Foam Niches

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by johnfrwhipple, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    I have deleted all my posts showcasing Kerdi, Ditra and the like from Schluter Systems. I have stopped using these products and do not recommend them now to my online clients, my local customers. You will not see photos here going forward. No one asked me to delete these photos. No one told me to delete them. I feel these products from Schluter come with far to many restrictions and that the testing of the products leaves lots to be desired.

    It was my testing of the niches and resulting phone call to review my findings that finalized my decision to switch to a more premium waterproofing approach a quit using Schluter's products all together...

    If you need help with a Kerdi Question email Dale at DKempster@schluter.com - this is Schluter's top tech. Remember that Jadnashua (Jim) here on Terry's forum is not in this business and by my account works to privately promote Schluter and the John Bridge Tile Forum.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014
  2. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Sizes sold for the kerdi Board prefabricated shower niche

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  3. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Kerdi Board - Opinions on this new backer board

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  4. Scarab

    Scarab New Member

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    I know this is an old thread, but I found it via Google after my contractor and I had a conversation about my new shower install. For whatever it's worth, I thought I'd post a few thoughts from a customer perspective. My contractor presented the Schulter System as an alternative to the traditional Durock and custom build method. After reading many articles, including this one, we elected to pass on the Schulter for several reasons.

    New technology can be great, but in many cases, it just presents additional issues and challenges. It would appear the same case could be made for this new shower system. The traditional methods have challenges, but I know the limitations and I'm willing to live with them. My original home built in 1960 by hand with traditional methods and process never leaked. Two other homes I've owned had showers built in 1952, and another built in 1987, neither of those leaked, so I'm comfortable with the traditional methods.

    One of the most concerning issues above is the lack of response from the company. If they're not calling you back, then imagine how I would feel as a customer waiting for them to call me back to fix a problem. I don't want to be waiting around for a company to call me back to help fix an issue with their product.

    Perhaps driven by 23 year old Stanford Finance MBA's looking to pinch a penny, personal voice based customer service in the US has taken a backseat to "self service" via websites, automated phone scripts and the like. It works for some products, but not others. If a company is not going to pick up the phone, or take a minute to call me (or you) back, I'm more likely to opt out. This same customer service concern applies if my call is transferred to a call center located on the other side of the earth.

    In the final analysis, I understand the challenges with the traditional tile shower and the ongoing maintenance involved. I'm just not willing to try the new thing just yet. We start the project in 2 weeks.
  5. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Kerdi Board Niche or Cement Board with Kerdi (one sucks and one is rock solid)

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  6. Scarab

    Scarab New Member

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    Thanks for the insight John. I have to admit I don't quite understand most of the verbiage used (niches, paper, etc. I also understand some of the issues or problems I've read about here and elsewhere could be contractor related, perhaps not experienced with the system, nor following best practices with the installation process/technique.

    That said, the contractor building my shower has been doing it for many years, and based on recommendations, we selected him. He brought up the Schluter system in conversation. In all honestly he likes it, and raved about it. But he can also build it out the traditional way. Given what I've read here, and elsewhere, I'm just more familiar and comfortable with the traditional building technique.
  7. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    FWIW, KERDI is NOT new! It's been in the USA for something like 25-years. One Schluter rep I talked to recently said that he is near his 100,000th Kerdi shower sale, and he's just one of the reps around the country. While the Kerdiboard is a somewhat new product, similar products have been around in Europe for decades. The advantage of a surface membrane shower is that, properly done, it is entirely waterproof, and that layer is just behind the tiled surface. That means that the shower can dry out much faster when done. And, if you follow the manufacturer's recommendations, all of the materials on the 'wet' side are totally inorganic, so there's nothing that supports mold. The modifiers in a modified thinset are a synthetic laytex, which is organic - Schluter specifies a dryset mortar for several reason, and one of them is that it is inorganic. While Kerdi may be new to you, it is not to the industry or the world. At the factory in Plattsburg, NY, they have a 5M tall column filled with water and waterproofed with Kerdi and dryset mortar...the thing hasn't leaked in years and never has. You could build a tub or swimming pool with the stuff. Schluter is constantly adding new accessories and complementary products to their line to allow it to perform new functions, or to perform the old ones easier, but the basis for their product is not new. CHeck out this for some ideas...www.schluterhouse.com.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    FWIW, the Schluter people at the factory said that there is a slope on the niches, so that may have been a running change from the first one you saw. I did not actually measure one, but did handle several. They have more models and some of the larger ones come with a precut shelf you can install where you wish.
  10. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Kerdi Board Niches have no slope - Huge Design Flaw.

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  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    As I said, I'm told there is a slope on the NEW ones...I do not know if they've made a running change (which I said, if you read it all). So, the one you checked may have been old stock. If it was recently delivered from the warehouse, then it may be more of an issue. If you take one, lay it flat, fill it up with water, let it sit, it is entirely waterproof, so, it's not going to leak, regardless.
  12. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Kerdi Board Niche - Call Backs

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  13. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    How to make a Kerdi Niche with Cement Board. Step by step

