Are walls prepped correctly? Contractor said tape/thinset unnecessary

August 12, 2019
last modified: August 12, 2019

I have some concerns about my contractor’s work in my master bathroom (downstairs). I‘m uncertain if they prepped the walls correctly. I’m hoping to get some advice before they finish the work.

Any thoughts about the work are appreciated.

1. I’ve read that tape and thinset are supposed to be used on the seams to add more strength. Was this supposed to be done before the red waterproof material was applied?

2. I selected a heavy 16x32 tile that is approx 18.5 lbs each. The tile is going all the way up to the ceiling. Do you think the hardie board should go up higher?

3. Does it matter if the hardie board is uneven? Tile will be installed on the walls around the

freestanding tub, and left side is lower. I wasn’t sure if this is okay.

4. I read online that all four corners of the hardie board aren’t supposed to meet because it will have less strength. Is this true? If so, will the area under the shower faucet need to be replaced?

Comments (23)

  • Olychick

    bumping this up because you really need some expert advice!!

  • hcbm

    I am not a pro but this looks to my untrained eye like a hot mess. Yes, you must tape and thinset seams. I don't even think the board was hung in the correct direction. It looks like the pan is flat on the floor without a pre slope. You don't spot waterproof (red stuff). And walls need to be flat and plumb, especially for large format tiles.

    I hope someone else chimes in quickly.


  • HU-153826367

    I appreciate your thoughts.

  • jslazart

    He has no idea what he is doing--find someone who does.

  • millworkman

    Completely wrong.

  • PRO
    Creative Tile Eastern CT

    1) Yes alkali resistant mesh tape applied with thinset mortar is required. Go to the board manufacturers web site for installation instructions. Fasteners would also be at 8" spacing

    2) Cement or fiber board is not waterproof. Therefore the entire board needs to be coated with waterproofing at the appropriate mil. thickness.

    3) Liner appears to be laid flat on floor indicating no preslope as required.

    4) It is IMPOSSIBLE to install board on a curb without puncturing the just installed waterproof liner.

    To some it up. All that was done to this point is wrong. It would be best at this point to cut your losses and hire a actual tile setter. If you allow this person to redo this they will be learning on your home. Do you really want that as they have already demonstrated their lack of basic knowledge.


  • AJCN

    Take lots of pictures and read this. The story is long, but there's some stuff in there that will help you to document the situation in case you need strong documentation later. TCNA handbook says you have to fill the seams and tape them. It also says you have to slope the floor to the drain. I'm not a pro, but it looks wrong to me. My first installer made similar mistakes to the ones Creative has pointed out, such as no slope, punctures in liner, wrong watereproofing, etc.

    Pay attention to the parts about taking pictures, sending emails instead of verbal communication, etc, etc. You will need strong photographic and email documentation to get your money back after you fire them or they quit in protest over your request that they re-do it correctly.

    The TCNA link is in this thread.


  • AJCN

    What state are you in?

  • HU-153826367

    Thanks so much for the responses. It’s extremely helpful. The contractor was highly recommended by a tile store and insured, so I’m surprised to find out that things were done incorrectly. He was going to put red waterproofing all over the walls, but I stopped him before, because there was no tape and thinset done. I hardly know anything about tiling, but I’ve been googling videos and reading as much as I can. I didn’t know there was anything wrong with the floor/preslope, but thanks for letting me know. I haven’t paid him yet, and I’m not sure how much I should for the work he’s done.

    I’m in Texas.

  • NYCish

    Your picture should show a LOT more red. This is a hot mess express train headed to waterdamage town. Ugh, sorry you are dealing with this. I’ll let the pros tell you what you need to do from here.

  • AJCN

    Good on you for stopping this and trying to figure out what is true and what is not. Don't procede or pay until you are sure they (or hopefully someone else) will re-do it correctly. There's so much bad info on the internet, but when I was researching, I did watch Sal Diblasi's videos. He's a real pro and explains things in a way that is easy to understand. That was helpful, but I didn't venture any further than Sal's videos bc I just knew that would be a rabbit hole, and I didn't want to get into a bunch of misleading/wrong info.

    OK, so you are in Texas. I am in in Texas and just recently went through this whole quit GC-lawsuit thing explained in the "Goes South" thread. By state law, you cannot fire him unless you give him the change to fix things. Tell him something like this (BY EMAIL PLEASE): "Hi so-and-so. I'd like to schedle a status meeting with you before work proceeds further. I'm worried that the shower floor was not sloped as per code and industry standards, and that the waterproofing doesn't look like it was done per the Hardie company's installation instructions which call for sealing and taping the seams. Hardie instructions also explain how to hang the boards, and I'm not sure that was done correctly. I am also concerned that the pan liner (which appears to be sitting on subfloor, not a slope) could have penetrations. I would like to have a meeting with you to discuss what your plan is for re-doing this work, making sure that the construction of my shower adhere's to local plumbing codes, manufacturer's instructions, and industry guidelines. Let's try to meet on xxx date."

    That's rule 1 of the TX law. Rule 2 is that you have to make your home available for the work to proceed for his attempted fix. Rule 3 is that you cannot interfere with the work, yell at the workers, harass, etc.

