Subway Tile & HydroBan Waterproofed Shower

I decided to write this blog about a customer who came to me from reading one of my blogs on how to waterproof a shower correctly. She had the misfortune of having an unskilled tile contractor install a subway tile shower with a liner on her second floor that leaked within the first year. She then contracted a local tub pro in Tampa Florida to redo it and that also leaked within a year. So she started to read up and do research on correct ways to do waterproofing in her shower and during the time she also asked them to repair the shower pan and do it correctly. She was met with resistance and pretty much told she could go elsewhere is she didn’t like the way they did things. You can see her story & complaint to the Better Business Bureau here. I talked to the customer on the phone and she was comfortable with my experience, professionalism & know how on what needs to be done in a shower.

I set up an appointment to look at her shower talk to her about what type of waterproofing installation she will be comfortable with. Upon showing up at the house for the estimate she took me up and showed me the bathroom. I was surprised to see the shower pan and tile already removed from the prior 3rd attempt to fix it correctly. I also noticed that there was no pre slope under the liner and the clamping drain was slightly elevated from the flat part of the pan. Also there was a bucket in the shower full of tile that was removed that was previously installed. The bucket was mastic which should not be used in a shower or wet area and that is what the other installer used to set the tile. Besides having the pan leak I doubt the walls would have lasted 2-3 years with tile being installed with mastic over drywall. Neither are acceptable installation methods. I worked up a price which she eagerly accepted for a shower redo using a Schluter drain, pitched mud bed, cement board and HydroBan liquid waterproofing.

The first day we started we did rip out of the old wall tile and drywall. The wall came out in sections which was an easy removal for us. I also noticed while removing the wall that there was no vapor barrier behind the tiled wall and then noticed that the previous installed nailed the cementboard on the curb and the nails went through the rubber pan liner. Once the shower was gutted I installed the PermaBase cementboard and cut out where the niche was going. I then installed the Schluter Kerdi drain and did the new pitched mud pan. I let the mud bed sit over the weekend and on Monday morning I started applying the Laticrete HydroBan waterproofing on the shower walls and floor and also used a fabric reinforcing mesh in the corners of the shower.  The fabric isn’t required with HydroBan and is made for Laticrete’s other liquid membrane HydroBarrier, but I still like using the fabric for corner reinforcement and at the Kerdi drain to mud connection. I also use the Schluter Kerdi-seal pipe & mixing valve seal in conjunction with the liquid membrane to seal each of those area’s.

The next day I did the layout of the 3×6 subway tile and started to install the wall tile with Laticrete 4XLT thinset and the tile installed was 3×6 Daltile #0790 Matte Arctic White. At the end of the day after setting all of the wall tile I did a flood test on the HydroBan waterproofed pan and let it sit overnight. The next morning when I got there everything was good, no leaks and the membrane was still looking good. I then set the octagon tile with a dot that was being used on the floor and also set it on the back of the niche. I then fabricated 2 shelves for the niche with a piece of marble the customer supplied. The customer loved how I made small returns ears that went onto the face of the wall tile. I then set the shower floor tile and installed the shower curb marble sill. After the thinset had dried over night the next day I grouted the wall tile with Laticrete #44 – Bright White unsanded grout and the floor and back of the niche with #24 – Natural Grey. Did a final wash of the wall & floor tile to remove and grout dust/haze and then installed the Kerdi drain grate top and also a shower head, slide bar with a removable sprayer and control face plate with a handle.

The job came out great and the customer is really pleased to have a shower that is waterproofed correctly and wont leak. 🙂