Help! My remodel tub surround popped apart!

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Spacegazr, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. Spacegazr

    Spacegazr New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Gresham, Oregon
    I need some expert advice! We recently tore out our 1970's bathroom down to the studs and redid everything... plumbing, cement board, new ceramic tile, walls, vanity, sink, tub, surround, etc.

    The original tub that we took out was a steel tub and the surround was ceramic tile. We chose to replace it with a pre-fabricated plastic tub and surround. The tub is one piece, and the surround is three separate pieces (the back wall, and the two side walls). They 'clipped' together at the seams and the edges all nailed to studs with roofing nails. This all went well. We added studs in the wall where they were needed and everything was very square to everything else. I followed the directions diligently. We finished the bathroom, got the walls in, taped, textured, painted, etc... and then as I was going to seal the tub with caulk, the seam between the back wall and the right side wall (opposite the shower head) popped apart, :eek: leaving an opening up to a half in wide (at the widest spot) and about 18 inches long. Additionally, the back wall piece now has some flex to it, since it was somewhat dependent upon the side wall for stability.

    This is where I need help. First, I need to know how I can repair this seam and seal it from moisture. Second to that, I would welcome advice on some type of molding strip or something that I can put over the seam to make it look somewhat decent again.

    I know that at least one of you is thinking, "This guy is screwed.... just take the tub out, buy a new one, and start over". If the bathroom wasn't completed, I might consider that, but we've spent over $3,000 on this thing and I REALLY REALLY don't want to do that. I realize it may be the best option, but I'm looking for alternatives to that idea.

    I've tried filling it with caulking, but it's just too wide. I put nearly an entire tube of caulking in it, but since the wall is hollow, it all just goes back into the wall. I've considered the idea of attempting to fill the wall with expanding foam, but that's pretty 'un-doable' so I wanted to get some good advice first.

    If absolutely necessary, I could open up the wall from the other side. (It's my hallway wall) and then replace/repair the hallway drywall, as I think that would be less destructive than tearing out the bathroom walls again.

    So... help. Please. :) I've attached a photo below for you.

    THANK YOU!!

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,056
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    seam

    Obviously they did not "clip together at the seams" or it would not have come apart. I cannot see any way to repair this because you do not seem to have any way to hold the two pieces together. They do have to "clip together" or at least interlock somehow or they will just separate again.
  3. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    The problem looks to be that the piece on the left got pushed in on the low side, ripping off the internal connections. These things are incredibly flimsy and need good support behind them. What's supporting it?
  4. Spacegazr

    Spacegazr New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Gresham, Oregon
    HJ - Actually, they WERE clipped together, but the clips snapped off. The problem is that they DO easily separate now... which is why I'm asking for advice. :)

    SouthernMan - There are studs behind the left piece, as well as a length of board that came with the shower set that is attached across the studs in the wall horizontally... but it does not reach all the way to the ends of the back wall of the surround. The horizontal piece stops about 18 inches from each end... but this was a factory supplied piece, so I didn't think anything of it. Other than that, it's just roofing nails that are used (per the instructions) to hold the surround to the studs in the wall at the locations that the factory suggested. (I know the studs are in place, because I added four studs in teh wall in places where they were needed, but were not present).

    Thanks for your replies... I would appreciate more!
  5. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    What do the installation instructions say? I would think that this thing has to be continuously supported with a tile backer panel or something, not just studs 16" on center.
    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2008
  6. Spacegazr

    Spacegazr New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Gresham, Oregon
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,269
    Location:
    New England
    I'd be tempted to poke a hole in the wall of the adjacent room, stick it back together. Maybe some well-placed foam in place would support it in the proper position so if someone pressed there, it wouldn't open back up. Some of the urethane foams remain quite resilient; some get brittle - I wouldn't use those. You might be able to glue a piece of strapping across the joint, then foam it. The foam would act as a sealant as well. I'd have to think about it, but if it came apart, it's going to take some good reinforement to keep it together.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,056
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    seam

    If the clips snapped off, I do not see how anything is going to hold it together for any length of time. Especially since something is creating pressure to bow it out. Silicone sealer along the seam when it was installed may have kept it from breaking, but it will not hold it now. Was anything used in the seams to keep them from leaking?
  9. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Hi Space,
    These units are basically 'one-size-adjusts-to-all' 5' tub areas, and that means they should not have made it with clips that force it to be an 'exact' length.

    They should have suggested putting it together, dry, and then pressing the whole unit towards the drain, or the head, or whichever way the tub was set closer to.

    Then the gap could be noted, the studs shimmed out for a tight fit, and so forth, but alas..................

    My guess is that you did not check all the studs to see if they were completely straight, as many are not. This one appears to have had a 'dip' just above the floor plate/tub shoulder, which is why it appears closed at the bottom, then open, then closed again. In any case..........

