Need some advice

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by mziese1, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. mziese1

    mziese1 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    This past July my wife and I hired a contractor to finish our basement. It was already plumbed for a bath so we decided to put in a full bath, tub, toilet and vanity. We were taking bids on someone doing the bathroom and my contractor said that he could do it and for about $600 less then the other bids we received. We asked him if he had done baths before and he said he had not only referbed old ones, but had also done new installs too. Since the rest of his work was above par, we decided... why not. Save a few hundred bucks.. Well I think we made a big mistake. Around this past Thanksgiving he stopped showing up. We called him a dozen times at various numbers and even emailed him. But no reply. It's like the earth just swallowed him up. This left us in a dilemma to say the least. I am a good carpenter and handy man. I use to build houses from the ground up. Rough framing and finish. But I have never worked on installing bathrooms. Minor plumbing around the house yeah, but not tiling. I told my wife that I would try and finish it up myself since I am now on a fixed income. I went to work to finish up the shower wall. That is when I started noticing things. The tile used on the walls is a 12x12 porcelian. All the threads I have come across on installing tiles in a shower/tub surround suggest using a Durarock board, which the disappearing contrator did use. And also spacing the tiles 1/16 to no more then 1/8" apart. Here is the problem(s). Some of the tiles have as much as 1/4" gap which was covered up with grout. Others have less the 1/32" gaps. Well actually these tiles are butted up againt one another the grout line looked like 1/16 until you scrap a little away and you see that this grout is actaully sitting between the beveled edges of the tile. When I stared to remove the grout he layed in one inside corner (1/4" gap) I noticed that the Durarock boards didn't even meet at the corners and that he didn't even use fiberglass tape to seal the gaps.

    What I am thinking of doing is to remove all the tiles ( I have enough spares to complete a new set). I am then going to get new Durarock and screw and tape it the correct way. What I will do is start at the top (this is approximately 7' above the floor line) and score (cut into the old board) and work my way around and down to the tub. I will leave the board that is above the tile line since it will never get wet. At least I don't this it will. I will then install the new board, tape and re-tile.

    Questions..

    Does anyone here think this will work?

    Should I put a vapor barrier behind the Durarock. I'm sure he also didn't do that and I have seen similar threads that suggest a 6mil poly on the studs and the board over it (we are lucky in that we have very low humidity)? Also one wall is an outside wall and there is isulation between the outside wall and studs. The whole basement was insulated when we purchased it.

    Or skip the VB and just tape the corners and seams of the board and put the thinset right over it and lay the tiles?

    What type thinset should I use?

    And should I go with a polyblend grout? You see, one thing I discovered was that this contractor used a sanded grout.

    And one person I talked to suggested running a bead of caulk above the top tiles and along where the tub and tiles meet.

    I'd appreciate any help in this matter. Thanks.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2008
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,537
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    contractor

    If you were in this area and he was a licensed contractor, you could file a complaint with the contractor registration board and they would either make him redo the bad work and finish it, OR have another contractor do it and put the first one out of business until he repaid them the cost of the second contractor's work. If he was not a licensed contractor, then shame on you, and you got what you paid for.
  3. fiasco

    fiasco New Member

    Messages:
    43
    I'm not a licensed contractor. Doesn't mean I don't do outstanding work.
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,943
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    The reason they license contractors is to protect homeowners.
    And in the process, it protects the contractors too.

    If you are doing work for others, you should carry insurance in case you burn down, or flood a home.
    It can happen to the best of us.
    In Washington State, they also require a performance bond, to ensure there are enough assets to complete a job when the contractor pulls off the job.

    On tile,
    Some installers don't like a vapor barrier between the studs. They like a little air back there, so that the moisture isn't trapped.
    They do sometimes put a barrier on the stud themselves.
    you can also check out www.johnbridge.com
    for more information on tile.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2008
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The issue of vapor barrier raises some issues which still can confuse me.

    In general, cement board is supposed to have a vapor barrier behind it, because it is not 100% waterproof. BUT, then comes the issue of outside walls. A general principal seems to be that there should only be a vapor barrier on one side of a wall, so if you are doing cement board on an outside wall, now what?? I don't know the answer to this.


    About the tiles: To some extent, grout line size is a matter of aesthetics and preference. In general, 4" wall tile should be just the bosses butted together. 6 to 8" tiles , 1/16 to 1/8" can be appropriate, and 12" tiles, 1/4" grout line can be appropriate. "Rough" tiles like saltillo can support as much as a 1/2" grout line on 12" tiles. Grout lines should be consistent throughout a given job.
  6. mziese1

    mziese1 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Believe me. We intend to contact a lawyer and also the BBB and I will look to see if there is some type of local govenmental agency that regulates licenses.

    Now, please back to my original questions.

