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Unread 08-10-2021, 07:33 PM   #1
midwest girl
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New bathroom tile project? Thoughts?

When I decided to update this particular bathroom, my original plan was to leave the existing 4x4 white tile currently installed on the walls of my tub/shower combo.

The current tile was installed pretty much perfectly (even width/straight grout lines). Even though the tile was installed in December 1996, I have never had any mildew issues with the grout lines (and this is located in the jack & Jill bathroom between my daughters’ rooms - I did a pretty good job of training my girls to ALWAYS run the fan while using the shower (and for a short period of time afterwards). The only issue I have after carefully inspecting all of the tile is two very small places where grout needs to be replaced (I’ve attached photos below - I lightened the second photo showing tiny missing grout in the corner because the bathroom light was casting a big shadow on it so it might look odd). I have only had to replace the caulking where the wall meets the the tub (not in the corners of the walls).

My plan was to learn how to repair the very small missing grout (pinhole size) - and leave the white tile in place.

However, after having beautiful new 4x12 slate tile installed on the floor in a herringbone pattern, plus replacing the toilet and adding a beautiful updated vanity, new mirror, plus wall sconces, I now would also like to update the shower/tub fixtures (including replace mixing valve and trim) + move the shower head up (my understanding is that it was typical to install them lower back in 1996). Also, the tile was not run all the way up to the ceiling - instead it is installed a little bit above the shower head only (with painted drywall above). I assume this was “normal” also back in 1996 because I’ve seen many tub/showers tiled this way.

I now feel like the rest of the bathroom will look amazing - and am seriously thinking about whether I should redo the tile on the shower/tub walls . . .

The project is kind of “snowballing” - but it seems like now is the logical time to update the field tile for the shower/tub combo (or perhaps remove the tub completely and just have a custom shower put in its place).

My brother-in-law worked in construction for quite awhile when he was younger. He told me that he is confident that I would be able to do this (especially if I’m just putting in a new bathtub and not building an entire custom shower). I do have an engineering degree and have a strong science background. I also would make sure that I thoroughly researched the project before ever starting.

I’ve read many threads where homeowners have received guidance on these types of projects - but I don’t want to bother all of you with my questions, if this is a busy time.

Do you think I would be able to replace the field tiles by myself? My brother in law said that he would help cut out the current drywall/tiles + install the new cbu
(if Kerdi is easier, please let me know).

OR maybe I should just repair the two tiny parts of grout - AND leave my current tile and not raise my shower head because my existing tile is perfectly fine - and it’s not worth the effort?

All advice/comments appreciated.

Thanks,

Dani
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Unread 08-10-2021, 07:52 PM   #2
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Welcome back, Dani.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dani
but I don’t want to bother all of you with my questions, if this is a busy time.
John Bridge started this website twenty-some years ago for the single purpose of helping DIY homeowners complete beautiful, long-lasting ceramic tile installations of all kinds. Our all-volunteer army of helpers is here to answer your questions. Ask away!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dani
My brother-in-law worked in construction for quite awhile when he was younger. He told me that he is confident that I would be able to do this (especially if I’m just putting in a new bathtub and not building an entire custom shower).
If this is a DIY project, I'm not at all sure he doesn't have that backwards. You can do either. You might have more trouble replacing the tub than building a tiled shower receptor. And after your previous experience with professional shower replacement, I'd think you'd certainly rather do this one yourself.

Do we understand that the new floor and toilet replacement have already been completed, or is the entire room still in the planning stage.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-10-2021, 08:22 PM   #3
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CX -

I think I may have had a miscommunication with my brother-in-law.

I think he meant that if I was leaving my current bathtub - and just removing the existing field tile on the wall surround in order to replace it with a new updated style of wall tile (by cutting out old dry wall and replacing with cbu or using kerdi system), that would be easier than building a custom tiled shower. He thinks that my current bathtub looks fine - so, he assumed that I would just keep the existing one in place. However, I am thinking about replacing it. Removing the current tub + installing a brand new bathtub - doesn’t seem that simple for someone who’s never even seen one done, plus, most likely I will be doing all of this myself (not sure about how difficult it is to remove/replace a tub for a 116 lb woman - all by herself - especially when my muscles aren’t quite as strong as they were two years ago).

I have spent HUNDREDS of hours researching building a shower pan (by reading on this forum, plus John’s books that I’ve purchased + watching Sal Diblasi videos on YouTube).

Personally, I think it would be funny if I “lapped” my contractor and got this one finished before his tile setter gets back here to finish my master bathroom. I’m at over 100 days since that renovation began . . .

Do you think I should do a traditional mortar bed pan OR hybrid deck mud plus surface membrane pan OR “cheat” by purchasing a kerdi foam pan?

