door-free shower; what kind of bathroom walls?

kirkhallJune 12, 2012

I am newly considering a tiled shower (instead of cultured granite/solid panels/etc). My tile-setter is very good, but I have no idea about the under-sides of tiling needs. I've been trying to do research and am getting a little lost in all the "right" ways to do things.

Anyway, for now a simple question--if we choose to do an open shower (no door), what kind of material needs to be used for the walls of the bathroom? Greenboard or regular sheetrock? (I am assuming more steam on the walls if no shower door).

As a bonus: if I go for a tiled shower floor (something I didn't think I'd do), how do I make sure I get a really great install so that I don't end up with a rotten huge structural beam underneath (second floor is held up by this beam).

My guy really likes to do mud pans. And, he said he could epoxy grout (spectralock) the base if I wanted to be really sure. He also has mentioned redguard, and liners. So, he may be more old school? He also said he really like wonderboard over hardi--and from what I've read, that is fine.

Any help is hugely appreciated. I have read through many old posts, including the one from Mongo where all the pictures on how to do a kerdi shower have disappeared but seems like it'd be a great tutorial...


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Do the mud pan. I'm not sure if that's "old school" or just plain smart, but my last tile guy in our previous city was really experienced and he was adamant about it.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 7:58AM
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Our guy recommended a mud pan. He also coated the entire to-be-tiled area of the shower with some kind of black coating that he said would keep the shower from ever leaking. Don't know what that stuff was, though, but I'll see if I can find out.

As far as the bathroom walls for an open shower, we have just regular sheetrock. Mom & Dad do too with their open shower. In both cases, the exhaust fan is located right outside the shower entrance and the showers are located by the bedroom entryway. Haven't noticed any condensation/steam on the walls, but if DH stays in for a long time running the shower super hot, the windows will get steamy.

When it comes to showers, open & doorless is the way to go, IMO!

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 1:12PM
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mydreamhome--I had forgotten about your shower! (how could I? Safely tucked away now. :) ) Can you remind me about your dimensions, and in particular, your width/shower head placement? I am trying to figure out if I can get 2 shower heads, open shower in a 3x5 ish space.

Also, is there a place where you posted details about your shower? (tiles used, etc?) I really like the colors.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 1:47PM
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bumped for Mongoct.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 12:15PM
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How does that work with a doorless shower? Does water get everywhere? I like the idea for our basement bathroom.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 5:46PM
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This must be the thread you wanted me to take a look at! I'm slow, but find things eventually...sometimes...sort of...

If your guy likes mud pans, then bravo. That's step one.

He likes RedGard, which is a topical membrane similar to HydroBan and AquaDefense. All three are fine.

You mentioned the Kerdi pictures missing in the old thread you looked at...I reloaded that thread and reposted it with photos as Kerdi Shower Part Deux".

He likes Wonderboard over Hardie...he sounds like a very smart man! I'm the same. I much prefer the cement boards (wonderboard and Durock) over fibercement.

I do recommend you going with a topical membrane in teh shower. To use a topical membrane in a shower, I use Kerdi membrane with a Kerdi drain, or HydroBan with a Kerdi drain or a laticrete drain.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 6:28PM
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Hi Mongoct! Thanks for finding my post!
One question--I've Redgard isn't ok. But, maybe it is. If we go the RedGard route, are you saying you would use that with a kerdi or laticrete drain, then? (I know nothing about drains. Sort of assumed the plumber did that).

And, then, regarding the use of spectralock to "ensure" waterproofing... I'm paranoid about mildew/mold and rotting out the boards (mostly the great big beam that has replaced our former exterior wall with this addition and over which our shower would span). Any suggestions on how to optimally protect that beam? (and the tile--will I need something like that orange decoupler stuff on the floor to prevent cracks from any movement?)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Ooh, one more thing--
On another thread, someone mentioned using a linear drain. And someone else said (not sure who..mongoct, tileguy, bill) said they like to use them with a doorless shower at the threshold of the shower--"giving protection from flooding bathrooms too".

