Should the first row of tiles on a shower pan be angled or flush?

threeapplesFebruary 21, 2013

Our shower is being tiled with subway tile above a Kohler Purist shower receptor and the first row of tiles is not fully against the wall because, according to the tile installer, the lip of the receptor (cast iron pan) is behind those tiles. I know you are supposed to stay 5/8" off the lip of the receptor. He stayed a distance away, though I didn't measure. He used a tile spacer between the bottom of the first tile and the receptor lip, so I'm not sure what that measurement is. Anyway, is it correct that the first row of tiles is not perfectly vertical, but somehow angled? I'll try to go tomorrow and take a picture.

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aliceinwonderland_id

No. It's wrong. The lip should be behind the cement board like the picture below. I've linked the manufacturer's instructions as well (see page 8), which your installer blatantly ignored. He needs to rip out and start over. Better yet, you need to find an installer who knows what he is doing because the one you have very clearly has no clue.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kohler shower receptor install guide

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:54AM
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catbuilder

The picture above is wrong, too. The waterproofing membrane needs to go over the front of the flange and not behind it as it is depicted. Unless you're using a topical membrane, such as Kerdi, RedGard, or Hydro Ban, in which case you do not use a waterproofing membrane at all behind the backerboard.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:06AM
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aliceinwonderland_id

Thanks for catching that, catbuilder - I was just looking for a pic of where the backerboard should be and didn't pay attention to the membrane.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:16AM
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threeapples

we have some kind of backerboard with a red water proofing agent painted on, then thinset, then the tile. that's wrong?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 3:49PM
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aliceinwonderland_id

The problem is not the order in which the components were installed (backerboard, then Redguard, then thinset, then tile). That's fine. The problem is that your walls were not prepped correctly. Your backerboard should overlap the flange of the shower pan so that both the backerboard and the tile are installed true with no angled tiles, as in the picture above.

Yours is installed incorrectly if you are ending up with an angled tile. The tile and backerboard will need to be removed and the wall studs built out with furring strips so that the backerboard can be installed correctly. Your installed needs to be fired - I hope you haven't paid him much.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 4:31PM
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threeapples

I'm not sure if these photos are illustrative enough, but this is what it looks like right now. I'm
Not getting a straight answer as to whether the backer board was installed on top of the shower pan or behind its lip.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 5:53PM
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threeapples

Is this correct?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 5:56PM
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aliceinwonderland_id

It appears he started the first row too low, causing the tilt - that is incorrect. At the very least, your installer is either lying to you about why the bottom tiles are tilted or he doesn't actually know why the bottom tile is tilted, in which case he is incompetent, I can't tell from your pictures whether or not the backerboard overlaps the flange.

First, insist on a very clear answer about how it was installed - have him draw it for you to show how the layers line up and overlap (or not, as the case may be). It needs to be installed correctly with the backerboard where it belongs and the first course of tile should not tilt.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 6:27PM
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threeapples

If he allowed for 5/8" up before the first tile, which is what Kohler suggests, it would not tilt? How will the glass door close properly if the tilt remains?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 6:40PM
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catbuilder

You don't know if it would tilt, because you don't know where exactly the backerboard was installed in relation to the pan. You need to find that out. The front face of the backerboard needs to be proud of the lip of the pan. Also, how did he waterproof the joint at the bottom of the backerboard?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:09PM
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threeapples

I have no idea how he waterproofed it. He should have put a bead of silicone along the bottom, right? We are going to talk to him about it in person and ask all kinds of questions to make sure all is ok.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:53PM
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Build-It-Once

If your walls are flat and straight before you start tiling you can get a beautiful tile job. I have always said that if you do a good job preparing with boards fitting nicely and joints taped and sealed, you should be able to look at the project and say that the tile is a formality.

It takes A LOT of skill to fix crooked walls and to get a straight, flat tile job. That person is called a tile-SETTER, not a tile-person. It takes the skills of a mason because the mortar bed needs to be thicker and requires a good hand and eye.

