Recently my family and I decided to have a walk-in shower built on the first floor due to the small space available and because it is easily accessible for my mother. We had a corner shower stall/shower kit in there which my father had installed years ago and I'm happy to say there was no leakage, mold, or any type of moisture underneath when it was removed. Right now the person doing the work only has green-board on the 3 walls and the custom shower pan is basically the rubber liner and mud type mortar which when dried has crumbled a bit around the drainage area and near the wall (not sure if this is suppose to happen.) We've never had this type of built in walk-in shower so I'm not sure what type of materials are suppose to be used and what should be installed first so that the shower is waterproof and doesn't leak into the basement. Any step by step guide or link to point me in the right direction would be very helpful. I have done some research and read some of the discussions here but everyone has different ways of building these types of showers. So, I'd appreciate a list of material that should be there or things that shouldn't be there before we start tiling.
Thanks in advance,
Unless there going with a stick on shower liner there already doing it wrong.
If it's going to be tile it should have been cement based tile board, not green board.
And not it should have not crumbled.
Post a picture.
Thank you for the reply, Joe. And yes it is going to be tiled so that is why I'm worried that they are doing it wrong. I'm not happy with the curb and all the gaps that are visible (which they plan on filling in with either caulk or silicone..not really sure but I know those gaps should not be there.) Anyway, I'll attach some pics.
Here's the mud/mortar that has crumbled.
OK - Seriously:
Step #1 - Fire this guy NOW!
Step #2 - Find someone who knows what he is doing to come in and take a look at what you have. He will tell you that the greenboard has to go. He will tell you that the drywall mud used to cover the seams and corners is water soluble and will turn to mush very quickly. He will tell you that the black drywall screws used to hold the green board will soon rust away into nothing. He will tell you that there is no way a greenboard curb will withstand the combination of moisture, tile and somebody standing on it. He will tell you that having the greenboard touch the mortar base is a sure fire way to a quick failure. Finally, he will tell you that the use of greenboard as a tile liner in a shower has been outlawed since 1996.
The only way you can get by with a greenboard backer is if it's used in conjunction with Kerdi liner and a Kerdi base. That's not what you have here.
When the new guy comes in, hopefully he can figure out if the pan was built correctly. Unfortunately, anybody with the non-skills to build this shower is highly unlikely able to correctly build a pan.
Really, really, really - this is a crap shower job (sorry, but that's the truth of it). It doesn't stand a chance of lasting for very long.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jaybee,
Sorry but I have to agree 100%.
Thanks for the input, advice and sharing your knowledge. This was suppose to be what my sisters and I thought would be a simple project and we thought this guy knew exactly what to do and what materials to use. We're trying to get someone else to take a look at it, and yeah hopefully this other person knows exactly what they're doing and how to build a shower. It's disappointing and stressful to just look at it and know that it won't last as long as the one that was previously there (which was about 14 yrs.) I think if it's going to be too much work and more expensive to rip everything out again then we might just try to get the shower kits and forget about tiling. The only reason we decided to have a custom built shower pan was because most of the ones offered at the home improvement stores here have the drainage hole in the center whereas the one in this bathroom is off center and the space is not a perfect square nor do we have enough space to install a corner shower.
No old house and even some new ones are not square. Not that big a deal to relocate a drain, unless it's a slab.
Joe and I are staying 100% together on this one: Unless you are on a slab, it will be far easier and just about foolproof to use a pre-formed base. Moving a drain in a framed floor is not that difficult. More complicated to move the drain in concrete, but still possible.
As a side note: In looking at the pictures it looks like the background shows the rubber liner. Especially in the drain close-up pic ... it appears that the background at the left top shows the top of the vinyl liner. It that's what it is then it's only a fraction of an inch above the mortar base. If so, then the entire base is no good and will have to be rebuilt as the liner must go vertically up behind the wall surface by a minimum of 6". Once you install tile, the floor tile itself will be above the edge of the liner and it will leak immediately.
Hopefully you have not paid much or any money. I certainly would cut off all payments at this point.
Yes, the rubber liner is visible and not much higher than the mortar base. There is also no cement underneath the liner, just the flooring (there is suppose to be three layers, no? ...cement, liner, and mortar? Or can other materials be used so that it's not too heavy on the floor, unless it's just a thin layer of cement underneath the liner? This bath is on the 1st floor (wood framed), basement is beneath.)
Also, the curb is built on top of the existing tile floor of the bathroom and I have a bad feeling that that's not how it's suppose to be. It has a steel frame with the green-board on top.
It's so frustrating and I honestly feel like taking apart the entire thing myself, but we're waiting on the other guy to take a look at it. My sisters and I will just take down the green-board ourselves and the curb to cut costs. The other guy wasn't paid much, he's someone we know.
