Are your tiles waterproof?

Did you know that a typical residential shower uses 2.5 gallons of water a minute. If you were to take a 12-minute shower once per day, that’s 30 gallons. Take those 30 gallons x 365 days a year x several family members, and you’ve had 5 times more water in your house than it rains in most places each year.

So, for anyone with a shower, water management is a very important issue. Both tile and plumbing can be part of that effective system. Obviously, most water that sprays from your shower head goes down the drain, but, because tile and stone are not waterproof, there is water that seeps through to the pan liner (a rubber membrane under the tile that directs water to the drain’s weep holes).

For a successful water management system in your shower, you need:

– a waterproofing membrane bed that has been flood tested prior to tile installation (a minimum 24-hour ‘pan test’);

– weep holes that are open prior to & after the installation of the tile mortar bed;

– a tile substrate and setting material that are approved for installation in wet areas;

– positive slope of the finished floor and the pre-slope below the membrane of at least 1/4? per foot to the drain.

Without positive slope, water won’t make its way to the weep holes, and that water can become septic causing odor and staining of the grout on the shower floor. In most of NC, the plumber installs the pan material, and some of our favorite plumbers have been going the extra mile for their customers to install a ‘pre-slope.’ Though it’s only a suggestion in the latest local building code, ‘pre-slope’ is the best way to ensure a shower floor meets the positive slope requirement and to cut down on the possibility for mold and mildew. There won’t be any low spots in your shower floor to hold water, and there’s less chance that any debris under the pan liner could make its way through the bottom and puncture your waterproofing membrane.

A knowledgeable plumber will also ensure that your pan material is no less than 3 inches above the finished curb height and has absolutely NO nail holes or punctures in that rubber membrane. With properly installed plumbing preparation and effective tile installation, the water in your shower should wash away your troubles rather than adding to them.