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Old 10-16-2013, 07:10 PM   #1
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Problem with solid shower pan


OK, so I'm looking at the Kohler solid pan that we bought for our shower instead of installing moldy individual tiles. The contractor set it against the wall and installed the drain, but did appear to follow the other instructions. He has left for the day.

He was supposed to drill holes in the nailing-in flange at all stud locations and then drive nails through the holes into the studs. Then, he was supposed to put 1/4" furring strips on each stud as spacers for the cement board. Then, he was supposed to install the cement board so that it was covering over the above-mentioned flange as part of the overall seal for the shower rim. This all comes from my reading of the Kohler installation guide for the pan.

Instead, it appears he has put the pan in with screws at the top lip just to hold it in place. Then, he mounted the cement board so that it is just touching the top of the flange in some spots and there is maybe a half inch gap between the flange and the cement board at other spots. I am guessing he or the tile guy will try to fill the gap with some sort of mud and then just slap the tile over it.

My conclusion is that, when he arrives at the house tomorrow, I need to review this with him and make him do it correctly. With the installation he's planning, I can see a leak coming in a couple years.

I'm not a contractor, so I would welcome advice from professionals on whether I'm doing the right thing. I don't want to be looking over the contractor's shoulder, but it concerns me that he may be cutting corners.

Any advice would be appreciated. If I'm going overboard, please let me know. I can take it. Thanks.
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Old 10-16-2013, 07:26 PM   #2
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I agree with you, those directions need to be followed.
Someone's going to suggest just filling the gaps with thin set. All I can see that doing is cracking and leaking.
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Old 10-16-2013, 07:55 PM   #3
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I disagree with the instructions--the method he used is the most common and accepted method---

Drilling the flange often leads to splitting--sometimes several years later.

Unless he adds furring strips to the entire bathroom--the shower wall will be to thick and not match up with the adjoining drywall----

The resulting gap is filled with thinset---as the tile is installed or before if the backer board is to be waterproofed.

Covering the flange with the backer is not necessary---and if the backer butts into drywall, not possible.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oh'mike View Post
I disagree with the instructions--the method he used is the most common and accepted method---

Drilling the flange often leads to splitting--sometimes several years later.

Unless he adds furring strips to the entire bathroom--the shower wall will be to thick and not match up with the adjoining drywall----

The resulting gap is filled with thinset---as the tile is installed or before if the backer board is to be waterproofed.

Covering the flange with the backer is not necessary---and if the backer butts into drywall, not possible.

Thanks for the interesting response. I'm definitely interested if there are alternate ways to install the pan. After all, I don't want to accuse the contractor of doing it wrong if there's more than one method of installation. I'm just puzzled as to why Kohler would recommend nailing its own brand shower pan if it would cause cracking.

It still seems to me that the contractor's installation is incorrect and will lead to leaking in a couple years. The Kohler method gives you several layers of protection all around -- the flange, the cement board, the thinset and the tile -- while the contractor's installation is going to leave only thinset and tile in some spots.

I'd be interested in any other opinions on this. Thanks.
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Old 10-17-2013, 05:30 AM   #5
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Waterproofing the surface of the board is going to stop any water intrusion---there are two common methods--Surface membrane, like Schluter system---and paint on membrane like Hydroban by Latacrete---

I suggest you look at some of the older threads here , I build a lot of bathrooms every year,this is the method that I use--

I never could use the furring strips--most shower/tub surrounds meet the drywall on at least one wall,often two---this would cause lots of trouble and is not needed.
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Old 10-17-2013, 06:09 AM   #6
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http://www.johnbridge.com/articles/s...d-cbu-showers/
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:10 AM   #7
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I've taken a look at the shower area in the daylight and it appears that the corner of the shower pan (it's a corner shower) is, of course, 90 degrees, while the contractor has installed the cement board on the original studs and, thus, the walls in the corner are set at less than 90 degrees. It seems to me that, no matter how the tile job is done, it won't look right. As for waterproofing, I have no idea what he has in mind, but will ask him this morning.

