What you need to know about How To Install A Tub Surround properly to avoid those costly mistakes! Believe it or not, there is one simple mistake that will cause major problems.
How To Install A Tub Surround
When it comes to installing a tub surround, there is one major mistake made by some installers that will guarantee you’ll have water damage every time. Whenever you run the wallboard such as gyprock, workers will sometimes rest it right on the tub past the tub flange. The problem with this is every time the water can get past the caulking that runs the perimeter of the tub and shower area; the water will do what we call wicking. The is water able to get up behind the tub and tiled wall for example when the caulking is no longer sealing between the two.
Under normal situations, any water that gets past the caulking on the tub is blocked by the tub flange where it will cause no damage or problems. If the installer has placed the drywall on top of the tub, then the drywall will absorb the water that will create mold and black fungus to start developing and if enough water gets in, rotting of the actual houses structure.
The proper way to make sure you have installed the drywall properly to avoid all wicking is to mount the drywall just above the height of the tub flange about 1/4 – 1/2 inch. The tubs engineering with the flange will do what it was designed for until you fix the caulking seal around the tub. One of the easiest ways to recognize the problem is when you look into the bottom corners around the tub, are they straight, square and plumb or are they flared out with curved edges to allow the drywall to bend over the tub’s flange. When the bottom corners are flared out, this is one of your warning signs you probably have or will have water damage.
If you’re redoing your tub surround, then you can take the time to use better products that water will not effect when closing up your walls. One of the methods I like to do when I’m tiling tub surrounds or showers that have an acrylic base is to waterproof the walls.
You can use two main methods from what’s available.
First you can use the Kerdi membrane that is a waterproofing material that you will cement in place with thin-set. The great thing about using the kerdi is you can fasten it in place so that it just hovers past the tubs flange but just above the tub surface. The reason I do this is if any water could get past the tiles behind the grout, the water can’t penetrate the kerdi. If the water were able to run down the wall behind the tile, the kerdi would force the water to drip into the tub were no wicking could happen were the kerdi hangs lower than the drywall on the tub side with the tiles. For something like this to happen it would be a case where the house movement by shifting could cause the grout to crack in the corner where the water could penetrate its way through to the kerdi. If this happened homes without their tub surround having any waterproofing are now going to start having water damage developing.
The second method is by using a liquid membrane like Hydra-Flex to waterproof the walls, but I still like to run some kerdi along the bottom edge just above the tub surface as before. This method is faster, easier and cheaper to accomplish than using the kerdi all the way around. Some people prefer the kerdi, so I do that method for them and the ones that have no preference I use the liquid waterproofing such as hydra flex with a kerdi band around the bottom as I mentioned earlier.
One other quick note to mention which is not dealing with having water damage but is mainly for how to install a tub surround so it looks its best is to make sure the walls are level and plumb with one another. Rather than explain all that here, I will refer you to some of my previous posts that explains some things you can do to correct the problem from shower walls that will still relate to installing a tub surround.