August 6, 2020

Remodeling the shower in your bathroom?   

Remodeling the shower in your bathroom?                                                                                                    Follow these tips for a worry-free, waterproof installation.

Custom tiled showers and bathtub surrounds are ideal home remodeling projects for showing off your personal design style and increasing bathroom functionality and comfort—all while adding value to your home.

But with bathroom renovation comes the worry of water damage: Although some porcelain can be highly resistant to moisture, they are not waterproof.  All tile must be installed in conjunction with a waterproofing system that effectively manages moisture to protect moisture-sensitive building materials and guard against mold growth. 

If the installation process is not done correctly, there’s both liability and a lot of headaches. Here’s what you need to know before diving into your project: 

The old-school installation method – Consisting of a “mud-bed” shower floor installation and cement board walls. A “mud-base” shower includes an initial cement base pre-sloped towards a center drain.  Over that “pre-slope” a waterproof PVC liner is installed with a hand-formed layer of cement approximately 2” – 3” in thickness at the perimeter. The finished tile is installed over top of the final cement layer, flush with the shower drain.  

Shower walls are often built using cement board or green board drywall installed directly over wood framing. Green board is moisture resistant, and suitable for areas outside of the shower with higher levels of humidity, but not intended for interior shower use with direct exposure to moisture. Cement board is designed for high-moisture applications: it’s resilient, and usually not compromised by extreme moisture (but is highly porous as most any cement can be). Moisture and moisture vapor can easily be absorbed into cement board, and in many cases, beyond.      

Although this installation method is acceptable as a standard in the industry and when completed in the prescribed manner can offer many years of service, it has limits: The challenge with shower or tub surrounds built using this method is that cement materials beyond the tile will retain moisture with regular use. A constant presence of moisture creates an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth.  

Shower installs have come a long way. At Dover, we’ve been using the Schluter-Shower System for many years because it’s the most fool-proof way to properly install a shower and get the quality finish we’re looking to achieve. 

Schluter offers a full line of materials for building a watertight and waterproof tiled shower. For every shower installation that we build, the foundation and what you don’t see behind the beautiful tile finish is the Schluter Waterproofing System. Whether it’s Schluter’s waterproof, vapor tight membrane adhered directly to the drywall or their structural panels with attached waterproofing installed directly to the studs, it guarantees us every opportunity for a crisp, uniform tile finish and reliable performance.

This membrane material is 100% waterproof and vapor tight; when installed with porcelain tile (most of which are almost completely impervious to moisture) along with our high-performance grout, and Schluter Waterproofing membrane, moisture meets a dead end. There’s nowhere for the moisture to go, so it simply dissipates.

The most important element in a waterproof shower installation is the material behind the tile: it’s what you cannot see that creates the barrier to keep moisture from being absorbed into building materials in your walls and floors. Everything above and beyond that barrier—the tile and grout—are merely cosmetic. 

In addition to waterproof membranes, we use other Schluter waterproof materials to build out showers: pre-built features like recessed niches, pre-formed seats and shower pans, drains and trim. We also use their waterproof panels to customize shower installs, using them to build bench seats or create curved walls. If you’re interested in reading about their products, go to www.schluter.com.

To do the job right the first time so that you can enjoy a worry-free tile shower in your home, with the clean, quality finish you want, talk to a contractor like Dover that uses the best methods and products. 

If you’re interested in learning more or reviewing your plan for a new shower install, stop by the Dover Flooring & Tile Center.  We’re always here to help.

Tschaun Procaccini