We're using this contractor to do our master bath and kitchen and I'm getting a little concerned. I like to be able to trust the folks who work in our home.

Thanks to all for the helpful advice.
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:24 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Thanks. That's an interesting article. It sounds like the author focused more on mud and tile shower pans, where the cement board might extend much closer to the floor. With the Kohler acrylic pan, the board is pretty high up and should be away from any standing water unless the shower drain is totally clogged.
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:19 AM   #9
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Unfortunately,there are a lot of showers built wrong---typically, the wall studs are straightened out after the pan is installed,so the walls are flat and true---

the backer gets installed,then taped and filled using thinset and tilers mesh--after that a waterproofing membrane is installed----this makes for a thirty year shower--

Tile must be set with thinset--the powdered kind---water based adhesive is not acceptable---it will re-emulsify if water ever reaches it--
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oh'mike View Post
Unfortunately,there are a lot of showers built wrong---typically, the wall studs are straightened out after the pan is installed,so the walls are flat and true---

the backer gets installed,then taped and filled using thinset and tilers mesh--after that a waterproofing membrane is installed----this makes for a thirty year shower--

Tile must be set with thinset--the powdered kind---water based adhesive is not acceptable---it will re-emulsify if water ever reaches it--
Thanks. My contractor is not planning on using a waterproofing membrane. He claims it's not necessary (????). I've read about the membranes, but it seems that they are mainly for traditional shower pans, with mud and tile. Since I've got the pre-cast pan, do I need one?

Last edited by longislander2; 10-17-2013 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 10-17-2013, 10:07 AM   #11
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Oh mike has given good, trade accepted answers to your question concerning backer board installation. I, personally, have never covered
the flange for the same reasons mike stated.

As for the waterproofing, $150 for a roll on waterproofing will get you a
30 year shower as compared to the 10 year one you're getting now.
Ask your contractor to write a change order for the amount of the waterproofing installation. Cadillacs cost more than Chevy's.
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Old 10-17-2013, 10:47 AM   #12
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Thanks again to everyone for the advice. I've done a lot of research online and it now seems that my contractor is doing it wrong. The backer board is nailed to the studs without any moisture barrier behind it. He then plans to tape the backer board joints and cover them with thinset. The tiles will then be mounted on the backer board and go all the way down to the shower pan and cover its flange. It sounds like he'll be using a lot of thinset to cover the gaps between the tile and the flange.

From what I read, this is a guaranteed way to encourage seepage of moisture and development of mold behind the shower. I will be talking to him this afternoon and insisting that he use a membrane product such as RedGard before the tile goes up. I assume that this, plus our use of a solid acrylic shower pan, will help to keep the moisture from seeping through.
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Old 10-18-2013, 06:06 AM   #13
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You do not need(or want) a vapor barrier behind the board if the surface is waterproofed---

Listen to 12 penny---pay extra for a surface waterproofing membrane---I use hydroban----but there are several good ones that cost less---

I build a lot of bathrooms every year and have never had a call back using the methods mentioned above---
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:14 AM   #14
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The tile store recommended a product called Pro Shield so my contractor added that to our lot of tile and stone that he picked up.

What was depressing was explaining to the contractor that I wanted the shower done the right way. When I mentioned the membrane -- either roll-on or the rolled paper -- he had no idea what I was talking about. When he ripped out the old shower put in by the original builder, it had deteriorated pretty badly because the tile was slapped directly onto cement board without any water barrier. He was going to do it that way again (and originally thought he could use the original cement board!). I reminded him of the rot and black stuff we saw on some of the studs.

Unfortunately, we still have most of the master bath and all of the kitchen to go. I would much prefer to trust a contractor to do the right thing, but after this episode with the shower, I'm watching his work like a hawk. It's really too late to back out and I don't know how many months it would take to find a replacement since contractors are still busy around here with Hurricane Sandy work. Hopefully, things will go better from this point forward.
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Old 10-19-2013, 07:29 AM   #15
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Be sure the tile is set with powdered thinset,not a premixed water based adhesive.
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