Master shower leaks

| tags: home

Our new (to us 2 years ago) house came with a large (maybe 36 square feet of floor) tiled shower in the master bath. The inspector warned me that it leaked but I hoped it was simply a problem with the plumbing. I tested the shower pan by sealing the drain and filling the pan with water drawn from elsewhere in the house. It leaked! Water ran under the house. The right thing to do would be to tear it out and replace it but that will be a major undertaking. I wondered if there was something I could do that would delay this major bill? How about coating the floor and bottom rows of tile up to the bench with Epoxy Waterproofer? We decided to try it.

We bought 2 gallons of epoxy and a "Limestone" gray (this color was a mistake see the update at the bottom) color pack for a total cost of $143. It arrived very quickly via UPS. This is a two-part epoxy with a small container of coloring agent. Both parts are surprisingly thick, like gel. We had prepared with disposable measuring cups expecting to pour the two parts into the disposable mixing buckets we bought. Instead we ended up dipping the contents into plastic drinking cups using plastic spoons.

In the poor before picture (below), you can see I have taped the edges and the drain with blue painters tape and I have a layer of newspaper on the floor outside. The tile is an off white color. It looks two-toned in the photograph because of the poor lighting.

First we mixed the color pack thoroughly into Part A. Then we dipped three cups of part A and one cup of part B into our mixing bucket and stirred for 5 minutes as directed. I was worried about the advertised 30 minute pot life being a problem but the material was easy to work with and did not appear to be setting up over the approximately 30 minutes it took to apply each batch.

We used 3 batches on the first coat applying it with cheap brushes. The good news is that the material is quite thick so we had no problems applying it to the walls; it didn't run at all. The bad news is the brush strokes really showed and didn't settle out. On the second coat I used one of those painting pads. That worked much better but I believe the only way to get a really smooth coat would be to spray it on. The surface was tack-free after 24 hours on both coats. It had an oily sheen on it after drying but that was easy to clean off.

The dried material is incredibly hard! The application engineer advised me to remove the blue tape immediately and I did that everywhere except over the drain because I wanted it covered for the second coat. I struggled to cut through the layer of epoxy to remove the tape. I'd advise that you arrange to remove the tape while the epoxy is still wet.

We been using the shower now for about 6 months and it is still leak free. The appearance is far from perfect but I have my glasses off in the shower anyway! My wife seems pleased with it too. Another advantage is we no longer need those ugly anti-slip mats shown in the picture below, the floor has plenty of traction without them.

If you have a leaky shower pan and are too broke or too cheap to do it right, I recommend Epoxy Waterproofer.

Our shower before the repairOur shower after the repair

Update June 2009 We discovered why showers are never dark colors. Soap film shows up everywhere and is just about impossible to clean. So we repainted the shower White, again using Epoxy Waterproofer. Looks great. My wife did it this time and found she liked working with a sponge best.