PS: The backerboard never goes over the flange...

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 10:26AM
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threeapples

The Kohler instructions suggest it go in front if the lip. That is not correct?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 12:16PM
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threeapples

Forgot to say, that photo was taken before tile went in. Can you tell anything about installation from it?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 12:17PM
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bill_vincent

THe backerboard should stop just ABOVE the flange, so it won't kick out, and then the tile comes down over it, leaving just enough for a caulk joint between the tile and the shower receptor.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:31PM
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threeapples

Does it look like it was done right, Bill? Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 10:44PM
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bill_vincent

It looks like he did what he could with it, from the pic you posted yesterday 17:53. It almost looks like the flange might've come out past the face of the cement board, which would be on the framer, more than the tile guy, but it could've been alleviated by adding a layer of 1/4" cement board OVER the 1/2" that he DID put in. That would bring it out past the flange. Being that it's a wall that goes no further than what you see in the pic, it wouldn't have affected anything else, so it would've been possible, and it would've given you a flat wall all the way to the tub. But at this point, it is, what it is, and without doing alot of tear out for not much benefit, it's as good as it's going to get.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:05AM
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threeapples

Ok, Bill, but might we have water problems? How Di we handle the row of diagonal tiles at the bottom?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 8:35AM
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threeapples

So I should deal with the diagonal tiles? It looks bad especially since the subway is such a linear design. Also, these diagonal tiles will impact the fit of the glass door, right?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:07PM
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aliceinwonderland_id

Why in the world should you have to deal with a job that looks bad? Whether it was the framer or the tile setter, you have a bad job. Insist that they make it right. You are paying for the job.

A framer that installs incorrectly did a poor job and should have to redo it. A tile setter that goes merrily on his was setting tiles that look bad and tells you you will have to live with tilted tiles when you absolutely should not have to live with them, did a poor job and should have to redo it. When he first noticed the framing was wrong, he should have brought it to your attention so it could be made right rather than installing the tile.

Lots of tear-out for not much benefit? Having a tile wall that looks bad is unacceptable. Period. Mistakes were made. Regardless of who made them, the homeowner certainly shouldn't have to live with shoddy work.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 2:33PM
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threeapples

I agree with you, Alice and will be adamant it be fixed. My husband worried that tryi g to remove the thinset fom the shower pan lip will damage the shower pan. Might there be a way to remove it without damaging g the finish and causing cracks to the enamel? So tired of shower issues in my house.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 2:54PM
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threeapples

Sorry for the typos. I've been using my phone and I guess I missed my errors.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 3:38PM
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bill_vincent

FIrst off, there shouldn't be water issues any more than if it were flat. However, if you're installing a glass door, that would certainly be a problem. Now, I don't know if I'm misssing something-- the picture I'm looking at-- the tile only SILGHTLY cants out at the bottom, NOT EVEN enough to kick out glass panels or doors. but you're talking about tiles being almost diagonal to the wall, so I'm wondering if I'm missing something here. If it IS, in fact, that bad, I agree with alice-- it should be fixed, no matter WHAT it takes. If it's just a slight cant, like what I'm seeing in the pic I specified in my last post, I'd see about getting the glass guy in and if it's a problem, it gets fixed. if not, Personally, I wouldn't bother with it. I also wouldn't use that same tile guy again. As for damaging the pan lip, if you use a painter's 5 in 1 tool and a hammer, you should be able to tap lightly and clean the thinset off without damaging that lip.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 3:54PM
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threeapples

I mean that the fact that the backer board was not installed proud of the pan lip as the directions state is what concerns me about water dage behind the walls. The diagonal is slight, but its noticeable all around the perimeter of the pan. He set the thinset directly against the pan.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 4:11PM
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bill_vincent

