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  #1  
Old 01-30-2007, 09:03 AM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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How big of a gap between tub and tile?

So it seems that I have a bit of a problem. Last night I saw what I thought was dirt on the ceiling. Turns out my tub has a leak.

I've noticed since I bought the house that there was a larger gap then normal between the bottom tiles and the tub. Between 1/4" and 1/2". Since I don't know much about tubs I only thought it looked strange. Now I'm pretty sure that's where the leak is coming from because there is light coming through the space when you look at it from behind.

I would think that the space is much too large to just put caulk in the gap and say it's good. Do I need to have new tiles put there that are larger? Can something else be done. Also how long would be reasonable for this job to take? I'm going to have someone come look at it tomorrow and I don't want to get totally ripped off as I have to have the tub done, and replace the hole in the ceiling.

Also since I'm on it. I've tried to caulk a few times, and it never comes out right. I also get mildew stains even though I get the caulk that says it's not supposed to get mildew on it. I've always noticed that it's only the places I do it and not what was there before, why is that?
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  #2  
Old 01-30-2007, 09:28 AM
Martiju Martiju is offline
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Heh - there shouldn't be any gap between the tub and the tiles!

My advice would be to fix a piece of baton along the side of the tub and then, using silicon, fix a plastic splashback between the wall and the tub (ie. sticking it to both the baton and the tiles).

J
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Old 01-30-2007, 09:30 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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You are probably not using silicon for your caulk. If the person looking at it wants to rip up the whole bath, tell him or her to piss off and find someone else. Unless you want to do that. The job shouldn't take more thana few hours at most, and this will give you the option of trimming the tub very nicely, or just matching the existing tile. Tile and or caulk should go right up to the tub, 1/8 inch, then the caulk does the rest....or grout.
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Old 01-30-2007, 09:43 AM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlosphr
...Tile and or caulk should go right up to the tub, 1/8 inch, then the caulk does the rest....or grout.
There should be caulk where the tub meets the tile. Tubs move with the weight of the water, and the caulk accomodates this movement.
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Old 01-30-2007, 10:07 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornflakes
There should be caulk where the tub meets the tile. Tubs move with the weight of the water, and the caulk accomodates this movement.
Right, and isn't that movement about an 1/8 inch? I seem to remember one eighth and I think it was for the space between the tile and the tub...You know I just went and looked at my tub and tile and the gap is more than an 1/8... More like 1/4 of an inch. We have grout not silicon (it's probably embedded in the grout) from the last trim tile to the tub, which is porceline...
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Old 01-30-2007, 10:30 AM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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What kind of tub do you have? Most steel and plastic tubs I've worked with have a half-inch tall lip along their "wall" sides that the cementboard and tile lap over. The resulting 1/8 - 1/4" gap is caulked.

When you caulk this, fill the tub with water and leave it filled until the caulk has cured. This way, the caulk will normally be compressed when the tub is empty, and when you're in the tub, it will only be relaxing back to its uncompressed size, rather than being stretched out, which is when it's most likely to spilt or separate from the tub/tile.

How are you able to look at all of this from behind? The wall space behind a tub is usually the most impossible part of a house to get at. Is the other side of the tub an unfinished closet, or are you truly blessed to have an access panel?
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Old 01-30-2007, 12:11 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotpasswords
What kind of tub do you have? Most steel and plastic tubs I've worked with have a half-inch tall lip along their "wall" sides that the cementboard and tile lap over. The resulting 1/8 - 1/4" gap is caulked.
The tub I have has no extra lip to it. I wouldn't be suprised if it's from the 70s when the house was built. I wish that was the case, but the tiles come down to a good amount above the tub itself, I could probably fit my pinky between them.

Quote:
How are you able to look at all of this from behind? The wall space behind a tub is usually the most impossible part of a house to get at. Is the other side of the tub an unfinished closet, or are you truly blessed to have an access panel?
Don't most places have access panels? I can't think of any house that I've ever lived in or looked at that didn't have a panel for the tub. For just a stand up shower yes, but never for the tub.
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Old 01-30-2007, 12:58 PM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
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Could you take a picture of this from both the tile and the wall sides? I'm not carpenter, much less a tile guy, but it could help everyone to get a better idea of what you're facing.

It sounds like the tile butts up to the tub and the tub doesn't have any sort of a splashguard. Caulking will reduce the leakage, but it sounds like this will be a tough gap to seal. Also, without any place to put backer rod, it will be tough to tool the gap and get a smooth surface to the caulk.

