Tile vs. Prefab Floor in Shower


  #1  
Old 02-25-04, 03:10 PM
Crickett
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Tile vs. Prefab Floor in Shower

This has probably been addressed before; if so, could someone respond with a link? We unexpectedly ripped out our shower down to the studs last weekend because of leakage, and now we're debating putting a tile floor vs fiberglass or acrylic or another prefab floor, then tile walls. I never ever want to replace this shower, it was so much work. What are the pros and cons of both types of floors? Do people put tile walls and fiberglass floors?
 
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Old 02-26-04, 03:21 PM
showerguy
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Hello Crickett !

I have talked about this in a reply before, but I don't know how to direct you to that thread. So, I will copy the reply below for you. I do customer support for a shower manufacturer by day, so I talk to people all the time about this stuff and hear their problems and storys - some of it you already know from your own experience. This reply was based on that perspective.

Good luck on your project!

===============
The history of tiled shower floors is not a good one.

From my own life experience as well as my experience trying to help people on the phone with problems caused by shower failures, the leading enemy of shower happiness is the tiled shower floor.

I don't have any statistics to prove the severity or universality of the problem - I don't even know where to go to look for such a stastic or if it is possible to compile, but I talk to people around the country on a daily basis.

Forget about the cosmetic problems I always hear about, such as mold and mildew growing in the porous grout between the tiles having to be constantly scrubbed out. The structural problems are more my concern because they can damage the rest of the house.

The daily sudden attack of hot water on a cold floor - especially in the winter - the shower floor has to expand quickly. The tile expands at a different rate from the grout. The water sits on the porous grout continually soaking. Combine this with ordinary ground shifting and joists sagging over time. The grout starts to loosen and the tiniest hairline crack forms - the nightmare has begun.

Based on my experience, my feeling is that at least one out of ten tiled shower floors fails within five years, that five out of ten fail within 20 years and that nine of ten fail within 30 years.

The relatively recent advent of non-porus tile grout (for instance, epoxy grouts) may be able to breath new life into this ancient technology, but even with these new materials, ask someone who has been making these things for 10 years how long he will guarantee his shower with a tile floor . . .

XXXXXXXXXXX

If you still have your heart set on a tile floor then that is what you should go for - but find the best installer you can and get the best guarantee you can.

I can just speak from my own experience, and that is what I am offering here.

Good luck!

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Last edited by twelvepole; 04-12-04 at 10:33 PM.
  #3  
Old 03-01-04, 01:31 PM
MusicField
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I'm gonna disagree with the showerguy.

Tile shower floors are not a problem, improperly constructed tile shower floors are.
 
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Old 03-01-04, 02:23 PM
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I don't like to disagree with the pros, but I have to go along with MusicField on this. After 25 years in Texas I can tell you that I've NEVER seen a builder put a shower pan under the shower tile floor. See in Texas ONLY CITIES CAN ENFORCE BUILDING CODES, so the big tract builders try to build only in unincorporated areas.

As an example, 3 years ago I rehabbed a shower in an upscale patio home. The base underneath the floor tile was easily scooped out with a garden trowel. If I had to guess I'd say it was 1 part cement to 50 parts sand, beneath that was the slab, no pan of any kind. BTW, that bath was about 10 years old at the time, and yes the mortar mix was soaked about 3/4 of the way through.

I was glad to hear about the custom, cultured onyx bases as we're getting ready to rip out our shower.

Frank
 
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Old 03-01-04, 10:28 PM
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Showerguy, let me first say, nice sales pitch, tilesetting is an ancient art and nothing in the process has ever been linked to any bad diseases, or pollution.

Frank speaks alot of truth, which is why I don't like working in new subdivisions, tract home builders have their priorities all screwed up. Quality is routinely sacrificed for cost & schedule, sad but true evrywhere I've been, Colo, Texas, Fla, & Mo. This brings up the subject of contractor licensing, but I won't even open that kettle of fish.

I certainly won't agrue with showerguy as to time to install, or ease of maint, but if a tile shower is properly constructed and maintained, it'll last forever & add value & charm to a home. On the other hand, you can end up with what Frank described if it was poorly built or if maintenance is neglected. Grout has to be sealed upon installation & requires resealing at regular intervals, some of the epoxy grouts don't have this requirement. You should also towel dry the majority of the water out of the shower after each use. And any shower (regardless of what materials are used) needs to be properly ventilated, or else you're going to end up with mold & mildew & all the cleaning in the world won't stop it from occurring.

Now I've got to ask the inevitible question shower guy, what do those beauties you sell run. Couldn't find a pricelist anywhere on your site. I had a customer looked into a similiar unit last yr for masterbath remodel we were working on, the cost of the unit led her back to a tiled shower. I could maybe do some business with you if the units are in the right ballpark. I'm not gonna stop building tile showers for clients that want that look & quality & don't mind paying for it, but there's also a market for your products as well.
 
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Old 03-02-04, 02:50 PM
showerguy
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Last edited by twelvepole; 04-12-04 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 03-02-04, 03:50 PM
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My personal preference is a solid surface shower pan with either tile or solid surface walls. I dislike fiberglass pans because they just don't hold up well to cleaning. They eventually look "dingy" and nothing will really bring them back to life.

My two cents worth.
 
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Old 03-03-04, 07:13 AM
MusicField
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Before I installed my shower, I had never done tiling.

Those custom pans that you sell showerdude are nice, but how much do they cost? Can you get them in custom sizes, or only standard sizes?

