Friday, March 28, 2014
Working On Up... One Layer At a Time
I should preface this post and a few future ones by saying this is the first time I have ever completely tiled a shower from top to bottom. I've done a couple up above the surround but never an entire shower. But I have researched dozens of videos on Youtube on how to do it and it didn't seem that hard so I gave it a go. So far it is turning out well.
In the picture above, once I had the cement board fastened to the subfloor, I blocked around the perimeter to provide support for the mortar that I will be applying further down in this post.
What you see in this picture is the why for the blocking. On top of the cement board, I installed a one piece 40 mil thick pan liner for the shower base. Water can migrate through grout and it can migrate through mortar but that is as far as I want it to go. This pan liner prevents it from going further and will eventually allow it to drain through weep holes in the drain assembly and down into the drain. The black thing in the foreground is a matrix system that I found for making a curb. The liner wraps up and over the 2 x 4's and gets nailed to the outside of the curb and also to the walls above the height of the curb. This means that I don't puncture the liner anyplace lower than the curb so if a drain were to clog, the water will spill up and over the curb before it soaks into the walls and does even more damage. The matrix system just screws together and gets nailed to the curb from the outside. Eventually I will pack it full of mortar to create a nice surface to bond tiles to.
The next step is to provide a protective base over the liner and to create slope to the drain. The same place that I bought the curb kit from also sells this kit that essentially comes with pre-beveled float sticks that create the necessary 1/4" per foot of fall and provides a reference when screeding the mortar. The circle at the bottom of the photo is what all those float sticks snap into but as you see, it didn't work well with a square drain that I picked out to make it easier to tile around. I got around this problem by just hot glueing the float sticks on top of the weep hole protector so that they would stay put while I was leveling the mortar. That worked well. For those that don't know, the weep hole protector is just a ruffled piece of plastic that covers the holes around the drain base that feed into the lower drain pipe should any water find its way down to the liner. It prevents the holes from being clogged up by mortar.
Here is the shower right before I poured the mortar. I had some leftover insulation that I put on the two inside walls on the back and left side. I did this just for sound insulation and the fact that I had this roll of insulation that has been in my way for the last seven years and I finally found a place to stick it! I covered everything with plastic for a moisture barrier that drains down inside the shower pan should any moisture somehow find its way through the walls. Also note that I am creating what is called a shower niche for the soap and shampoo bottles. That is the hole where there is no insulation. It looked fairly straightforward to create and make waterproof so I'm giving it a go. I will cover it with more photos and a post when I reach that point.
Finally here is a photo of the shower floor with the properly sloped mortar put in. It ends up being about an inch and a half thick by the drain and close to two inches at the far left side. I was nervous to do this step because mortar is essentially permanent and has a finite life you can work with it. I put it off by doing a complete toilet overhaul on a toilet whose flapper was worn out and starting to slowly leak. If I would rather be hugging a toilet than doing something else, you know how nervous I was! But I finished that project and still had three hours left before lunch and just forced myself to start. I bought four 60lb bags of mortar with sand mix for the entire project and was initially worried I wouldn't have enough when I mixed up the first bag but it took me only 2 and probably 4/5ths of the third bag to pour the pad. I'm currently waiting for it to set up before I go ahead and do the shower curb next. It went fairly smoothly but eventually I had to stop worrying over it and just walk away. No since trying to get it perfectly smooth and mark free when I'm going to cover it with tile. It just needs to be flat and sloped properly and it is that.