Trim kit not flush with tile

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dannydan

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Here I go again with my "luck" picking contractors in California.
This is how the plumber installed the escutcheon. As you can see, it is not flush with the tile, and the handle threads are exposed and not screwed all the way in. There's also white caulking all around, even though I specifically asked to protect the weep hole.
When I asked why it looks like that, the plumber stated that the tile is thinner than what was there previously, hence it cannot be completely flush. While this may be the case, I wish he had told me this prior to installation.
I was not happy with the install so I took it apart minutes after he left. I also don't understand why he caulked the inside of the escutcheon...

Anyway - help, please? :(
How do I fix this? I'm not just visually concerned with it sticking out but also from a water proofing perspective.

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dannydan

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Yeah Terry you nailed it.
It's a K-304 valve with the Kohler K-TS10277-4 trim kit from the "Forte" lineup.
I already spoke to Kohler and it's the deepest escutcheon they sell for that valve.
 

jadnashua

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Some Kohler stuff is a major pain to install! The tolerances are IMHO, way too narrow. Not everyone lives in a perfect world.

WIthout access from behind to move the valve body, it's probably what it is.
 

dannydan

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Here's what it looks like before it was tiled. So possibly they could access it from the other side by cutting out the drywall...
Oh and I know the demo around the shower head / trim is going to give you a chuckle. That's just the sad situation with contractors out here at the moment...

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wwhitney

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If you aren't able to move the valve body, and the trim kit doesn't allow any adjustment further back, you may be able to get a third party larger escutcheon with a flat face (sometimes called a "goof ring" or repair plate, although the latter tend to be quite large), of a projection comparable to the gap you previously had, and then stack escutcheons. Obviously the extra escutcheon would need to be sealed to the tile, with the valve escutcheon sealed to the extra escutcheon.

Cheers, Wayne
 

dannydan

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I believe a plumber should be able to access the valve. Just requires cutting a hole through the drywall on the back.
How difficult of a job is it to pull that valve back a bit?
 

jadnashua

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With the PEX, once you remove any clamps that may be holding the valve in place, it should be fairly easy to move the valve enough for the trim to fit properly. With almost any other manufacturer, there's usually as much as 3/4" of play where the trim will fit, but Kohler likes to do it their own way. What you might find is that there aren't any clamps, and it's just the spring force of the pex holding it where it is, so you may need to add blocking and/or clamps. If you were to press on the valve body, does it move?

You will need to be careful about getting the front of the valve parallel with the tiled surface, or the trim will be cocked. Maybe attach the trim, and then clamp/block the valve so everything is tight rather than trying to get it straight, then attach the trim.
 

dannydan

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Hey folks,
Quick question - is it actually possible to pull the valve back without bending the pipes?
I have another plumber telling me that the only solution is to install a new valve.
 

Reach4

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Hey folks,
Quick question - is it actually possible to pull the valve back without bending the pipes?
I have another plumber telling me that the only solution is to install a new valve.
You have pex. Bending pex a small amount is trivial.

What is on the other side of the wall? They sell panels that can cover the opening as an access panel, either forever or temporarily.
 
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dannydan

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One other question - plumber is telling me this is the tile's guy fault for not roughing in correctly.
Is there truth to this?
 

wwhitney

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It's a coordination issue between the tile design and the plumber. Ideally the tile designer/layer says "OK the tile finish surface will be 13/16" proud of the wall framing, +/- 1/16". And then the plumbers say "OK, this shower valve has an allowable range for the trim of only 1/4" in and out, so I'll position it to center the range at 13/16" off the wall framing." (to make up some numbers).

So if the correct info was provided to the plumber at the correct time, it's on the plumber. If the information wasn't available or it changed, it's not. If you have a general contractor, and didn't change the tile design after plumbing rough-in, it's the general's job to coordinate things like that. If you're hiring the subs, it's your job to coordinate it.

Cheers, Wayne
 

jadnashua

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Kohler has some of the tightest tolerances in the industry, which is one reason why I'm not a big fan. Things like this happen too often with Kohler products. Wayne has it right...depends. There is NO generic install position that will work for every valve and tile installation. Averages may not work.
 

dannydan

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You have pex. Bending pex a small amount is trivial.

What is on the other side of the wall? They sell panels that can cover the opening as an access panel, either forever or temporarily.

The other side of the wall is drywall. It's the master closet. I certainly wouldn't mind having a panel there for permanent access. Sounds like a clever idea.
 

plumber69

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My guess is he didn't secure the valve good enough. So when you tighten the screws it's pulling the rough in forward. Take finish plate off and cut hole in back. Secure rough in so it won't pull forward. Then put finish plate back on
 

Terry

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My guess is he didn't secure the valve good enough. So when you tighten the screws it's pulling the rough in forward. Take finish plate off and cut hole in back. Secure rough in so it won't pull forward. Then put finish plate back on

Or even shim it from the front so that when everything is tightened up, it doesn't pull away from the wall.
 

dannydan

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My guess is he didn't secure the valve good enough. So when you tighten the screws it's pulling the rough in forward. Take finish plate off and cut hole in back. Secure rough in so it won't pull forward. Then put finish plate back on

That doesn't seem to be the case, I think. The entire valve is just sticking too far out. I recently realized that when the builder originally installed this valve they had to shorten the retainer and handle threading (probably with a hack saw or the likes) to get it flush. With the new tile ending up being slightly thinner there's no more margin for error left. Check this out, I compared to a new trim kit (same model):

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Here's the thing though - based on the photo I posed int #5, it looks like the only thing holding the valve in place is those horizontal studs where the copper pipe goes up to the shower head. Does my observation seem correct? If that is the case, how would I pull the valve back?
 

jadnashua

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The red and blue pex are flexible. Some valve bodies have screw holes in them to allow you to tighten it to blocking to hold it in place. But, to access them may take removing all of the trim from the tiled side and installing something the right depth that you could then screw it to to hold it where you want.

Alternatively, you may be able to wedge something between the pex risers and the shower inside wall to force the valve back into the wall cavity so that the trim will fit. IF the depth of the valve now has it up against the drywall on the other side, putting an access cover over the hole may give you another 3/8" or so, which should be enough to move the valve back under pressure. TO keep the valve from tilting, you may need something both above and below where the lines go horizontal into the valve, as just pushing it back from below it, may tilt it and make it harder to get the handle to sit flush, so you may need something on the shower side to push it back, and something on the back side above to push that top back to keep it parallel with the tiled surface.

I'm not a fan of the way Kohler does things...there is often no room for flexibility, and not everyone is exact. Some of their body sprays require the nipple to be within 1/16" to get the head to fit tight to the wall! That's unreasonable, IMHO.
 

dannydan

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Wouldn't pushing the valve back bend the copper pipe that goes to the drop ear elbow? It looks like that needs to be replaced with PEX too, no?
 

jadnashua

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The small amount you need to move the valve shouldn't be a big issue. ARen't you only talking about maybe 1/8" or so?
 
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