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Bathroom Tile Walls

Greetings all. About 3 years ago we noticed our tile wall in the shower was a bit on the soft side. We removed the tile and found that water had been leaking and got into the drywall. This was only about a foot and a half off the floor and the length of the wall. So we removed the tile, put in some new green board, and re-tiled the wall.

Yesterday when cleaning, I noticed the wall was misshaped. 1 Tile pushed all the way through, and the lower corner (that we replaced earlier) looked like maybe a ball was thrown into the wall. Needless to say we aren't using the shower any longer.

We plan to remove the tile, remove the drywall, kill off all the mold we find, and replace the drywall

I have 2 questions. 1. Is there something I may not have done with sealing the grout that would cause moisture to leak through the tile and cause this problem again? I only sealed it once, maybe I needed to do it again.

2. Is there something I can replace the tile with? I am really tired of rebuilding this wall and want to know if there is something easier like an enclosure, or maybe different (larger) tile. The tile we have now are I believe 4" square.

Re: Bathroom Tile Walls

To answer your questions:

1. Even the best tile and grout seal won't last very long.

2. Enclosure are not bad, but they have a different set of problems.

Personally, I prefer tiles over bath/shower enclosures. Why don't you remove your 4" tiles, drywall and whatever else you have down to the studs and re-do it?

This time do it like this:
- Clean the area, get all the mold out. Let it dry.
- Insulate, if it's an exterior wall.
- Staple a thin tar paper (aka "60 minute paper") to the studs. Mark the stud locations.
- Install Hardiebackers and screw then to the studs using special Hardiebacker's screws. Follow instructions.
- Install 12"x12" ceramic tiles, grout and seal. Caulk all corners and ends, around the faucet and shower head.

And just like this, you'll have a "new" shower, assuming that you did everything correctly.

Re: Bathroom Tile Walls

You should never, ever tile directly on drywall, because even grout is not waterproof; it lets moisture pass through.
If you still want to use drywall, the only solution is a waterproof membrane. The product we have used on a lot of renovations called Kerdi, a product of Schluter co.
It's applied as a sheet with thinset right over the drywall. There are tutorials and videos on the details. It works perfectly and solves your problem. If you wanted to use cement board, you would still need to use a waterproofer (redguard, etc.) to keep moisture from getting to the wall framing, because although cement boards are not harmed by water, they are permeable.

Re: Bathroom Tile Walls

Both methods mentioned above will work just fine when done properly. You want to pick one method and not mix the two. Tile + grout + sealant + drywall or cement board (cbu) is not water proof. To get water proof you need to pick one of the methods above. My preference is for a surface waterproofing such as Kerdi, Hydroban, Hydro Barrier or Red Guard.

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