Vapor & water proofing a steam shower - does this sound right?

kaysdAugust 27, 2012

I asked my GC how he is going to vapor proof the steam shower. He said they have a company come out to "hot mop" (hot tar over "felt") the pan (mud bed) and up the wall 12" to make sure the pan doesn't leak. They use green board, then a waterproof craft paper membrane (when I asked what kind of paper he said 60 minute jumbo tex building paper), then chicken wire, then hand applied concrete, then tile.

I mentioned I had read that Kerdi over cement board worked well as a vapor barrier in steam showers, and his response is that we are not using cement board. Can someone tell me if what he described will work to vapor proof and water proof the steam shower?

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I doubt he knows what he's doing. Kerdi over either cement board or drywall is the route you need to take. Floor, walls and ceiling. Nothing else will do. Some folks like a sloped ceiling at 1/2" per foot. Others say that sloped isn't really necessary as it isn't a "commercial" shower. Personally, I don't think you need the slope for a residential shower....but, that's just me.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 8:12PM
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He said he has installed a few steam showers. He mentioned the ceiling slope and ventilation options, but I'm not sure about the vapor proofing. It is hard for me to question him when I do not know how to do it myself.

What are the acceptable options for vapor proofing a steam shower (other than Kerdi)?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 8:26PM
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To educate yourself, I suggest you Google something like "how to waterproof a steam shower." When I entered that, one of the FIRST things I read was not to use tar paper but to use a product like Kerdi, Laticrete, Noble, etc. and there are knock offs of these products as well. Even if he does what he says, from what I understand, there should still be a water proofing membrane under the tile. There are even YouTube videoes of the process, and, of course, plenty of information here in the archives - easier to access through Google than through the search feature here.

There is a really good online forum for tiling but the system won't let me post it - initials JB

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 10:06PM
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He sure DOES know what he's doing. Let me guess-- this is California? Ask me how I know. :-) This is a mudset steam shower, and from what you've told me, this guy's got it right.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 10:18PM
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Hi, Bill, yes, it is California -- how did you know? I would be very relieved if he does have it right. I don't want to harm the relationship by questioning his expertise if what he is planning is ok. What he was describing just sounded very different than what I have read here and elsewhere online about steam showers.

How does a CA mudset steam shower differ from other steam showers? Is the craft paper membrane a vapor barrier?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 11:56PM
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A lot of tile guys in California do what Bill would call an old-fashioned mud job. That's how the steam shower was build in my previous house, and this is what my current steam shower looks like - it has about 6 inches of water in it at the moment. The hot mop guy was so proud of his work that he left his card on the curb ;-)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 12:55AM
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Forgot to mention that our local code requires green board and a sloped ceiling of a half inch per foot.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 12:57AM
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Three things you can usually count on;

-Hot mopped pans mean California
-Copper pans are Massachusetts
-Lead pans are NY

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 1:55AM
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Mongo got it. The hotmop was the give away. As for the ceiling code, that SHOULD be 2" per foot. The ceiling slope in a steam shower is supposed to be extreme, so that condensation doesn't collect and drip cold water on the occupant. Nothing says it has to slope all in one direction, like this pic of salbwil's shower:

It can pitch in two directions, like the pitch of a roof-- like this:

Or, it can even slope in 4 directions:

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 8:50AM
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Thank you all. I am relieved to know that an "old fashioned mud job" (which we've had in our last 2 non-steam showers) is okay for a steam shower. With all the other issues we've had with this house, I don't want to be at risk for mold too due to a faulty steam shower install.

Bill, thanks for the ceiling pictures -- nice to know we have options. Annkathryn, it's good to know your hot mop guy was proud of his work, lol. I hope you will be enjoying your new steam shower soon.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 12:33PM
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Good "catch" on the Cali deal, Bill. You are, of course correct. The mention of greenboard kinda threw me off.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 3:03PM
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