The new tiled floor/toilet/vanity have all been installed already. I do have quite a bit of extra slate floor tile if needed. I assume that typically the tiled floor would go in after the shower was built. Is it a big issue if the floor was already installed (first week of April)?
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Unread 08-11-2021, 11:42 AM   #4
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Okay - so here are my questions for a diy shower/tub update -

1. Could I simply remove a couple rows of the current tile (up high) on the wall and replace with new tile for an accent band. I’m not sure what waterproofing was required back in 1996 - is there a way to waterproof behind new accent tile?

Also, can I remove the current bullnose tile along the top of the shower tile so I can add the new accent tile all the way up to the ceiling? Currently, it stops just above shower head - and has only drywall above to ceiling?

2. A friend suggested using Mapei Eco Prim Grip - and I stalling new tile over the existing tile. Seems easy way too go. Easy =suspect (although I could be wrong).

3. If I am not removing the existing tile, can I repair the two tiny spots of cracked/missing grout? I know that I need to remove most of the existing grout (2/3 or 3/4?) before installing new grout. Is there any way that this won’t be really noticeable since the old white grout was installed in 1996?

4. If I remove the bathtub and replace with just a walk-in shower, should I pry existing tile off - OR - cut drywall out with tile attached? I’m just wondering if prying the tile off will damage the drywall so that it won’t be suitable to use as a substrate for applying Kerdi?

5. If I need to cut out existing drywall, and I am doing this myself, would it be easier/better for me to use (i) cbu, (ii) drywall, or (iii) Kerdi board?

6. I believe that I fully understand the structure of a traditional mortar bed system after all the research I had to do regarding the problems with my master bathroom shower installation. However, would it make sense to use a kerdi foam shower pan vs. having to construct the traditional mortar bed shower pan myself? My understanding is that there is a kerdi shower pan made specifically for changing shower/tub combos into stand alone showers (in the same space).


I know that I will have to remove some of the newly installed floor tile in order to change from a shower/tub combo to just a stand alone shower. I do have more than enough tile to do this (plus, still have extra back-up tile if needed in the future).

I would really LOVE a completely new shower - but I will need guidance from all of you. Thanks!
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Unread 08-11-2021, 01:05 PM   #5
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1. Possibly. No.
Yes.

2. For what purpose?

3. Unlikely, but try it and see if you like it.

4. Remove everything to the studs.

5. Depends upon the waterproofing method you select. Chose one and do it per the manufacturer's instructions and tile industry standards.

6. I recommend you move the drain to the center of the new shower footprint and use a mortar bed to make the sloped shower floor.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-11-2021, 08:03 PM   #6
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CX -

With respect to your question related to item #2 on my list:


A friend used Eco Prim Grip over existing wall tiles in his tub/shower and then tiled directly over the old tile. He watched a video on YouTube made by Sal Diblasi where he used this method to tile over a shower he previously installed several years earlier. He used it on both the walls and on the shower floor. The entire shower was updated without removing the existing tile.

This seems like a “too good to be true” type of situation. Obviously, not having to demo tile/walls/add new cbu or drywall would save a lot of time/effort. However, it just seems too easy. My question to my friend was how did he know that there weren’t any issues hiding behind the his current tile/walls? He said that he was told (and read) that as long as the existing tile was in good shape, this was an acceptable way to update the tile. Seems to easy to me.

With respect to centering the drain- is that something that requires a plumber - or would someone who is a skilled DIY person be able to do this? I’m just worried about whether this is a project that is too small for plumbers to be interested in doing since everyone appears to be so busy these days.
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Unread 08-11-2021, 08:28 PM   #7
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I've got no issue with you trying the Eco Prim Grip for a tile over tile installation in an otherwise functional shower, I just didn't know what you had in mind. I wouldn't do it on your behalf. You'll want to consider the shower controls if you get serious about going that direction.

A skilled and motivated DIY person can do most anything that needs done in a residential remodel in my view. Whether that applies to you and your drain, I cannot tell from over here.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-11-2021, 10:57 PM   #8
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Dani, I’m enjoying following this thread because you’re torn between the minimum approach (minor fixes to a perfectly good, but old, shower), the medium (tiling over tile) and the maximum (tear it all out and do it from scratch).

From your posts my reading of the tea leaves is that you clearly want to go for it and redo the whole thing and I absolutely think you should. There are three issues: money, labor and knowledge. Money is easy, you either have it or you don’t. Labor is easy too, you definitely sound like you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty. Knowledge is easy too, because you have Sal on YouTube (my personal favorite) and all the incredibly helpful and experienced people on this website. There is virtually nothing you’ll run into that the people here can’t give you detailed guidance on.

