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wvgreg 09-19-2009 07:53 PM

greenboard on custom shower walls
hello everyone my contractor installed greenboard in my new shower and then tiled over it . after some intensive research on the net i have discovered that the contractor should have used a cement board or a backerboard. i confronted my contractor and he said that he has used the greenboard for many years and he would guarantee my shower for 15 years. now my concern is should he have used this greenboard in my shower and will it hold up?

jerryh3 09-19-2009 08:22 PM

Green board is not rated for wet areas. It may hold up, but to me it's not worth the risk. Try finding him in 15 years. I guess this wasn't detailed in the contract.

Gary in WA 09-19-2009 08:39 PM

I would ask your local Building Department. Mine says NO GREENBOARD in water splash area, as do many, many other jurisdictions.

Greenboard (Water-resistant Gypboard)
Not over a vapor retarder.... IRC 702.4.3
OK for adhesive ceramic tile (not in shower) IRC 702.4.3 UBC 2512
All cut or exposed edges must be sealed with water-resistant sealant ... IRC 702.4.2
Not on ceilings with >12inch o.c. framing IRC
Finish to extend minimum 72" above drain... IRC 307.2
Be safe, Gary

Bud Cline 09-19-2009 09:04 PM

Greenboard for use in wet areas became a "code violation" in January of 2006. (I think that was the date.) Your builder needs to get with the program and stop making excuses. Whenever it was, everyone that knows anything about showers should know that particular code has existed now for more than three years.:)

Termite 09-19-2009 10:36 PM

A 15 year guarantee is only as good as the man making it. And this guy doesn't know showers. :no:

Scuba_Dave 09-19-2009 10:47 PM

So what happens in a case like this where an installation is completed that does not meet code?
Is the contractor responsible for demo & redoing to meet code at his expense?

I've never used greenboard
But I ended up with 8 sheets that someone was giving away
I had planned on using them in the walk-in closet or attic :)

7echo 09-20-2009 08:45 AM

And I wonder if green board is allowed if a membrane is used? Surely with Kerdi it is OK, heck, regular drywall is OK with Kerdi. But what about a paint on membrane like Mapei HPG?

bjbatlanta 09-20-2009 01:48 PM

OP says "contractor installed greenboard, then tiled over it". Doesn't sound like any membrane was used or the contractor would have probably gone into detail about how the membrane/Kerdi is as good as tile backer. I've been in the drywall busines for 30+ years and haven't seen greenboard used in a shower application for probably 20. And the greenboard we used to hang in showers was different than what's sold today. The core of the board was a dark brown color and was impregnated with some sort of "oil" or water "resistant" substance. What you get now has the same core as regular drywall. Even the old stuff broke down with repeated exposure to water (around the shower valve or handles mostly). When I was hanging new houses in the '70s that was the standard for apartments and less expensive housing. Upscale houses had a "mud bed" behind the tile. I hope you haven't paid the guy because I wouldn't accept the job done as he's done it.....

wvgreg 09-20-2009 02:25 PM

thanks bj the contractor did use a membrane on the floor and it extended up on the walls about 8 inches but the greenboard went from floor to ceiling. i confronted him and he said that greenboard was the only thing he had used for thirty years and he said he would guarantee the shower for 15 years . he also used the tec invision pre-mixed tile adhesive on the walls for the tile after that was complete he used kerakolor u unsanded grout and the grout me and my wife picked out was a mocha overnite when the grout dried it became a much lighter almost cream color and in some places white. we are just in such a predicament that i dont know what to do we have not paid the contractor yet do you have any reccomendations any you have will greatly be appreciated

bjbatlanta 09-20-2009 02:57 PM

OK. To begin with, he must be around my age if he's been in business for 30 years (I started at age 20). In 14 years I'll be 70. Call me for warranty work right at the 15 year deadline. IF I'm still around, I may not even remember your name, let alone be up for tearing out and replacing your shower. Had the membrane run all the way up, it may be acceptable (again, not my area of expertise on the tile end), but I'd be VERY AFRAID of tile on nothing but greenboard. And you may not have any problems IF you keep the escutcheon plates around the valves and shower head caulked properly. I personally would not count on it....

Bud Cline 09-20-2009 03:09 PM

THE PROBLEM IS..........

No tile installation is waterproof. None of them. The assumption that they are is wrong. Water WILL get through the grout and migrate into the wallboard. It just does. Even the more sophisticated grouts will leak over time because they will develope hairline separations between the grout and the tile edge, hence, water migration into the substrate.

Even the use if premixed tile adhesive is also an issue. Those products are great for a lazy installer but they don't work that well. Premixed tile adhesive are known to reimulsify with the presence of moisture. The manufacturers of some of them say they can be used for showers but the truth is they are failing everywhere. Those products are handy and that's all you can say for them.:)

7echo 09-20-2009 03:21 PM

What Bud Cline said about pre-mixed adhesive. That is a no-no for a pro.

Search the forums over at

All tile, all the time. Good guys there, lots of professionals willing to help the DIYs.

Termite 09-20-2009 03:25 PM

Hopefully you didn't pay up front.

His years of experience mean nothing. Trust me, I've made a career of identifying poor methods and non-compliant installations of systems in buildings, and I can assure you that even the most experienced contracts sometimes do things completely wrong.

Here's pics of the tub/shower surround walls in my house that I recently re-built. A well-known remodeler was hired back in 1998 by my dad to re-tile the shower when he owned the house. I bought the house in 1999 and by 2003 the shower was falling apart. I quit using it and started using the other bathroom in the house.

Totally gutted it last year...Guess what I found.....Greenboard. When I opened up the walls the studs were completely rotted, the tiles were falling off, and the rock on the other side of the wall was covered in mold. The floor framing had to be re-done and the floor sheathing had to be replaced. Part of the wall was load-bearing as well. It was not a difficult fix for me, but would be a great challenge for most DIYers.

Take a look at the TCNA (tile council of north America) website and download their installation guide. You'll find that green board isn't accepted.

As for code, I'm sure you have a permit for your bathroom remodel if you're doing more than tiling, so you can ask the building inspector for his assistance in getting this resolved as well.

If nothing else works, small claims court will be your only recourse.

bjbatlanta 09-20-2009 03:31 PM

Thanks for the professional input, Bud I was hoping you were around. And "drywall" (think of the name) was never intended for a "wet" application even though they tried. Agreed it took a while for the mfgr's. to figure out. And a lot of the reason greenboard is not an "acceptable" substrate any more is likely because the gypsum companies got tired of paying for warranty "issues"....

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