dancingqueen7827

shower floor grout not drying...need advice

We just finished a shower remodel 7 days ago. We replaced our old jacuzzi tub/shower combo with a stand up shower. The problem we are having is that the floor grout does not dry fully after 24 hours. The grout feels dry to the touch but does not look dry.

Background...the fixture accent wall is tiled in marble. The side walls and floor are tiled in ceramic. The walls are grouted with what I believe is sanded grout because I can see brown specs of something in it. The floor grout is pewter and doesn’t have brown specs in it. I was told the marble wall was sealed but nothing else was as the grout already had sealer in it and didn’t need to be sealed.

After our very first shower I noticed a 12”x12” dark spot on the shower floor where it appeared the grout was not drying (up against the marble wall and slightly to the left of the fixtures). Every shower since, the wet looking spot has grown systematically wider and longer towards the drain. The attached photos are after letting the shower dry for 24 hours.

Besides looking unsightly, I worry that moisture is getting trapped under the floor tile and will result in mold. What could be causing this and how should it be fixed? My contractor is coming by to look later this week and I want to be prepared before he comes.

Comments (40)

  • millworkman

    Rut Ro. Do you have the steps they used exactly to construct this shower? Pan Const? Was it flood tested? Substrate and waterproofing system used? In progress pics? Honestly, just from pictures and your description you are going to get every answer under the sun, from a complete do over to who knows what. But from the limited info you have provided, it sounds like the pan is not draining properly. Also any and all changes of plane need to be 100% silicone, not grout period.

  • AJCN

    If you post in-progress pictures showing the construction of the shower pan/floor, all the materials, buckets and tools that they used, and pics of the waterproofing of the walls, etc, the pros on here will have more to go on.

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  • dancingqueen7827
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>Thanks so much for you quick answers. I will post as many pics as I can round up. The shower was demo’d to the studs, reframed where needed and hot mopped. If they did a flood test I didn’t see it. With 2 small kids we had to stay out of the way. But I’ll ask the contractor about that. Some of the pictures I have show a different marble tile on the wall as it was I initially laid incorrectly (design issue) so we had to remove the tile on that one wall and go with a different tile. It does appear that there is a dark grey something (different than grout) that runs all the way around the perimeter of the shower floor where it meets the walls but it doesn’t look very thorough around the many grout joints on the marble wall. I’ll get pics of that as well.

    Found a little hole in the grout also
  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen

    This is most likely not a grout issue. This is likely a pan build issue. Perhaps the liner was installed flat to the floor, or the weep holes were clogged? Photographic evidence of construction will be the ultimate clarifier here.

  • dancingqueen7827

    More photos to come...

  • dancingqueen7827

    I agree that this is not a grout issue as the grout is still changing after every shower. It’s clearly water somewhere...

  • dancingqueen7827

    This is the joint at the accent wall.

  • millworkman

    I am not seeing any waterproofing in this pic. That's not a good sign. This "appears" to be drywall which is also a 100% definite no-no. Is this a tile professional that did the install?

  • dancingqueen7827

    Thanks so much @millworkman. The grey walls outside of the shower area are definitely just drywall. But in the shower area it’s actually some sort of thin set or cement or something. I saw the open wall there in person during the process and I’m still digging through photos to see if I have one of that. It was definitely hot mopped under there because it smelled sooooo bad for a couple of days. But was it hot mopped at all the right places? No idea. Was the pan sloped correctly? I also don’t know...

  • dancingqueen7827

    We hired a licensed contractor who subbed the tile work to a tile guy.

  • dancingqueen7827

    Here is an after photo of the same angle.

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen

    The wall does not appear to be hotmopped. If the pan was hotmopped before the preslope happened? All the water is sitting in a big flat bottomed bowl before it can drain. The waterproofing goes on top of the sloped surface.


    I’ll defer to the CA experts in hot mopping, which thankfully we do not do here, but to me, that does not appear to be built correctly.

  • dancingqueen7827

    Thanks @thecook’skitchen. I was under the impression that hot mopping would go under every surface that might get wet but perhaps it is more standard to only hot mop the pan area...