I've been trying to figure out how this works. If my toilet is near my shower, and I use a doorless shower with linear drain at location of the "threshold" then the whole toilet/shower room becomes somewhat of a wet room, right? And, wouldn't the toilet sit not level? Would that affect the function of the toilet (esp low flow ones)? Would the toilet feel "unlevel" when you sat upon it being that it'd be on a floor with 1/4" slopes?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 7:39PM
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"One question--I've Redgard isn't ok. But, maybe it is. If we go the RedGard route, are you saying you would use that with a kerdi or laticrete drain, then? (I know nothing about drains. Sort of assumed the plumber did that)."

RedGard is a fine topical membrane. RedGard is sold through Home Depot, so there is a chance that any naysayers out there might be using the product without reading the directions. Just sayin'...

Now that being said...personally, I prefer Hydroban, but that's me.

If you use RedGard on a shower floor, use a 2-part clamping drain and the "Divot Method".

If you use Hydroban, then you can use Laticrete's HydroBan flanged Drain, or Schluter's flanged Kerdi Drain.

I think the flanged drain method with Hydroban is superior to the Divot Method with the clamping drain and RedGard.

"And, then, regarding the use of spectralock to "ensure" waterproofing... I'm paranoid about mildew/mold and rotting out the boards (mostly the great big beam that has replaced our former exterior wall with this addition and over which our shower would span). Any suggestions on how to optimally protect that beam? "

A properly applied topical membrane gives the best protection from leaks.

The topical membrane with the flanged drain will give you the best installation in terms of minimizing moisture penetration below the tile. With minimal wetting below the tile, there is less chance for mildew.

Ventilation within the shower is paramount. Not just the fan, but the ducting needs to be properly set and sized. But that's another story for another day.

So if mildew is a concern, then I highly recommend a topical membrane, the flanged drain with HydroBan approach, which is what we've been discussing, or a Kerdi drain with Kerdi membrane. Your shower is not a steam shower, so the Hydroban will be sufficient and probably less expensive.

"(and the tile--will I need something like that orange decoupler stuff on the floor to prevent cracks from any movement?)"

"Orange decoupler stuff", I'm going to assume that is a reference to Ditra? If you need that, yes, it goes on the bathroom floor outside the shower area. Whether you need it or not can depend on your floor structure and what type of tile (porcelain or natural stone for example) you are using.

" Linear drain at the shower threshold..."

Some locales do not permit a trench drain at the shower entry threshold due to flow-over issues. Sudsing from soap or shampoo can cause water to sheet right over the drain and puddle in the non-membraned/protected areas of the bathroom floor.

If the entire room is made into a wetroom, not all portions of the room need to be sloped. And even if the floor area around the toilet is sloped, the toilet should still be set level. Another option would be to use a wall-mounted toilet.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:19AM
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Mongoct, I sure do appreciate your generous responses to my many questions. Thank you!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:28AM
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You're welcome.

Now one advice is not gospel, it's not the ONLY way to do things. There are procedures that must be followed, then there are techniques, variations that we all have regarding how we work.

Materials we prefer...sometimes because they truly are superior, sometimes simply because we can readily source them through our local distribution chains.

So if the person you hire doesn't do it "this certain way" or use "that certain material", it may not be that he's wrong. He just may have his own way. Or, he could indeed be wrong! Sadly, we find a lot of "wrong" on these forums.

But if your installer has a preferred way to work, it may be acceptable, just different. Then we always run onto the guys that have "...always done it this way...". Little do they know (or care) they are the reason for many of the broken bathroom posts on these forums so many years later.

Often times there is indeed a better way to do things, and once they discover it, installers embrace the new methods or new materials and they themselves start doing better work.

We're just trying to help fight the battle against poorly done installations, one bathroom at a time.

