Our latest bump in the road came when I was refreshing myself on tiling how-tos on the good ol' interwebs the morning after I last posted. One of the tutorials I was watching referred to a vapor barrier. I wondered what that meant, so I googled it, and discovered that these bathroom reno newbies left out a major step in waterproofing a tub surrournd. Normally, plastic sheeting (otherwise known as a vapor barrier) would be installed behind the cement board because neither tile nor grout nor cement board nor greenboard are waterproof-- just water-resistant. I panicked. Then I told Steve and he panicked. Would we really have to rip out all of that cement board, only to throw it out, buy more, and re-install it over some plastic sheeting?? I did some research on the interwebs, and it seemed that we had one other option. There are certain products that are considered vapor barriers that you can "install" over cement board.
One trip to Home Depot later, and we came home with a 1 gallon bucket of a product called Red Gard. It's a goopy concoction that you essentially trowel or brush or roll onto cement board, and it dries to a rubbery, waterproof finish. Best of all, you can still tile over it!
First I used some joint compound to smooth over every seam and nail hole in the cement board so that the Red Gard would have a nice even surface to cling to and we wouldn't end up with gaps it wouldn't be able to seal.
After 24 hours of dry time, I broke out the Red Gard. It should be noted that this stuff stinks to high heaven. I used a respirator, kept the fan in the bathroom on at all times, and kept fans in the rest of the house running to remove any fumes that might escape the bathroom. Definitely use a respirator, or expect that your nose and throat will smell like ammonia for the next three days. The viscosity was really odd- it was a lot like pudding. Not quite solid enough to trowel on, not quite liquid enough to really be able to paint or roll with easily. I ended up using a mixture of techniques- I'd dampen the cement board with a large sponge like the directions said, then trowel a big glop onto the lid from the bucket, and then use a brush to slather it on (I made sure to use a brush I wouldn't be heartbroken about in case it needed to be chucked afterward). The nice thing about Red Gard is that when you apply it, it's the most obnoxious Barbie hot pink you can imagine, but it dries a reddish magenta, so you never have to wonder if it's dry enough for a second or third coat. All of the cement board got two coats of Red Gard, and the seams where leaks seemed most likely (like our little bump-out to protect the oddly-fitted pipe) were given three coats just to be safe.
|Our tub surround briefly matched the color scheme of Barbie's mansion.|
And then I just left it like that for a week.
|Ugly AND smelly! Exactly what we wanted! (But thankfully waterproof!!)|
And then, one day, I finally had the time and energy to start the tile work.
At this point, I'm quite a bit further along in my tiling adventure, but I'm bound and determined not to post again until I have tiled the whole surround. Maybe that will motivate me to get it done faster??