  • dancingqueen7827

    Unfortunately I can’t find any more progress photos so I can’t show what’s underneath. I just have to take the contractors word for it. Didn’t realize at the time that I should have documented the progress daily! I’ll ask my contractor for details today and post back.

  • millworkman

    Play close attention to his facial expression when you ask him all these questions. You will get the answers if the proper steps were taken straight away. Also walls do not get hot mopped, that is the pan area only from what I know. Typically it would be cement board which I see no evidence of. Drywall of any type has not been allowed in a wet are for years now. Although some systems still allow it, the drywall manufacturers them selves say absolutely not.

  • dancingqueen7827

    Thanks so much @millworkman. The contractor is coming in a few hours so I will pay close attention as I ask him for the info. Just to clarify...you are saying it looks like the exposed wall in the shower area (where the fixture plumbing is) is just drywall under the thin set? I’m guessing the wall outside of the shower area that is under the marble tile is just drywall underneath. But it doesn’t get wet out there.....?

  • dancingqueen7827

    Here is a close up I found that shows the wall transition under the marble tile. This is just a few feet up from the shower dam (to the right of the fixtures). The right side looks like torn up drywall but closer to the tile...there is something dark grey and then the light grey (which I thought was thin set).

  • dancingqueen7827

    Could the dark grey be some sort of waterproofing?

  • dancingqueen7827

    From my contractor...
    The pan was hot mopped. Walls were covered in black paper with wire mesh, then floated with spec mix. Then thin set was used to lay tile.
    Will ask about flood test...

  • millworkman

    OK that was what I was wondering and why I said it "appears" to be drywall. Not an expert by any stretch, especially in Calif. shower building methods.

  • dancingqueen7827

    No worries @millworkman. The thinset that looks like drywall is what was used to attach the original tiles. Due to a design issue we had to remove those and go with a different tile so that picture shows the old thinset after the tiles were removed.

  • AJCN

    What is the consensus from the pros here? Was it built, sloped, and waterproofed correctly? I want to attach my “project goes south” thread but I don’t know if I should until I hear from the pros whether or not this was actually waterproof correctly. I also have a selfish reason for asking because my mother-in-law has asked me to help her remodel her house which is in California. And I don’t know anything about the waterproofing methods in California.

  • dancingqueen7827

    So I found out from my contractor that the pan was indeed hot mopped and sloped under the hot mop with concrete. He says he checked the slope himself. He did not do a flood test but we are not seeing any problem with water leaking into the garage below this shower so I assume the hot mop is in tact. He doesn’t think that the discoloration is moisture but instead is a sealant problem. I disagree since the discoloration has grown systematically toward the drain from the bottom left corner of the marble wall. He said there is no silicone at the plane changes and insists that grout there is sufficient as any water that gets through the grout at the plane change will run down into the sloped shower pan and out the weep holes. His suggestions is to first let it dry for 3 days, clean it with an acid wash to remove the mineral deposits that are starting to show on the grout in the darkened areas, and then seal with an impregnator sealer. If this doesn’t fix or solve the issue he will go from there. I’m not sure what to think about his proposed plan of action.

  • dancingqueen7827

    @ajcn according to my contractor who just came to inspect, the shower pan was waterproofed correctly which is why we are not seeing and water leaks into the garage below the shower. Not yet anyways. Hot mopping the shower pan is standard in California. I do not know what standard waterproofing methods are for the shower walls but I do kniw our walls are constructed from tar paper over the studs, Mortar and chicken wire over that, and then thin set to attach the tiles. This sounds like a traditional construction to me. There are other ways of water proofing like cement board or Kerdi board but not sure how common those are in California as this one experience is my only experience.

  • shadowpipersallie N

    OP,

    So my advice to you is to do all this communicating with your contractor by email. Document everything just in case you find out later that things weren't done correctly, or you discover that it is leaking. My intention is not to be alarmist, but I've learned that documentation is very important.

    https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/5725013/what-to-do-when-a-project-goes-completely-south#n=54

  • North Texan

    Change of planes require caulk, never grout. That’s a worrisome sign from your contractor.

