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How to Use a Membrane System to Prep a Shower for Tiling – This Old House

This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows a foolproof way to build a leak-free shower. (See below for a shopping list and tools.)

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Full episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMVbfhmRiNQ&list=PLkJADc1qDrr8JnEkf1GX2utInAXW6t2XP&index=8

How to Set Tile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9Vtv7ZgBCE&list=PLkJADc1qDrr_0NxtmzECiOWkr5de82kXV&index=132

How to Repair a Shower Valve in a Tile Wall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCGLwRauJcE&index=39&list=PLkJADc1qDrr_0NxtmzECiOWkr5de82kXV

How to Install a Glass Tile Backsplash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6SRWCWI1TE&list=PLkJADc1qDrr_0NxtmzECiOWkr5de82kXV&index=112

Tools for How to Use a Membrane System to Prep a Shower for Tiling:
– sponge and bucket
– 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch notched trowels
– 10-inch-wide drywall knife
– utility knife
– drill/driver fitted with 4-inch hole saw
– mixing paddle

Shopping List for How to Use a Membrane System to Prep a Shower for Tiling:
– waterproof membrane kit
– dry-set mortar
– preformed shower pan and curb

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22 comments

  1. Why do you need the membrane? Isn't the Durock waterproof enough? Isn't the tile waterproof enough?

  2. could you do a video on mixing the morta?? no one ever does. is there a right way and a wrong way ?? how do you know when it is right??.

  3. 0:27 Silva be like: don't worry about it and watch" hahaha.

  4. It's much easier, faster,and cleaner if you were lay your cut peace of membrane on the floor and trowel your morter on the membrane as if you were glueing wallpaper.Then simply grab each corner and hang again as if you were hanging wallpaper !!!! This will save you so much time!!!

  5. and last thing, i can save sooooo much money by doing my own custom shower pan, you guys spend thousands on those pre made things, unless there is capacity on house or on boat, that you can't use alot of weight, then ye there is already pre made light weight systems

  6. Why i love to be as Tile Guy, because behind tile there is alot more then you think, there is so much to learn when it comes to custom showers, and waterproofing systems, even just about Epoxy grout, sooo much need to know about it before installing it, just love to learn everyday something new, even when floor is like 2 inches dips in floors or walls, i can make it fleet, i can talk about tile alll day, not just tile but even setting materials, like modified and un-modified thinset, sooo much about it to know, unbelievably awesome, plus tech growing everyday, new products coming out and new stuff, This Old House Love watching your shows, and learning how to build whole house, or even how to fix stuff in house, when i tile for customers i always tell them to watch This Old House 😉

  7. Is this system used anymore? I haven't heard or seen anything in reference to this system in quite a long time.

  8. I would think starting at the bottom and working up would be better.

  9. From my limited experience, it seems like a thin coat of Red Guard over everything would work just as well, take much less time, and require less effort. Any pros have some input?

  10. shouldn't that last piece have the edges covered with the membrane too?

  11. Can you use the safe for baths also?

  12. Hello, I would like to expand my powder room by opening up the closet next to it.  Can you tell me what the standard sizes are for the Membrane System?  I will have to work around the preformed shower pan and curb.  Thanks

  13. What was the adhesive he used when he installed the drain? Was that also dry-set mortar? Also, I thought you had to overlap the polyethylene sheets in such a way that the lower pieces are behind the upper pieces? Am I wrong?

  14. Thanks but i think i stick to elastic hydro isolation

  15. You learn a lot watching these guys and viewing all the pros comments come in hand as well!

  16. I was shown to always put the tray in first like a few other guys said its just like roofing start at the bottom and overlap your seams then water for sure has no way of getting to the bare flooring underneath. But each to their own. This system still works awesome either way. I think they should make it a law people have to use this because it will save the home owners money in the long run plus you have absolutly no worries and you save the environment because your not throwing out so much wasted materials because of leaks or rot from trying to save a buck. To many people put all their money into finishings not whats behind it which is the most important of all!!! Everyone thinks of themselves nowadays and it makes for a lot of money wasted by everyone even if you think your saving a dollar your not because the next house you buy that guy probably tried to save a buck too!! Karma it will always catch up to you in the end!

  17. I would never trust a soft foam product for a floor; I don't care how 'proven' it is.

    You know how shingles and siding are installed bottom-up, with the upper pieces overlapping  the lower pieces so the water flows over as it runs down?  Tommy installed the membrane system top-down.  Also, he should have done the corner strips before the field sheets, like valley flashing, so there would only be one exposed seam at each corner.  Belt and suspenders, Tommy, belt and suspenders.  As for protecting the pan, I'm sure laying-down some scrap sheet wood or a few layers of cardboard is not an unreasonable effort.  A drop cloth would offer virtually no protection from impact or sharp objects.

  18. I'd like to see more from this one. Do they tile right over that membrane? 

  19. I've installed this system several ways and the way Tom has installed is the best way. You take a chance of dropping a sharp object on the already installed shower tray and walking on it is never a good idea unless you lay a drop cloth down.

  20. I always put the floor waterproofing in first, and had the wall waterproofing overlap the floor's.  The same principle as flashing on a roof or around windows and doors.  This is different.  This adhesive must be some tough stuff…

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