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Old 06-04-2012, 01:38 PM   #1
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


When we bought our current house several years ago, I immediately noticed the bottom tiles in the stand-up shower were, shall we say, mushy. I knew this was going to be my first big project. I also knew I needed to do it right the first time, so I started doing a lot of research on and off line. This is some of what I learned regarding building waterproof shower walls with ceramic or porcelain tile.

Most of what I've learned is from Jaz and Bud right here. Thanks guys.

Fact #1. Water or moisture in your wall cavity is a very bad thing. It can cause water damage, rot and, mold.

Fact #2. Tile (ceramic or porcelain) is not waterproof. It will absorb water. How much will depend on how highly glazed the surface is, along with the type of tile.

Fact #3. Standard grout (sanded or unsanded) is not waterproof. Sealing grout does not make it waterproof, it just makes it easier to clean/less likely to stain.

Fact #4. Thinset is not waterproof.

More facts: 1/2" cement board (CBU) is generally used on walls underneath tile. It is used because it is not affected by water. If you soak any type of gypsum product (drywall, moisture resistant drywall, etc.) in water, you will end up with a handful of mush. With one exception I’ll get to later, drywall, even moisture resistant is NOT allowed in a tiled shower or wet area.
If you soak CBU in water, once it dries it will be basically as good as new. This is NOT the same as being waterproof. Moisture can and will wick through it. If someone claims the CBU product they recommend is waterproof go to the manufacturers website for the final word.


So far everything I’ve talked about is not waterproof. So what is?

My research shows four ways to waterproof tiled walls. This is offered as a very brief overview. Any method requires more research regarding correct fasteners, dealing with seams, etc.

1) Heavy mil plastic.
A sheet of heavy mil plastic (or similar product) between the CBU and studs is an accepted method. I’ve never understood it though. Although it may keep water from direct contact with the studs, it seems to me any moisture is still trapped in the wall cavity. Maybe I’m missing something here.

2) Roll or brush on waterproofing.
There are products that can be brushed or rolled on the CBU before tiling. Hydroban is probably the best although there are others out there. Redgard and Laticrete 9235 are a couple of others. Mapei makes some also. This is the method I used. Effective and cost efficient.

3) Kerdi.
This is a waterproof flocked sheet product that is applied to walls using thinset before tiling. This is arguably the best way to waterproof. This is the only exception to the no drywall rule.
FWIW, if you’re doing a project that requires inspections, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to run this past your inspector so he/she doesn’t question why you’re putting up drywall in a shower.
Cost can be an issue here, especially if you add in their drain and shower pan systems. Google Schluter-kerdi for their website with more information and instructions.

4) Kerdi-board (or similar product).
This is a relatively new product. Use it instead of CBU. Apparently it is a type of rigid foam board with a waterpoof side. From what I’ve read it is very lightweight and much easier to cut and work with than CBU. When I did my shower two years ago I ruled it out because the nearest place that had anything comparable was 80 miles away, so price and availability may still be an issue.

Final word, don’t think if one is good, two is better. You want to choose and use only one method, otherwise you risk trapping moisture between the two. Not a good thing.


Last edited by Blondesense; 06-04-2012 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:42 PM   #2
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


Oh yeah. When I did my shower I didn't want a tiled shower floor so I decided to keep the existing fiberglass receptor.
For anyone planning a tiled floor this is a good starting place.

http://www.ontariotile.com/preslope.html

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Old 06-04-2012, 06:40 PM   #3
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


I used the plastic sheet behind the CBU for my first tub surround project. I'm thinking about using Redguard or HydroBan on the CBU in lieu of the plastic on the studs for my next project.

HydroBan for sure if it turns into a shower product. The only reason I would consider Redguard for the tub is the cost of the HydroBan. I would still use a shower receptor rather that trying to build a mud floor myself, probably one of Kohler's cast iron receptors.
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:29 PM   #4
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


Densshield?
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:47 PM   #5
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cleveman View Post
Densshield?
I googled them, but all I got was a bunch of PDF files. My computer does not like PDF files.
I think they are a "moisture resistant" CBU, but anyone interested should do a bit of research themselves.
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:06 PM   #6
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


I always use either cement board with Kerdi or the new Kerdi board.
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Old 06-20-2012, 11:09 AM   #7
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


Use cement board with Hydroban or Redguard.
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:38 PM   #8
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Can you use "red guard" with pre-mix tile morter?
1.) im using hardiebacker cement boards already up.
2.) Can i get away with not using red guard and just use water proof sealant in the seams..and just put up morter and tile, it seems that when i took these walls down in the shower stall it was orig. just 1/2 inch sheetrock boards and taping....House is over 35yrs old..

