Best products for regular shower and steam shower

phiwwyAugust 20, 2012

Tile guy is willing to use what we feel is the best product. Doing 2 showers: standard stand up shower and the other is a steam shower, both custom.

For the standard shower, he'll probably use hardiboard or durock with 2 coats hydroban over it, with hydronic cement poured in the copper pan (existing by GC). Not sure if I've listed the order correctly but he knows the proper technique.

For the steam shower - we need both to water proof and vapor proof. We've heard about the kerdi board and the wedi board. Which set of products are recommended for a) waterproofing and b) vapor proofing? He's aware of the Schluter/kerdi flooring system and is considering. But for the walls, the locak Kerdi supplier is recommending wedi over kerdi for the steam shower.

Thoughts much appreciated.

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Kerdi (and Kerdi Board) is water and vapor proof by itself. Though KB is a fine product, personally I prefer Kerdi membrane over durock or wonderboard.

Wedi is waterproof, but not vapor proof. It's vapor permeable.

For Wedi in a steam shower you need to use epoxy adhesive with full coverage behind the tile to set the tile and epoxy grout. The goal is for the epoxy to act as the vapor barrier.

Whatever you use in the steam shower, make sure the barrier goes on all six sides of the steam shower "cube".

The ceiling should also be sloped a minimum of 2" per foot.

Hydroban in a non-steam shower is fine.

I don't know what "hydronic cement" is. Usually simple deck mud (a barely moist mix of sand and portland cement at a roughly 5:1 ratio) is used for the sloped mud bed within the pan.

Best of luck with your project...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 7:29PM
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Is that copper pan sloped to the drain? If not I would have them remove it and a use a PVC liner, or do a total Kerdi shower.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 11:13PM
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Thanks mongoct and terriks. Mongoct: ceiling will be slopped, yes. Hydronic cement is the kind that won't cause copper to react and is completely waterproof, as opposed to regular cement. We haven't gotten to grout just yet but I've heard epoxy is the best for steam and he's willing to use that.

Would you use Wedi, then Kerci membrane over it (for the steam)? Or is hydroban also ok in a steam shower?

terriks - the copper pan (installed by the GC and spec'd by the architect) doesn't appear to be sloped. But tile guy says with the hydronic cement he will create the slope and that this type of cement is impermeable. He's also fine to roll hydroban over it if I desire extra protection.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 7:22AM
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He might be referring to "hydraulic cement". Hydraulic cement expands a bit as it cures, it's often used to seal foundation punch-throughs; holes though foundations for plumbing, electrical, septic, and cracks in foundations, etc.

"Would you use Wedi, then Kerdi membrane over it (for the steam)? Or is hydroban also ok in a steam shower? "

As a stand-alone product in a steam shower, again, Wedi is not appropriate when used with typical tile setting materials (portland cement based thinset and grout). To make Wedi vaporproof you'll need a vapor barrier. That's why Wedi's instructions specify using epoxy adhesive to set the tile and epoxy grout when using Wedi in a steam shower. The epoxy will be your barrier. If you don't use epoxy then you'll need some other sort of vapor barrier within the wall system. Wedi ($$$$$) plus epoxy adhesive ($$$) plus epoxy grout ($$$) is an expensive way to go in a steam shower.

Kerdi membrane is a vapor barrier by itself. But Kerdi membrane over Wedi board is not an efficient use of your monetary resources. Anyone offering that idea? They're not looking out for your best interests.

Regular old 1/2" Durock (or equivalent) cement board covered with Kerdi membrane will give you a water and vapor proof system at a fraction of the price (roughly 1/3rd the price) of Kerdi over Wedi. And you can use portland cement based thinsets and grouts.

The same with Hydroban. Hydroban by itself is not a vapor barrier. If you use Hydroban in a steam shower you'll need a vapor barrier somewhere else in the wall structure. Hydroban, however, is a fine waterproof membrane for non-steam showers.

So for the products you mentioned; Wedi, Kerdi, and Hydroban...for the "best performing" structure with most efficient use of resources, for a steam shower I'd use Kerdi over cement board with portland cement based thinsets and grouts. For a non steam shower I'd use Hydroban over cement board with portland cement based thinsets and grouts.

If you really want to use a Kerdi "Board" or Wedi "Board" for the sake of using one of the fancy and expensive "boards", then for the steam shower use Kerdi Board which is water and vapor proof. For the regular shower use Kerdi Board, or use Wedi Board which is only waterproof.

If you really want to use epoxies, then have those as well. Epoxies are generally overkill in residential construction. My opinion. In a commercial or in a very often used residential shower or steam shower, they may have benefits.

But don't let them up-sell you on those products just because they are the "latest and greatest". They are fine products. They may have their advantages for certain design requirements. But they can also be inefficient, and even a liability, for other design requirements.

Realize that the vapor-proof and water-proof comments I made regarding the specific products mentioned are fact. But my recommendations are simply my opinion. I have no aversion to spending more money if required for better construction. But I'm not one to waste money.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:22AM
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Water will get through the tile, grout and cement to your flat copper pan where it will sit and stagnate. The pan needs to be sloped to the drain, not just the cement on top.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 12:10PM
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