Shower Waterproofing – A Definitive Guide for Homeowners

May 17 2022

When it comes to bathrooms, showering is probably the most common activity. But unfortunately, showering is also the most common cause of leaks in a home. Water seeping into the walls and foundation from the shower is an inconvenience and can also be costly. 


This article is for you if you’re looking for ways to ensure that your home’s showers are waterproofed and stay that way. Shower waterproofing means sealing gaps, cracks, and penetrations in your shower enclosure, which keeps moisture from seeping in and water from getting out.  


Let’s look into the benefits of shower waterproofing, how it’s done, and which products you can use to achieve it. 


What Is Shower Waterproofing?

Shower waterproofing adds a protective coating to a shower enclosure to keep water out. This coating is intended to keep water out of the enclosure’s joints, cracks, and seams where water or water vapor can enter.

A Brief History Of Shower Waterproofing

Shower waterproofing is a relatively recent development in the world of waterproofing. The practice of waterproofing shower pans and tubs has been around for a few decades, but the need to waterproof showers and other bathrooms has been felt for much longer. 

Over time, some homeowners have created their own methods to try and solve the problem of water seeping into the walls of their bathrooms. Some of the earliest ways include using flexible plastic sheeting and duct tape as barriers to keep water out of the walls and using plastic mulch and wood planks on the floor. Over the years, technology has created better ways to waterproof showers.

Do You Need Shower Waterproofing?

It’s often an assumption that shower tiles are impenetrable and 100% waterproof. And though ceramic and porcelain tiles are as good as waterproof, the grouting isn’t. While grout does its job well, it does absorb water. Without waterproofing, the walls underneath steadily drink in moisture and cause damage that you can’t see. 

There are a few different situations where you may want to consider waterproofing your shower. If your shower is a frequent source of leaks, water damage could be extensive. In some cases, moisture could cause your foundation walls to warp. Water damage of this kind is expensive to repair and could be avoided with effective waterproofing. And while most homeowners don’t think of it as much as they would a leaky faucet or clogged drain, inadequate waterproofing can lead to moisture problems in the bathroom.

So no matter what your bathroom set-up is, waterproofing is always a good idea. 

What Are The Benefits Of Shower Waterproofing?

If you make the right decision to waterproof your shower, what are the benefits? 

● Reduces The Cost Of Maintenance 

If you have significant water damage in your shower, it may need to be replaced. Replacing a shower can cost thousands of dollars, so ensuring it is adequately waterproofed is a simple way to save money. 

● Fewer Maintenance Issues 

The shower is the most frequently used room. Using a shower makes the walls and floor more likely to be damaged than other rooms in the home. 

● Fewer Cleanup Issues 

Shower waterproofing can eliminate the need for homeowners to make frequent and messy repairs to maintain their shower waterproofing. 

● Less Damage To Interior Walls 

Shower waterproofing can prevent water damage to the interior walls of your home. If your shower walls are damaged, water will be the most common cause. Shower waterproofing can eliminate the need to make frequent repairs to these walls, reducing the chances of severe structural damage.

The Risks Of Not Waterproofing Your Shower

Any moisture or leaks in the home can be more detrimental than you might think. And shower waterproofing won’t strictly fix your moisture problem. Instead, it’s entirely dependent on where that moisture is coming from.

If you have a leak or underneath moisture problem stemming from a shower that’s not been waterproofed, it can have consequences for your home. We’ve mentioned before that it can result in costly repairs. But the issues it causes can be more nefarious than that. 

● Expensive Repairs 

Not all water damage is costly to repair. There are some situations where the repair is very inexpensive, and others where it can cost several thousand dollars. But if you have a leak coming from your shower that is left to its own devices, it can cause damage. 

● Mold And Negative Health Effects 

Excess moisture and standing water from leaks or moisture problems from a shower that isn’t waterproofed are breeding grounds for mold and mildew. That mold and mildew can easily spread around your home if the leak or moisture issue isn’t dealt with properly. Not only is mold not nice to look at, but it can cause respiratory problems depending on the type of mold it is. 

● Foundation Damage 

If you have a water leak from your shower that goes untreated, the water will eventually find its way to your foundation. And foundations that sit in water will become damaged. Leaks can also cause moisture damage to the subfloor or other foundation components.

● Pest Infestations 

It’s evident that moisture causes mold, but it can also attract pests like termites and carpenter ants. And hiring pest control can be costly if they’ve spread around the home.

● Structural Decay 

A decaying structure is a severe problem that’s dangerous and costly to repair. And it can be caused by leaks in an unwaterproofed shower that isn’t fixed. Or moisture created from standing water or other problems. 

While all of these issues can be solved through other means, they can’t be gotten rid of entirely until you fix the root cause. And if this root cause is leaks caused by poor waterproofing in your shower, you should aim to fix it. But there are some ways you can prevent moisture problems on exterior bathroom walls before installing shower waterproofing. 

Avoid Moisture Problems On Exterior Bathroom Walls

If your exterior bathroom walls are porous, meaning they allow water to seep in, you should waterproof them. However, it’s important to note that not all exterior walls are permeable.  

When it comes to exterior walls, there are a few ways to waterproof the bathroom walls:  

  • Install a watertight membrane on the outer wall.
  • Seal all openings, cracks, and joints on the outer wall.
  • Use weatherstripping on all exterior doors.
  • Ensure the exterior wall is not adjacent to a deck, patio, or other outdoor surfaces.
  • Use water-resistant tiles.

