ceramic shower tiles falling out

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by wjbourre, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. wjbourre

    wjbourre New Member

    Messages:
    1
    My home is approx 30 yrs old and has a ceramic tile shower. Recently, about 12 inches from the bottom of he shower wall the tiles began to bow out. Cracks in the shower grout noticable. Attempted to recaulk. Worked for a little while. Now the tiles are coming out. What is the most econical way of repairing? Would it be best to remove all the tiles and install a fiberglass shower enclosure or attempt to continue to regrout tiles as they become loose?
  2. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    Grout just fills the gaps between tiles; it's not responsible for adhesion to the wall. If the tiles are coming off, the problem is (I believe) moisture rupturing the drywall supporting the tile. You gotta fix that. Regrouting/caulking will only partially delay more damage, and won't help tiles to stick to brittle surface.

    If it were me, I'd just pop off tiles in the offending area, cut out a section of drywall, attach new backerboard, and re-adhere/re-grout the tiles. It's been my experience that as long as the grout is regularly sealed, it doesn't permit that much water damage. The real problem is around the perimeters, where the tiles meet the wall or the tub. That should be caulked with silicone. If you only have to do this once every 30 years, you're doing well!
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2006
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,324
    Location:
    New England
    Sounds like the wall is coming apart...it will continue to fail unless replaced. Grout is not waterproof (unless it is one of the epoxy ones) - it lets moisture through. That and any failed caulk can let moisture get to the surface behind the tile. Sounds like it is drywall. Drywall has no use in a tub/shower surround except for the ceiling. Greenboard is not good either. When drywall gets wet, it swells, that cracks the grout and can crack the tile (but the grout is usually weaker, so it fails first, letting the tile pop off the now defunct surface). You might also find that the studs behind that wall are rotten. If you are lucky, it won't be that bad.

    A good tile job, done properly, will outlive you. So, depending on what you want, and how you want it to look, you could replace the walls with new tile, or tear it out and put up a plastic surround. Either way, I think you will need to repair the wall. If you want some help on tiling issues, check out www.johnbridge.com , they'll set you straight and offer good help.
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I do not agree with Mr. Prashter. In your case, at least based on your description, what I fear is that you will find tremendous water damage to the drywall behind the tile. Once the drywall is soaked, you can never repair that. So the question is how much tearout do you have to do. It is possible that the damage is largely confined to the lower half of the wall, but I do not recommend trying to do a "patch job". It will be just that, a patch, and will look like a patch, and long term, you will wish you had done the right thing and redone the whole shower.

    Now, I am saying that sight unseen. It would help a lot if you posted some photos of the "big picture" and also detailed pics of what is behind the fallen tiles.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,263
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The tile leaked and damaged the wall, therefore there is no "good" repair except to take it all out, install new "proper" wallboard and then retile. Use a good grout this time and it will not happen again.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,324
    Location:
    New England
    Hey, guys, look at the post date...over four years ago...good advice, but kind of late!
  7. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Ay, chihuahua! Somehow, this showed up as a "new" post, so I just jumped on it! I don't go looking for these things! Hope he fixed it!
  8. nukeman

    nukeman Nuclear Engineer

    Messages:
    711
    Location:
    VA
    It showed up as a new post because some spammer had posted a reply. Something like "You can install cermaic tiles yourself" and had some link. Terry or one of the mods killed it, though.
  9. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego


    Ah Ha! Must have been that eva2100, who I suspected was a Russian spy a la Anna Chapman! I was just waiting for her to post her photo!
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