If left unprotected, your bathroom can be a hotspot for mold, grime, and mildew growth. After just a few years of hot, steamy showers, that moist environment can become a mold nightmare. If you're doing a DIY bathroom renovation, you may never have considered that you need a waterproof shower liner, also known as a shower membrane, underneath your tile. And, if you're paying a contractor, you may default to letting them handle the details of waterproofing your shower. However, we're here to tell you that there is a right way to waterproof your shower liner!
The average bathroom renovation costs between $9,600-$11,000. When you put that much time and investment into a project, the last thing you want to find out is you have to redo the whole thing just a few years later. Unfortunately, that can be the reality if you don't carefully consider what materials to use when waterproofing your shower liner.
What is a Shower Membrane?
A shower membrane is a material that acts as a barrier between the tile layer and the foundational wall of the shower. Waterproof material ensures that mold and mildew doesn't grow underneath the tile.
You may be wondering if waterproofing showers is a new concept. Shower membrane waterproofing has become widespread in the last 15 years and is now considered a necessary step in all bathroom renovations.
Previously, shower membrane waterproofing wasn't as necessary. That's because older homes had gaps allowing a draft to come throughout the home's exterior and interior. This meant that when moisture built up in the bathroom, it evaporated through these drafts in the house.
Now, builders seal homes tightly to prevent heat or cooling air from escaping the house. Unfortunately, as homes are now less breathable, it's clear that the lack of draft stops quick moisture evaporation. This excess moisture contributes to water penetration in shower bases, ultimately leading to mold issues. Regardless of whether you live in an older or newer home, a waterproof shower liner isn't something to skip over. It reduces risk and helps safeguard your home.
Benefits of Waterproofing a Shower Membrane
Some of the clear benefits of waterproofing your shower include:
Reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth
Prolong the life of your shower
Reduce the risk of shower leaks
Keep your tile (and shower) looking cleaner for longer
When Should You Waterproof Your Shower
You'll need to waterproof your shower right before you put the tile on. Make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to put on enough coats of product. Typically a shower will require three to four coats.
After applying your waterproofing product, you can let the area cure for 48-72 hours. Next, you can apply the tile directly to the waterproofing membrane using a polymer modified thin set grout.
How to Prepare Your Shower For Waterproofing
1. Make sure the area is as clean as possible before applying your waterproofing membrane. Try to clean off any dirt or dust from the walls. The surface should be totally dry before you start using the product. You don't want anything on the surface that will prevent adhesion.
2. Next, make sure to bridge any joints, seams, cracks, transitions, or corners with Liquid Rubber Geo-Textile. Smooth out any wrinkles in the first coat.
3. Allow the Liquid Rubber Geo-Textile to dry for an hour or so, and then apply a second coat. Allow the second coat of Liquid Rubber Geo-Textile to dry completely.
4. Now, you're ready to move on to applying your waterproofing membrane.
How to Choose the Right Shower Waterproofing Product
There are two popular types of shower membranes on the market: sheet membranes and liquid membranes.
Either yourself - or a professional contractor - needs to cut these sheets to the exact size of your shower. These sheets consist of several parts, including the membrane, preformed corners, bonding mortar, and sealant. It can be incredibly challenging to fix a mistake made during the sheet membrane installation. Generally speaking, sheet membranes are the secondary choice. This option is more expensive, difficult to DIY, so it often requires professional help and takes more time.
On the other hand, liquid membranes are an affordable and easy DIY method. You don't need to worry about primers, prefitted sheets, treating seams, or transitioning the sheet from wall to wall or around corners. Instead, you simply apply a ready-to-use liquid rubber foundation that acts as a waterproof sealant. We recommend the product The Liquid Rubber Foundation Sealant for long-lasting results.
If you are using a contractor and they recommend a sheet membrane, push back on this decision. They may try to increase your job's time and total expense.
How to Apply Liquid Rubber Foundation Sealant
After prepping your shower, you can move onto the easy process of applying your liquid sealant.
1. First, you'll want to tape-off any areas not meant to receive the Foundation Sealant. After the sealant application, while the sealant is still wet, remove the tape.
2. You will apply the product with a 3/8" (10mm) microfiber roller. In total, you'll need to apply three to four generous coats of Liquid Rubber Foundation Sealant to the entire surface. You're looking to achieve a heavy coat with a thickness of 40-60 mil. (1-1.5mm) (DFT) membrane.
3. Wait approximately 4-6 hours between coats to dry completely. However, note that this time frame can change depending on your local temperature and humidity levels. Make sure the product doesn't drip or create puddles.
4. Apply each coat when the surface is dry to the touch and nothing is wet underneath. Note that if the surface seems tacky, this is fine. Coats should be uniform in color, similar to painting a wall. When applying the additional coats, make sure you're getting even coverage.
5. After applying your final coat, allow 48-72 hours of curing.
6. Now, you can move onto installing your tiles. Apply your polymer modified tile mortar directly on the membrane.
You can watch a video that showcases the steps here:
It's essential to take steps to protect your home. When you waterproof your shower liner, you're reducing the risk of problems that no homeowner wants to deal with. And, luckily, with the fabulous products on the market, waterproofing your shower doesn't have to be problematic or an exclusively for-hire job. The Liquid Rubber Foundation Sealant makes waterproofing your shower liner a job that will only take a few days!