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imautoparts 10-15-2012 12:20 PM

Need advice on a minor Tile Repair (shower)
I've got a shower built in 1968 that began to seep a bit into the ceiling below.

Upon inspection, I've found 8 loose tiles at the back corner, and upon carefully pulling them out have discovered some deterioration of the water resistant wallboard (green board?) at the corner.

I have cut away the bad parts - there are ample studs to patch in a replacement.

My question is, what is the best way to install the patches? I do not want to demolish any of the tiles above, as the board decay was isolated to the very bottom edges and I am a "if it ain't broke, don't fix" kind of a guy.

My thought is to slather the replacement bits of green board with top-quality silicone caulk on the top edges and the edges that meet the existing board on the sides.... I'm hoping that will help ensure the integrity of the wall.

Is this a good idea or a bad idea? I'm no stranger to small tile jobs as I had to demo and redo the foot thresholds on both my showers a couple years back due to cracks appearing in the grout.

joecaption 10-15-2012 12:48 PM

#1 Sheetrock in any form never should have been used.
#2 Refure to #1.
What you will have now is mold and very possibly wood rot behind that wall.
Time for a complete redo, with cement board this time that gets water proofed.

drtbk4ever 10-15-2012 12:54 PM

Yeah, I have to agree with Joe. Your solution is only a band aid and I personally wouldn't trust it to last very long, if at all.

You are talking about sealing the greenboard from water, but in reality, you don't want water to ever get that far. If there was any waterproofing between the tile and greenboard (my guess is there wasn't), it will be extremely difficult to repair.

And as Joe mentioned, there is likely some nasty stuff growing back there and potentially some rot too. The shower is over 40 years old.

imautoparts 10-15-2012 01:37 PM

Hey now... my father built this house in 1968. It was a model home and he used certified plumbers and other tradesmen.

To give an idea of the construction quality, so far we've only had one plumbing problem since new - one of the two water heaters began to leak.

I replaced it, and then found that one of the elements was leaking - it could have been easily repaired.

Now this shower is tile above a fiberglass pan - The only reason these tiles loosened is that I'm a heavy guy - I'd re-siliconed it a couple years back with 100% silicone and it held too well - the bottom row of tiles broke free from the backer board due to pan flex (minor - less than 1/8 of an inch).

I weigh about 300 pounds, so I don't think that sagging is more than can be expected since the bathroom is upstairs on wood joists. The downstairs shower is on a slab and is tight as a tick - as are all the tile walls in the full bathtub shower walls upstairs.

I'm not interested in "upgrading" the existing system. For one thing, I'm retired, and I don't throw money at problems. For another, it is a bit arrogant to say "you should never have tile on anything but cement board"... My dad built modestly priced homes, but he built them right for the era he lived in.

To answer your questions, there is a waterproof barrier that is glued to the face of the wallboard. I just want to do my best to insure the integrity of that when I put in this 10" by 2" patch at the bottom corner before I reset the tiles.

I don't mean to be old and grumpy, but this reminds me of a couple years ago when one of my doors quit closing due to a slab/basement join that had settled over the years. It took me FOUR tries to find a local handyman who didn't start the conversation with "well, you'll have to open the wall, peel back your aluminum and install a new door and frame."

I spent summers on my Grandfather's farm - and saw him make things fit, not run to the lumberyard every time a window started sagging. I think the idea that a 40 year old tile wall is past its useful life is ridiculous.

So anyway - does anyone want to help me with this repair?

joecaption 10-15-2012 01:55 PM

I see your new here.
Most of the people replying back to you on how to fix this do this type work for a living.
Not one of them is ever going to make a dime off of you, so the only reason there going to tell you the reality of the situation is for your best interest.
We get to see this type damage day in and day out and get to deal with all the damage your going to find behind that wall, now and even more so if you just patch it.
The only person your going find that thinks patching it is a great idea is some DIY home owner that may or may not have any idea what there talking about.

Sheet rock was very common many years ago, it had not even been around for that long when they first started using it in bathrooms. Most have long since failed and been replaced.
Partical board and 1/2" subfloors were also common as well as using asbesto and steel plumbing, copper run through concrete slab, wiring for heat in the ceilings. None of that work out either.

imautoparts 10-15-2012 02:25 PM


Thanks for your honest reply.

My Dad was originally one of the plant managers of National Homes in Lafayette following WWII (they built millions of prefab 2 br homes on slabs) - I certainly know that the in-slab ductwork and copper pipes created a lot of trouble as those homes aged. I imagine most have by now been converted where possible to attic installations.

Without a doubt the only reason my tile is still in good shape is that I've steadily maintained any grout and tile looseness as soon as it occurs. The only reason this one got to the point of leaking was it is invisible until I step into shower... it took me two years to find the actual source of the occasional drip; and thus the decay in the wall.

If I did upgrade to cement board in my showers, would it be OK to just replace the wallboard up to say chest height? That would be a project, but I think it is doable over time.

Until then I'm going to go ahead and patch this spot - I think my biggest challenge in this job will be to carefully cement the tiles onto the repaired wallboard, and not get any grout cement on the edge of the shower pan. I figure this will allow the shower pan to "float" so my weight doesn't pull them apart again. I'll then use a maximum-flex caulk around the bottom edge of the tiles to create a vapor seal to the pan.

I remember my Dad getting into a few arguments with his friends as he got older on the subject of slab plumbing and heating.... Thankfully we only have one bedroom and one bath on the slab downstairs... and even with some settlement I haven't had any plumbing breaks (knock on wood).

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