I remodeled my entire bathroom starting last fall and finished up in early March (I’m slow!). I used the Kerdi system for the shower and I would HIGHLY recommend it. Sal also has a ton of videos on installing it. The materials are light and a breeze to work with. You’ve asked about approaches to the pan and I’ll tell you right now every pro on this site is going to tell you to form your own with deck mud. And they’re right, especially with a Kerdi drain. To me the process of using a vinyl liner always looked like a nightmare for an amateur to do correctly but with Kerdi it was really pretty simple. It is more expensive than traditional methods, but not a TON more, and it makes up for it in being light and easy to work with and done correctly it’s water PROOF, not just water resistant. And CX, Dan and others were there with me the whole way.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing what your decision will be. Good luck!
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Unread 08-12-2021, 07:12 AM   #9
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I agree with Joe, my experience as well. A thought. It sounds like you really want a walk in shower but don't want some of the troubles or difficulties in building a tiled pan. Have you considered an acrylic pan with just tiled walls? The experts here could tell you more about em, but I think they make them with drains in tub locations. Plus I think you could then get by with plastic barrier on the studs and cement board on top before tile.

The last thing I will say is if you are going to embark on this definitely find a friend or two you can occasionally call on for an extra set of hands. Im not saying it can't be done alone but there are times like old tub removal and/or placement where a second person is usually necessary. But you don't need two big people unless the tub is cast iron.
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Unread 08-29-2021, 01:18 PM   #10
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Joe - wound up contracting COVID - so, my project has been placed on pause. I am starting to feel a tiny bit better - and I am BORED - so, I’m back to planning this bathroom renovation.

You are good at reading tea leaves - I do want to tear everything out and start from scratch. While I don’t know of any existing issues with the existing tile surround, there could be something hidden that hasn’t yet shown thru the ceiling below - or hasn’t yet come to the surface of the tiles.

Plus, I’d really like a shower there vs. a tub/shower combo.

It would be much easier to tile over tile - or simply remove the existing tile surround, leave the existing tub, and install a new substrate for the new tile surround.

I have to admit that I’d LOVE to build a new shower from scratch and be able to brag about it afterwards!

What was the most difficult part of your bathroom renovation?
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Unread 08-29-2021, 05:12 PM   #11
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We are happy to help you through every part of the project. In my eyes, the thing that is most difficult for DIY’ers is a lack of info, or bad info from well-meaning, but unhelpful sources. With the Forum, you’ve got free access to tons of experienced folks that will share it. You’ll lighten your own load of researching by asking whatever question you want as they come to you.

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Unread 08-29-2021, 06:07 PM   #12
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A foam pan is going to be the simplest way to go. Schluter has good instructions and videos on how to do it. If you can get and afford Kerdi board then that's the way to go. Personally, I'm partial to the Wedi system for this type of install.

Once the walls and pan are installed that'll be easier than tile-over-tile.
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Unread 08-31-2021, 10:45 PM   #13
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Jim and I agree on a lot of things. But I differ from him on the foam pans. I think you’ve got to get too fussy preparing the floor perfectly flat and perfectly level to use them. I prefer a mud pan every day of the week in a residential setting.
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Unread 09-01-2021, 09:00 AM   #14
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I gotta side with Goldstein on that one, Jim.
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Unread 09-07-2021, 08:30 AM   #15
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Dani, sorry about the Covid, but glad you’re getting better!

I did what you say you want to do, converted a tub/shower sixties-era bathroom to a walk-in shower only. I made the space larger by stealing some closet space from the bedroom beside it to allow for a larger shower and overall bathroom.

You ask what was the hardest part. Doing the pan with deck mud gave me the most stress, not because it turned out to be particularly difficult but simply because I’d never done it before and it’s a very important part to get right. But once I was actually doing it, it went pretty well. Sal Diblasi has an excellent video on using strips of Kerdi board installed around the perimeter of the pan to act as screed boards that help getting the pitch of the pan right where you want it to be.

Regarding the decision to do tile over existing tile….I would compare the finish quality of the job you mentioned your friend did to the results of the video by Sal Diblasi. I’m dubious that an amateur like myself could do a tile-over-tile job and end up with a result that I was both very happy with and that would hold up for 10 years or more. I believe Sal could do it. I doubt that I could.

If you decide to go all out and convert to a shower only, doing the pan will be MUCH easier if the drain is centered, which CX recommended to you in an earlier post. In my situation I was building the new shower on the opposite wall from where all the plumbing for the tub was and the new configuration was going to require modifications to the stack, so I decided to hire a plumber to move the drain, vent and water lines to where I needed them to be. But if I had been building the shower where the tub was, I probably would have done the plumbing myself.
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