    If he quits rather than attempting a fix, document it BY EMAIL and get him to say in writing that yes, he is quitting. If he attempts to fix it, and fails (bc it looks like he will fail), at that point you can fire him. DO that by email too. Document everything. Keep taking pictures. Buy the TCNA handbook. It's less than $40 for a downloadble version. Use that book to prepare for the meeting. Even though it explains minimal standards (and a real pro will go above and beyond), your contractor isn't even doing what in TCNA, so use that to cite your concerns.

    If you are anywhere in the Houston or Hill country (he travels someteimes for jobs bc his old clients even hire him after they move!), I can refer you to an excellent excellent pro (expensive, but worth every penny because this is a major investment and you do not want to mold/rot out your house).

    I am here for you. The pros on here are too. You are right! Re-read my story and pay special attention to the documentation suggestions and also all about being totally professional. You should assume that all your emails and text will one day be read aloud and projected on a screen in a courtroom. Probably they won't, but if you assume that you will automatically stay totally calm and professional in your communcations. This happened to us - our communications came off as calm and professional, and the GC's came off as bullying and unprofessional.

  • AJCN

    I haven’t paid him yet, and I’m not sure how much I should for the work he’s done.

    At this point, zero. Have the meeting. Give him the chance to fix, make home available, don't interfere (the 3 rules). If he quits, request a refund if you've paid anything so far, like a deposit. When he fails the attempted fix, fire him, and request a refund. All this communication by email. If you gave him a key, get it back.

    The quit-GC in my story had to pay me double (per judge's order) what we had paid for deposit and first installment payment. He had to pay for the re-demo and extra costs (the "harm" in legal speak). So it doesn't make any sense for you to pay anything if it all has to be re-demoed back. If/after he refuses refund, or asks you for payment, say all that by email, only by email.

  • AJCN

    In my case the judge gave the quit-GC 2K "credit" for the original demo of the whole bathroom (tub, vanity, etc). That means, the judge took off 2K from the 20+k awarded to us. But wait to decide all this til after your meeting. Even though you have to re-demo and re-build the shower, it's possible you received some value from the general overall demo of the other areas, plumbing or electrical rough-in, haul off of trash. But that would be a pretty small amount relative to the whole project.

    Post back here about the meeting. Have a friend, spouse or neighbor there, and designate a note-taker. Re-read my post; always bring the meeting back to "what is your plan to complete the project in accordance with local plumbing codes, manufacturer's guidlines, and industry standards?" If you are feeling snarky you could calmy ask "what are the industry standards for building a shower?" and write down what he says.

  • AJCN

    Is this project being managed by a GC or did you hire the tile contractor directly?

  • HU-153826367

    I hired the contractor directly, but he’s a general contractor. He was managing other guys doing the work.

  • AJCN

    Your contractor probably didn't hire the sharpest knives in the drawer, so that he could pocket more of your money, and in the process not deliver you a correctly built shower. I'm just a homeowner, not a pro. If you have technical questions about waterproofing and such, don't rely on me.

    But I will tell you this. We hired an expensive, local, highly recommended GC with a locally great reputation in an expensive suburb of Houston with multi $$$$ homes; who then turned around and hired cheap/unqualified subs, who then trashed our bathroom, as told in the "Goes South" story. It happens bc the GCs are always looking for ways to decrease costs. Real tile pros are expensive, and they should be! But GCs always try to skimp IMO; and they don't want to hire real tile pros because that will decrease their profit.

    After the quit-GC situation, we hired an deeply experienced, super-qualified pro to fix our bathroom. Since I hired this pro directly, I didn't have to be worried about him hiring a hack-sub.

    Schedule your meeting and document everything. Post back here what the results are from your meeting.

    If you are anywhere near Houston, Galveston, or in the Hill Country, I can send you a reference to the experienced pro that I hired.

  • AJCN

    In your upcoming meeting, ask him for his GC license number. Our "GC" wasn't. I was dumb and just trusted, and didn't ask for that kind of verification when I hired him. He wasn't even an actual GC. This might be the case for your "GC." Save this question for your meeting, and ask it calmly.

  • HU-153826367

    Thank you! I appreciate all the advice. I’m in Dallas, so no need for the referrals in Houston, but I appreciate the thought.

  • AJCN

    I can ask for a referral to Dallas. The really really experienced pros that travel to trainings, train others, hire and train apprentises, attend industry meetings, business conventions, go to manufacture meetings, and communicate with each other online...they all know each other.

    But first things first ... have your meeting and post back here.

  • cpartist

    I haven’t paid him yet, and I’m not sure how much I should for the work he’s done.

    You should pay him NOTHING since it all has to be torn out and completely redone. Send him packing.

  • cpartist

    Yes please let us know how it goes. Best of luck to you.

  • AJCN

    I agree with cpartist that you should send him packing, but.....Texas law says you have to:

    - give him a chance to fix

    - make your home/work site available

    - not interfere with the work

  • AJCN

    Be sure to document all this stuff by email and pictures:

    - give him a chance to fix

    - make your home/work site available

    - not interfere with the work

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