sullyfish42

Shower: Bumps in caulk line

sullyfish42
September 28, 2019

Due to cracking caulk lines (dime could fit into one of the cracks) in our 1 year old shower, we had the original tile guy come in to fix. He removed the old caulk (I insisted) and applied new. Within 12 hours, I noticed all of the "bumps" in the line. Is this normal? If not, what caused it and what should I say to the tile contractor?


Also, if you look at the horizontal grout above the decorative tile on the right, you'll notice that it's darker in some areas. I see this throughout the shower when the shower is bone dry. Is there reason for concern? What would cause this inconsistent coloration?


Thank you! My husband is gone right now and I need to deal with it. I obviously don't know much about it.


Comments (36)

  • live_wire_oak

    Do you have pictures of the in progress build? As in, what waterproofing method was used?

  • sullyfish42

    Thank you for responding!! I do have photos and will include them in two separate posts. The last one is our guest bath that shows the red water-proofing stuff that was used. I know they did use it in the shower in question...at least on the floor.





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  • sullyfish42

    Continuation of photos...





  • live_wire_oak

    That’s a redo.

  • sullyfish42

    @live_wire_oak

    Do you mean redo just the caulking...or the whole shower (yikes!)?

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC

    That looks like sanded caulk. I'm not a fan for your pictured reason.

  • live_wire_oak

    Red guard and a pan liner and neither done correctly is a redo.

  • cpartist

    What kind of board did they use on the walls before the tile went on?

  • sullyfish42

    They were suppose to use cement board, but when I blow up the photos and look at the core of the board, it looks like drywall gypsum. It will take me a couple of days to find out for sure. The seams were definitely not taped before the RedGard was applied. Is that alone cause for concern?

  • cpartist

    The seams were definitely not taped before the RedGard was applied. Is that alone cause for concern?

    Yes and if they used drywall, it's a complete fail.

    Ask them exactly how they did the shower and how they waterproofed. Ask them to show you all materials they used.

  • sullyfish42

    Thank you! I'll be calling our GC tomorrow to schedule a meeting with the tile sub.

  • cpartist

    Please report back.

  • sullyfish42

    Absolutely will!

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC

    You can waterproof drywall with Schluter Kerdi, but they didn't do that. It's a do-over.

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    It also appears they dot set some of the tiles or at least didn't get the 95% required thinset coverage behind the tiles. One more red flag.

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    Is that one picture of a vinyl liner on the floor of a curbless shower ???????????? Please tell me its not.

  • sullyfish42

    I had to look up dot set., which I'm assuming is five spotting, and yes, I now see where that was done in the second-to-last photo. I'll bring that up.


    Now you're really scaring me. This is a curbless shower. All I know about the liner is that it was folded at the corners and then tested overnight with water. What are you noticing about the liner?


    Both the General Manager of the flooring store and the Tile Installation Manager, along with my GC, will be meeting me at my home tomorrow. I wish my husband was here. I've learned so much from all of you kind contributors. If there's anything else I should know or ask, please tell me. My list is growing. This is going to be so uncomfortable :(

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen

    Curbless and a liner is an automatic fail. I’m not seeing anything that shows that these people ever heard of TCNA standards. Someone associated with the project t should own a copy of this. More shame on them if it’s the homeowner that is the one with the copy. https://www.tcnatile.com/products-and-services/publications/218-english-publications/188-handbook/960-2019-tcna-handbook-for-ceramic-glass-and-stone-tile-installation.html

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    Here's the HUGE problem when using a liner in a curbless shower - Over that liner will be a layer of drypack at least 1.5 inches thick. What will happen to the water that soaks into the drypack? It will bleed out that (curb) edge and into the main room flooring. You should waterproof at LEAST one foot outside the shower. We prefer to waterproof the entire bathroom floor. Send these guys packing.

  • sullyfish42

    Thank you for the TCNA standards. I'm downloading a digital copy now.


