HandymanUSA — Bathroom Tile Questions and Answers

HandymanUSA - Bathroom Tile Questions and Answers


Rotten wall behind bathroom tile

My problem is that I have a window in my bathroom where my tub is. I just discovered that the wall where the window is in the tub area is totally rotten. The wall is tile but I would like to replace it with another surface. How can I do this, and with what material, and how do I prevent water leakage from the window into the wall? I really need to be thrifty on my cost.

They sell (in home depot and large home supply stores) fiberglass bath tub wall boards. These can be relatively inexpensive to quite expensive and of course the quality goes up with the price, but you are looking at between 35 and 200 dollars for this option.

To seal the window area, be sure you use good quality paint and caulk and opening and along the seams with tub and tile caulking.

one more thing.

Make sure you use drywall made for wet environments. Usually green, it is coated with a waxy surface to resist moisture.

Replacing Cracked Bathroom Tiles

I have several cracked tiles around my bathroom tub so I decided to replace them. Well, not only did the tile come off but along with it chunks of cement. How do I fill in the space where the cement was without having to replace all of the tile in the bathtub area?

Pick out any loose cement and remove the grout around the tile. When you replace the tile, put on enough adhesive to make good contact with the cement, filling any void.

Ceramic Tile Repair

I have some warped ceramic tiles in my bath(about 12 of them).when i took them off the wallboard is cracked and crumbled.without replacing the wallboard, can i repair it? Once repaired, do i just apply adhesive and then the tiles or do i apply some type of mud to build up the surface again?

I would not suggest attempting to make the repair without replacing the wallboard. It will only result in a week repair that will have to be repaired again in the near future.

Your best alternative is to remove as many loose tiles as you can. Then remove all the crumbled wallboard and nails, to expose the studs. Replace the wallboard with greenboard, which is a moisture resistant sheetrock. You might be able to get pieces from a local lumber yard of Home Depot (these get damaged all the time, and you only need a small amount). Nail the pieces on, then you can apply a thick coating of tile adhesive and replace the tiles. Give this a day to dry before applying grout, and then make sure all the open areas are filled with grout or tub sealant. This will give you an inexpensive repair that will last for many years.

Cleaning Shower Tiles

I have some dirt in between the tiles in a shower. How can I clean it up and fix it so that no dirt returns to these small places.

Dirt will return! Grout is porous and your best bet is to keep it seal with a grout sealer.

There are a number of grout cleaner available. These products are acids which vary in strength from mild to strong. The key is not in strength but in the use of a scrub brush with it.

Once it is clean you can apply a new coat of grout. This is done using a premixed or adding water to a dry mix. Spread the grout using grout float rubber based paddle like tool making sure it is pushed into cracks and crevices. Remove excess with the grout float. Clean tile with a clean wet sponge. When the area is dry wipe it down with a cheese cloth to remove powder residue from tile. NOTE Remove residue within 24hrs. HINT Work in smaller sections spreading grout and sponge cleaning before moving to the next section.

Removing ceramic tile

I have 6 square ceramic tile on sheet rock walls. How do I remove these without damaging the wall behind?

Not too much hope here. The cement used will certainly remove a lot of the surface when you pull them off, and try to remove the cement.

You may be better off installing new sheetrock then trying to repair the old.

Bathroom tile

I have tile popping off the walls in our bathroom. The wall behind looks crumbly. It is in the area above the toilet and underneath the window. What is going on here? How extensive is the repair job going to be?

Is your wall under the tile drywall or plaster? Don’t know what «crumbly» means but I can imagine! I suspect that you have water that has entered your walls from the window above. In any event, it looks like you have to repair/replace the wall section. I did this a couple of years ago for a similar problem (the house had a window in the shower stall!) I removed all the tiles and old and rotting drywall and replace a couple of wall studs that were rotting as well. New drywall followed and I put in a new surround rather than tile.

If you think that you can do this on your own then go for it! I like doing that kind of work! However, there are good self-employed handy men and women in your area that can do the work for you. Don’t forget to check the window for leaks.

Replace shower tile or install a surround, that is the question!

This posting is a combo of handyman and plumbing, so I’m posting it in both locations to see what ideas both groups of experts have! We have a 77 year old house with 9 foot ceilings; unfortunately the shower head in the main bath is 2 feet above the 6 foot high tile in the shower/bath area and we have a chronic problem with water «collecting» above just above the top of the tile. We’ve repaired and replaced some of the plasterboard already (about 5 years ago) and now the replaced areas are cracking and crumbling.

We are considering two options at present one is to have the tile in the tub/shower area removed and replaced with a surround (some of the tile is damaged thus adding to the chronic problems) and at the same time putting in new plumbing (old fixtures). The other option is to try to get the shower fixtures repaired without replacement, repair the tile in the shower area, and add at least another foot of tile above the current tile (we’d have about a 1 foot gap between tile and shower head then).

We will definitely NOT be doing this ourselves, but considerations in choosing an approach are a) difference in cost between the two approaches, b) effectiveness of solutions, c) combo of a) and b) in the short and long term, and d) project duration. We just finished a major kitchen remodel and aren’t prepared to disrupt our lives too drastically quite yet!

Any ideas, alternate suggestions, cost parameters for the upper Midwest, etc.?

My recommendation is though you don’t quite have the money to ‘do it right’ right now, find the money and do it right anyhow. or do nothing until you can.

Adding a surround over badly mounted or decomposing tiles can be a waste of money. Removing the tile and installing a surround is also a waste of money. What you are realistically looking at is gutting the tub and shower area, deciding whether a tiled tub/shower area is what you want or a one/two/multipiece fiberglass tub/shower unit is what you want, and how you will finish the rest of your walls and bath. To do anything else haphazardly is only swimming upstream.

