Shower Wall Waterproofing

Planning on remodelling your shower? If so, then you may want to consider shower membrane waterproofing. In our opinion, waterproofing is one of the most important steps in a remodelling project as it strengthens the shower’s structural integrity and prevents moisture problems from occurring. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss how DIY enthusiasts can waterproof their shower to ensure a successful remodelling project

How to shower wall waterproofing came to be

Before waterproofing membrane systems were created, there wasn’t a universally accepted waterproofing strategy for shower walls other than the shower pan liner which extended 2.54 cm above the shower base.

Many building codes require showers with a vapour retarder membrane that’s installed between the backer board and the studs of outside facing walls to prevent moisture from reaching the framing.

While this code rule still exists today, professional shower installers considered it to be inadequate in terms of waterproofing and moisture control due to inconsistent coverage.

Because of how flawed these old shower proofing methods were, new membrane systems were developed to ensure consistent waterproofing across the entire shower.

It’s easy to understand how shower nooks and niches contributed to major water infiltration issues. Holes in the shower wall created water problems regardless of how careful the contractor was in building shower boxes.

There were no preformed, ready-to-install foam shower niches back in the day and most certainly no shower waterproofing membranes as well. At the time, contractors had to use materials like wood studs, tar paper, and gypsum board which didn’t provide that great of a waterproofing.

Types of waterproofing membranes

There are many different ways to waterproof the floor underneath your shower tiles. Back then, contractors utilised a rubber or copper shower pan liner rubber and installed it under a traditional mortar base. The main drawback of this is that the water can seep through the mortar joints over time. With the pan liner collecting excess moisture to protect the subfloor beneath, it increased the risk of the shower from shifting and in turn affected the liner’s slope.

This problem eventually led to mould/mildew growth due to the pooling of excess moisture.

Today, most shower repair contractors have gone away with the rubber/copper pan liner in favour of waterproofing membranes. These membranes are installed directly beneath the tile layer to prevent water from penetrating the cement or mortar subfloor.

There are four main types of shower wall and floor membranes and these are:

  • Sheet membranes
  • Liquid membranes
  • Foam wallboards
  • Foam shower bases

1. Sheet membranes

Sheet membranes are made from different blends of plastic compounds. The membrane is attached directly to the shower surface and tile backer board to make them waterproof. Most sheet membranes today come with ‘peel and stick’ technology which makes installation a breeze.


2. Liquid membranes
Liquid membranes act as a waterproof layer for your shower and are applied using a paint roller.  are applied with a simple paint roller. Upon drying, the liquid membrane turns into a flexible elastomeric layer that provides excellent waterproofing characteristics. RedGard makes one of the most popular liquid membranes out there along with easy-to-apply waterproofing products for quick fixes.
3. Foam wallboards
Foam wall boards are used as tile backers to provide structural stability. Such wallboards are made from extruded polystyrene foam to create a durable waterproof shower membrane. Kerdi Board is one example of a manufacturer that makes excellent foam wallboards used for shower waterproofing.

4. Foam Shower BasesFoam shower bases are often sold in kits that come with a foam shower curb that is waterproofed similarly to the base. The kit can also include seam tape and a membrane bonding shower drain. The foam used in these kits is quite similar to the ones used in foam wallboards which lend its excellent waterproofing capabilities.

Which type of waterproofing should you use?

Now the question is, which type of waterproofing should you use for your shower remodelling? There’s not a right or wrong answer since it will depend on a variety of factors and how you plan on executing your shower remodelling.

For a quick, simple, and cost-effective means of waterproofing your shower, using liquid membrane waterproofing is the way to go. It’s easy to apply and all you need is a paint roller to waterproof your shower.

On the other hand, if you want a more robust and long-term waterproofing solution, then using sheet membranes or foam wallboards are the best choice. These materials provide superior waterproofing compared to the liquid membrane and are ideal for newly constructed showers or even remodelled showers.

Some contractors use liquid membranes in combination with other types of waterproofing membranes to double the effect. If you’re unsure about which material to use, we highly suggest contacting a shower repair expert and ask for professional advice regarding shower waterproofing.

If you’re looking for a reliable shower repair service within the Perth area, feel free to contact us today at Shower Repairs Perth.

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