Let’s get one thing straight- tile should never have a bounce to it. Ever. One day while taking a shower, I noticed a little spring in my footing. Chalking it up to perhaps an extra pep in my step from getting both babies in bed early, I didn’t give it much thought. A few days later, same place and time, there was an audible *pop*. Hmmmm…..
We were heading out of town the next morning, so I made a mental note to have the hubs check into it upon our return. Well….we didn’t need a reminder.
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I have seen dozens of homes have problems like this during home inspections. The majority of the time, it starts with a small leak in the tile or grout, which allows water to get between the shower floor pan and/or liner and the tile over time. The moisture is trapped, begins to fester, and creates mold+mildew. Furthermore, if the pan and/or liner is cracked or damaged, water can seep into the actual floor below, causing much more significant damage.
When I say more significant, a few things come to mind. Take for instance a shower like this with nearly floor to ceiling tile:
A crack allows water to penetrate the underneath, mold grows and can spread not only to the floor tile, but to the tile and drywall hanging on the walls, and even into the overhead ceiling tile that some folks have installed. Now imagine its that bad, keeping in mind how heavy tile is in general, and how your relaxing shower can be quickly ruined by the wet walls essentially caving in on you. A bit dramatic -but- I have seen caved in showers. In extreme cases like those, you’ve got to typically start fresh; as in stripping everything down to the studs and building anew. Great if you were thinking of doing a redesign, not so great on your wallet. $$$
Piggy back on that thought and think about if the shower was on a second story -or- if the moisture and damage had gotten so bad it went through to the exterior walls/windows… Then you’ve got a real serious problem.
Bracing myself for the worst I contacted a licensed and insured plumber. He came out and confirmed that the entire shower floor would need to be pulled up so he could confirm the integrity of the pan/liner below. LUCKILY ours was not comprised and we would only need to re-tile the ground floor and make it impermeable once again.
After cleaning up any lingering icky, he laid a fresh layer of mortar and evened it out. Next came the installation of the new travertine mini tiles.
Fun fact: tile, granite, and natural stone often have different variations in color based on when and where they were harvested/produced. When ordering your materials, try to order all at once and from the same place. It’s almost better order a little more than needed than trying to match up after the fact, just in case you end up with an oddball variation as can be seen in the top left this photo:
72 hours later, the floor is dry and ready for your wash-rinse-repeat!
Moral of the story: from time to time, it is imperative to check and caulk your wet tile surfaces- especially in showers. The $8 tube of grout caulk or service call to your friendly neighborhood plumber will cost drastically less than if you were to ignore regular maintenance. A tiny crack or give can cause major problems.