    1) These are 12"x12" porcelain tiles. They are going over top of Durarock. So, should I bother to put a plastic VB over the studs prior to installing the Durarock board? Or is this over kill? Since Durarock's web site states that their product is resistant to moisture and mildew.

    2) What type of thin-set should I use? Laticrete or can AcrylPro be used? The latter comes premixed in a plastic tub.

    3) Since this tile is going on a shower wall, should I keep the gap to 1/8"?
    Reason I ask this is because I have seen threads on other sites and I believe here that state since these tiles are going in a shower/tub surround that you should limit the gap because a "non-sanded polyblend" grout must be used. I also read somewhere on my searches that you cannot use "sanded" grout because water can penetrate "sanded" grout and seep all the way back to the board and this is where you mold and mildew flourish. Also i have read that a polyblend will not work in gaps that are 1/4". Is this true?

    Thanks to all who did respond to my thread.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,948
    Location:
    New England
    Yes, use a vapor barrier; either tar paper or plastic. Lap it down over the tub's tiling flange. If you are going over insulation that has a vapor barrier, slash some long slices through it so that any moisture won't be trapped between them. Do tape the seams with the alkali resistant mesh tape (not the same as is used for drywall although it looks the same). The size of the grout line is personal preference, but the smaller it is, the harder it is to get the tile to be flush and to keep the grout lines aligned. Some tile are quite consistent in size, some are not. The more out of whack they are, the bigger the grout line needs to be. I you opt for a grout line greater than 1/8", you need to use sanded grout. At 1/8" you can use that or unsanded, or if smaller, you need unsanded. Industry standard calls for an expansion seam at the tub and corners. If you don't like caulk, you could try one of the tile-in expansion joints from www.schluter.com. If you do that, you would not need any grout in the shower area. They come in various colors and sizes to fit most tiled applications, if you like the style. they're used in Europe much more than here.

    In an area where things are wet, do NOT use the pre-mixed stuff...used a decent modified thinset, something like Custom's Versabond is adequate. The reason the stuff in the bucket stays useable is that it doesn't get any air to it. Porcelain is nearly impervious, but any moisture that does get through will stay around for a long time. This can cause the pre-mixed crap to either stay plyable or re-emulsify. Plus, it is usually not allowed for bigger tile than around 6", since it has to dry from the edges...it will take forever, if at all, to dry. You don't want your tile left like that.

    I'll reiterate...you can get great tiling info at www.johnbridge.com.
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The cement board by nature tends to not mildew when wet, and is undamaghed by moisture, but it is not absolutely waterPROOF, in the sense that if it is continuously wet, it will be damp all the way through, hence the requirement that the wood substrate...studs, floor, etc. be protected.

    The pros on johnbridge generally recommend to always use thinset, rather than mastic, in a shower. They do acknowledge that AcrylPro is ANSI rated Type 1, and is listed for shower application. I recently used it in a shower I did at my daughter's house. So far, so good!
  9. davefoc

    davefoc New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    California
    mziese1,
    You might consider buying a book on tiling or tiled showers. This is not to say that in anyway this forum or the john bridge forum aren't very useful sources of information that might provide adequate information especially given that you seem to have some ideas about how to do it. But I have found it useful to have a book in addition to the advice that is available on the internet.

    I have done a wide variety of maintenance tasks over the last few years but far and away the most difficult thing that I do is building a tile shower. It takes the widest variety of skills, tools and knowledge and a single mistake or misconception about how it is supposed to be done can have very large negative consequences. It is the most rewarding in terms of opportunity to be creative and build something that can be beautiful and useful so I am not trying to discourage you here and I wish you good luck on your project.
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    It means your a jack leg!
  11. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Being a jackleg still doesn't necessarily mean he's a hack, though.

    And anyway, I think he's a homeowner/DIYer.

    BTW, it's "you're".

    Fiasco - perhaps you can settle this by posting pics of work you've done? Oh, you already did:

    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?p=60882#post60882

    (if you go to previous page, he has in-progress pics, too)
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2008
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,537
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Good for you

    I'm not a licensed contractor. Doesn't mean I don't do outstanding work.

    It also means you probably do not pay sales tax, have insurance, have a bond, and it also means that if the customer decided to save money, he/she would not have to pay you and you would have absolutely NO DEFENSE to make them pay you. To quote Dirty Harry, "Do you feel lucky?" I hope so, because you are operating on luck, and one bad luck episode could bury you. In this area, if the contractor registration board heard of you you would be taken to court, charged with a felony, put out of business, AND prohibited from starting a legitimate business for a number of years.
    [​IMG]
  13. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Well stated HJ! On the other hand if you are a DIYer as Frenchie suggested you are not operating as a contractor and the licensing is a moot point! In that case the link frenchie provided showing your DIYer skills I say Nice work!
    Just don't do it for hire without a license!
  14. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    hj.....you need to use some quote marks, otherwise we might misconstrue your comments!
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