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Old 10-09-2018, 05:45 PM   #1
Jimmy_B
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Shower floor tile replacement questions....

Hello, I'm Jim and a newb here with a few questions. Probably more than a few in all reality.

My situation:
I have a 30 year old walk out rambler that I've owned for 20 years. The previous owner finished about 1/4 of the basement and added a bathroom with a tiled shower that is about 36x52. After pulling the bypass door out that I put in 20 years ago, I noticed a couple of tiles that were loose. I knew the grout needed to be replaced, but I hadn't realized the tile situation. I pulled the loose tiles out to have a look and see that the tiles are installed directly over a membrane, something I hadn't anticipated. I have my doubts about my ability to remove the old grout without potentially compromising the membrane so I started researching how to correctly tile a shower floor. It's how I found this place and I'm glad I did!


After reading a little about surface applied membranes (I think that's what it's called), I realized this job will be a little more than just tile replacement. I think.


My plan is to remove the floor tiles, a row or two of the wall tiles, and the inside and top of the curb so I apply a new membrane. I don't have any of the original tiles, but I'm ok with a completely different tile as a replacement. Kind of an accent or racing stripe.


I question some of the things the previous owner did here, and this shower is one of them. I'm hoping you guys will tell me it was built with acceptable materials and installation practices. My gut says otherwise though, and the scope of work will likely increase.


My concern is the drain. It appears to be one piece of PVC glued directly to the drain line with no provision to adjust the height.

Please look at the pics below and tell how bad you think this is going to get. Thanks in advance for the help!!!!
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Old 10-09-2018, 06:26 PM   #2
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Welcome, Jim. I'll add that name to your permanent signature line for ya.

It's possible that could be the top of a three-piece clamping drain, but if you can see that it's bonded directly to the drain riser it's a floor drain and not what you'd want in your shower receptor. There is no proper way to attach a direct bonded waterproofing membrane (that's your "surface applied membrane") to that kind of drain.

Have you a close-up photo of the area from which you removed some of your tiles? And of the back of the tiles, too.

We generally consider replacing only the receptor portion of a shower to be a temporary measure to keep it in service until such time as it's more convenient to do a full shower replacement. One of the problems with the pan replacement is that you have no good method of tying the new waterproofing to the existing wall waterproofing, if any. And the bottom of a shower is one of the worst places to have such a problem.

But that's all entirely up to you.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:07 AM   #3
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That's the response I was expecting. A complete tear out isn't in the cards at the moment, even just the repair I mentioned will be challenging since I'm mostly working with one arm for now.

I was thinking I could cut about 6-8" of the durock off the wall behind the tiles I remove, run a membrane up the wall and replace the durock and retile. Is this possible, or a complete hack job? And can I properly seal a membrane around my drain?

I'm sure I have just a floor drain.

I'll get some more pics this afternoon when I get home from work. Not sure how much you can see by what I have posted here.
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Old 10-10-2018, 03:52 PM   #4
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Here are some pics of the backside of the shower. Looks like durock down to the floor. And I see a small red, plastic button sticking though the durock. Is this part of a membrane or waterproofing system?

Also a couple of pics of the tile I removed and of the exposed membrane.

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Old 10-10-2018, 04:13 PM   #5
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It doesn't look like a membrane to me, but I'm not there.

Is there any slope to the shower floor?
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
It doesn't look like a membrane to me, but I'm not there.

Is there any slope to the shower floor?
Definitely rubber of some sort.

I would have put more slope in it, but it always drains without issue.

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Old 10-10-2018, 05:47 PM   #7
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In my inexpert, diy, opinion, there are two choices. Total redo, or shut it down until you do a total redo. Or, I suppose, live with it until it is unbearable. If they actually tried to lay tile directly on the liner (which it sort of sounds/looks like), it's never going to work. As its current condition indicates.
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:11 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jlbos83 View Post
In my inexpert, diy, opinion, there are two choices. Total redo, or shut it down until you do a total redo. Or, I suppose, live with it until it is unbearable. If they actually tried to lay tile directly on the liner (which it sort of sounds/looks like), it's never going to work. As its current condition indicates.
Definitely directly on a membrane. I'm not going to defend the construction here, I know nothing about tiling, but I'd have to disagree that it will never work. It's been working for at least 20 years, leak free. I'd say that's a pretty good run.

I'm not against a total redo, then I know it would be done right with the help of everyone here. But that's not an option right now. I just had shoulder surgery, so it will be months before I could handle this job.






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Old 10-10-2018, 07:00 PM   #9
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There are some tileable waterproof membranes. They use (usually) a bonded fleece material to give the thinset something to grab. Most of them, the thinset doesn't actually 'stick', it flows around the fleece (when installed properly), hardens, and that locks things in place. THey're more plastic, verses rubber, though.

Liners, that have a good layer of deck mud applied over the top, have been around for decades, and work well. Those can be a bit rubbery. NOrmally, that layer of deck mud on top of the liner, should be at least 1-1/4" thick or so...thinner over a liner tends to not be all that stable. Some people get by with it being thinner, but 3/4" is probably the limit over a liner if you want it to last, and that's thinner than what is recommended.
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:10 AM   #10
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Based on the condition of the grout, I would not say it "worked", though it may well have not leaked. Since it is 20 years old, and seems "rubbery", I am guessing it is not a surface applied membrane, meaning that it should have a bed of drypack over it. From the photos, it sure looks, from here, like the tile was barely hanging onto the membrane, and was more held in place together by the grout, which, of course, could not do that job forever. If the membrane is intact, and properly tied to the drain, it won't leak. So it is "useable". I defer to the pros, but if it was mine, I would not consider it repairable.
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