My plumber had to knock out some of my bathroom wall tile to access the stack and make a repair. I am trying to go about repairing the hole. However I cannot separate the tile from the existing wall board. I believe they used some sort of adhesive wall board because I am not encountering thinset. Should I just cut all the way through along the grout lines and butt the new cement board up to the existing wall. I would be unable to tape those joints then. What is the best way to go about the repair? Attached is a picture of the main area of the repair. Note this is on the opposite wall of the shower and does not get direct water exposure.enter image description here enter image description here

  • I think you need to take more pictures - from further away to get a good answer.
    – DMoore
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 20:12
  • I'm pretty sure I see thinset in the second picture (the grey vertical lines behind the tile), are you sure that isn't thinset?
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 20:35
  • I hate to bring it up, but when some cast iron fails, the rest is often relatively (like, a few years) behind. Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 20:43
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate The junction between the cast iron and ABS pipe came dislodged. I think my roofers bumped the stack.
    – salisboss
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 21:19
  • @RonBeyer Yes I came to that conclusion. I still can't separate the tile though.
    – salisboss
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 21:22

2 Answers 2


Your plan is sound. Cut the damaged tile out along grout lines, being very careful to not chip the tiles that will remain.

Install new framing backing where possible, using construction adhesive to bond the original substrate to the lumber. Then, when you install your new backer, everything will be tied together well and taping the joint won't be necessary.

  • Thanks I wasn't even thinking of putting in extra framing.
    – salisboss
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 20:17
  • I got lucky. The framing was done with double studs together so the grout line was supported by one of the two studs and the other students will support the new cement board.
    – salisboss
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 0:42

Clearly this is an old house and you are somewhat lucky. On a new shower you'd expect to see the shower liner / waterproofing coming up the wall. It just looks like tile over drywall which is pretty terrible in the long term for mold growth and the wall rotting away (especially walls that get wet with showering).

If you like the shower / tile and can get replacement tiles that match existing I'd just add nailing edges, concrete board, a liquid water proofing membrane something like:


then add your tile with thinset and grout it.

I'd either use a oscillating tool to remove the grout, then cut away the section or go with a diamond blade in a circ saw and setup a guide to get a nice cut without chipping the tiles near your patch. Wear a respirator. Drywall mud contained asbestos at certain points in time and the dust from concrete / tiles / grout / drywall won't be good for you in any case.

Behind the drawer I'd just get a 1/4" piece of mdf and put it at the back.

Also this looks to be an exterior wall given the insulation so it wouldn't hurt to fill in areas that aren't properly filled with insulation. I'd swap out the fiberglass for roxul at least in the shower area(as it continues to be effective even if wet).

Depending on your climate zone you need to think about vapor barrier - though it doesn't look like there is an existing one and throwing a small piece in probably doesn't make a lot of sense. The original paint in the house was likely serving as the vapor barrier.

  • That's a good idea about the mdf behind the vanity. This area is on the exterior wall opposite the shower so no direct. I did have that it another bathroom where the wall behind the shower was moldy as heck. What started as redoing our office turned into a gut job of the bathroom.
    – salisboss
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 0:46

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