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gregsenne 10-01-2012 03:31 PM

Tile shower leaking
My house was built in 2009. The GC made every possible effort to cut as many corners as possible, and hired the lowest bid contractors in every area.

So my bathroom has an all tile shower. The tile guy forgot to waterproof the walls before the tile was installed. Also, the walls are not backerboard or concrete board, or whatever they should be. Just regular white drywall.
Two walls of the shower are exterior walls. They are 2x4 walls, filled with fiberglass batts, then a plastic sheething vapor barrier, then the drywall, then the tile directly on the drywall.

Shower leaked horribly, especially down the walls. The drywall behind the shower was so wet that I tore the entire shower out by hand, without the use of a hammer or pry bar. Simply pressed my hand through the drywall next to the shower, and started pulling off tile by hand.

It's almost tore out now. I'm going to be replacing all the destroyed wood and replacing the wet insulation. Now, what do I do? I've been getting mixed answers online. Some say keep the vapor barrier then install concrete board, and my tile to that. But without waterproofing the whole wall, wont I have the same problem as before? Then, I could put the concrete board directly on the wall without vapor barrier, and waterproof the concrete board. I've read that if I shouldn't use a vapor barrier and also waterproof the concrete board.

The poured base he put in is also leaking. The tile floor will need tore out, his uneven poured floor will need to come out too, and then the subfloor will need replaced. My original tile guy didn't understand the concept of a sloped floor, at least not sloped in the correct direction. It was higher in the middle, so all water sloped to the walls.

I know everyone is going to say hire a tile guy, and I wish I could afford it, but I cant. And of course the tile guy is avoiding my calls at all costs once he found out that his work sucked. I'm fairly good at building and DIY stuff, I just want to make sure I do this right.


Jackofall1 10-01-2012 04:03 PM

This is a good instruction how to on the base

As for the walls its one or the other not both, either vapor barrier or water proofing.

I would search this forum, there have been many questions and some very sound advice when it comes to building a tile shower, specifically from Bud.


ffemt121 10-01-2012 05:32 PM

I highly recommend you look into the Schluter systems, I use them under every floor I tile and I made sure my contractor used it when he did my shower walls...costs a little more but very easy to work with and I'm extremely happy with all the results I've ever gotten using it.

oh'mike 10-01-2012 07:29 PM

Jack of all has given you a good link---Add a paint on waterproofing to the wall and you will have a long lived shower---Hydroban by Latacrete is a good one although there are many others that are just as good.

ffent121--Has suggested the most bullet proof system----after you have experienced a major failure you might wish to spend the extra money that the Schluter system costs----

ffemt121 10-01-2012 07:33 PM

As a little side story, the reason I did the Schluter was because I did experience a floor failure, nothing a sew subfloor in the bathroom and some beefed up framing couldn't fix, but I never wanted it to happen again

gregsenne 10-02-2012 07:10 AM

Thanks. I guess I'm just a bit confused then why you would use vapor barrier and no waterproofing. Because thats what they did at my house, and it leaks horribly!

Jackofall1 10-02-2012 07:18 AM

The story you told of the methods of construction for the shower you have removed should tell you the whole story. It was built completely wrong, drywall will wick moisture so if the pan was sloped to the outside walls this explains alot in regards to wet walls.

I built my shower enclosure (all tile, concrete base) 3 years ago, it is built properly and I used vapor barrier as opposed to water proofing. I guess time will tell, but it appears to be at this point leak free.

The vapor barrier when installed correctly will route any collected moisture back onto the preslope / liner to the shower drain, as will water proofing on cement board, that is if it is all built correctly.


gregsenne 10-02-2012 07:23 AM

So lets say they did use concrete board on the walls instead of regular drywall. Pretending that there are no other problems, the concrete board would be wet constantly, and this is normal? I know that concrete board will not be damaged by water. It just seems weird to me that it is normal for water to stay behind the tile walls in my shower. Seems like it would attract mold.
Thanks for the help guys. I've never done a shower before. I'm reading a bunch of articles though

Jackofall1 10-02-2012 08:03 AM


Please read the attached, you will have some of those nagging questions answered


allthumbsdiy 10-02-2012 09:00 PM

When I bought my 1966 house many years ago, I was tired of battling mold issues in my small master bathroom.

So it was no surprise when I gutted my bathroom back in 2008 and found mold on regular drywalls which were used as tile backerboards.

I ended up using Durock and knock on wood, the shower has been leak proof and mold free since then.

Knowing what I know now, If I had to do it over again, I would also vote for DITRA and KERDI drain. DITRA is lighter, easier to work with and you don't have to deal with concrete dust!

Good luck

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