Steps to repair water damage behind bathroom tiles

Kennith Bogan
Saving a Soggy Shower Wall - This Old House

With time, the grout between your bathroom tiles starts losing its initial luster and clean look. Resealing and years of soap scum also affect the grout, and it starts looking dirty. It is the right time to start thinking about your bathroom remodeling.

Water damage to the subflooring in the shower is a common problem. As time passes, the caulk that seals the tub from the shower may disintegrate, resulting in leaks. More vulnerable to water damage than the tiles themselves is the grout in a shower. Shower re-grouting seams may be protected from water to some extent using penetrating sealers, but not completely.

To guarantee that you have adequate water or vapor in your bathroom or shower, you’ll need to apply waterproofing technologies and insulation systems.

What is the need of shower tile waterproofing?

When tiling in a wet and humid climate, it’s important to account for the possibility of water vapor seeping into the walls or floors and the possibility of bulk liquid originating from leaks. Water vapor is an invisible opponent that may generate moisture concerns by traveling through tile layouts. While bulk water may periodically evaporate and exit through the air handling systems, any residual liquid fosters mold and mildew development.

A common mistake is to lay tiles without first installing water insulation systems in high-moisture areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. Keep in mind that the costs of water insulation solutions are minimal compared to those of the future. Water insulation techniques are presented in this article on fixing a leaky shower:

Steps to Fix Water Damage Behind Shower Tiles:

Follow these steps to repair the damage caused by water to the shower walls.

  • Detach the caulk:

Remove the caulk from the tile or bathtub by cutting it away with a utility knife in a careful manner. To remove caulk, you may also use rubbing alcohol similarly. 

  • Take out the tiles and clean them:

To remove shower tiles, you may need to use a putty knife, depending on the severity of the damage. Remove caulk and adhesive by soaking tiles in warm soapy water. Even after soaking, they may require scrubbing.

  • Take down any damaged drywall and make sure the wall is completely dry:

In the following step, you will take down the water-damaged wall of the shower. Cut two inches above the injury. By utilizing a fan, completely dry the wall as well as the studs. Use a high-volume fan to dry fast. Shower walls dry in 12–24 hours. Make repairs to the shower wall using a cement board or a moisture-resistant green board. After cutting a piece to the correct size, attach it to the studs using screws.

  • Make repairs to the wall joints:

Seal the gap with drywall tape and joint compound. Sand the mud to achieve smooth seams. After applying a thin set to the wall with a notched trowel in a uniform layer, re-installing the tiles requires pushing them into place. Patiently wait for the thin-set to dry completely.

  • Re-grouting a shower stall:

Make sure you use a clean grout similar to the tile. Under no circumstances should you grout the bottom row of tiles attached to the tub or shower floor. After then, continue with extreme care. To finish, use caulk made entirely of silicone to fill the gap between the shower and bathtub tiles.

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