Westerville, Ohio Master Bathroom Remodel – Spotlight: The Importance of Proper Installation Techniques

Today we began a Master Bathroom Remodel in Westerville, Ohio.  The homeowners purchased this house within the last couple of years.  One thing they were a little worried about was that the garage ceiling had repairs done to it and signs of water damage.  Directly above the garage is the Master Bathroom. The source of the problem was not known.  So an effort to remodel the Master Bathroom was to bring an update to this Bathroom: eliminating the Tub, Making the Shower Larger, adding a second vanity sink, and in the process finding and fixing the source of the water issue.

When I originally consulted with the homeowners, they had been worried that the problem was under the soaking tub.  But when I looked under the tub through the access panel, everything appeared to be fine.  So we headed into the project not really knowing what to expect.

We removed the shower today and found the source of the problem.  Most every shower pan (shower floor), whether it be Onyx Collection Solid Surface, Cultured Marble, Fiberglass, Acrylic, etc has an integral flange on the sides of the pan that touch the walls.  This flange is designed into the shower pan as a built in water-proofing mechanism.  The way it is designed is that the Shower pan is set in place, the flanges sit against the stud walls (the flanges stick up maybe 1/2″ but it varies on manufacturer).  If solid surface walls are being installed (which in this case this is what we were removing), the pan is suppose to be installed first, then the new wallboard gets installed down to the top of the flange.  Next, the solid surface walls are installed over the drywall and down onto the top of the shower pan.  This is the basic installation idea.

In this case, what we were tearing out was a system that was incorrectly installed and caused rotting subfloor.  The remodeler of the bathroom had installed the drywall first, then put the shower pan in place, then installed the solid surface walls down to the top edge of the flange.  A “clever” caulking job hid the problem.  But caulking should never be relied upon for waterproofing, only as a sealing function.  There are so many ways to do things in the remodeling field, a lot of different approaches for different situations.  But I have found that many problems we have come across with water damage can be linked back to the installation techniques used.

Perhaps a half dozen bathroom remodeling projects we have worked on over the past several years have been situations in which the bathroom was currently in the process of being remodeled, recently remodeled, or just a year or two old.  These cases all involved improper installation techniques.  Even the best quality bathroom products on the market can not survive in a situation of incorrect installation.

In the video below, I am showing the Master Bathroom we are tearing out, a closeup of the water damage caused by the improper installation techniques, and a 3D plan view of the Master Bathroom we are in the process of building…