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Old 01-15-2012, 01:56 AM   #1
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Shower pan/ tile problem


My house in southern calif was built in 1965.

Two of my showers have the same problem going on. The shower pan has a gap of 5/8" between itself and the 1st row of tile or bottom row.

And then it has the normal 1/8" joints or whatever they are all the way up. The backerboard or mudded wall that is holding the 1st row of tiles (bottom row) only extends down to where that bottom row starts.

It looks like they did not run the backerboard or mudded the wall far enough down to get it closer to the shower pan. So what is currently in that 5/8" gap is some white caulk that is funky looking and shrunk a little from time. The shower pan has not dropped on either shower.

They are both very secure.I pulled/scraped the musty smelling caulking material out and behind it is some type of white foam that appears to have been put there when the house was built.

I have scraped the foam and caulking material out of one of the 3 sides. The guy at Home Depot thought maybe there was something behind the caulking material (backerboard)and if I cleaned it out that I could attach some narrow tiles to it, let them dry and then grout the top and sides and then put a narrow bead of caulking on the bottom of that narrow tile against the shower pan so it could flex if it had too thus eliminating the wide gap problem and making it look more uniform.


This appears to be a hard plastic or fiberglass shower pan. Once I cleaned the caulking and foam out I could see the shower pan just ran farther back into the wall turning upward a bit toward the studs. The foam was shot in there and laying against the part of the shower pan that was deep into the wall and then the final caulking had been applied right on top or against the foam.

The Home Depot person said the 1st row of tiles should have been set closer to the shower pan to create a unform look from the bottom to the top.
I don't know what to use or how to secure something so I can adhere a piece of tile to that something,let it dry and grout it. I have tried to load photos on here but I couldnt get it to work.I hope people can picture what I am saying.


Last edited by oh'mike; 01-15-2012 at 05:18 AM. Reason: added spaces
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Old 01-15-2012, 05:25 AM   #2
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Shower pan/ tile problem


In a nut shell---46 year old shower---plastic pan--5/8" gap before tile---wet and mushy


The thing is well past the time to rebuild it---

Without pictures--all I can suggest to fill the gap--modified thinset--then possibly a 'pencil' accent tile--then silicone caulk.

Try again to get up a picture---correct me if I misunderstood---Mike---

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Old 01-15-2012, 10:47 AM   #3
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Shower pan/ tile problem


Mike, I have a piece of sample pencil tile made by DAL tile that will work that even matches after all these years

.I failed to mention that the measurement of the gap is not only 5/8" wide but also 5/8" going in meaning after I cleaned out all the foam/caulking my tape measure went in under the 1st row of tile 5/8" before it hit the portion of the shower pan that was in there near the studs.

I believe I can build this 5/8 gap out with some kind of material. I believe I can even drill into the shower pan in the wall where it turns up and attach something to stay in place that will hold some kind of backing material that once it is applied it will dry hard giving me a backing to adhere the pencil tile too.

With 2/8" or 1/4" for the pencil tile thickness I need to come up with something I can attach to the shower pan that takes up the other 3/8".

I was thinking of one or a couple of narrow strips of a metal mesh with a screw going through the strips and attaching them to the shower pan.Then apply mud into the mesh,let it dry hard and thus create the backing I need to hold the pencil tile,grout it and put a small bead of caulking between the bottom of the pencil tile and the shower pan.


I understand that this these showers are 46 years old but the tile is still in good shape,there is nothing wet and mushy anywhere if that is what you meant. The shower pan does not flex at all and I weigh 250.

I could actually recaulk the 5/8" gap with new stuff but I think it will mold and mildew again. The whole shower looks clean other than being 46 years old and then you look down and see this white 5/8" thick caulk with blotches of discoloration.

The guy at Home Depot explained to me that a tile guy should not have a 5/8" gap between the shower pan and 1st row of tile. Thats why he felt if I pulled the discolored caulking out I would find backerboard. But not so.
The shower pan upstairs is identical and has the same gap so who knows what was going on back in 1965. The shower pan upstairs is also in great condition and the pan does not flex.

The shower pans are fabricated in one piece and where they are hidden in the wall the very edges turn up so water with not travel.
I have a 5 bedroom/3 bath house,my daughters are grown and out, I live alone and I am not going to be dumping a ton of money into this house during this economy.

I am 58 yrs old and have done everything on this house over the years regarding remodeling so I can do this. I just need suggestions by what I describe. I can't thank you enough for your help. What do you think about my plan of attaching mesh screen? Or maybe you have a better idea. Thanks
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:59 AM   #4
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Shower pan/ tile problem


I would not add the mesh---Just clean that pocket well---pack it with modified thinset and set your pencils-
-clean up the squeeze out and wedge the tiles until the thinset is hard--

grout the tops and side joints-

-then silicone the tile and pan joint.

The mesh won't add any real strength to the system and might rust or cause trouble----Mike---
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:09 AM   #5
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Shower pan/ tile problem


I am guessing modifed thinset is pre mixed? Is there one particular kind I need or is all modified thinset the same? So thinset will just dry hard hard and attach itself to the shower pan?
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:21 AM   #6
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Shower pan/ tile problem


Mike -I was just thinking that looking in the cleaned out gap where the old caulking was I can see some of the dried mud holding the original tile. Will some of the new modified thinset attach itself to that too when I pack it in?
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:32 AM   #7
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Shower pan/ tile problem


Powdered stuff---"Mud" What Is It? - Kitchen & Bath Remodeling - DIY Chatroom - DIY Home Improvement Forum

Modified powders thinset sticks well to most clean surfaces---once set it is unaffected by water--It's cement---the premixed stuff will dissolve when wet--that's not good---

You might ask if they have a broken bag ,as you don't need much for that job---Mike---(Bring a jumbo ziplock bag---they might just fill it up for you for free)
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:26 AM   #8
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Shower pan/ tile problem


I bought some tile spacers and temporarily Elmers glued them to the top of the shower pan. I laid the nu pencil tile on top of the tile spacers and realized the top portion (length) of the pencil tile was almost butting up against the existing tile squares from the 1st row. I bought a tile grinding/cutting bit for my Dremel tool and created the space I needed meaning I took off some of the existing tile material from the bottom row or 1st row. It is working perfect. Even the imperfections created from doing this by hand is minimal and I can't even see it when I am standing up.

I have to go check a few tile places for the right amount/color of pencil tile needed for the job. The color I need is almond so it should be easy to find and Dal tile will let me special order it if I can't find it.

I wanted to ask you another question: the 6" pencil tile will not work out evenly on each wall so do I set each one of the 3 walls seperately and put the short piece in the middle or start at one corner and follow it around and let the short tiles fall where they fall. Or is there another way. I will also ask the people at the tile place this morning.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:32 AM   #9
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Shower pan/ tile problem


Make the cuts in the corner--people never notice that---those are a soft tile easy to cut--

Even your Dremmel will do it--

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