Also, with respect to Phlosphr, I'd use a polyurethane caulk, not silicone. Silicone just doesn't bond as well as polyurethane does.
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  #9  
Old 01-30-2007, 01:23 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward The Head
I can't think of any house that I've ever lived in or looked at that didn't have a panel for the tub.
I must be cursed. Or maybe it's a regional thing.

My house has one tub and one tub-sized shower. No access panels for either, unless you count busting a hole in the back wall of a closet. My mother's house is built so the two bathtubs abut each other at right angles. The long back side of the interior tub is on the faucet wall of the exterior tub, so they can share the stud space where the pipes are. The long side of the exterior tub is an outide wall. Unless you're a mouse, there's no getting at that plumbing space without busting up a closet.

The only place I've lived in that had any sort of access panel was an apartment, and oddly, the tub access for all apartments was in the common hallway, possibly so maintenance could snake drains without entering your apartment.
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Old 01-30-2007, 01:39 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornflakes
It sounds like the tile butts up to the tub and the tub doesn't have any sort of a splashguard. Caulking will reduce the leakage, but it sounds like this will be a tough gap to seal. Also, without any place to put backer rod, it will be tough to tool the gap and get a smooth surface to the caulk.
I could, but I'm not sure it would be a big help. I have found someone to come out and look at it tomorrow. But the tile does not touch the tub where the faucet is, the rest of the tub they do. Nor is there any type of lip. If you look at if from behind the drywall comes down, there is a gap, and you can see the caulk. I took a shower this moring and saw the water leaking out.

I probably could do this myself, but I think the few hundred that I'll pay someone else will be worth it. I just wanted to know what I might be in for. The person who had the house before us fixed a lot of it up. But he did a crap job that looked all great, but isn't. I now have two holes in the ceiling from water.
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  #11  
Old 01-30-2007, 02:54 PM
Philster Philster is offline
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When tile on a wall meets a counter top or tub, this most critical juncture must not be a 'butt' joint. Deliberately leaving a 1/8 gap (or other gap) is essential. The size of the gap will dictate the type of filler (sanded grout, non-sanded, grout-type caulk, etc).

The ideal filler should be silicone or polyurethane based. High quality, flexible grouts are very capable. Imagine a tile shower...all tile, on the floor and all. The grout is waterproof in perfect state...but it never stays perfect.

The most important issue might be:

What is behind the grout/caulk line? The walls should be cement board. At a minimum, green board, but most importantly, the tiles and grout should be backed by mortar. Often, for ease of installation, the wall tiles are set in the white, tacky adhesive. While this can pass in kitchens (I'd still use mortar), the bath should never see this stuff.

Terms I use might not jive with what you hear (local speak), so I will clarify:

Dark grey stuff we set floor tile on is what I call mortar. Mortar as a backing is going to stop any breaches. Wall tile adhesive is usually white and grippier, but is not a worthy backer.

Bad combos include: wall adhesive holding tile onto drywall, plaster.
Bad, but not as bad: wall adhesive holding tile onto greenboard

pretty darn good: mortar holding tile onto greenboard

>>>done right/recommeneded w/ variables eliminated: mortar holding tile onto cement board. Make the bottom gap just around 1/8 inch, use sanded grout, taper it to deflect water and seal it w/ world class sealant.


Water always wins. It never gives up. The material and prep used determines how long the game will be played. You will lose at some point. Some methods will hold 30+ years before losing (you'd remodel before the water beat you, which is like forfeiting the game).

Shortcuts = all bets are off. Could be a first round knockout.
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  #12  
Old 01-30-2007, 04:41 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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Ok I got some pictures. The first one wouldn't come out very well, but I put a penny in front of it and you can tell that the gap is almost the size of a penny. Front of Tub. From the back you can see that the tiles extend down from the bottom of the drywall. Rear of tub. As I said I think the guy who owned it before us just did some "nice" looking fixes.

I do understand there should be some sort of gap for movement, but I think you'll see that it's a huge one. I think he just didn't measure when he put the tiles up because they don't line up very well. The good thing is he left some tiles if I need them.
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  #13  
Old 01-30-2007, 04:56 PM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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A couple of possibilities come to mind. One-the guy that did the work left a huge gap-I remember seeing the horror of his workmanship when visiting you a year ago. Two-deterioration of support is allowing the tub to drop with respect to the tile, causing the gap to grow over time. Three-some combination of both.

As other posters have said-you should see a tiling flange on the three planes of a tub which abut walls, and the approved practice is to leave an 1/8" gap beteween the starting tile course and the tub ledge, filling same with a premium kitchen and bath caulk. Silicone caulk alone isn't sufficient for frequent water exposure, as it will mildew. For example-I redid my tub 10 years ago with GE top shelf K&B caulk-it's still bright white.

Shoot me an email if you'd like further dialog.
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