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Unread 12-04-2020, 02:30 PM   #1
M Thornton
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Walk-In Shower Guidance

I'm removing existing bathtub and shower insert on concrete slab, see photo attached. The resulting shower area will be approximately 3' x 8', with shower head on the right hand wall, and a 32" long curb entrance at the left hand wall, I'll add pony wall from curb to existing control wall and 6' wall from control wall to the right hand wall, I'll cut an archway through existing control wall, see photo floor plan - yellow highlight is existing structures. Several questions for the pros to help guide correct choices:

1a. Where to drain? the existing tub drain is about center of the area, the existing shower insert drain is 17" from right wall where new head will be. I assume the center would be best so the entire area could be pre-sloped with least amount of elevation change.

1b. Perhaps I don't need to slope the whole 3x8' area? If not, how far from the shower head can I safely stop slope.

1c. In a rectangular area, if I use the same slope of 2%, the wall edge will not be flat, but a curve. Should I make it flat and have a steeper slope in the area near the drain?

2. Can I pre-slope, line and final mortar the floor before doing the walls? I'd build up 6" backing between existing studs and new walls for the PVC liner. It would be nice to do the next mortar layer before closing the walls and limiting access. In John's Tile Your World, he shows completing walls while only the pre-slop and liner have been installed. Seems risky for the exposed liner also.
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Last edited by M Thornton; 12-04-2020 at 03:00 PM.
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Unread 12-04-2020, 04:18 PM   #2
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Welcome, Michael.

I'm a little dense today, so I can't figger out just what you intend based upon your description or your drawing. What is the significance of the yellow lines, for example, in the drawing.

The best place for your shower drain is in the center of the shower footprint. That allows you to have a level (not just flat) perimeter and the most consistent slope to drain.

The minimum slope requirement is 1/4" vertical per horizontal foot (about your 2 percent) from the farthest corner of the shower to the drain. Yes, that makes the shorter dimensions steeper than the longer dimensions.

Your 6" blocking is likely to be a bit short, depending upon your curb height. The requirement for a traditional receptor liner is that it rise a minimum of 3 inches above the curb top and you cannot use mechanical fasteners anywhere on the liner more than 1-inch below the top of the liner.

You could theoretically install your final mud bed before your wallboard (indeed you must if using fiber/cement board), but that does not give you the option to bury your wallboard in the final mud bed, which you want to do because you cannot use mechanical fasteners below the top of you liner material.

One way to prevent having to work over your installed liner or mud bed would be to switch to a direct bonded waterproofing membrane shower construction where you needn't even set the drain until the walls are installed, waterproofed, tiled (except the bottom row), and sometimes even grouted. Nothing to protect, nothing to damage, and only one mud bed to place.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 12-04-2020, 04:19 PM   #3
John Bridge
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Hi Michael,

I'm a mud man who goes back a ways, and I learned from older brothers who want back a long way before I came on the scene. We always tiled the walls before floating in and tiling the floor. Shower pan material is tough as nails. A careful tile setter won't worry about holing it.

Old mud man that I am, though, I've come to believe that surface waterproofed showers are the way to go. I would center the drain and slope the entire floor to it. No flat/level areas.

Last edited by John Bridge; 12-05-2020 at 11:20 AM.
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Unread 12-04-2020, 10:09 PM   #4
M Thornton
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Thanks for prompt responses!

I hadn't read through to page 135 to answer the question on slope. Convinced, I'll center the drain, set perimeter elevation on furthest point from drain at 1/4" per foot above whichever system chosen... I'll wrestle it over and holler if I get stuck in analysis paralysis.
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Unread 12-05-2020, 07:48 AM   #5
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... where you needn't even set the drain until the walls are installed, waterproofed, tiled (except the bottom row), and sometimes even grouted.
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Unread 12-05-2020, 07:51 AM   #6
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Whoops, sorry, something went wrong with that reply and it posted the bit I was trying to quote but not my question...

That’s an interesting idea, CX. If you were going to go this route and tile the walls before installing the pan, I’m assuming a ledger strip to hold the first row? How would you waterproof the holes left by screwing in the strip?

I remember some thread a while back where someone suggested sealing the holes with Kerdi-Fix but I don’t know if that would be sufficient?
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Unread 12-05-2020, 10:15 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by MesaTileWorks
That’s an interesting idea, CX. If you were going to go this route and tile the walls before installing the pan, I’m assuming a ledger strip to hold the first row? How would you waterproof the holes left by screwing in the strip?