I'm no expert obviously but common sense told me that there is nothing waterproof about this structure especially since it will be used everyday. *sigh*
First off, I'm very sorry you are going through this. What you have so far is just a waste of your time and money. It looks like your guy just doesn't know what he's doing - mixing a little bit of knowledge with a total lack of experience as to what needs to be done. If he's just a 'friend' then maybe you can get him to demo the shower back down to it's starting point as a little bit of payback for your loss so far. If he's a licensed professional then you should be getting all your money back if you choose to pursue that route.
But yes, it all has to come out. It would be just pouring good money after bad if you try to 'repair' what you have here. The liner height is a killer - there is no way to make it so that it will not leak short of layering a Schluter / Kerdi liner over the whole thing. Many people assume that tile and grout are waterproof - yet they are not. While neither can be damaged by water both are porous and will allow water to pass through. A waterproof liner is needed to protect your wall and floor framing.
A proper shower pan has several layers: A masonry base is installed to provide a slope leading towards the drain. Then the liner is installed - clamped to the drain and extending 6" up all walls and into the curb. Finally the top mortar layer is poured - this can include the curb.
Again though, since you are on a framed floor I would seriously consider finding a fiberglass base to use. You can still install tile on the surround if you want but a pre-made base will save lots of time and money.
If you can find the above mentioned fiberglass pan that will work, you will save time and money. Building a shower floor is not an easy task, even for a tile layer with some experience. The question is, does he have experience building shower floors? It is tricky. And if you had a building permit (which my area requires for a tile shower pan) they will require you fill it with water (requiring plugging the drain) and prove it has no leaks. A pre built fiberglass pan does make life easier, but you have to buy one that fits your space.
He's a web site that deals with nothing but tile with the section on how a pan was suppost to be built.
So the new guy came to look at the shower yesterday and said he has to break out the base because it was no good with just the liner and mortar. He's going to keep the green board (because he said " that's what he has always used, even in his own shower" AND " the green board is waterproof" I find that a lot of contractors around here say that instead of "that's what we're suppose to use for building.." or something to that extent.) But he said something about putting a liner on it, so we'll have to find out exactly what he's going to use.
He built a shower for my sister and bro-in-law so we'll take a closer look at his work tomorrow. Honestly we don't have a lot of options because most of the contractors in this area don't always strive to do quality work and the one we know who does quality work is unavailable at this time and doesn't live in nyc. With a lot of the houses here when you break one thing you have to fix another (maybe that's with most older houses, I don't know.)
It's frustrating to just come across contractors who don't inform you on what they're doing and basically tell you that they know what they're doing and that's how they always do things. A lot of home owners depend on the knowledge of a licensed professional but having a license doesn't always mean that they give you quality work. And I guess especially if you're female they assume you don't know anything about construction/building and will try to do things the "cheap" and easy way.
Thanks for the information guys, I definitely appreciate it and will keep it in mind when this other guy starts the demo and building (next weekend).
I'll keep you updated.
That sounds a little better.
I know it's going to start to sound like I am harping on the greenboard but what he said still concerns me. Greenboard is far, far from waterproof. What it is - is more water resistant than conventional drywall. But greenboard will turn to mush if it gets wet - even quicker if the bottom of the greenboard touches the masonry base. A quick call to your local code department will confirm that greenboard is against code for a shower surround. (BTW, I had the date wrong in my earlier post - greenboard was outlawed in 2006, not 1996). Anyway, check it out before letting him keep the greenboard.
Now, there is one big exception: If your new guy is going to use Schluter/Kerdi liner on top of the greenboard, then it will be OK. This is an orange colored membrane that is attached with thinset. It does make a 100% waterPROOF surface - even the seams as long as it is installed correctly. If your new guy is adding Kerdi, then it will be fine but please, please do not let him rely on just the greenboard, no matter how long he has been using it.
I've made a lot of money off of a lot of showers that were made of greenboard. Besides, with all the many brands of waterproof cementboards out there, there is just no reason to use greenboard. Greenboard is good for areas that may see some occasional moisture like shower ceilings or backsplash areas.
Glad you have at least a more positive direction to go now.
What worrys me is how fast he showed up and is ready to start.
I agree 100% with Jaybee on every thing he said.
If this guy is not willing to tell you how he is going to do it then that's another red flag.
Find out before he touches anything if he just plans to tile over the drywall without using Kerdi. If so then you need to be talking to some real tile installers at the tile store not some hack.
So, the new guy removed the old base and made a new one with the three layers (mortar, liner and mortar on top of the liner (the liner also extends 6inches up the walls.)) He also showed us that the other guy did not glue/caulk around the drainage hole. He simply just set everything where they were "suppose to be" but didn't bother to properly bond them together. The new guy also removed the green-board and installed Durock boards, changed the height of the curb and made it more sturdy.
We're definitely more happy with his work but disappointed that we spent double the amount of money. It's such a waste to buy new materials and then realize that the job wasn't done properly and then have to trash those materials and get the right ones. It shows that you have to do your research before you trust someone to do that type of work for you, even if you know the person.
Thanks for the update.
At least this time you got it done right.
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