Once all of these steps have been covered, you can start thinking about shower waterproofing. And this type of waterproofing is the most powerful way to prevent leaks and moisture build-up in the bathroom. 

What Are Shower Waterproofing Options Available?

When it comes to waterproofing your shower, there are a few different types you can go for. They all depend on your home and bathroom set-up. Let’s get into them.

Sheet Membranes

A sheet membrane is made up of different plastic compounds attached to the backer board and shower surface. Many of these membranes are easy to install with peel and stick technology. The benefit of sheet membranes is that there’s no drying time, and they come in standard thicknesses. So the hard work is done for you. 

They do, however, have seams that you’ll need to waterproof correctly if you want to avoid leakages. The best way to create a waterproof seam with sheet membranes is to overlap them by 2 inches. This overlap creates extra thickness and layers to the corners. You can improve this further by adding banding material along with the overlaps. This does create some lumpiness, though. And you may struggle with keeping wrinkles out of the membrane. 

Liquid Membranes

A liquid membrane is what you think it is. It’s essentially waterproof paint applied simply and easily with a paint roller. Once applied, this membrane dries to become a flexible layer. To get liquid membranes to work effectively, they need to be used properly. And that means that each layer you put on needs to be applied to the correct thickness. This can vary depending on which product you opt for. 

It’s not only thickness that needs to be adhered to if you want your liquid membrane to work correctly. Each product has its own cure times too. So each layer needs to dry properly before moving on to the next. Usually, it takes about a day to dry, with each successive layer getting faster. And with the speed that liquid membranes are improving, their curing times are shortening too. 

Liquid membranes can be used with mud bed shower construction too. It’s applied directly to the mud and then the tiles to the membrane. And it generally doesn’t need reinforcing because it’s integrated into the mixture. But adding additional reinforcement to the corners of your shower wouldn’t go amiss. 

Foam Wallboards

Installed as backers to your tiles, foam wallboards are great if you’re looking for structural stability. The extruded polystyrene foam that they’re made from creates a waterproof shower membrane. As with bonded sheet waterproofing methods, foam wallboards are waterproof on the surface and don’t let the moisture absorb through the board. 

With foam wallboard being light and simple to install, they’re often a favorite when it comes to shower waterproofing. And because they’re waterproof themselves, you don’t need to install a cement board before waterproofing. As with sheet membranes, you’ll need to seal the seams. You can do this with a waterproof sealant to stick them together. Or you can use a banding material. But once this is done, you can get straight to tiling because everything is waterproof. 

Foam Shower Bases

Often sold as kits, foam shower bases, some with a lipped edge that’s waterproofed like the base itself. If you buy it as a kit, it’ll come with a membrane bonding drain and seam tape for the ultimate seal. The foam used in these kits is primarily the same as the foam used in the wallboards you can use for waterproofing your shower enclosure. 

Traditional Shower Construction

In this style of waterproofing, the seal is created in the construction. These showers would have been made from mud and chicken wire to create an area where water couldn’t leak from in bygone eras. Nowadays, these materials have mostly been replaced by cement boards and fiber cement backer boards. The moisture barrier in this construction is usually plastic or tar paper.

Don’t Forget About The Floor

Waterproofing your bathroom floor is also a good idea. Shower floors are more likely to be damaged by moisture than other floors are. If seepage into the subfloor occurs, then your bathroom floor will most likely suffer from that damage.  

Shower floors can be waterproofed with a membrane, pebblecrete, or vinyl plank flooring. They can also be waterproofed using the same membranes used to protect the shower as a whole. Placed beneath the tile layer, waterproof membranes stop water from penetrating the cement. 

Which Shower Waterproofing System Is Best?

Like anything, the best type of waterproofing is entirely dependent on where and how it’s being used. Liquid membranes are excellent for homeowners looking for a quick and cost-effective solution they can finish themselves. 

Sheet membranes and foam backers are more robust. So they’re a better long-term solution. Moreover, they’re favored in the industry, making them the best option to go for. If you want to double your waterproofing, combine the two types. This is especially good for showers that see a lot of use, like those in hospitals or commercial swimming pools. 

HYDRO-BLOK Shower Waterproofing

Hydro-Blok is one of most effective shower waterproofing solutions on the market, without a doubt. While sheet and liquid membranes are excellent, there’s nothing quite like Hydro-Blok. This product is engineered to stop water from getting out of your shower enclosure. Once installed, there won’t be any additional difficult or time-consuming waterproofing steps, and you can start tiling in as little as an hour. 

The Hydro-Blok Shower System is a closed-cell. It’s HCFC-free, with an XPS foam core and a custom-engineered polymer-modified cement coating. In addition, this system is sealed at the joints using our specific Joint Sealant for the ultimate waterproofing for your shower. Not only that, but once installed, you’ll choose from our fully waterproof line of shower pans, wallboards, and accessories so you can realize your shower dreams. Then your bathroom will be fully waterproof, durable, and ready for your tiles to be applied. 

The dedicated team at Hydro-Blok is constantly working to improve the shower system, so you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you have the best product on the market to match your shower waterproofing needs. Our mission is to provide installers with straightforward, high-quality products that save them time and money. And all our products are backed by our Lifetime Limited Warranty. What’s not to love? 

Get in touch with our friendly and dedicated team today. So we can help you install the shower of your dreams with the help of Hydro-Blok, tomorrow. 

Suppose you are looking forward to purchasing the highest quality bathroom accessories and equipment at an affordable price while DIY friendly, you may think about getting the help of HYDRO-BLOK. There are various products available with detailed video instructions for installation on this online store. All you need do is browse through the products and get what you want.

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