I remember some thread a while back where someone suggested sealing the holes with Kerdi-Fix but I don’t know if that would be sufficient?
There was a recent thread that CX just answered about this very question, I don't recall which one. But I do recall reading him say that his preferred ledger is rips of 5-6" plywood so that after it's removed, there is enough space to allow you to cut rounds of Kerdi band and seal the penetrations from the ledger that way to allow for 2"+ of coverage all the way around the holes. Prefilling the holes with Kerdi-fix would be double safety I'd think. It's also been discussed that just filling them with Kerdi-fix may be ok. Personally I think the approach CX laid out is the best way to do it. I'd be sure to screw the ledger board in on the low side of the board to be sure to allow enough room for the proposed solution.

Edit: Happenchance, just came across it: https://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin...&postcount=121
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Unread 12-05-2020, 10:26 AM   #8
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The plywood rips are great, but if you don't have the means to rip plywood dead straight consider using 1X4 MDF trim boards from the local BBS. The edges are super straight, even if the board is bendy. Use a level to install them just as you would for anything else.

A dab and smear of Kerdi Fix on the small holes is fine.
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Unread 12-05-2020, 12:22 PM   #9
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My friend Peter Nielsen, former general manager of Schluter Systems, told me years ago he didn't worry too much about pin holes in the walls of showers, and I agreed. There is zero "head pressure" on water that might seep through the wall tile grout, and that bit of moisture will evaporate back out. I would be a little more careful when the pin holes are down near the floor, in which case I have used the CX method of patching over the holes with Kerdi band or Kerdi membrane.
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Unread 12-14-2020, 03:16 PM   #10
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Onto the Kerdi Drain Prep

Ok, I'm about to complete sheetrock around perimeter of the shower so next step will be to set the drain and slope the mortar bed. I have two 1' diameter holes through the concrete slab; one where the old shower insert drained (now capped off) and the other where the old tub drained (now converted from 1-1/2" to 2" for the new shower drain). I have backfilled the holes with the removed soil, a little at a time and tamped. The new drain pipe is near the edge of it's hole, not centered, so there's a big space.

Questions:

Do I bring soil just to bottom of slab (it's about 6" thick)?

What material should I use to fill up to the top of the slab?

How do I keep the the above material away from the 2" drain so that I have clear access to the pipe for the Kerdi drain flange?
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Unread 12-14-2020, 06:49 PM   #11
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Where did you make the transition from 1 1/2" drain to 2" drain, Michael?

I would certainly not be installing that drain quite yet, as discussed above, but to fill the hole I'd use a compactable material to fill up to the bottom of the concrete (I'm accustomed to about 4" concrete field thickness), then fill the rest with new concrete mix.

I center a short (maybe 12") section of 4" PVC pipe over the drain riser, which has been cut to the correct height, and place my concrete mix around it. The 4" pipe needs to be very closely centered and needs to be removed as soon as the concrete has set up enough to hold its shape. That will leave you with a hole just right to accommodate a Kerdi drain.

As smooth as the sides or your hole appear I'd want to smear them with a slurry of thinset mortar before placing the concrete patch. Or drill a few dowels around the perimeter.

Is that drain centered in the shower footprint?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 12-14-2020, 09:46 PM   #12
M Thornton
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Thanks for the comments CX.

The tub drain started as a 2" drain line, then reduced to 1-1/2" on the last 90 of the trap, I had to remove the trap and get back to the straight section to rebuild and get the drain at the center of the shower.

Agree with the dowel suggestion to not allow for movement. Will do the same in the old shower hole as well. Makes sense about the 4" pipe, I'll be sure to hang around for a few hours to keep that loose as the concrete sets up and remove.

More fun to come.
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Unread 01-10-2021, 09:26 AM   #13
M Thornton
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Onto the floor work

Completed wall tile and grout - photo attached pre-grout. Now for installing the mixed marble pebble mosaic on the floor, photo attached. The request for guidance here is specifically:

1. What trowel shape and size for the thin-set? I've used only white Versabond for the Kerdi surface membrane and wall tiles. I plan to use it for this unless something better.

2. What is a good estimate of grout required for this large void space mosaic? I want to be sure I blend together different lots if more than one bag required.

3. My wife wants to seal the grout to prevent color change. Should we seal it? What is best sealer for this?

4. How many hours/days to wait from thin setting tile to grout? and how long from grout to wet/shower?
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