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Thread: Need advice with countertop backsplash and bathroom subfloor

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member beetz12's Avatar
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    Default Need advice with countertop backsplash and bathroom subfloor

    Hi guys,

    I'm a beginner DIYer in the process of remodeling the kitchen and bathroom of an older (1962) house. While removing the old laminate countertop, the backsplash took some of the drywall with it. I'm trying to determine the best way to prep the surface for the new tile backsplash. Can I patch it with drywall compound, or do need to install a piece of plywood or some other backer before I can tile?

    I also stumbled into a small problem with retiling the bathroom. After removing the old tile and about an inch of the mud bed, I found a very uneven gravel surface that was almost impenetrable. I plan to level the floor using deck mud, but will the the high spots from the gravel compromise the integrity of the floor (since in some areas with gravel, the depth may be less than 1 inch)? Even if having the gravel there is ok, am I be better off in the long term if I remove them?

    The biggest problem of all is, I have 2 wooden floor beams near the shower pan hat are rotted through. Could this mean I have a leaking shower pan? How much work is involved in replacing the beams?

    Here is a link to the pictures
    http://picasaweb.google.com/beetz12/House#

    Thanks in advance for everyone's help.

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    You have a 1962 house with a tile shower. There is almost NO chance that the pan is not leaking. Your pan is probably make with tar paper, since lead was usually only used in higher scale homes.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Wood generally needs moisture to rot, so yes, you probably have a leaking shower pan. Tear-out time. There's some controversy about how thick a mudbed needs to be to be self-supporting. What's underneath the 'gravel'? It's different over a slab verses a wooden subfloor.

    The best place for help on tiling is www.johnbridge.com. My preference for tiling the shower is Kerdi from www.schluter.com. This makes an entirely waterproof enclosure, as opposed to a waterproof pan with water resistant walls (cbu is not waterproof, but doesn't degrade in water). As long as the drywall is structurally sound on the backsplash, you can fill the divots with thinset while setting the tile - it'll be fine. Outside of a shower, a backsplash is not considered a wet area, and drywall is a fine substrate, even slightly damaged. If it's crumbly, then cut it out and replace it with the same. You don't want drywall compound on the wall (unless it is a setting type, and even then, it's not necessary) - the thinset will work fine over it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member beetz12's Avatar
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    Hj and jag thanks for the excellent feedback. You guys are probably hit the nail in the head about the leaking shower pan. I figured that's what I have, but I wanted hear from the experts here. I'm having to learn a lot of stuff, and now I have to add more thing to he list for the shower pan. This site is a great resource, and I'll also check out the johnbridge website.

    Jag to answer your question about what's underneath the gravel, I don't really know since I have not broken through. Maybe I'll drill a small hole to see.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    "gravel" is loose. If yours is HARD, it is NOT gravel, but rather some sort of concrete mix, and therefore it should be more than adequate to support a shower floor.

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