I have seen countless cases of bad bathroom waterproofing, causing very costly waterproofing repairs and disruption to home owners. This problem is more common than people think, even in relatively new buildings as well as in existing homes when bathroom remodeling is being carried out. Bathroom waterproofing repair can mean major work because tiles, fixtures, floor tile bedding and so on need to come out for the waterproofing to be redone, not to mention restoring everything to its original state. Based on my personal experience, I’ve compiled a list of 10 important mistakes and reasons why bathroom waterproofing fails that you should take seriously.
The following general and specific mistakes come to mind, when looking back at so many of my bathroom waterproofing jobs, carried out over the years. Many home owners give little importance to bathroom waterproofing, especially shower cubicles during a bathroom remodeling process.
1. Attempting to do the waterproofing job yourself, yet having no experience and not following the waterproofing material data sheet and application instructions.
2. Giving the job to an unlicensed and unqualified person and not requesting warranties for the job in writing.
3. Floor and wall surfaces which can be concrete, wood chipboard paneling or cement fibre boards, not prepared and primed adequately before applying the waterproofing membrane material.
4. Not leaving the waterproofing membrane material enough time to dry before applying cement and sand bedding or gluing tiles to it.
5. Inadequate sealing of floor to wall and wall to wall corner details, where there is a lot of movement due to temperature changes which is particularly a problem with cement fibre sheeted walls on timber framing.
6. Not having the membrane turned up under the bathroom door area with an aluminum or brass angle fixed into the floor first.. This is a very common mistake and easily avoidable.
7. Inadequate sealing around pipe and tap wall penetrations in shower cubicles and bathtubs, usually because the plumber had no attention to detail or used the wrong sealant, resulting in water leaking into the wall.. In some instances the repair is not so extensive or difficult, but will still cost money.
8. Although not directly related to waterproofing, the tiler using the wrong type of glue for wall tiles, because the walls were waterproofed with a polyurethane based waterproof membrane for example while the glue used is acrylic based.
9. The plumber should conduct a water pressure test on the water pipes, by leaving the pipes under water pressure for 24 hours and do a visual inspection for any water leaks before the walls are sheeted to ensure that that are no pinholes in the system where water can slowly drip and find its way under the bathroom floor and surrounding areas. In some of the waterproofing rectification jobs I had a contract to do, the culprit for the water leaks from under the bathroom floor turned out to be a small leak in the water pipe in the wall which kept dripping ever so slowly and saturating the area around it.
10. Lastly, if you are going to do the bathroom waterproofing yourself, you must read the manufacturers data sheet for the material, or the instructions on the side of the can, bucket, tube of sealant or other packaging that that waterproofing materials come in. If I were to use a product that I haven’t used before, even though it is chemically the same type of material I would still read the manufacturers instructions on application, priming and other info because there might be something I don’t know. Read the application and other manufacturers instructions carefully and take the time to do the job thoroughly.
Please take the bathroom waterproofing seriously and don’t try to save money on this important part of the remodeling work in your bathroom.. I hope that this article was helpful to you so that you avoid the bathroom waterproofing mistakes listed above.