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Large Format Butt Joint Shower Installation

This picture reminds me of the 70's and when the plastic tub shower revolutionized the residential bath. It was also the era of high end vinyl floors. Form the mid 70's to mid 80's there was very little thin-set residential work. I went on the road and tiled fast food restaurants which were booming. When they first came out American Olean told us to refer to them as plastic tubs/ showers and to say they had a life expectancy of 7 years. Of course that was still longer than the thin-set bath and shower installations were holding up in that era.
Trackless shower enclosure and clear glass is nice and has a sex appeal.


All showers need some sort of leveling usually the back wall. You make this outline by usinf a 5' streight edge against the wall and mark where there is a gap.
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Spread good smooth Kerabond/Keralastic in enough thickness so when you drag the streight up the wall it makes a rough looking but very smooth and flat wall to install the tile after it dries overnight.
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By flattening the walls your installation stands up at attention, noticeably. Some can be very deep this was too bad a little over 1/8" in the center of the back wall.
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For the curb a big thin set improvement to 2 x 4 framing lumber is the 4" cap block. The warmth of the water over time effects wood framing in showers.
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After you determine where the insert is going build opening not to snugly. I take my grinder and make room in the Duroch for the thin metal of the insert. When it fits take Kerabond/Keralastic mortar and apply to framing and also the back of the insert.
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When nailed mortar squeeses out and mushes together behind. Nailed to wall.
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A front block and you have a nice size bench. Don't worry about height because you can add as many pieces of Durock as needed.
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Never, never tile over a bench that is framed out of wood. The grinder easliy cuts the block to fit and mortared. Always filling every void wher it fits the wall.
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Factory edge of Durock make a nice leveled starting point.
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Center your tile for the back wall.
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Use the flat side of your trowell and put a thin coat on the wall durock and use the teeth 3/8 squre notch on the tile, its less messy than trying to trowell the wall. Flat side wall teeth on the tile. Wet touches wet and a superior bond.Bear in mind you have a very flat wall to bond the tile. You may have to add a tad to the back of tiles to get the proper plane.
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I wish I could have stopped for here for the night but since the mosaic strips are thinner so I best put up the top tile so I know if the mosaic is not in or out too far.
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The material spacing the Mexican Mohawk mosaic tiles is not nearly as stong as American Olean and the weight of the tile on top was a problem.
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Wedges are a must for installing butt joint tile.
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Ready for tile remember the horrizonal surface is always first with the vertical down on top.
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Ready for tile: Durock taped and mortared.
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It's easy to lay out borders when you butt tile together.
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Fill all voids with mortar. If water has nowhere to sit it has to go down the drain.
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Make sure mortar covers to the edge. Easy clean up when wet or dry tomorrow with Kerabond/Keralastic.
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Shower pan liner with a protective material so mud doesen't fill weep holes in drain.
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After you play around with the sand/cement and get it just right for your floor you need to plumb the drain. With a wedge let it sit overnight as cement dries.
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Take Durock tape and tape wall to the floor. This could eliminate movement in the future.
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Always cut all ther tile to fit in the shower dry except the few pieces around the drain. Keep the pieces in order its easy to get confused they all look the same.
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Smooth consistent spreading of mortar. I use a deeper cut V-notch trowell that leaves max mortar. When the entire shower was fit dry, mortaring and setting the tile is fast.
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Clean out mortar and fit the tiles dry.
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When installing the drain tiles I leave them very slightly higher than the strainer so water has no place to sit.
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Slightly up and close fits.
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The next day your ready for the bottom piece. I like to wait 2 days before I walk on the mosaics, especially in the winter but you can reach while kneeling on the curb. I fit all the tiles dry except for the corner tile that has to be fit exact. Point is fit as many dry as you can
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This just happen to be the height the carpender built the knee wall. It was a little high for the layout so instead of a sliver of tile we used a decorative strip and it looks like we planned it.
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I never understood why manufacture didn't make their bullnose a size that makes them more installation friendly size. These tiles I had to cut about 1/8 off each. I even suggested this to Harold Turk of Daltile a long time ago. After not hearing for a couple of months I called to get my project back from them. The idiot didn't even know what I was talking about.
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Cut and fit tiles dry
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Here was a example of the mosaic being in too far so I had to work on the piece. There is a thin piece of metal sanwitched between 2 pieces of Bullnose to make the shelf. This job was so easy to grout.
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This grinder does everything including making this piece thinner. The grinder also notched out for the insert among many other tasks on the jobsite.
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