Home & Garden

Advice repair bathroom wall

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 19th, 2023 9:08 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Jan 12, 2023
7 posts
1 upvote
Vancouver,BC

Advice repair bathroom wall

Hi,
after having looked a few youtube and read some articles, I am still unsure how I should address the issue I have in my bathroom.
I just bought a condo built in 1990, and after a few days I noticed the wall being swollen and some tiles were moving if I press on it . I removed one and found out the drywall is very soft/squishy and a bit of mold is visible .
Only the larger wall is impacted.

I talked to a few contractors but this job seems to be within the 5,000 mark and as I just started paying off my mortgage, I don't have this kind of money right now.

I know the best would be to take all 3 walls down and replace with proper waterproof board ( maybe insulation as well) them retile . I am not opposed to try a DIY here but it seems scary , and especially I can't find what exactly needs to be done .

Is there a good solution , maybe intermediate that can be both cost effective and efficient ?
What would I need exactly to get started ?

I appreciate the guidance as I feel like running in circle and not knowing where to start or what the scope would be. really .
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29 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
4720 posts
4221 upvotes
Toronto
Got another bathroom in the condo?

The only real solution is to gut the shower area at least to see how far the moisture/mold damage goes.

Frankly that doesn't even look like cement board, let alone any sort of waterproof membrane. The walls need to come out at a minimum.

What specific work did the contractors quote? If they're telling you $5K then it must be a full replacement of at least the shower enclosure walls with new drywall/waterproofing and tile.

If you have another shower to use and are handy, then you can take your time and DIY this for a LOT less money. 90% of the cost will be the tile you select, if you go with a tiled wall again.
Member
Sep 30, 2010
223 posts
220 upvotes
Mississauga
yep, looks like builder quality shower. no water proofing, tiles straight onto green board. sad

should really just redo it, tiling around a tub is not THAT hard if you don't do any custom niches and intricate tile work, like if you just change that to a nice 12x24 ceramic which only cost a few bucks a pop. its definitely DIY-able.. most of the cost will come from tools if you don't have them already

if you do decide to DIY:

1) make sure you have another washroom, (or a friendly neighbor) because it will take longer than you think lol
2)use a easy to use system like schluter - kerdi board is super light and easy to bring into a condo.. unlike cement board
3) take your time, especially during framing to make sure you follow the golden 3, plumb, level, square - this will making laying tile a cakewalk
Member
Nov 24, 2007
318 posts
324 upvotes
Toronto
I think you should investigate why there is that much moisture behind the wall
Deal Addict
User avatar
Feb 3, 2005
4890 posts
956 upvotes
Georgetown
I just did this in my own house - it is doable (youtube videos can teach you the basic skills... I recommend Home Renovision DIY... a Canadian guy who makes great instructional videos with the details you need to do it right).

Removing the existing walls is surprisingly easy (although you may want to ensure a clean cut/edge if you are only doing the shower area and not the whole bathroom - the youtube guy I recommended has a video where he does this)... replace/double up damaged framing, add new framing at the edges to support where you cut the drywall and to attach the new drywall, putting up new backer board... not bad at all. I chose to use mold resistant drywall, Lepage 2 in 1 sealant in the gaps, and then a roll-on membrane (RedGuard or Aqua Defence). Use Kerdi or another foam based product otherwise (a better option really - but you need to seal the gaps properly, etc.). Then tile, and grout.

Tiling and grouting was the "hard part" as far as taking time, being a bit messier, needing a bit of skill/knowledge, and requiring special tools. Plan ahead for this. Know how you will cut the tile, including the openings for the plumbing. (not hard, and not that expensive to get the basic tools... hole saw and score and snap tile cutter could be less than $100... the place I bought tile from offered free use of a score and snap tile cutter for a week... perhaps get a tile cutter wheel for an angle grinder if you have one.