Last edited by scottyh63; 06-25-2012 at 12:45 PM. Reason: adding more
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Old 07-02-2012, 02:35 AM   #9
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


I used Wedi board. It's perhaps a bit pricey, but it goes in easily and seems to work well. It's rated for steam rooms, so I guess it's good. For the floor I used a sheet membrane from Noble. It's like Kerdi, but thicker. Since thinset binds directly to both the Noble and the Wedi, the whole thing goes in very easily. The Wedi is far lighter than cement board, and it cuts and snaps more easily than drywall. I found it extremely convenient to work with. I took the Noble membrane up six inches behind the Wedi, so I feel very confident that no water is getting behind them.
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Old 07-05-2012, 08:42 AM   #10
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


Quote:
Originally Posted by scottyh63 View Post
Can you use "red guard" with pre-mix tile morter?
1.) im using hardiebacker cement boards already up.
2.) Can i get away with not using red guard and just use water proof sealant in the seams..and just put up morter and tile, it seems that when i took these walls down in the shower stall it was orig. just 1/2 inch sheetrock boards and taping....House is over 35yrs old..

#2 I wouldnt. You want to tape the seams using motar on the cement board, then redguard everything to thickness specs. On mine I used Hydroban on walls and floor and loved how easy it was to use. Give it a try, you wont be sorry.

What are you doing for the shower floor? This also needs to be done correctly.....
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:38 PM   #11
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


Durock, densshield/densarmor are good affordable products
Kerdi/Schluter membranes are the way to go if you can afford it
Drywall and greenboard drywall are NOT rated for wet locations
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:42 PM   #12
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


Kate, this is the how-to section. If you have a question you are better off starting your own thread in one of the discussion forums.

Pics are always a plus.
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Old 09-02-2012, 01:48 AM   #13
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


Great post blondesense Just wanted to add a quick comment on this thread for others that are going to waterproof their shower/tub. In your original post, under the Heavy mil plastic option, you had said this:

"A sheet of heavy mil plastic (or similar product) between the CBU and studs is an accepted method. I’ve never understood it though. Although it may keep water from direct contact with the studs, it seems to me any moisture is still trapped in the wall cavity. Maybe I’m missing something here."

I had the same question when I did my shower, and it took a bit of researching to figure out that you need to allow openings in your caulking for weep holes, to allow the trapped moisture to have a place to go when it builds up behind your tiles. Here is a link to an image of a weep hole:

http://floorelf.com/wp-content/uploa...04-585x438.jpg

I believe they are recommended even for the other water proofing methods (such as Redgard, etc), but are strongly recommended for the heavy mil option. This will then solve the problem of the trapped moisture.

Here is a link that discusses everything about weep holes from an expert:

http://floorelf.com/location-of-weep...-installations

This way, when water builds up in the wall cavity, it will simply drain out into your shower floor or tub and you will have less chance of moisture ending up in place you don't want.

Last edited by amodoko; 09-02-2012 at 01:54 AM.
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Old 10-08-2012, 01:53 PM   #14
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


Thanks so much for this wonderful thread. I really appreciate that (especially amodoko about "weep hole" and Blondesense for the original post).
I have some related questions that I hope that people won't mind me to ask them here and hope it can add to the discussion of this thread.

We have a "bath" that we decided to convert it into a shower. Here are the before and after photo:
BEFORE:


AFTER: (by the way the heat register was sealed later and in this photo he had not grouted yet)


I did notice the tile contractor left some "weep holes" and I almost wanted to caulk these holes myself. I'm glad that I did not do that and this totally make sense for me now (for the trapped moisture to come out). However, I did notice that he just put up the CBU and then directly put up the tiles without using Hydroban or Redgard. When I politely asked him whether this would be good enough for waterproof, he told me not to worry and if we found any leaking problems later he will be responsible for the damages later. At that point I just kept my mouth shut as I didn't want to piss him off (after all he should be the professional and knows what he is doing, and not me telling him what's the right thing to do). My questions:

1. Since we only put up new tiles on the wall (and not the floor, the bottom remain to be the bathtub), and we also put in a really good bathroom ceiling fan (Panasonic FV-11VHL2 with 110 CFM), do you think we should be OK for any potential water/moisture problem in the future (if we do turn on the fan every time when we take a shower)?

2. If this is NOT OK, given that the contractor already finished the job, is there a good way to remedy the situation? Thanks!

Last edited by ohman; 10-08-2012 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 10-08-2012, 02:03 PM   #15
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Waterproofing tiled shower walls.


O MAN........you got a wall with mold ready to grow.

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