    I insisted, with resistance, that RedGard coating was to be applied outside the shower entrance. I believe they did 1-2 feet on the entrance/pony wall side, as seen in the photo. I was only concerned with shower overspray. I had no idea water could overflow the liner. From what you're saying, could water also overflow into the walls (garage, exterior, toilet room) on the other 3 sides?

  • live_wire_oak

    An incorrectly done curbless can be a huge source of water damage. It kills me that you say they hacked at the flood test. There’s no way to do that correctly with a liner. Not without doing a 1950’s heavy as lead mud bed for the entire bathroom. The liner has to be covered.

    They need to throw money at you and go away. You are going to have to have everything they touched redone completely.

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    From what you're saying, could water also overflow into the walls (garage, exterior, toilet room) on the other 3 sides? Only if they did not wrap the liner up the side walls. The entry in your case is the low spot where water can (and will) weep out of the drypack.

  • sullyfish42

    Makes sense...duh! Thanks.

  • AJCN

    Since your spouse is out of town, see if you can have a friend there with you for moral support and to take notes. It sounds like 3 contractor-people are coming to the meeting, and that can be intimidating. If there has been any misogyny, ghosting or buillying so far on your project, you might feel more comfortable having a male relative or friend at the meeting. Or perhaps your spouse could be available by phone and you could have him on speaker phone during the meeting.

    As far as the TCNA handbook, read the introductory sections (about page 2 to about page 50 or so), then skip forward to the shower chapters: Shower Receptors and Curbless Shower Receptors (about page 250 or so). Focus on those areas and you won't have to read all 600+ pages.

    Make a list of the top several wrongly-done things and organize the first part of your meeting around those. Don't put insignificant or purely cosmetic things on your list because the contractor will seize on those and call your claims baseless. Go one by one, asking for an explanation of how each element was done, and then discussing how it was done wrong, according to tile industry guidelines (TCNA, local plumbing codes, etc), and manufacure's instructions (for example, the tile manufacturer's are not going to list dryway as a appropriate substrate, and the pan liner people are not going to say it's okay to install it like they did). If you have time, you can look up those instructions online. For this first half of the meeting it's probably most effective to focus your questsion on the person who actually did the work, or directly supervised the work.

    After you go though all the violations, the second half of your meeting is focused on what the contractor intends to do to remedy the situtation. If they get off-track, try to ghost, bully or say you are wrong or lying, always stay calm and bring the meeting back to what the contractor's plan is for fixing or re-building your shower. You already know from the pros on here that it is not fixable, that it must be re-built. Your goal is to get the contractor to agree to do that. If the meeting drags on and on, and you are at an impass, it's okay to stop the meeting, and ask that the contractor to take a day or two to think about what they are going to do to remedy the situation that they created, and ask them to come back to you in a day or two with their plan on how to move forward. For this second half of the meeting it's probably most effective to focus your questsion on the person who is ultimately responsible for the money-side of thing, the accountable one.

    Your meeting might end with an agreement to re-build, or a flat out refusal to do anything, or with an agreement that they will come back to you in a day or two with a plan. They may lie to your face saying that they did everything correctly. People often say things like: "I've always done it this way; never had a call back" or "This is an acceptable alternative method to install" or "grout is waterproof." Just keep referring back to the notes that you make from reading the TCNA book.

    There is a tag-team meeting tactic you can use that will help keep the meeting on track:

    - if the contractor does not answer a question, or goes off on a tangent, have your friend or spouse interrupt with something like: "Excuse me, but I don't know what your answer was to that question, what should I put in my notes?"

    - if the contractor bullies, yells, or talks down to you, have your friend or spouse interrupt with something like: "Excuse me, but could you lower your voice" or "Do you need to step outside for a few minutes so you can calm down before continuing with the meeting?" If it's your spouse on the phone, I imagine he will react more strongly if someone tries that kind of stuff.

    Good luck with your meeting and do report back because people on here will continue to help you.