If you decide putting a Band-Aid on the broken leg is the only option you have, then please make it the least expensive Band-Aid. because it won’t work for long.


Re-grouting shower

I have a shower that is in need of re-grouting. What is the best way to go about this. Do all the tiles have to be ripped out and re done, or can you simply re-grout over the old grout.

You can regrout without removing the tiles. If the tiles are not loose, then clean out the old grout between them and regrout.

They sell a grout saws (hand held) to scratch out the old tile where you buy the grout.

If there are loose tiles, you can scrape off all the old cement and recement only those that need it. But you shouldn’t have to redo the whole wall as long as the wall itself and most of the tiles are sound.

Bathtub/Shower caulk/grout

My shower bathtub combination is leaking into the unfinished ceiling of my basement. My guess is the water is leaking through the caulking where the tiles and the bathtub meet. The caulking is starting to waste and mildew away. Recaulked about two years ago and obviously did not take. Asking for help in what product to use to regrout or recaulk the shower. Also is there any other reason the shower would be leaking into basement. Had bathroom floor ceramic tiled by a professional in December. Otherwise nothing is new in bathroom. The leak is not a large one and only is noticeable after the second shower of the morning.

Unfortunately this is a common problem when dealing with bathtubs and tiled walls. The grouting needs regular maintenance. If you keep up to it, your tiles will remain adhered to the wall for a long time. If you leave it go, they will loosen and begin to fall as the wallboard behind them becomes wet and breaks down.

Procedure for recaulking should be as follows. Take an old screwdriver (one you don’t plan on using for a screwdriver anymore) and scratch away at the existing caulk and grout. You should break out any loose grout, and any remaining caulk that you might have used 2 years ago. Then the whole area needs to be cleaned out, and then left to completely dry (preferable 1-2 hours). Once you have this done, then you can apply new caulking. A product called phenoseal is one of my favorites. Being a water based product, it is easy to apply and clean up after, however it will not last as long as some petroleum/silicone based products. Once the area is cleaned and fully dry, apply the product by forcing it into the grooves. Once you have squeezed it from the tube into the groove between the tiles and the tub, use a wet finger to force the product into the groove deeper, and provide a finished look. It is tricky, but with practice it will look nice. Make sure your finger is wet, so it slides along without adhering to the product.

HandymanUSA - Bathroom Tile Questions and Answers

Once done, allow 24 hours for the product to completely dry before taking a shower. This will ensure that no water gets behind the caulk. You should also check the area behind the escutcheons of the faucet and tub spout. Sometimes the putty used by the plumber when he installed the faucet cracks and breaks apart, and this will allow water to soak behind the tub. Feel free to use the same phenoseal product, or you could use the plumbers putty which comes in a small tub and resembles silly putty.

If the leak persists, check along the floor between the tub and the tile, and also check the drainage fitting. You could develop a leak there which will give you a tough time.

On grouting versus caulking

I have cleaned out old caulking between bathtub & tile. In corner loose pieces of grouting came out. Should I repair those two pieces (about half to one inch long and quarter of inch high)with some kind of grouting before caulking? Or should I simply try additional caulking?

You can typically use caulking to fill in small areas, it will seal well and last. Grout would be ideal though and would also work. For grout make sure you clean out the area down to the backing board to be sure the grout sticks.

Removing caulking from bathtub

Can anyone suggest a more efficient and less damaging method in removing old caulking from around a bathtub? I have done this once before in my previous home, and it was an ordeal. By the time I removed the caulking, I left scratches on the bathtub surface.

I just completed this job using a plastic spatula designed for painting/puttying, and a caulk remover made by 3M. You lay a bead of the remover on the caulk and let it sit for about 8 hours. Then go in with the scraper and dig out the old stuff. It took a while to dig it out, but it was effective, and the plastic scraper prevented any scratching of the tub.

Regrouting bathtub tiles

I would like to regrout the tiles on the walls around the bathtub. The tiles were put up 15 years ago and they look awful. What’s the best way to regrout and what tools do I need?

First off, you will need a grout saw. (about $6.00 at Home Depot). Then you will need grout (non-sanded grout if you have 4 inch self-spacing tiles) other items are a grout float, sponge, and grout sealer. You need to saw out the old grout as deeply as possible then mix and apply the new grout. It should be about the consistency of peanut butter if mixed properly. Using the grout float, fill all joints fully. (it will look messy,but that is ok). Let the grout set (read the box directions) and then clean with the sponge. After 72 hours of not using the tub, you can seal the grout. If you need other info, let me know.


Tub Reglazing

Wondering if tub reglazing/refinishing is worth it? Costs involved better to do self? How long does it last?

If you have an old and/or unusual tub that you like then you would probably like to keep and re-glaze it. Check in your area and price out having a tub re-glazing business do it for you. I know you can do this yourself with guidance but I would opt to have it professionally done.

On the other hand, if your tub is run-of-the mill I would consider simply replacing it. Check to see the cost differences and then decide if you want to do either project on your own.


Lump in fiberglass tub

I have a lump in the floor of my tub. It has now cracked but I am trying to determine the cause. A contractor just removed the tub and there were two lumps (combination of wood and what looked like spackling compound piled on top. One mound was higher than the other and I wonder if this would cause a lump in the floor of my tub.

My association also had a contractor look at it and he differs from my contractor in that these shims probably did not cause this lump.

What is your opinion? Could these shims if not level cause this damage?

If you set the tub on the floor, measure the distance from the floor to the bottom of the tub, then measure the height of the lump(if you haven’t removed it),and it’s higher, of course. It would be like having a golf ball under there.

If your associations contractor took a simple measurement like that, he couldn’t disagree.

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