If it's all the way around, that sounds like it wasn't framed properly and the plumber tried to center the pan, BOTH of which comes down to hiding mistakes and expecting the tile guy to take care of it for them. THe more you tell me, the more I feel for this tile guy. but he, instead of going over it like that, should've rejected the installation until it was done right. I don't think there will be any problems mechanically speaking. But aesthetically, speaking, this needs a redo. I have a feeling as major as the work will be to do it (tearing down the bottom two feet, and the wall opposite the wet wall, and then moving the pan tight to the studs on two walls, padding out the third, and putting it back together again), you may have a real problem getting it done. I wouldn't want to be in your position right now.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 5:43PM
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threeapples

You can feel that the pan is tight to the studs on the wet wall, but there is nowhere to reach up and test on the wall opposite the wet wall. They need to rip out the walls and pan to determine how to proceed?

Am I overreacting about this not being acceptable?

This post was edited by threeapples on Sun, Feb 24, 13 at 19:48

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 6:25PM
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mongoct

I've installed several of the Kohler CI shower receptors.

For clarity...the bottom edge of the tile isn't supposed to be 5/8" above the top of the receptor. The tile backer board is held a minimum of 5/8" above the top of the receptor. The tile itself can go lower.

Whenever the tiles get kicked out like that, it's a sign that your wall studs needed to be furred out before the backer board got installed over the studs. Or as Bill wrote, another layer of cement board could have been put over the first. Your wall simply needed to be "thicker."

I furr the studs by ripping strips off the edge of a 2x4 to whatever thickness is needed. Usually 3/16" give or take. It depends on the tolerances used in the initial wall framing. Those strips go right on the exposed edges of the studs to furr the wall out a bit. Then the backer board gets installed.

Then the tile get set with no interference from the radius of the receptor's flange.

Look at the diagrams at the top of page 8 in this pdf, you can see the furring strips, or "shims" between the wall studs and the tile backer board:

http://www.us.kohler.com/webassets/kpna/catalog/pdf/en/1009404_2.pdf

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 6:04PM
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bill_vincent

If all three walls have the bottom row sticking out, then all three walls have that lip sticking off the wall. If it's NOT sticking off the wall, then the only other probable explanation is that he brought the cement board down OVER the lip, Either or. If it came down over the lip, then it's a simple fix of cutting out the bottom couple of courses, along with the cement board, and redoing it properly

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:27PM
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threeapples

Thanks, everyone. Our builder insisted it be done right and the bottom two courses were removed and redone. The pan was constructed properly, but the tiles came down too low and the angle was not acceptable. I'll check in on it today and report back.

Bill, did you happen to see my thread "is my shower floor ruined"? We had an identical situation to StacyNeil's that I tea about on John Bridge. We are replacing the thinset and tile and plan to
use a black marble instead of the carrera, but I wondered if you had any tips. My tile setter insists the problem was caused by our sealant, but I feel like its got to be something different. The tiles we removed have turned to normal color once they had time off the thinset. If it were a sealant problem they'd be dark and stained even when removed, right?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:14AM
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hobokenkitchen

I have no idea as to whether it is correctly installed in terms of potential water issues, and I can see that the bottom tile is slightly off, but looking at the back wall where you can't see it from the side it looks totally fine.
Are there areas which look worse than your pics? Because you are saying they are diagonal to the wall and I'm only seeing a slight angle on the piece you can see from the side. Can't tell on the other wall.

I agree a home owner shouldn't have to accept shoddy work, but provided the behind the tile stuff is done right I personally would probably be ok with that. At least ok enough to not want to deal with ripping it all out and starting again.
Anyway I just wanted you to know that from a non expert, third party perspective it doesn't look bad to me.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:20AM
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threeapples

Thanks, everyone. It bugged me enough that we had our tile setter rip the tiles out and redo it. It's done properly now and we're glad and calm knowing we now have straight tiles and the right installation.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 9:58PM
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