  • AJCN

    One more thing. Before the meeting, do the "superman" pose. That will decrease your cortisol level and help you to be less nervous. If there is a 5 minute bathroom break in your meeting, go do the superman pose again in your room. It really helps.

  • sullyfish42

    @AJCN: You are an absolute angel for taking the time to write all of the wonderful advice you posted. I am heeding it all. I sincerely thank you!


    I spent all night pouring over the TCNA standards and had very organized notes and questions. I feel that I have a pretty good idea of how the complete installation should have proceeded. I had a neighbor guy scheduled to be my "listener." Yesterday was to be our meeting. I was ready! No one showed up. Late in the afternoon I received an email asking for a date late next week <shaking head>. So...next Thursday we'll try again. The good news is that my husband will be home and I will have a day or two to catch him up on all that I've read.


    You don't know how much I appreciate all of the advice and comments from such good people who contribute to this forum. Thank you!


    I will post once we have our meeting. Have a great week!

  • HU-527663426

    If you haven’t already, be sure to document that they didn’t show up. You can do that by sending an email that says something like:


    “I was disappointed no one showed up for our scheduled meeting on such and such day. Unfortunately I had to move around some other commitments so that I could be home for the meeting.


    I’m glad that we have rescheduled for Thursday. I’m going to have to rearrange a couple of other appointments in order to be home, and my husband has to take off work to be here. Please try to make it, and if you‘re planning on not making it, please let us know as soon as possible“.


    Let us us know what happens. What happened with us is, we had the meeting, the contractor agreed to come back to us in a couple days with a plan. But instead they just decided to quit. . If you read my “goes south“ post, you’ll see that they quit in a way that was kind of unclear. They said they didn’t want anything to do with the shower anymore. But they didn’t exactly say in that email that they were quitting the entire project. That’s why it was important for us to document our understanding of the situation by email. So we sent emails to the contractor asking you that message meant. Did it mean they quit entirely, or did they have some kind of other plan. They disappeared, went underground, radio-silent. Still, it was important to document by email so we sent 2 more emails over 2 weeks asking for clarification. We were doing this for documentation; it was pretty obvious they weren’t going to come back to us. And we could kind of see where this was going it wanted our money back, thus the importance of documentation. Finally we sent one last email saying that since they haven’t replied to us at all we consider it a fact that they had completely quit the project, and that we would have to move on and find another contractor. We asked for a refund, and we sent a demand letter by certified return receipt. They never responded to anything again until emerging from hibernation many months later and suing us saying that we cook we fired them.


    That documentation was very very important in the trial. And they lost. I’m not hoping that you end up in a similar situation as me, but just in case that should ever occur, you need this kind of documentation.


    I can’t remember what it’s called, but there’s a principal in law that means, if you assume that you were going to end up in a court room and you do all the planning and documentation that you need to do to prepare for that, you are actually less likely to end up there. I learned that principal when I was advocating for getting special education services for children in elementary school. All the teachers, administrators and school board people can see that you’re documenting everything according to the education laws, and you’re more likely to be able to come to a resolution if you are prepared in that way.


  • AJCN

    Reaching out to hear what happened at your Thursday meeting.

  • sullyfish42

    @AJCN

    It was changed to this upcoming Thursday, October 10th. I certainly report back!!

  • just_janni

    2 things -

    1. AJCN you are wonderfully professional and empowering. I salute you.
    2. sullyfish42 - you got this. You have done all your preparation and you are 100% empowered. Hold your ground. Be a badass.

    Go get 'em tomorrow. We're all here behind you.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    Permits, inspections.


    Was this a remodel?

  • cpartist

    Waiting to hear how it went.

  • just_janni

    sullyfish - where are you??? Do you need bail money?

  • sullyfish42

    @just_janni

    LOL, please bail me out! I really want to come home. We had to fly to Southern California right after our “tile meeting” for an emergency with, not one, but both our parents. My husband went to one house and I went to the other. We’re still down here. Hence, the late posting of last Thursday’s meeting.