Best of luck with your project, Mongo

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:46AM
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Ha! Well, that leaves me with great confidence. (or not!)

My tiler guy seems very knowledgeable. We haven't talked specifics about my project yet because I don't know what I want. For a long time, I thought I'd just do a cast iron pan with vinyl floors...trying to be safe.

But, I like the look of tile (not so much the maintenance). So, I've also thought about cultured marble/granite/solid surface.

And, then, I keep reading. And, really in our area, tiled showers are expected (nice ones). And, it seems like I *should* be able to get a good install that lasts forever with tile and doesn't rot out my beam.

My tile guy has mentioned a couple of different ways we could do it in the 2 times I've talked to him (he is a neighbor, and likes to talk, so when he passes by, he asks another question. But, since I'm not going to be ready for any of this until the fall, I've not really thought about what I want yet.)

So, that is why I said, he's mentioned a liner and mudded pan with plastic on the walls.

He's mentioned alternatively doing redgard on the walls (which I'd prefer over the plastic on the walls).

I really like the idea of hydroban, but I've looked for it here before, and I didn't find it (but, I didn't look in tile-specific shops). I like that it is more of a surface treatment keeping water more superficial. I still have some concern about having to span the beam with the shower since I have it in my head that if anything is going to move in 15 years time, it will likely be between the old and the new (right at that beam).

How "flexible" is hydroban? Can you use more than the 2 layers they recommend? I've read it is better to do "multiple thin layers" than thick layers.

Is hydroban the best solution for my beam-straddling, or would a traditional mudpan with shower liner (in the pan liner as you described earlier) be better with the potential for mechanical stresses (we also are in potential earthquake zone--not CA, but PNW). Hydroban is newer with materials science on its side; but the traditional liner has been around a long time.

Sometimes it is good to be a details person (me). Sometimes, it is stressful, and I wish I just could blindly smile and nod.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:18AM
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Okay, so more research this morning.

Should I ask about fabric reinforcement on the pan only since that is where I am most worried about using hydroban? I didn't realize that laticrete has a fabric reinforcement. Can that be used with hydroban just on my pan? That might make me feel better... is that just overkill?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:40AM
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My little disclaimer wasn't meant to scare you. It was actually intended to build your confidence.

If there was only one manufacturer that offered only one product, then everything would be pretty much cut and dried in term of product selection. But we know that's not true. I was offering that there is more than once way to skin the proverbial cat.

Regardless, post your tile guy's methods here and we'll give them a look-see.

When framing, your builder should take into consideration that new construction is being melded with old. That there will be a shower over the beam that bridges old with new. That's not a difficult detail to figure out.

Your tile guy will have his own eyes on the structural/framing details of what us under the shower. That's the part that is impossible for me to critique. If your builder gives the thumbs up and your tiler gives the thumbs up, and your architect (if you had one) designed the shower to go over the beam...well, there you go!

Your shower subfloor will likely be plywood. Over that you'll put a slip sheet, I usually use 6-mil polyethylene plastic. That prevents the mud base from adhering to the plywood subfloor.

Now this may sound counter-intuitive, but over that you then staple down a sheet of expanded diamond mesh, then you do your deck mud base, "pounding" the mud into the diamond mesh.

The poly slip sheet isolates the mud base from the house's framing (subfloor). The expanded diamond mesh helps to hold the deck mud base together, think of it as a bottom reinforcement. While there will likely be a few nails or staples used to hold the diamond mesh flat on the subfloor, the poly still keeps the two (mud base versus subfloor) isolated from one another.

Hydroban, sure you can still use reinforcing mesh in the corners even though it's not required in most cases. Nothing wrong with that at all. Wall-to-floor and wall-to-wall corners. Two coats of HB is normally sufficient. There are mil-thickness guides in the installation instructions.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Thanks Mongoct. I'll post again after I've worked out details with my tile guy for reassurance. :)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 4:32PM
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