The tiling and grout actually went better than I expected... I worried far more than necessary. If you need to make slightly angled cuts along the tub edge, that was probably the hardest part IMHO.... straight edge cuts using the score and snap were simple, I really wanted to ensure a small and consistent gap along the tub as that was the issue that led to the bathroom reno (too wide a gap and thus too wide of a caulk line so it kept failing and molding)

My total cost was under $1400... the tile, thinset, grout and edging was about 500 of that. another few hundred for the backer board, caulk, etc... and I'd guess about $200-300 was stuff I could use again if doing another shower... my price included a new shower trim kit and a tile clip system that you may not need for about 200... I already had a drill for mixing the thinset and grout, an angle grinder for using the diamond cutting wheel and a diamond hole saw, and other basic tools for cutting and installing framing and drywall.

You may be able to do it for 1K or less...

Edit: If you only have 1 bathroom... you may need to pay someone to do it just to get it done quickly. It still is likely a 2-3 day job at best.
[OP]
Newbie
Jan 12, 2023
7 posts
1 upvote
Vancouver,BC
smileswithadimple wrote: I think you should investigate why there is that much moisture behind the wall
good point, I believe it is due to the failing grout as I can see cracks at multiple places.
But "maybe" it comes from the other side of the wall ( external wall , sheltered but still exposed to weather , vancouver damp weather ) .
Deal Fanatic
Jun 24, 2015
7444 posts
2382 upvotes
0 downvotes
looks like no waterproofing and drywall used instead of cement board. this is a recipe for disaster and mold., i would fix it up but try to finance it since a new shower is not a cheap job
Say NO to the WAR!
PEACE is the answer!
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
4720 posts
4221 upvotes
Toronto
smileswithadimple wrote: I think you should investigate why there is that much moisture behind the wall
It's because grout is porous and there's no waterproofing behind the tile.
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
4720 posts
4221 upvotes
Toronto
nickoh wrote: good point, I believe it is due to the failing grout as I can see cracks at multiple places.
But "maybe" it comes from the other side of the wall ( external wall , sheltered but still exposed to weather , vancouver damp weather ) .
Grout is NOT waterproof. It literally wicks moisture into the wall. You can't rely on grout to keep moisture out of the substrate.

The walls are trash and need to be redone before you cause problems for the unit below you or more extensive damage in your own unit.

And no, it is entirely unlikely that the moisture is coming from the outside. For moisture to make it through the exterior wall finish, wall structure, vapour barrier and then into your shower wall you'd need a number of failures.

The likelihood of that all happening on the wall that happens to be your shower is about 0.00001% compared to the problem being your tile/lack of waterproofing. You'd have loads of damage on the exterior wall, adjacent units etc. if it was coming from the outside.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 27, 2007
5929 posts
3215 upvotes
Watch some videos on how to install kerdi board, it doesn't seem too difficult but I had someone else install it since I've never attempted walls before or tiling of any kind
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 10, 2005
11174 posts
4436 upvotes
Gut it

chances are it's going to get worse,
"If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid." - Epictetus
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2017
1426 posts
985 upvotes
London, On
Your pictures looks like they could be one of our bathrooms 2 weeks ago. My wife was cleaning and she leaned a hand on the wall while bending down to clean the tub and put her hand basically through. We had a renovator friend come over and give us his opinion. He pulled several tiles out and concluded the wetness was fairly localized and hadn't caused any mold. No wood was damaged and the vapour barrier was intact. So we elected to remove just that one wall and it was dry at each end and most of the way up the wall, so we felt fine not removing the other 2 walls. Our friend installed new green drywall and we put in a full height tub surround. We also took the opportunity to put in a new toilet, sink, taps and light and paint the room. So other than the existing vanity and countertop, pretty much a new bathroom. With the labour we paid our friend, it was about $2500.
[OP]
Newbie
Jan 12, 2023
7 posts
1 upvote
Vancouver,BC
Starting to watch the recommended channel Home RenoDivision-DIY . informative .
Thanks for all the answers, it gives me more confidence into the possibility of a DIY .
Most opinions is to do it once, do it well , I get it and it makes sense.

If I decide to rebuild those 3 sides of the wall ( tub surrounding) in order to make it sane and clean , without upgrading the complete bathroom,
will I still be able to replace the bathtub in the future without destroying again this job ?
It s just a silly question but I am thinking ahead , at some point, it s good to remodel the whole bathroom to keep value on resale .