I built a shower floor using the tried and true layer method as posted by John Bridge on his website. Check out the shower I built at this link:

http://johnbridge.com/vbulletin/show...&threadid=5289

I spent between 250 and 300 bucks for tile and materials for my shower floor. Its been in for about a year now, no leaks and no mold.

Proper construction is key. Done wrong, it will leak.
 
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Old 03-03-04, 08:21 AM
Crickett
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Original poster here, folks. I've learned a lot about showers in the last 10 days. I'm not in the construction business so I'll tell what I've found. My shower is 36 x 36, 41" incl the curb. For cultured marble I was quoted $500 & $600 just for the pan. Walls for $1100 more. Install extra of course. Tile is terrific and has been used for centuries; but if the pan is constructed or maintained improperly tile will fail. I got two estimates for a tile shower at $6400 incl tile and $2900 w/o tile. Conclusions: I'm still in shock about how high these numbers are. I still don't know what to do. I still have studs where a usable (but leaky) shower used to be. We're now discussing doing all the tile work ourselves but hiring someone to do the pan.
 
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Old 03-03-04, 09:07 AM
MusicField
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Crickett, if you can lay tile, you can build a shower pan.

I had done neither before attempting this task. Using all the great info on the John Bridge website, and their tile forum for support, I pulled it off. You can too, at a fraction of the cost you were quoted. And, because you would do it yourself, you would know that it was done correctly.

I don't know what kind of tile you want to use, but ALL the tile for the bathroom project I linked above was less than $1,200 for a local specialty tile store.

Check out the John Bridge site and forum. Look around and post questions. Good luck.
 
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Old 03-03-04, 09:48 AM
showerguy
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Last edited by twelvepole; 04-12-04 at 10:24 PM.
  #12  
Old 03-03-04, 10:25 AM
MusicField
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I don't know what kind of warranty a pro tile shower installer would give, but as an amature, I can gaurentee that the shower I built will worth flawlessly and leak free for as long as I live there. If it every leaks or fails, I will fix it for the price of materials, labor will be free.

If you want the opinions of pro tile setters, head over the the JB forum.
 
  #13  
Old 03-03-04, 02:34 PM
Crickett
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Put out the fires guys. There are pros and cons to both types, as I've learned. Thanks Musicfield for the vote of confidence and the website for tiling. One of the builders I talked to assured me that my tile shower wouldn't leak (unless we had an earthquake) ever as long as the grout was maintained. I'm very nervous about doing the pan myself considering it's the fail point, so I'll either hire someone to do it ($700!) or get a cultured marble one. Then tile the walls. One problem with the marble for me is the lack of color selection: either dark (which looks terrific for about 5 minutes), or tacky (looks like my grandmother's bath). Silly, huh? Oh, and that pesky price thing ($3300 including installation)
 
  #14  
Old 03-04-04, 09:43 AM
MusicField
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No fires here, crickett.

I just want to disagree with your builder's claim that the shower will never leak as long as the grout is good. This is absolutely dead-wrong. Grout does NOT prevent leaks. It is neither designed nor intended to prevent leaks. Grout is porus, just like concrete and unglazed ceramic tile.

What prevents the leaks, is a properly constructed pan. I would not trust a "reputable" builder, who says that grout is what prevents leaks. This is just a factually incorrect statement on the part of the builder making it.

My opinion is that you don't want that builder assigend to the shower pan job, if you go that route.
 
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Old 03-04-04, 11:10 AM
Crickett
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Musicfield, you're right. The more we do the research (including the JB website you mentioned) the more we're going to do it ourselves. Our old shower had hotmop (?) which is a bit intimidating, but we'll do it differently this time. We've decided to make it a family project with tile. Yee haw. Should be fun!
 
  #16  
Old 03-07-04, 09:10 AM
floorman
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you have a good argument there shower dude,in this day and age of expendable things i don't beleive there is anything close to a lifetime warranty in the tile field.

Most co.'s now only give a year on workmanship and whatever the tile manufacturer gives on the tile.

Now having said that i work for a union shop here in st.louis and i work in high end residential h omes most of which are new construction,these builders don't worry too much about schedules and deadlines cause they no that the tile and stone and marble that are put into these homes are what makes or breaks this guy.If he has showers that fail after only a couple of years then he won't be using us too much now will he?

Also if this were to have been put in the tile section of this site i would have responded to this alot sooner,but i don't brouse this section too much.

When i do my showers i do a preslope first so when there is a leak and there will be the water will do as it should and run to the drain and not sit there and push it's way up and out reaking havoc as you mentioned before.

This warranty that you are pushing is this also for workmanship?Is workmanship covered for life as well?I don't think so.Most tile manufacturers cover there tile for life too.

I have removed shower pans that were installed 30 years ago and look like they were just put in.

Now i'm not trying to say that you're product is infereior or does not do the things you claim,but to sound redundant here if the pan is properly constructed and properly maintained then these things will last forever.

Everything fades and shows there age as i'm sure that you're product will do as well as the onyx is not impervious which means that eventually things such as soap scum and whatnot will penetrate the surface and soak into it.

I don't know what other people offer but when i do these for myself i give the people 5years on workmanship,cause when that tile goes in i know that it's there to stay until someone gets tired of looking at it and wants to tear it all out and put something different in.

In the furuer if you want some tile guys input on this put it in the tile section of this site so you can get feedback from tile guys.Ithink you and eric (No offense to either of you)might have something in common

 
 

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