Contractor put in a shower base, I think it's wrong, opinions?

rudolphjkMarch 2, 2014

I had a "tile guy" build a shower pan for my 2nd floor bathroom. He showed me many pictures of past projects, and said his method was bulltproof when he's done it in the past. After he finished, I doubt he'd done any before on his own.

Several items after talking to other tiling professionals:
1. None have ever heard of pouring cement for a shower base. Is this an "old school" way of building a shower pan?
2. There is very little to no slope. There is a flat spot, and all of the sloped areas have the bubble just touching the line. What is the correct slope, 1/4" slope to every foot?
3. The drain's weep holes are plugged with the POURED concrete.
4. He used a rubber membrane underneath the poured concrete, and folded it up the sides and up to the drain. It is sticking up higher than the poured concrete in 1 area next to the drain and I can actually push the membrane down and expose underneath the concrete in that area (see the youtube video)
5. The drain is not level, probably due to having poured and not checking the level of the drain (see video).
6. The membrane does not come out over the curb.

Video I took here:

What to do from this point moving forward? Should I rip out all of this mess and start over? Or should I attempt to use what is there, but utilize hard pack to add correct slope, kerdi membrane everything, and then tile, using the poured concrete as my base only?

He said the next step is to redgard everything and then install tile over the redgard.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Youtube Video of drain area

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What a mess!

Sounds like you have already done your research and determined that this is the WRONG way to do things. Now you should know the right way.

Fire the tile guy and hire an expert with experience and a stellar reputation. Ask to look at in progress job site pictures, along with finished pictures. Demo this disaster. Do a mud shower pan with a Laticrete Hydro Ban shower drain and Hydro Ban (or Redguard) moisture barrier on top. CBU walls with painted on Hydro Ban. Find a tile guy who uses these products. Or DIY - go to John Bridge forum for help with the mud pan. Lots of info on Hydro Ban on this forum.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 2:07PM
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I looked at your video. It appears as if this was a learning experience by someone who was drunk. I don't think there is a way to fix this other than by tearing it out and starting over. Sorry if you already paid this con artist.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:00PM
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As was said...go to JohnBridge dot com and post this. We can help....

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:04PM
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Pictures are indeed worth thousands of words, so I'll refer you to this website by Harry Dunbar.

A few things to notice on Harry's thread:

1) After the membrane is in and the cement board is on the walls, you can see there are no fasteners placed in the bottom 8"-10" or so of the cement board on the walls. Any fasteners placed low in the cement board would have put holes in the membrane that is behind the cement board. The bottom edge of the cement board will be held tight to the wall studs by the next layer of mud he puts in over the membrane.

2) There are no fasteners put through the inside face or the top face of the curb. Fasteners there would also put holes in the membrane.

Your guy wants to RedGard over what you now have and then tile? That'll put two membranes on your floor; the RedGard and the CPE membrane that's already installed. Based upon what he has done and how he has done it, it's very likely that water will get between the two membranes and be stuck there.

With regular use more water will get in between the two membranes than can dry out in a typical drying cycle. You'll likely end up with a stinky mess. Odors emanating from the shower, perpetually moist grout on the floor. Moisture getting into the wood curb can cause the wood to swell. As the wood core expands it can blow out the grout and loosen the tiles.

If he wanted to use RedGard as a proper membrane, he never should have use the CPE membrane. To use RedGard with a clamping drain over a sloped bed of deck mud he would have had to do something along the lies of using the "divot method". He's not even close to the divot method with what he has there.

This post was edited by mongoct on Tue, Mar 4, 14 at 15:16

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 10:56AM
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Mongo~Why not post the link to your Kerdi Shower build?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 3:28PM
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I really didn't think the Kerdi thread related to his shower.

But I can do that.

Rudy, click on this and scroll down about half way until you get to the photos of the floor being done.

It shows a sloped deck mud base covered with a topical membrane, in this case, Kerdi.

If you wanted to use a paint-on membrane similar to RedGard for waterproofing you could do the same type of deck mud base as shown in the Kerdi thread. But instead use a flanged drain by Laticrete and use Laticrete's Hydroban membrane on the walls and on the sloped floor.

To the best of my knowledge, Custom (the company that makes RedGard) doesn't have a flanged drain that is compatible with RedGard. Nor have I seen RedGard being used with another manufacturer's flanged drain.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 5:16PM
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I called custom technical support back in January and asked them about RedGuard. The man told me that yes it can be used on the shower floor with any kind of drain.

I don't know how common it is to use on the shower floor though.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:45PM
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Whatever mongo says, do. He is the GW bathroom expert. I have read many threads he has given advise on and he's on the money every time. As far as I personally am concerned, he is the bathroom God.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 1:29AM
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Thank you all for the advice. Next question...should I be a nice guy and email this link over to the contractor who did this mess, so he can be aware of what he's doing?!?? Whether it's a con or ignorance, my thought is to make him aware of his faulty methods, if he's truly ignorant he should be thankful of avoiding future headaches/issues with his methods and want to make this right by demoing this mess...but if he's a con, he'll make up some BS or just simply not respond, and at that point I'll make everyone aware on the internet who google searches this guy's company and/or name of what they can expect from his hack work.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 6:19AM
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Is this work being inspected by a building inspector? Does any building code apply in your area? Was a permit pulled for the work?

You could take photos to your building office and get their opinion.

That could be your "official leverage" if you need any. It can also help with recouping money if you end up in small claims court, etc.

In general, if you think you'll ever have to go to any type of remediation/arbitration, or if you think you'll end up in small claims court, your better bet is to always give the contractor a chance to remedy their errors.

Some guys simply screw up and they can make excellent repairs. Others are incapable. It appears your man falls into the latter category.

If you point out his errors and this guy counters that his work is the best, or if he sees nothing wrong with his methods, then there you go. He's incapable of doing the repair. You don't need to debate him. By him saying there's nothing wrong with what he's done, he's given you the out you need.

Remember, "I've always done it this way" isn't a valid defense of not following basic industry standards, or for not following the manufacturer's installation instructions.

Were you to simply fire him and bring in someone new, he could have leverage against you.

There's a lot of wishy-washy leeway in these things. Depends on what the contract says. If you even have a contract. Depends on what the building inspector says. If you have one. If a permit was pulled. Etc, etc.

You have the youtube video. Take more video or still shots showing the methods of construction. Overall shots of the shower, the floor, the drain, the curb. The membrane at the drain and lack of membrane at the curb. If you have empty bags, document what mix was used to pour the floor, etc.

You have a 2-part clamping drain and perhaps a CPE membrane. Go to the manufacturers website to see the installation instructions. Did he follow them? No.

There are general standards of construction. It appears your man missed pretty much every one of them at each and every opportunity.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:31AM
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You can certainly Email him the link. If he's serious about doing tile work, he might be appreciative...but from what I see, I have my doubts. Equally good is the chance that he'll simply blow it off, mumbling something about "Internet Boards...who you gonna trust, me or some faceless dweebs? Been building them this way for (insert years here) and I've never had a failure!"

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:39AM
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