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  14. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    All I'm saying is that I was told they had a slope. I did not ask if they originally did or did not. I did not measure the ones they had in the classroom as samples. WHen a new model car comes out and they make an improvement, they rarely recall it unless it is a serious defect. Your definition may differ. If it were something that could absorb moisture and saturate the structure, that is a defect. I asked the question because you indicated you did not see a slope. They do not leak. Most niches are not in direct spray, they tend to dry out on their own. If you build a little slope into the setting materials, there's little that would soak in. Much todo about little IMHO. FWIW, one of the people in the class mentioned a new bridge he saw going up (as in roads, traffic, trucks, etc.) where the foundation was big solid blocks of FOAM. They covered the outside with cement to protect it, but the total foundation was foam. So, yes, foam IS a viable foundation if it is engineered properly. It depends on the density and the area - spread the load (like in when a tile is bonded to the surface), and it is very sturdy. I posted this pic before, I think, but this is me standing on a piece of KerdiBoard, glued to the Kerdiboard sides with KerdiFix, the boards only screwed to the wall with no tiles to make it stiffer, after about 16-hours (it takes a lot longer to fully cure, and this did not have the metal reinforcement across the front). The stuff is strong, highly adaptable, easy to cut, light to carry, and you can do some amazing things with it that would take days, if possible at all, in a short time. Nothing wrong with getting your custom sized niche and making it out of whatever you wish. After the walls are up, it takes moments to prep a prebuilt niche with KerdiBoard. BTW, the new, larger ones also come with a shelf you can position where you like.

    Attached Files:

  15. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    This was just a demo that was not finished during the class. The recommendation is to install the metal U-channel over that outside edge to reinforce it. Schluter tried one this size, with the metal, tile, and after properly curing, put 12 bags of thinset on it before it broke away. Prior to that, the neither tile nor grout cracked. With the metal U-channel, you can use it for a free-standing end wall and tile it without worries. Have you seen any of the Wedi free-standing shower kits? these things are stable. I think the foam in KerdiBoard is a little denser and the tileable layer adds stiffness, but have not measured it. If you're going to sit or stand on it, you need to reinforce it just like your plywood decking material, in the order of every 16" OC. Done this way, you have a quick, solid, easy means to create a tub deck, steps, vanities, pipe covers, and pretty much anything you can think of, and with the pre-scored stuff, easy curves as well. That picture was taken with my cellphone, and no guarantees on the optics quality. It probably did sag a little, but again, that is without fully curing the side attachment points, without the metal reinforcement channel, and no tile bonded, which all would add significantly to the overall strength and stiffness. It was a demo that was not finished, nor done with huge care, just to get the idea of what was possible. We would have made the shelf's edges perfect to the corner so it had a more perfect surface bond - actually easy, but we didn't take the time. Tried it, found out how to do it, and then went on to the next concept. None of those modules were anything permanent - they were all going to be torn apart, and the basic wall/floor reused for the next class.
  17. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Kerdi Bench.

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  18. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    As standing there, probably about 220#. As I said, once cured and finished, they had over 600# on one (the 13th bag of thinset did it, and it happened over a few minutes, not immediately). It's not big enough for a 600# person to sit on, but if you did build one big enough, it would have vertical reinforcement like a bench if you followed their recommendations. It is NOT going anywhere if you build it properly. And, no penetrations in the waterproof wall - it's just KerdiFix. I was looking through my notes, and did not see the bond cure strength of KerdiFix, but it was something in excess of 600#/sqin. I'd have to see if they cover that on the data sheet...regardless, it is tough stuff, and in that picture, probably only 10-20% cured. If it were for a real install, I'd probably have put a little more KerdiFix on it - enough to ooze out. I'm sure it was nearly covered, but I'm sure it was not fully covered. So, build your walls, cut the shelf to fit, coat the edges with Kerdifix, press in place, prop up overnight, and it's not going anywhere. No need to Kerdiband the wall/seat edges (you could if you wanted, but it's not necessary), and on the front edge, you can get a decorative metal channel, or just tile it, or add corner details with various trims after you've added the reinforcement channel. On a strictly smaller shelf (something you may not be tempted or expected to sit on), you could omit the reinforcement channel and just glue it. They cut everything needed to mock up a tub deck in like 15-minutes (you'd need your plans in hand), and put it together in another 15-minutes. No way you'd build it out of sticks, cover with ply, waterproof it in anywhere near that time. How about a tiled countertop? A 24" wide plank of the stuff, kerdifixed' to the top of the cabinet (no extra ply or anything required), use the cove at the back and trim and tile on the front, and it's pretty much at a standard counter depth. Try that with two sheets of ply, cbu, waterproofing, etc. They showed how to use an undermount sink with Kerdiboard...really slick, fast, and easy. The edge trims are limited to straight and a fairly small radius corner, but you could probably cut the flange on the trim to bend to accommodate a D-shaped sink as well. You route out the top of the Kerdiboard for the flange of the undermount...attach it with KerdiFix. For the faucet, you route out enough depth for a scrap piece of tile, thinset it in, then after you get the finished tile on, cut out the foam from the bottom big enough for the clamping ring so it is attached to the two thicknesses of tile you have in that area. Rock solid, waterproof, quick. It would allow you to use a 24" tile, and with the cove and trim, just that on the counter to achieve the typical depth. The new TUscan trim adds hammered finishes if you do not like the polished look.
  19. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Kerdi-Board Niches have no slope- Says who? Says Schulter Face Book

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  20. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    The guy I asked either was also misinformed, or misunderstood my question. But, since the whole thing is totally waterproof, it is NOT going to seep into the structure and damage anything. A little slope to the setting surface, and there should be no problems as 99.9% will run off, and the remainder will dry out in between uses. It can become a problem if the substrate is not waterproof, or there's a lot of structure there to absorb it...in the case of the Kerdiboard niche, there's nominally at most a 1/4" of thinset, and probably a lot less. If you take some of the other preformed niches, lay them flat, fill them with water, let them set for awhile, see what happens. We're talking apples and oranges here. FWIW, I built my last niches out of studs and cbu, then covered in Kerdi...given the structure, there was no other way to reasonably do it. Given a more typical remodel or new, I'd probably have used KerdiBoard on the walls and one of the preformed niches - it would have gone up a lot faster and have had flatter walls!
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