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Unread 06-17-2020, 11:15 PM   #1
PALICIA
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Shower tile cracks and popping out, help?

Hi experts,

We are at a loss at what's wrong with our shower.

There are some tiles on our master shower walls that are popping out. And then there are all sorts of cracks on the shower bench.

Home warranty company sent out a plumber who said there was no plumbing issue.

Would love any help you can provide so we can figure out how to even move forward with the problem. Not sure if it's something we can DIY. If we need to call someone, not even sure what type of contractor to call.

Thanks so much!

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Unread 06-18-2020, 01:50 PM   #2
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call a tile contractor not a plumber.
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Unread 06-18-2020, 01:59 PM   #3
jadnashua
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Improper waterproofing and the resulting swelling of any underlying wooden structures is a major cause of some of the things you are seeing. Related, but maybe not the biggest issue is the failure to follow industry guidelines that call for all changes of plane or material to have movement accommodation (in a shower, that's most often a caulk, but could be an engineered joint). Your tile are grouted in the corners, which, while not always fatal to a shower, can be.

From the symptoms you have, it is highly likely that water is leaking into your bench and causing the wood to swell, which can cause the bond to the tile to break if it doesn't break the tile or grout first.

If they didn't waterproof the bench well, they may not have done the curb properly, either. ANy evidence of cracking grout or loose tiles there? What about on the opposite walls from any of the shower walls? Any evidence of moisture there, or beneath it?

Neither tile nor grout is considered waterproofing in a shower...they are the decorative, wear surface. The shower should be constructed to not be damaged even prior to the tile's installation.

To fix this, you'll probably need to start over. Anything you can do would be a bandage, maybe extending its life a little longer but may also result in more expensive and extensive structural damage.
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Unread 06-18-2020, 02:09 PM   #4
Lazarus
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I agree. Most likely, this shower was NOT waterproofed properly before the tile went up. Expect more of the same at some point in time. You probably have little if any recourse with whoever tiled it...but you can certainly call...not that I would want them to touch it again.

Truthfully, I think your next call would be to a tile pro that knows what he (or she) is doing.

You might consider putting a "wanted" ad in The Professional's Forum along with your area......

Just noticed in your third picture, the tiles are actually debonding and sticking out from the wall. EWWWWW......
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Unread 06-18-2020, 08:34 PM   #5
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Some zoomed out photos would be nice to get a perspective on what we're looking at.

Benches are likely culprits when there is water and cracking problems. Many installers either don't waterproof them or don't do it right.

Additionally, glass needs it's own special mortar and installation technique. I'm guessing that the tile installers either weren't qualified or didn't care.

But a plumber can't help you. And it's probably going to have to get torn out to get to the bottom of what exactly happened.
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Unread 06-18-2020, 08:51 PM   #6
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I've seen some glass mosaics around 1000-years old still intact...that was without the benefit of modern mortars...we don't build them like they used to, and for many things, that's good, but not always!
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Unread 06-18-2020, 11:29 PM   #7
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Tile contractor? General contractor?

Thanks, y'all. Very helpful feedback.

We bought the house when it was 15 years old -- we're 95% sure this was added in after and not part of the original. Looks like shoddy work, too bad this stuff isn't easily detected during home inspections.

Right now we're renting it out while we moved elsewhere for a few years, so waiting for the tenant to come back with more photos and answers to the question you asked.

In the meantime, perhaps a stupid question, but bear with me: would a tile contractor know the intricacies required for redoing the bench, fixing any other issues, etc? I'm finding a lot of tile contractor listings where it seems like they do more tile floors and such. Is there a better type of contractor to search for? Thanks for your patience.
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Unread 06-19-2020, 01:03 AM   #8
jadnashua
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One question you could ask is if they follow the TCNA handbook. If they even know what that means! That's the industry bible on tiling things.

YOu could put a request in on the Pro forum for help in your area. The forum members tend to be knowledgeable people.
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Unread 06-19-2020, 06:57 AM   #9
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Certified contractors have taken a test to demonstrate that they understand the standards for tile installation. This link can steer you to a list of certified contractors near you:

https://www.tile-assn.com/search/custom.asp?id=2759
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Unread 06-19-2020, 12:57 PM   #10
jadnashua
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FWIW, knowing the right way, and doing it, are not necessarily the same thing!
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Unread 06-19-2020, 05:26 PM   #11
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More photos and answers

Hi all,

Found a tile contractor locally who's going to swing by to take a look tomorrow.

Also attaching some other photos of the whole shower and some more close-ups.

Re: some of the questions previously:

There are a few little cracks on the shower curb as well. Cracks in the shower bench grout but not in the corners of the shower.

On the external shower wall, they see some water spots where the tiles starting to pop out. But not sure if this is related.

Any other thoughts? Y'all have been very helpful thus far. Thanks.
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Unread 06-20-2020, 07:27 AM   #12
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Unbelievable. Somebody spent a fortune on that and it's falling apart

I'll defer to the pros but I can't imagine this is anything but a complete tear out and rebuild. You can probably salvage those fixtures.
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