    To answer a couple questions:

    This was a custom build…our retirement home. Our GC was rarely on site and communication was horrible. My husband was out of state for most of the project, so I managed it. This was the second home I managed in terms of construction, so I knew a little bit going in. I did as much research on each aspect of building as I was able. As an example, I felt like a pro at knowing NEC code, as I required some non-standard things. I can calculate Volts to Watts and can calculate Amps with my eyes closed. I know every circuit in my house. What I mistakenly left to the pros was the tile work. I admittedly knew very little…so my screw up. If you’re getting ready for new construction and you’re reading this post, heed everyone’s advice to do your homework on EVERYTHING. Watch construction daily and document with photos. Communicate or verify by email so you have a record.

    This posting is regarding a curbless 64 x 60 shower at our 1 year warranty period.


    Our Thursday meeting involved 8: our GC’s lead, GC’s worker, owner of tile company, both sub-contractor owners that the tile company used to do the tile work, one tile worker who was ready to fix some of the cosmetic mistakes, my husband (home for 1 day) and myself.

    When I asked for an explanation of the build, things got contentious (“Where’s this going?” “Why do you need to know that?”). I knew that none of the men at the meeting knew how the shower was built, as none of them were there the whole time during the entire shower build. It was easy to catch them lying, but I didn’t say anything then. Here are the details of the build and tiling:

    · During framing, I had pre-arranged blocking put in place for 1 grab bar and 2 future grab bars

    · Floor and supporting joists were dropped. If I recall, it was about a 4” drop.

    · OSB laid

    · HardieBacker on walls with screws

    · Seams were not strengthened with thinset and/or alkaline-resistant mesh tape. They told me they did do this but my photos indicate otherwise. UGH!

    · Waterproof membrane formed pan bottom (folded corners) and extended up walls 18” and out onto bathroom floor

    · Passed leak inspection

    · Mortar bed poured with slope to center two-stage drain with weep holes

    · Drainage slants were good (shower drains very well when used)

    · RedGard applied. I only saw one coat used. Installation directions indicated two coats with drying time and suggested 90 degree application. I had them RedGard about two feet out the shower “threshold” with an additional 1 foot to each side of door entrance. They did do this. I have very little water outside the shower entrance; just a few splashes that a bath mat takes care of.

    · Tile was laid. They told me they covered the entire back of each tile with thinset. I am positive that they instead spot set each tile. I watched and I have a couple photos.

    · I chose Tec Power Grout (sanded) to be applied

    · I chose Tec AccuColor sanded, siliconized acrylic latex caulk to be applied


    The two men really did a nice job fixing the mistakes. I made sure they removed all of the dried grout and caulk before re-grouting and re-caulking. I asked that they tape their caulk lines and they did. What a difference! They painted the walls where the previous workers got sloppy. I was happy with their work.


    I used a moisture meter on the drywall inside the toilet room to check one tiled wall on the other side. It was dry. I will continue to periodically check this.


    My husband and I agreed that we wouldn’t comment on the build during the meeting. We told them that we needed to think about everything that was presented. Plus, quite honestly, our parents are our first priority right now.


    My thinking is that we present the evidence of some of their not-up-to-standard work (and not being honest about it) and ask that an escrow account be opened with an agreed-upon amount ($15,000 maybe). If we have no problems after 8 years, we can release half of it. If there are no problems in 15 years, we release all of it. I feel that it would protect us if we have problems (untaped seams) down the line. Or maybe it’s not necessary. I doubt that they'll agree to it.


    Again, thank you to everyone who contributed. I appreciate you and your help!

  • just_janni

    I truly hope both your sets of parents are going to be okay. Nothing is more stressful - and being so far away to boot.


    It sounds like you have a really good handle on the situation, and are focusing on what's important.


    Many blessings for you.

    sullyfish42 thanked just_janni
  • cpartist

    Parents first. Hoping there issues will resolve quickly.


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