If I ll have to take it down again, then maybe for now I ll do a fix only and try to gently cut the existing tiles , put a sufficient piece of kerdi/densshield and replace the existing tiles
Any tips for removing existing tiles properly ?
Member
Mar 24, 2009
217 posts
172 upvotes
KW
Rip it all down. If there is moisture in one spot then there are definitely more problem spots.

What type of air circulation is in the bathroom? If the room lacks proper air movement it will happen again. It doesn’t matter what type of wall system that you use.

I’m not going to tell you what to do. You do you….
Deal Addict
Jan 5, 2003
4845 posts
4634 upvotes
Toronto
nickoh wrote: will I still be able to replace the bathtub in the future without destroying again this job ?
If the tile job is done correctly, then no, you'll need to remove at least the first row of tile (and the wall behind it) to be able to lift out the bathtub. When you do that, to properly repair and waterproof everything, you really have to redo all three affected walls.
[OP]
Newbie
Jan 12, 2023
7 posts
1 upvote
Vancouver,BC
djeffery wrote: Your pictures looks like they could be one of our bathrooms 2 weeks ago. My wife was cleaning and she leaned a hand on the wall while bending down to clean the tub and put her hand basically through. We had a renovator friend come over and give us his opinion. He pulled several tiles out and concluded the wetness was fairly localized and hadn't caused any mold. No wood was damaged and the vapour barrier was intact. So we elected to remove just that one wall and it was dry at each end and most of the way up the wall, so we felt fine not removing the other 2 walls. Our friend installed new green drywall and we put in a full height tub surround. We also took the opportunity to put in a new toilet, sink, taps and light and paint the room. So other than the existing vanity and countertop, pretty much a new bathroom. With the labour we paid our friend, it was about $2500.
That s actually a good idea, yes it looks like you went through the same thing and you managed to do a nice reno on a fair budget. congrats.
So you just install the surround over the existing 2 other walls and the new drywall ? I guess cause it s acrylic there is not need for waterproofing behind .
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2017
1426 posts
985 upvotes
London, On
nickoh wrote: That s actually a good idea, yes it looks like you went through the same thing and you managed to do a nice reno on a fair budget. congrats.
So you just install the surround over the existing 2 other walls and the new drywall ? I guess cause it s acrylic there is not need for waterproofing behind .
Yes, right over the tile. When we took shower tap and faucet off, we were able to get a small mirror in there and see that it was dry so we felt good just going over the tile. I don't know what to suggest in your case though if you are thinking of replacing the tub in a few years. Now is definitely the time to replace the tub but I certainly understand expenses when you are fairly new into a home. No idea what you have for bathrooms, but if you can get away with not using this shower, maybe baths only, until you feel in a better spot to do the proper replacement? While you have that one tile off, maybe put a fan there to try to dry the wall and try to stick the tile back on for appearances sake.
Member
Feb 28, 2021
265 posts
227 upvotes
When we found significant mold in our shower in 2018 I ripped everything out and installed this unit. Prices were lower back then but it was a new tub/shower, new faucet and handle unit, and some of the touch ups to surrounding drywall and it cost us a little under 1600 with buying everything on sale. Might be worth looking into.

https://www.homehardware.ca/en/3-piece- ... /p/3214042
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
4720 posts
4221 upvotes
Toronto
If you go the economical route of an acrylic / fibreglass wall kit, I'd remove all three walls of tile/drywall and then go with the wall kit. They're typically designed to be installed against rough framing, not on top of drywall.

Ripping the old crap out doesn't cost anything, and it gives you a proper look at the structure and to properly install a wall kit.

Rip it all out, take measurements, see if you can get a wall kit that matches and install it. You can then drywall above the wall kit. If/when you decide you want a new tub, you can remove the drywall, remove the wall kit and install a new tub and re-install the wall kit.

If you're desperate to use the shower you can tape a sheet of poly on that wall to keep moisture out and use it. Just a sheet of plastic taped up high near the ceiling and leave it open at the bottom so air can circulate behind it.

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