I was called for an estimate and to take a look at your typical Florida shower at a residence in Tampa, FL. As usual, with most showers in Florida it was constructed wrong when the home was built by the original tile installer and general contractor. Upon my visit and inspection I noticed the wall behind the tile was moving, tile were coming loose and there was mold on the grout joints, all tell tale signs the shower failed. I noticed that the tile was set directly on 2 layers of regular drywall with mastic which is very bad in a wet shower area. There was a pan liner but no vapor barrier behind the drywall for moisture to run off. They had children so they were worried about repercussions from the mold and the problems it causes with their child’s respiratory system when young. They were reassured with my finding, liked my price and confident in my ability to redo the shower the correct way with proper waterproofing. That and the shower falling apart within 6 years played a big part.
After they made the tile selection from one of the tile showrooms I use here in Tampa we set up an install date for the project. The day I started the rip out of the bathroom I knew it was going to be messy but easy since the shower was already falling apart from being so saturated with water. During the rip out all of my inclinations were correct with how improper the shower was built. Wet damaged drywall, mold, rusted screws, rusted drywall corner bead, nails puncturing the liner, no vapor barrier, rotted baseboard & rotted studs. When deciding on what waterproofing to use in the shower this job was a good one for the Schluter Systems Kerdi. The customer liked it since it’s an excellent waterproofing sheet membrane. They also liked the fact Ceramictec is a certified Schluter Kerdi & Ditra installer in Florida, having attended the Schluter school for training in Clemson, SC. and received a certificate of completion. I have also done over 30 Kerdi showers so I know the Kerdi system very well. The homeowners understood that having a tile contractor that was educated in up to date waterproofing techniques, besides being able to set tile, would be a good choice for the shower remodel they were doing.
After the rip out was completed we made the shower larger for them by extending the shower curb. I made a small sketch prior showing extending the new curb out another foot to gain space. I marked out on the floor where the new curb would be built and then started to install the new drywall. Schluter says drywall is ok to use with Kerdi since the membrane is impermeable and it will never see water when done right, no need for cementboard but you can use it if you want. During the drywall install we laid out where the niche would go. Marking out the tile spacing on the drywall and making level lines prior to the Kerdi membrane installation we cut out the hole for the niche. I first installed Kerdi on the niche using the inside and outside pre made corners. This project we used Ditra-Set by Hydroment. It is a special un-modified thinset used with Kerdi & Ditra. There are other quality un-modified thinsets out there and another one we use is Laticrete 317/MegaBond. We installed the Kerdi on the drywall vertically since I think it’s the easiest way to do it, just like doing wallpaper. Then we installed the Kerdi drain with a medium loose mixture of floor mud and thinset to help it grab.
The next day we built the brick curb made of regular red bricks and also packed the shower mud floor made of a damp mixture or sand & portland cement. We cleaned the slab good and applied some thinset on the slab under the mud bed to help with the bond. I packed the mud good and firm and was able to install the Kerdi right away since you use loose thinset anyways. That’s the good thing about using Kerdi on a fresh packed mud shower floor, you don’t have to wait 72 hours to install it like you do with a liquid membrane. The homeowners selected a 13×13 porcelain tile that had the look of a dark green slate to go in the shower with a matching 2×2 on the shower floor and an 18×18 to go on the main bathroom floor area. After installing the wall tile and finishing the matching 3×13 bullnose trim at the edges we set the 2×2 mosaic tile on the shower floor. That same day we set the 18×18 porcelain tile on the main floor of the bathroom before we left.
The last day I built a solid masonry bench in the shower corner and then tiled the shower bench and finished the tile around the garden tub with one row of tile and a bullnose top piece. We then grouted the shower walls, bench and floors with a dark gray sanded grout and caulked the corners with a sanded matching caulk. The job came out really nice and the homeowners are happy with their new waterproofed tiled bathroom. I’m still waiting to get back final pictures since they had a new baby and the final paint & glass enclosure had to be put on hold. 🙂
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