Remodeling showers seems to have been the #1 topic of my life recently. In an earlier post, Home Repair Hell: The Diary of a Shower Repair, I discussed the disaster that was my shower – the floor was about the fall through into the kitchen below. That would have been fun, riding the shower down to serious injury or even death. But now all is well, and since all our bathroom remodeling problems have come from showers leaking through the tile floor, today I have good news: I absolutely know how to get a water-tight shower remodel. And, I’m happy to explain exactly how it’s done.
Obviously, the first thing to do is to strip your shower down to the studs.
Step # 1: We are damned tired of leaking tile floors, so we decided that our “must have” list included an acrylic pan. No more leaking tile floors for us!
Durock cement board
An acrylic pan is totally water impermeable and absolutely will not leak (unless, of course, it is so damaged that it’s cracked). The only place for the pan to leak is around the drain and the plumber who installed our pan has 10 years of experience and used a copious amount of plumber’s putty. That stuff is really amazing. Apparently, we can dig out that putty 30 years from now and it will still be damp. How is that possible? I have no idea but it’s incredible, IMO.
Step #2: If you look at the pan above, you can see that it has a ‘lip’ on three sides – the front piece is the threshold. Into that lip, our contractor installed Durock cement board. It’s like sheetrock except it’s much more resistant to water. If you submerge sheet rock in water, it will dissolve. Durock isn’t impervious to water, but it resists it much more than sheetrock.
Step #3: Our contractor then covered the two side seams with plumbers tape and covered the entire area with Aquadefense. The building codes in our county require Durock but the Aquadefense is extra. It is applied with a paint brush and dries to a dark green rubber coating that it totally water impervious. According to our contractor, we could use the shower at that point and never do anything else and it would be impervious to water. But of course it wouldn’t be pretty.
Prep work isn’t the fun part of any project, but it’s so necessary. This shower isn’t going to be leaking and pouring water through the ceiling like the last crappy job that was foisted on us.
The beauty of the tile comes next, along with the world’s spiffiest faucet. At least, I think so. That’s when a shower remodel starts being fun and my glamorous and elegant shower starts to emerge.