Repairing bathroom floor... again

mgedidJanuary 28, 2014

Hi all,
It has been a year since another contractor repaired our new master bathroom tiling by tearing the floor out and starting again from the pan. We have a new mudpack, new sill, new tiling on the floor and up about a foot into the wall, and once again, we have wet grout which is now beginning to fall out on the floor. We've got 1"x3" tiles and 1/16" grout seams on the floor. Although the tiles feel pretty firmly in place, there is clearly unevenness in the mud pack (The high part near the shower head has a dip) and water definitely stays in the grout on the shower spout side of the rectangular space that is our shower stall.

The most recent contractor (number three) has suggested that we tear out the grout that is worst and regrout it, then seal the entire shower stall. Any ideas on other trouble-shooting that should be done while he is here, and any suggestions for why we are going through this (AGAIN for the second time!)? Is there any possibility that my unsanded grout is bad or has been applied improperly? Could I test this in some way?

Thanks to you for the good suggestions -- every time!

Meg

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raehelen

Geez. Have you got pics? Pics of the installation of the second tiling job? What waterproofing was done before the tiles went in?

Pics of the problem area? I assume from your description that the problem is in the bottom foot of your shower stall wall?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 1:57PM
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mgedid

Thanks for the quick response, raehelen!

So the shower stall wall does not appear to be wet and the grout is not coming out of it -- It is just the floor, and there is no regular leak above it from the shower spout. The tile that is coming out is in a patch 1'x1.5' on the floor, not on the walls. I will try to attach a picture shortly. The custom shower floor included a vinyl pan, mudpack, mastic(or some sort of glue which has allowed water to get beneath it to the mudpack in that section), then grouted tiles. When we tried to scrape out the grout that looked the wettest (and as though it had already started to come loose) it brought a number of tiles with it.

My questions are:

Can I patch a section and expect the rest to survive for any length of time? Is it better to pull it all out now and start again with the entire floor? If we start again, what can we do differently re waterproofing that may not have worked this time?

I know that my second contractor was aware of the issue of clogged weepholes (an issue from the first set of repairs). I can't get the drain open (we've got a stripped screw on the drain right now, so I am not sure if the holes are clogged again.)

I have also had (recommended by the seller of the product) a concrete based cement to fix the floor tiles in place rather than mastic.

Right now, I am looking at patching a section, and I am wondering if anyone has ideas for what might hold us for a while, vs. what can solve the problem for a longer period.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 4:42PM
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raehelen

Sorry, I misinterpreted " we have wet grout which is now beginning to fall out on the floor." I read it as on to the floor, you meant out of the floor!

I am not a tiling expert. I have been reading and researching, and because of the type of problems you and others have had, and because of cleaning/comfort issues, I chose to have a solid pan made for both of our showers. That doesn't help you with this issue, but from what I have read, I don't think you can patch a section and solve your problem. I don't see any reference to any waterproofing in your above description, I don't think the vinyl pan itself is considered waterproofing? I wonder if water is not draining from your vinyl pan liner into the drain? ie, if it is standing somewhere? You must be ready to cry, or scream, or scream and cry. If you have to go through another redo, would you consider a solid surface pan instead of tiles?

Here is a link that might be useful: Angie's List article on waterproofing

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 5:21PM
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kirkhall

When you say, "is my grout bad"... are you using the same grout (as in, from a year ago)? Grout has a shelf life...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 4:44PM
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mgedid

I planned to use the same grout, which is now from two years ago, yes. Guess I should check the use by date....

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 4:56PM
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StoneTech

Shelf life is about a year for grout. If it's opened, probably less as moisture makes it fire off, even if it still looks good.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 2:25PM
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mongoct

You wrote:

"The custom shower floor included a vinyl pan, mudpack, mastic...then grouted tiles. "

Find out what specific adhesive was used to attach the tiles to the mudpack. There is "mastic" and there is "thinset". Some use the terms interchangeably, but they are very different animals.

Mastic is a premixed product, it's thick and goopy and usually white colored. Mastic will come in a resealable plastic tub. Mastic is water soluble and pretty much every mastic maker specifies that it's not to be used on shower floors. If your floor gets wet, which would be expected in a shower floor, the moisture can soften or re-emulsify the mastic. That could be why the tiles are losing their bond and why tiles and grout are coming loose.

Thinset should be used to bond tiles in a wet environment. Thinset comes in bags as a dry powder. You mix it with water. Thinset is portland cement based, so it cures hard like cement. Once cured, water has no effect on it.

If mastic was used, that's dreadful.

One other thing again based upon your description: Your vinyl membrane below the tile should have been installed on a sloped mud bed so the membrane itself is sloped to the drain. That's a building code requirement under the IRC.

In general, the main components of a shower floor from bottom to top should should be: subfloor, then sloped mud, then the vinyl membrane over the sloped mud, then another layer of mud on top of the sloped membrane, then tile.

If the membrane is flat on the subfloor, that can result in the membrane holding water and your floor staying moist. That moisture would exacerbate the problem if mastic was indeed used.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 12:10AM
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mgedid

Thanks to all for the suggestions. Looking at what was on our shelf -- The contractor left an almost full tub of premixed mastic which says all over the packaging that it CAN be used on shower floors, although with double the regular drying time. however, with the old grout, and several layers of water drainage left out, it seems inevitable that I'd end up with a leak somewhere.

So it looks like a lesson to all -- Don't go for a bargain on your shower tile installation, particularly when installing a custom shower pan.

I am trying to contact the person who installed the second floor to confirm anyway.

The question is, with our existing problems, is there any fix short of tearing it all out again?

Many thanks!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 2:52PM
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mongoct

What specific mastic was used?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 6:00PM
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mgedid

Henry readyset premixed mastic adhesive -- maybe it's written in a way that applies to drier floors like kitchens or outside the shower, not specifically shower floors? (The tiny, tiny print makes it hard to read :( I missed something about not exposing to water, yes.)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 6:23PM
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raehelen

"Not for use over mortar beds, in gang showers, or on
walls made of plywood or particleboard."

Luckily you're not in a gang (sorry, bad joke), but if mud bed is the same as mortar bed, this was not the product to use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Henry 314 Premixed Mastic Adhesive spec sheet

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 6:54PM
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mongoct

Good product, but not for this application.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 10:22PM
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mgedid

Just updating the conversation, since it seems rightly to have been hijacked by a mistake. My second bathroom floor install did not use mastic. It was thinset - confirmed by several folks who have given us quotes for correcting this mess.

So again I am back to the theory that drainage problems that others have mentioned with their grout staying wet have loosened this large patch of floor tiles. (See thread attached "areas of dark grout lines in the shower")

Anyway, it looks like we are back to the choice of tearing out the floor again, or just putting up with annual retiling. [DH wants to do as little as possible.]

All I know is that the handyman who brought up the mastic and suggested that he get to work on patching the tiles that had come loose and resealing will not be doing the job.

I have had one tiler quote me for retiling the floor with epoxy grout, but I would think if standing moisture is the problem, that it would only add expense, and maybe even deteriorate faster if any water is beneath it?

Thank you,

Meg

Here is a link that might be useful: areas of dark grout lines in new shower

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:05PM
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Linelle

I learned the hard way that grout has a limited shelf life. My BIL retiled a bathroom floor for me. He used some grout in a box that was left over from another job three years earlier. Ooops. Looked beautiful until I went to seal the grout and then it all began to disintegrate back to sand. There were other problems and eventually the entire floor had to come out.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 12:57PM
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