Moisture barrier over hardiebacker board—help! New home build

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Hi, I recently bought my very first new build home and have experienced loads of issues and I am worried about my investment at this point. The tiling in the bathroom showers was not done by a tiling professional and I have concerns about The future health of what’s behind the tile given that grout is already cracking in several spots. When I had the post billed home inspection, the inspector told me he was 90% certain that there wasn’t a moisture barrier underneath the tile and so I had a contractor come in and rip out a piece of the tile to see what was underneath. What is underneath is hardiebacker board, but absolutely nothing else. And, there was no sealant or moisture barrier put over any of the screws or seams. My question to any of you out there who have experience tiling is: is it industry standard to apply moisture barrier over hardiebacker board. I have read so many conflicting things, but pretty much every contractor has told me that it is currently industry standard to have a membrane of some sort between the tile and the hardiebacker board.
 

Jeff H Young

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I'm not a tile guy or a lawyer but sounds substandard and I wouldn't do it that way . I'd be looking into whether that work was legal and what recourse I had . I don't think its legal but would have to verify then if illegal approach builder with payment request I really wouldn't want them to perform the work but might cave in to allow them if I somehow trusted them
 

breplum

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Apparently there is a newer hardibacker product that is water resistant but requires covering screws and joints. I am not a tile person...

 

jadnashua

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Industry standards called for a moisture barrier either behind the panel, or on top of the panel, if the panel itself is not waterproof and then, the manufacturer's installation instructions would be called for. That could be as simple as plastic attached to the studs prior to installing the wallboard that is then tiled.

Note, the walls of a shower above the top of the pan are not required to be waterPROOF, but need a means to prevent moisture from getting into the wall cavity. The only part of a shower that is required to be waterproof is the pan, and that can't have any penetrations to it below 2" above the top of the curb. Everywhere else, all's that required is to not be damaged if it gets wet, which is why you need a moisture barrier to prevent it from getting into the wall structure. My preference is to make the entire shower enclosure waterproof, and that means a surface waterproofing. The TCNA sets the industry standards for things tiled, and it has listed numerous approved methods. One study that was discussed at a training session said that 70-80% of the showers built in the USA are not done to industry standards. A sobering thought of a lot of money spent on poor workmanship. A good shower is more than the surface looking good, which is a skill all by itself. What's more important is what's underneath for long-term health.

Grout cracking implies movement. That can be caused by several things. Industry standards call for a movement accommodation joint between all changes of plane and materials, so, a common problem is if corners are grouted rather than an approved joint there. If grout is cracked on a flat wall surface, the next most common error is if the backerboard was not installed properly which typically means to use the proper alkaline resistant mesh tape on the seams to help make the wall monolithic. Any other causes of grout cracking imply too much movement of the structure.
 
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Jeff H Young

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I've read a bit and its an interesting topic, but if it was my home I'd have to get a second opinion . regardless your grout shouldn't be cracking and I'd want some good advice on it.
if it was an old home with no warranty or liability of others I would understand its my responsibility to pay for repairs, but I'd want to get an Idea of whether the builder has lived up to his part and delivered a home of proper quality
 

Nebojsa

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Personally i would have used Red guard or similar over the hardiebacker board. It would be stupid not to. Everything needs to be sealed so that water cannot penetrate the board.
 

Jeff H Young

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Personally i would have used Red guard or similar over the hardiebacker board. It would be stupid not to. Everything needs to be sealed so that water cannot penetrate the board.
I tend to agree but I think he needs more than just saying its stupid like a code that his jurisdiction uses
 
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