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DIY Showers and How to Waterproof Them

This one is for all of the first-time DIY shower installers out there!

Did you know that the majority of materials contractors use to install a shower are not waterproof? It's true. When attempting to install a new shower you have to carefully consider how you want to go about waterproofing or you might end up with a big mess. Even worse, you could find yourself having to go back and fix water damage in your walls and floors later. Any money you might have saved by doing the project yourself will be spent on undoing what has been done.

To help you avoid that nightmarish fate, here are the three methods to waterproofing that professional contractors use to make sure your home stays safe and dry:

1. Sheet Membranes

A sheet membrane is literally a rolled sheet of waterproofing material that can be applied over your backer board using mortar. This is probably the most effective way to waterproof your shower out of our three options and offers the best protection against vapors. It blocks water at the surface before it even has a chance to absorb down to the essential, non-waterproof materials that lie beneath it. Moisture is no contest for this shield.

On the downside, this stuff doesn’t come cheap and sits outside the line for many homeowners’ budgets. It can also cause unevenness in the walls of your shower if not installed properly. Still, if you have the opportunity and the extra cash to spend on sheet membranes, do it! The protection it provides your shower is well-worth the expense.

2. Waterproof with Liquid Surface

Like sheet membranes, liquid surface sits right underneath the tile in your shower, so it is able to block water immediately before the moisture can penetrate anything below it. That’s great news! It’s also easy to install for everyone. You just roll it onto the wall like paint (I mean, read the instructions to make sure you’re not missing any steps, but essentially this is what you do)! Couldn’t be more simple! That’s why we like it so much.

Unfortunately, every high must have a low, and the pros of liquid surface waterproofing are no exception. The sad truth is that liquid waterproofing is known for having a lack of vapor protection. It’s also easy for people to spread an uneven coat of the liquid surface onto the shower wall, leaving spots susceptible to water damage.

3. The Tried and True way

For our traditionalists out there, you always have the option to just slap your cement board over a plastic vapor barrier. This method has been effective for decades, and as a bonus, it is the most cost-friendly. Works with your budget and waterproofs your shower? Yes please!

Be careful before you decide to go the economical route, however. You have to watch out for some more long term effects. This method allows water to penetrate the layers backing your shower up. There’s no guarantee that you can protect your shower from mold and minerals. These little beasties start growing behind your shower wall when water sinks down into it, and they slowly make their way to the surface over time. An annoying problem to be sure, but whether or not it’s one you’re willing to take on is up to you and your pocket book.

So, there you go. Now you're ready to make a more educated decision on waterproofing for your custom shower. Comment below or message us to let us know what you decide!

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