Unlike the tile in your living room or kitchen floors, the tile in your shower area requires a type of waterproof matting to help contain and direct the flow of water. An incorrectly installed shower floor that lacks this matting provides one of the most likely reasons for leakage below the tile. The best way to remedy this is by removing and reinstalling the tile flooring, although you can also try to seal the leak with waterproof grout.
Tile provides a sturdy material that withstands water, making it suitable for use in showers and tub enclosures. Improper installation or damage to the tile or caulking can lead to leaks. A tile floor in your shower area that leaks water requires some investigation to determine the source of moisture. Prompt repairs can help minimize water damage to the subfloor and other underlying surfaces.
Tiled shower floors require a layer of flashing that extends from the floor partway up the bottom of the wall. This hidden flashing may consist of the same rubber matting fabric used under the horizontal tiles or a different type of waterproof material. The absence of this flashing allows water to seep beneath the tiles along the lower edges of the shower walls. A torn or rolled flashing can increase the risk of leaks.
Porous grout is another likely source for tile leaks. Remove as much of the old grout as possible with a small chisel and hammer, using caution to prevent cracking or chipping the tiles. Fill in the gaps with epoxy grout. This type of grout helps seal the floor of a tiled shower and reduces the risk of water seepage below the surface.
Cracked or missing caulking around the drainpipe or the edges of the tile could also lead to water damage to the flooring materials beneath and around a tiled shower floor. Peel away any old caulking and replace the damaged material with new silicone caulking. Ensure a tight seal by running your finger over the top of the bead, pressing the waterproof material into the underlying cracks and joints.
- John Taylor, Licensed General Contractor; Taylor Construction, Inc.; Lindsborg, Kansas
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