Unfortunately, it is typical to have water damage behind shower tiles. It’s prevalent in old homes, where tiles were installed straight on drywall without the presence of a waterproof barrier between them. So once moisture gets through the tile’s grout joints, the structural quality of the drywall diminishes.
But even if a moisture barrier is placed between the tiles and drywall, water damage can still occur. Poorly maintained grout joints and improper caulking let water or moisture flow underneath the tiles, causing them to lose. As a consequence, mold and mildew growth, water leak, and wood rot may happen.
You, as a homeowner, should know how to deal with this water damage issue. In this article, you will learn different tried-and-true tips to learn how to stop the damage before it turns into a disaster.
What are the Signs of Water Damage Beneath your Shower Tiles?
You cannot always notice those water damage behind shower tiles, but you can consider the following little signs to determine whether something undesirable is happening behind your bathroom tiles:
- Excessive water buildup around the shower area or tub and dampness on walls or the ceiling
- A musty odor that never goes away no matter how much you clean and sanitizes your bathroom
- Discolorations, cracks, or holes on the grout lines
- Peeling caulk
- Loose tile
Fixing Water Damage Behind Shower Tiles
Repairing water damage behind shower tiles can be a time-consuming DIY project, as you need to allow the materials to dry properly throughout the process. It’s important to be patient and ensure that the issue is fixed correctly. Before starting the repair, make sure you have the necessary tools and items, including the following:
putty knife, utility knife, flat pry bar, cement backer board, cement board screws, wallboard saw, thin-set adhesive, mesh tape, tile grout, notched trowel, durable gloves, and heavy fans
Once you’ve gathered all the equipment needed, proceed to do the helpful tips below to repair water damage behind shower tiles.
Evaluate the Damage in Your Shower Room
You will need to evaluate the damage first to determine what has caused the water damage behind shower tiles. If you find the water issue straight beneath the tiles, you may consider that the cause of it is a plumbing leak. In this situation, it is recommended to call a professional to deal with the pipe repairs.
Detach the Tiles Carefully
In repairing water damage behind shower tiles, it is necessary to detach the tiles carefully. Remove the shower tiles carefully from the damaged backer board using a flat pry bar or a putty knife. Pull more tiles away to reveal at least two to three inches of drywall surrounding the damaged area. As for the tiles, soak them in warm water with cleansing soap powder to clean them up.
Pull Out the Affected Drywall
Another thing to do when you fix water damage behind shower tiles is to pull out the affected drywall. You can use your hands to remove the wet drywall in pieces. Take off another two inches of wall material around the affected site. Pull out all the exposed screws or nails.
Take Care of Wood Framing Properly
Remove any rotted wood you see and change it with a new one. For undamaged framing, scrub it with a water and detergent solution. Dry the wood thoroughly by using heavy fans. It may take more than two but not many days, so be patient until it gets dried completely. This process will help prevent mold growth into your new backer board as well as water damage behind shower tiles.
Place and Install a Cement Board Patch
Begin patching with your new cement board. It must be as thick as the original backer board. Score and cut the patch using a utility knife. Measure it to let a 1/8-inch gap between the original wall material and cement board. With the use of suitable screws for the cement board, secure the patch to the wall framing.
Tape and Seal Wall Joints
Put a self-adhesive mesh tape (designed for use with cement board) between the board patch and the original backer board. Fill the joints around the patch using a thin-set adhesive and drywall knife.
You are almost done with the repairs! The final steps are to reinstall the tiles, then grout and caulk.
Reinstall the Clean Tiles
Apply another coat of thin-set adhesive to the wall with a notched trowel. Then place the clean tiles into the adhesive, setting the grout joints parallel with the existing shower tiles. Fill the tiles with a grout that is similar to the original once the adhesive dries.
Seal and Caulk to Protect Your Shower Tiles and Walls
To safeguard your shower tiles and walls, it’s essential to properly seal and caulk them. If cement-based grouts aren’t sealed correctly, they can absorb moisture. Once the grout has been set and hardened, apply an appropriate tile grout sealer to seal the grout lines. Allow it to dry, and then use pure silicone caulk to fill the joints and gaps between the tile and the shower pan. This process makes the grout resistant to water and prevents stains and grease from seeping in, providing protection for your shower tiles and walls.
How to Prevent Water Damaged Behind Shower Tiles
You want to make sure that your bathroom walls are always in good shape. Here’s what you need to do to protect your shower walls from water damage:
- In cleaning, avoid using acidic products or strong household cleaners.
- Improve your shower room’s ventilation system to avoid accumulating excessive moisture.
- Open the windows of your bathroom to invite fresh air to come in.
- Wipe down shower walls regularly, and place wet towels into the laundry basket.
- Every year or two, apply a quality tile grout sealer to reseal grout joints.
- If some areas of your house are prone to having a lot of moisture, you must always have high-quality epoxy grout in your home.
Need Help in Dealing with Water Damage Behind Your Shower Tiles? Contact Superior Restoration
At times, the task of fixing the issue behind your bathroom tiles is challenging to handle. You do not have to take care of it by yourself. We can help you solve your water damage problem.
Superior Restoration Irvine handles all types of water damage services – from repairs and reconstruction to mold remediation. Our specialists are ready to take care of your home any time of the day. We are available in emergencies 24/7. Contact us today!