    I would strongly suggest that you do open the hallway wall and do the following: Find the nails that are in the location of the open seam. Then take a wide spackle knife and carefully try to wedge it between the back of the plastic and the stud.

    Once you have gotten a little bit of 'daylight', take a hacksaw blade and cut the nail, unless you can get the nail to come out enough for the seam to close up entirely, in which case leave it.

    Then you need to shim the side panel so that it closes the gap in the seam.

    If possible it would be great if you could somehow wrap the back of the seam with a vertical strip of duct tape to help it stay pulled together, sort of like a 'butterfly' closure for a deep cut.

    If you get this far, you need to clean all the old caulking out of the seam. If you used silicone caulking then you need a special cleaner called Mekanica:

    http://www.acehardware.com/search/index.jsp?f=Brand/1005244/&kw=MCKANICA

    Then I would get some Lexel clear caulking, but only a small tube and try it on a small area behind the unit. Hopefully it is the same material in the back, but probably not.

    You want to make sure that the Lexel does not melt the plastic severely.

    If it looks good, then I'd redo the seam, but use painters tape on either side of the seam so that it comes out really neatly. Less evidence to remind you of your problem.

    Best of luck!

    Howard
  10. Phil Clemence

    Phil Clemence New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Spacegazr:
    I guess this isn't the kind of space you like to gaze...
    I like the idea suggested of going in from behind to take the stress off that wall, too.
    You can brace it, but that just adds an additional stress...
    Expansion and contraction in hot water can add to the stress , so any way you can releive it some first is going to be safer in the long run.

    Howard:
    That Lexel looks like good caulk! I have been using GE siliconeII for clear and it is ok, but i like the sound of the Lexel :) One question : how does it smooth?
  11. User24

    User24 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    It is like caulking with honey and trying to smooth that over cleanly.
  12. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Phil,
    I have used it only once to set some chimney support brackets for my wood burning stove. It was not very cold outside when I did it; probably in the mid 60's.

    It did not come out of the tube very runny at all, in fact it was fairly close in texture to the original GE clear silicone, which is pretty different than GE II silicone.

    I actually set my toilet with GE original white silicone, and used the electrical tape for masking, so if the Lexel is anything like that at room temperature it will be similar in the way it works.

    It would be damn near impossible to use the original GE stuff with no masking if you're looking for a cleanly delineated, crisp-edged line. I would assume the same of the Lexel.

    I will post pictures, at some point soon, of the hall bathroom rebuild that I did here at home so you can see the details.

    Talk is cheap.

    HE
  13. chad4290

    chad4290 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    i would remove drywallfrom the other side. a little piece is just as hard as a big one so don't worry. you will need some kind of support, you said you had studs in there but how and where exactly. this design leaves little room for error. i would drill a couple of small holes in the flange where they butt into each other then find something with a plastic or rubber washer to hold it together. the important part is the blocking, even if you have to put in some horizontal 2x whatever. don't forget first you need to remove the caulk and clean it off good. 100% silicone only.remember silicone doesn't stick to old silicone. it's not glue only a seal the wood is the support.
  14. best advice for a cheap surround kit...

    you need to go get some clear duct tape....

    put the thing back in place and run a piece from

    the top to the bottom....

    do that to all those clip together seams......




    that should hold for while.. LOL




    Last edited: Nov 28, 2008
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,056
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    ??

    quote; that should hold for while.. LOL

    Yeah, like about 10 minutes, or just until the drywall is replaced, depending on which side of the seam the tape is put.
  16. HJ....Ok...Maybe Gorilla duct tape.....

    Now, HJ, this was just a suggestion for a temporary patch.....

    I have seen them taped back together with
    grey duct tape before....mostly in trailers....

    it was not pretty, but it seemed to last for a few months....


    this fellow will eventually have to tear it all out and
    install something else...


    its just a matter of when.....

  17. Spacegazr

    Spacegazr New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Gresham, Oregon
    Part II - Removal of the @&*# Surround...

    OK... I REALLY wanted to hear from some of you something like "Oh, it's not as big of a deal as it seems. Just do this and that... and you're good to go". Since, however, the overwhelming consensus was to tear it out and start over, I have torn out the wall around the bath and am going to take out the surround now.

    The problem, now, is that I seemed to have used a very good adhesive (as instructed) to adhere the surround to the studs. I have removed all the wall, caulk, and roofing nails that were holding the edges down. For the life of me, I can't get the surround to release from the studs. Any suggestions on how to do this? I was going to try and get the pieces out as whole pieces. Frankly, I don't care at this point if it comes out in one piece or not, at this point. I just need it out. The store that I purchased it from has agreed to a refund of the purchase price.

    Also, this surround will NOT be replaced with a prebuilt unit. I'll be putting up backer board and tiling a surround in... which is what I should have done in the first place.


    Thank you for your continued help!
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