Problems With Shower Surrounds


Shower surrounds not only look aesthetically pleasing but also are easy to clean and provide the protection to your bathroom walls so that they can stay dry. Bathrooms are the most common area to accumulate mold and mildew due to the warm water and steam we use in them when bathing and washing. By correctly Installing a shower surround, you can prevent these problems from occurring.

Nonlevel Surface

  • It is important to have a level surface around your shower to install your shower surround. The shower surround is flat on all sides and has to be attached to a flat surface so that it can remain leak free at the seams and on the edges. If you are replacing tile, marble or any other type of surround, you need to make sure and remove all old existing material down to the backboard or wall. Using a level will ensure that your surface is flat after all of the old glue or mortar is removed.

Waterproof Board

  • Waterproof Sheetrock or green board will ensure that your walls behind the shower surround do not rot. Cement board is another waterproof item that is useful for a backboard around the shower. If water should happen to reach these types of boards, the boards will not harbor harmful mold and mildew. The problem with ordinary plasterboard is that it will become ruined when it remains damp; over time, moisture will also cause the studs in the wall to rot. This can make for a very costly repair. Steam from the bathroom can have the same results over a period of time.


  • There are many types of glue available to apply to your wall when installing a shower surround. The best type to use is a very strong, quick-drying glue that is specific for bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes. These types of glues are waterproof so that they have superior strength in humid areas. Using the wrong type of glue will lead to shower surround problems such as separating from the wall and creating water leaks around the edges. Make sure that you apply it amply so that the surround is firmly glued to the wall. Overapplication is much better than underapplication when it comes to glue. This is important because each time a person enters the shower, the surround acquires stress at the seams. Shower surrounds with a bench incorporated into them are most stressed when you are sitting on them.

Installation Order

  • Problems occur with incorrect installation of a shower surround. Shower surrounds may be a one-piece, two-piece or three-piece model. If there is more than one piece, installation in the correct order according to the manufacturer's directions is required. Each has certain joints that attach in a specific order, which allows it to self-seal when the pieces interlock. If this process is not followed, the interlocking pieces will not form a watertight seal and will result in water leaking through the joints and onto your bathroom wall.


  • Problems with caulking a shower surround can occur when water begins to leak around the edges, in the joints and at the top of the shower surround. The caulk around the edges and top of your shower surround is the main item that keeps the water from leaking behind it. Use a good brand of caulk that is for bathrooms to ensure a good seal. It is better to use a thick bead of caulk on all seams and then wipe it into the crevices with your finger to make sure it is sealed than to try to apply sparingly. Caulk around the cut-out openings for the shower head and faucets before you attach the hardware. The metal rings around the hardware do protect the walls from water leaks but are not always watertight. It is better to add too much caulk and then wipe it off than not enough caulk because underapplication will definitely lead to leaking problems.

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