concrete or deck mud. Do you recall the contractor mixing up some material that looked like dark gray beach sand and creating a floor sloping to the drain before he laid down that gray waterproof liner? It's important.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Opal
The dark border I believe is the waterproofing? But I am just guessing.
I can't imagine why he'd put any kind of waterproofing only along a defined line in that area and that's why I asked. Perhaps some of the younger eyes can make out better what that dark line might be.

I also cannot tell what's going on at the curb. Do you recall if that same Hardiebacker was installed on the curb before he tiles?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Opal
How would I know if the Hardiebacker is actually embedded in the mudbase and if it is, what would be my solution to that problem?
You can't. Only way to know is if you observed/photographed the installation of the wallboard. There is no way to correct that problem if you have it, but that's also not part of your current problem. That's a much longer term problem, if it's a problem at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Opal
I am fearful of more problems arising from trying to fix this problem.
Me, too.

That Glazed Wall Tile (that's a specific classification in the tile industry) has a water absorption rate of between 7 and 20 percent, presuming it's advertised to meet ANSI A137.1 standards for ceramic tile. It can hold a lot of water and will take a very long time to dry once saturated. That may be what you're observing at the bottom of your walls.

That water could come from the top mortar bed of your shower, but only if there is an underlying deficiency there. If the receptor is properly constructed and the drain weep holes are functioning properly, there will be no significant wicking of water by the wallboards because there will be no water collected there. Again, that's IF the receptor is properly constructed.

The water could also be coming down from behind the wall tiles if the mortar coverage on the back of the tiles was not sufficient per industry standards. We've seen that problem before, also. With the cracking of grout at the wall/floor junction, you might also see water seeping from that joint if that is the case with your wall tile installation. But with no waterproofing on your walls at all, it's more likely that most of that moisture would be going through the wallboard, which is another longer term problem.

A lot going on there. Without more information about the actual construction of the receptor and the walls, it's difficult to pin the problem down to something specific. Could be a combination of issues.

Do tell about the curb, though.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-14-2020, 03:27 PM   #11
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The tiles weren't dark at install so you can rule out waterproofing showing through. That row is definitely wet and I'd gather a thin glaze is part of the reason you see it. It looks like the are waterproofed is a joint with a 2-3" piece of board. Hard to tell from the pics, I agree the pan is the bigger culprit and the wall being waterproofed means that row is the only place for it to go since it cant be absorbed by the board.
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Unread 08-14-2020, 03:44 PM   #12
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Where are you seeing the walls being waterproofed, Jeff?
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Unread 08-15-2020, 04:49 AM   #13
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The bottom 2-3 inches of the pan where the Paint roller pan is and the 5 gallon bucket of presumed waterprrof liquid. looks like they painted a strip around. Blowing the pics up makes them look fuzzy but it also looks theres a joint just where they stopped.
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Unread 08-17-2020, 01:44 PM   #14
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Hi,
Thanks for your detailed reply!
I believe that he did mix something and created a slope for the drain.
The curb I think has hardiebacker on it.
With regards to the tile, the water absorption in the specs states >10%.

Is it possible to remove the tile without compromising whatever waterproofing was done?
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Unread 08-17-2020, 02:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opal
The curb I think has hardiebacker on it.
That alone is reason enough that you should get a free replacement for that shower, Opal. It won't likely make the shower fail tomorrow, but it will fail prematurely. Well, fail more than it's currently failing.

I still don't see any signs of wall waterproofing, but if there was a surface-applied membrane over the wallboard we see it's unlikely you can remove any tiles without damage to the membrane.

If a moisture barrier were installed behind the wallboard, it's sometimes possible to remove the wall tiles without significant damage, but if the tiles were installed well, removal is likely to damage the wallboard, too.

I think your choices are to live with what you've got or demand that the shower be replaced with one correctly done.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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