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Waterproofing old tile without spacing (and therefore grout)

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Sep 03, 2013, 11:01 PM
Waterproofing old tile without spacing (and therefore grout)
Soon I'll be taking possession of a 1961 house with an original tub that has tiled walls that I would like to add a shower head to (has only been used for bathing/soaking).

The tiles are laid directly against each other with no visible spacing or grout. I do not know how they were applied and onto what type of backing. My thought was to find some sort of product that I could apply to prevent water from seeping behind the tiles and damaging the walls. Any ideas? Is this even possible?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions...
Sep 04, 2013, 07:08 AM
Tight or not there was suppose to be grout applied between the tiles.
In this case you would use unsanded.
Once dry you apply sealer to the grout.
Grout by it's self is not water proof.

Sep 04, 2013, 09:37 AM
Pretty sure you would know, but: Are you sure they are ceramic tiles? Plastic tiles were not uncommon in that time frame either. Any seams visible at all?
Sep 04, 2013, 12:05 PM
plastic tiles were VERY common in the 60s, and they were laid on with mastic from a tub. starting 30 years in, the occasional tile will start to fall off, and the back of those tiles will be nasty with mold.

if that's the case, you get to do your plumbing however you want, because you're going to have to strip to the studs and re-wall the tub recess. good opportunity to insulate that (usually outside) wall, plastic sheet with red-tape seamed overlaps, cement board, nice ceramic tile.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Sep 04, 2013, 04:30 PM
I just redid two of the old classic plastic tile bathrooms.
One was pink the other was a mint green.
Surprising they where still in pretty good shape for 50 year old tiles.
If a few were not broken I would have left them.

Sep 04, 2013, 11:37 PM
Unfortunately I cannot go look at the tiles to determine their type, and as I was unaware that plastic tiles existed, I assumed they were ceramic. They are very glossy and reflective and felt very hard.

Each tile is individually laid, but done very precisely with no visible gaps (the house was had a single owner who was a machinist - everything is original, solid, and finished to perfection). It would make sense that it was applied with mastic, which endured the decades as a tub wall but would probably not last very long as a shower wall.

Although it would reduce the sheen of the tile, I was imagining that some type of clear sealant existed that I could essentially paint the whole tiled surface with to prolong a bathroom reno while I focus on other higher priority renos.
Sep 05, 2013, 06:47 AM
About what size are the tiles? Smaller tiles are often sold in sheets with a fiber backing to make then easier to install.
It's not the tiles that are going to leak, it the grout areas and seams.
Yes there is a clear sealer, it's called grout sealer.
Sold in any hardware, or box store in the tile area.