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How To Waterproof A Tile Shower Wall? [Useful For You]

Do you intend to install a new tile shower? It can be confusing to discuss shower waterproofing with contractors. How to waterproof a tile shower wall is covered in this article. A tile shower that has been properly waterproofed will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, a poorly constructed shower might only survive a few months.

The use of conventional fiberglass and PVC vinyl “shower pan” lining procedures to adequately waterproof a tile shower installation is explained in this piece. The reason why contemporary materials like Kerdi waterproofing fabric are superior for ensuring leak-free shower waterproofing is also explained.

How to waterproof a tile shower wall

1. Construction of a traditional shower

What does a typical shower entail? Showers were constructed for many years using “mud” and a kind of metal chicken wire.

Under the tile, the shower floor would be waterproofed with a copper or lead pan, a rubber liner, or “hot-mop” tar. Under the mud, the walls were stapled with tar paper.

Although this technique is still used today, cement board and fiber cement backer board have increasingly replaced the mud walls. An illustration of a fiber cement board is hardibacker.

So when I think of traditional showers, this is what I mean. Behind the walls of these, there is a moisture barrier.

The moisture barrier is often made of tar paper or 4-mil plastic. Either mud walls, cement board, or fiber cement board would serve as the wall backing.

how to waterproof a tile shower wall

2. Liquid membranes for waterproofing

Do you know about:

  • Hydroban Aqua
  • Defense
  • Redgard.

Although there are many more, these liquid waterproofers are the most common.

Liquid waterproofing membranes are a brilliant idea. Your shower can be constructed in whatever way you like, and when you paint a liquid membrane over it to seal it off, it is instantly waterproof.

Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly how things work. Although these substances work wonders in waterproofing showers, there are some guidelines that must be followed.

Thickness in Mils

Getting the right thickness of each coat is one of the keys of applying these liquids. It’s more challenging than it seems to do this.

Each product will specify how many coats and how many “mils” (thicknesses) are required. Wet film gauges are specialized tools that are produced. These aid in determining the mil thickness of a liquid waterproofing.

Each coat should, on average, be “driver’s license” thick. Another generalization is that if the wording on the backer board underneath is visible, the material is not thick enough.

These aren’t absolute laws, only basic principles. You don’t want the liquids to be applied too thickly, but applying them too thinly is also problematic. Not always is more better.

Fix times

The length of time it takes for things to dry is another disadvantage of liquid waterproofing membranes. A shower wall will require one coat of waterproofing, and you will need to wait for it to dry. Yes, it must completely dry.

The first coat often takes a day to dry. After that, you must apply a second coat and wait for it to dry. The second coat typically dries more quickly.

Both dry times and liquid waterproofing products are constantly evolving.

In fact, Redgard SpeedCoat, a urethane-based product from Custom Building Products, claims to dry incredibly quickly. Consider Hydro Ban Quick Cure as well.

Bed of mud

While waiting for the liquid waterproofing solutions to dry, we just discussed cure times. Mud pans in showers also have their own cure times.

What is a “dirt” pan for a shower? A custom shower base with a sloping to the drain utilizing a cement and sand combination is known as a “mud pan.”

Despite the growing popularity of premade foam shower bases, it is still a widely used method today. Installing a waterproof liner inside the mud bed was the conventional method of creating a mud pan.

The waterproofing layer would be placed on top of the mud pan when utilizing bonded waterproofing membranes (Redgard, Hydroban, or Aquadefense). the waterproofing, afterwards the tile adheres immediately.

I bring this up because the mud base must cure for at least 72 hours under “normal” conditions—and occasionally even longer—before a liquid waterproofer may be applied.

Therefore, the cure times start to pile up if you wish to construct, say, a Redgard shower:

  • Making a mud shower pan takes one day.
  • 3 days of curing time, followed by 1 day of showering and thorough drying
  • 1 day for drying after the second coat.
  • For the shower pan flood test, allow 1-3 days
  • swiftly forming mud beds

There are currently a few items on the market made to accelerate things. I can think of Custom Speedslope as an example.

Bolstering material

One benefit of employing liquid waterproofing materials is that they do not require any additional reinforcing or banding in the corners or elsewhere*.

However, if you utilize liquid waterproofing materials, I do advise placing fabric reinforcement in the corners of the shower pan, around the drain, and any other crucial region.

What is written on the instructions doesn’t matter to me. It’s too important a situation to gamble on. There have been some shower failures that I am aware of that were caused by a separation in these crucial corners. A small amount of mesh or reinforcing fabric is a smart precaution.

This will only slightly thicken these areas—probably not even that much—but it’s worth it, in my opinion.

*Read the directions carefully before using any items. Although many liquid waterproofing treatments don’t need fabric reinforcing, some are still available.

shower waterproofing membrane valueseal
Behind the tile, a ValueSeal waterproof sheet membrane is attached. Since then, this membrane has been painted green.

how to waterproof a tile shower wall

3. Sheet membranes

The bonded sheet membranes make up the third category of shower waterproofing system. The Schluter Systems Kerdi Shower system would be the most well-known illustration.

There are other further goods, though:

  • Hydroban sheet membrane by Laticrete
  • Three examples include Mapeguard Ardex SK-175 by Mapei.

Additional businesses that have waterproof shower sheet membranes include Noble Company, Blanke, Prova, and numerous others.