  • live_wire_oak

    The pic with the shop vac does not show a hot mopped preslope. It shows hot mop UNDER that mud pack, flat on the floor. The mud is on top. It shows a questionable tie in to the wall, because the pan is done incorrectly. And the curb is incorrect.

    This isn't going to get better.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    I don't doubt the GC (shocking I know) A leak wouldn't do this. Assuming a CA licensed tile contractor, I'd bring them back. Could be the weep holes are plugged. There's a subdrain a few inches below the finished surface that the hot mop drains into via weep holes. 60 year old proven system when instructions followed.

  • live_wire_oak

    Preslope. Hot mop. Then tile.


  • dancingqueen7827

    @live_wire_oak thanks for chiming in. According to my contractor, the hot moppers slopped the pan first with concrete and then hot mopped the pan and dam and some ways up the wall (3 layers). Then on top of the hot mop is another cement bed that is prep for the tile. That’s what is visible under the shop vac as well as on top of the dam (which I asked them to raise in height 1 inch after it was hot mopped and covered in concrete. So that’s why you are seeing extra mud on top of that) I’m not disagreeing with you and I’m not saying it was done correctly, I’m just explaining what you are seeing. That photo was taken towards the end of the tiling process. He tiled the floor last after redoing the accent wall (because of a design change) and after covering the shower dam in quartz slab.

  • dancingqueen7827

    @Jeffrey R. Grenz. Thanks for your point of view. I’ll ask about the weep holes. The tile guy will be coming back to check the grout and joints so I’ll bring this up. How are weep holes unclogged?

  • dancingqueen7827

    @live_wire_oak can you explain to me the questionable tie in to the wall that you see?. I’m clearly not a professional so I don’t really know what I’m looking at.

  • millworkman

    The silicone at the changes of plane instead of grout is due to the different walls moving independently of each other. Silicone will move with the walls, grout will crack with seasonal movement and fall out. Nothing at all to do with preventing water seepage.

  • dancingqueen7827

    @live_wire_oak this is not a photo of my shower, but an image I found online. According to my contractor the top layer (red arrow) is what we are seeing as the layer under the shop vac.

  • dancingqueen7827

    Thanks @millworkman. So are you agreeing with my contractor that the silicone at the plane change isn’t necessary for water seeping but more so to just prevent unsightly grout cracks? I’m sure if I force him the contractor will put silicone down so I just want to know what I really need to ask to have done.

  • dancingqueen7827

    @jefferyR.Grenz the darker spots on the floor grout originated at the plane change between the floor and marble wall and took about 4 days to manifest anywhere near the drain. Would that still be possible clogged weep hole issue?

  • dancingqueen7827

    Does anyone out there know, is there anyway to check or test for correct slopping of the pan now that the tile is finished? The obvious is just taking a level to it but I imagine based on the shape of each tile and grout lines there is going to be some variation. After showering we do not have major puddles sitting on top of the floor tiles. A few hours after showering the floor is dry to the touch but the grout still looks wet.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    Sloping is checked at hot mop test, but its pretty standard and rare for an experienced hot mopper to goof, especially if using a concrete pre slope which is great. .


    Let me back off some as this could be very simple.


    Have the tile contractor look at the joint.... it may not be sealed allowing water under the floor to load up.. ultimately it should drain through the weep holes.


    The tile contractor is the one to talk to. We are all just speculating at this point, some without any knowledge.




  • millworkman

    "So are you agreeing with my contractor that the silicone at the plane change isn’t necessary for water seeping but more so to just prevent unsightly grout cracks?"


    Correct, grout is porous as well (even sealed),

  • Helen

    I just finished a remodel in California which used cold mopping for the pan as hot mopping isn't allowed in a high rise. Cold mopping is flexible so won't crack when the high rise shifts.


    My shower floor is very sloped and the small area around the drain is sloped very markedly so that I can see the slope there. There is never any water or moisture on my shower floor between the slope and the fan which runs automatically based on moisture level in the room.


    I am surprised that your shower was not inspected though. My shower was inspected at least three times - when it was framed - for the 24 hour flood test and after construction. It might have been inspected an additional time as well :-).

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