These sheet membranes are convenient in that you don’t have to bother about the sheet’s mil thickness. Another benefit is that the mud pan doesn’t need to cure for 72 hours.

Furthermore, you are not required to apply additional coats and wait for them to dry.

It overlaps

But there are some problems with them. The most significant one is seam waterproofing. To be totally waterproof, the seams typically need to be overlapped by 2 inches.  As an alternative, you can utilize premade waterproof parts for the corners combined with a 4 or 5-inch banded material for this purpose.

Therefore, as you reach the corners, you can cover the top of the membrane with both a 5-inch banding material and a premade corner. There are a total of three layers of fabric in this. As a result, the corners of a shower are now built up and protrude further than the flat centre portions. Getting the membrane and seams to adhere well and preventing creases in the membrane are additional issues.

Wedi board is a foam-based tile backing board that is waterproof. Water-resistant foam backing board
drawing on a foam tile backing board. Because foam backer board is waterproof, tiles adhere to it directly.

4. Waterproof foam backer board

The last technique is the use of foam backer board constructing panels. These consist of:

The bonded waterproofing solutions previously discussed use a similar waterproofing idea. They prevent moisture from penetrating to the board’s back by being waterproof on the surface.

What are the advantages of these backer boards?

They are more portable and lightweight. Since the board is already waterproof, there is no need to attach cement board first and then waterproof it.

Their biggest benefit is in the waterproofing. In most cases, you may waterproof the seams by adhering the boards together with a waterproof sealant. Others, like Kerdi-Board, need that you use a banding material similar to what you would use with Kerdi cloth.

In essence, the shower is waterproofed and ready for tile after the board is installed and everything is glued together. Costly features such being waterproof, user-friendly, and lightweight


As you could expect, the prices are much higher than the alternatives. In addition to the foam board panels, stainless screws and washers are typically required. Also remember to use urethane glue. Cement board screws can be used to install some of the more recent boards, including GoBoard, Hydroban Board, and Durock Board.

These foam board panels also have additional flex, and flexing is not good for tile. More than others, some are bad. Wedi manufactures the most rigid foam panels, in my unscientific view. They are not the cheapest either, as you might expect.

how to waterproof a tile shower wall

Modern Materials for Waterproofing a Tile Shower!

The list of potential problems with a classic construction shower installation is longer, but I think you get the idea. It is challenging to create a genuinely waterproof shower using conventional techniques and materials that can fail in a variety of ways. In a perfect world, all of the tile in a shower should simply be covered in a continuous waterproofing coating. Using two products that were available on the market in the 1990s, this is simple to accomplish today.

Waterproofing by Kerdi

With the use of basic, unaltered thinset, Kerdi, a hydrophobic polymer fabric, may be attached to virtually any surface, including concrete, cement backerboard, drywall, and even plywood. Tile can be laid immediately on top of Kerdi because it is made to connect with thinset. Additionally, because the fabric is actively hydrophobic, overlapping Kerdi seams produce a completely waterproof seal.

In other words, you may tile right over a continuous layer of waterproof Kerdi to “wallpaper” the inside of a shower area. Any moisture that penetrates the tile and grout immediately encounters a substrate that is 100 percent waterproof. This is how Kerdi waterproofing, as opposed to conventional techniques, results in a custom tile shower installation that is more watertight.

The waterproofing RedGard

One well-known trade name for a paint-on waterproofing substance that adheres to concrete, cement backerboard, drywall, and even plywood is RedGard.

Elastomeric waterproofing membrane is the official name for this substance, which is really a fancy way of saying “rubbery paint that dries to form a plastic-like waterproof barrier.” When dried and prepared for tile, it appears as follows:

Thinset and RedGard have a direct link. Consequently, it positions a true waterproof barrier behind the surface tile and grout.

The waterproofing of shower floors can technically be done with paint-on waterproofing as well. A true professional will, however, solely employ it to waterproof shower walls. The slight contraction that occurs when the paint-on waterproofing dries and cures can result in pinholes or tiny fissures. Because of this, a quality installation will apply two coats of paint to shower or tub enclosure walls. For shower walls composed of concrete backerboard, a few little pinholes or cracks don’t cause much of a problem. For a shower floor, however, even a remote possibility of pinhole moisture leakage is undesirable.

Technically, ordinary drywall for shower or tub surround walls can also be waterproofed using elastomeric paint-on waterproofing. However, true professionals only use cement backerboard for the walls surrounding the shower and bathtub. It’s not a big concern if a tiny amount of moisture gets absorbed into an area of cement backerboard. But it’s a significant concern if drywall occasionally absorbs even a tiny bit of moisture. Backerboard made of cement won’t crumble when it gets wet, and mold won’t grow on it. When wet, drywall does crumble, and it makes excellent nourishment for mold.


It can feel like a never-ending burden to keep wet areas like bathrooms, laundry rooms, and even kitchens free of mildew and other moisture-related issues, but fortunately you can stop them in their tracks by using some of these waterproofing techniques for your shower or bathroom floor. The best way to lessen leaks and moisture problems that might accumulate over time and make sure your home stays dry is to waterproof tile walls and floors.

What do you think works best for waterproofing tile showers and avoiding moisture problems? Comment below and let us know! See more useful articles in our website Foto Blog Diario.

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