I noticed the paint was bubbling and peeling outside my shower. A plumber told me it was because of the glass shower door and that he sees this kind of water damage a lot and there was nothing to do about it. Well after the problem got worse I noticed there were cracks in the grout right were the leak was occurring. I then noticed there were lots of cracks all around the floor and that the previous owner had repaired some of them with caulk. I thought I would chip away where there were cracks and re-grout then seal it and repair the wall. Now I am wondering if I need to do more or if I messed up...

Using a Dremel with a grout removal tool I started on the cracked areas. Water started seeping through the grout and big areas of the grout are now wet and the grout is soft. After reading D.Moore's excellent response about Travertine tile being porous, I am not too concerned about the water but I don't know how much of the grout I actually have to remove. Some of it is very hard and the Dremel tool isn't touching it.

Also, what do I need to do behind the tiles I removed?

Do I have to cut away the punky stuff that is behind it?

How to I repair that part and make sure this doesn't leak again?

Was it really the shower door or the crack in the grout?

Do I have to wait for all the water to dry before I attempt to re-grout?

How long might that take?


![tile ]2


wet grout

shower door

![behind other wall ]6

![behind wall ]7

Picture 11

2 Answers 2


Without knowing how sever the water damage is inside the walls there is no way of telling exactly what will be required.

If, as it appears, the whole tile job was improperly installed on drywall, ( Sheetrock ) not a proper waterproof substrate, then there could be significant mold, mildew ( as evidenced in the second photo ) and wood rot. This would require completely gutting it and starting over.

You could spend many hours removing a re-grouting but that does not address the root of the problem. Water saturated drywall can not be left to "dry out" and mold inside the wall NEEDS to be removed.

If it has been happening for years than wood rot could be an issue. Any rotten wood will need to be accessed to see if it needs be replaced as well.

You could cut out the rotten drywall next to the tile and see if you can get some visuals from inside the wall, A endoscope type camera may help, ( there are cheap-ish ones available for your phone. ) You will only be able to see inside that one stud cavity but it will give some more clues and allow air in the space.

Porous tile and grout will let water through so it is imperative that the substrate behind it is water proof.

The bottom line is there needs to be more exploratory assessment before a compressive plan can be formulated.

  • I was about to say something similar here. Contrary to popular belief, grout is NOT waterproof. Water flows through it pretty freely and it will get whatever substrate there is wet. That's why "greenboard" or cementboard is used today along with a waterproof barrier like tar paper or plastic sheeting behind that. Your shower was improperly installed and it, in my opinion at least, a total tearout and redo project.
    – jwh20
    Apr 21, 2020 at 17:52
  • Yes i did not have the heart to say it outright, complete demo and Redo. I use Denshield on all shower/tubs and even behind kitchen sinks.
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 21, 2020 at 17:54
  • The only hope here is that it's not rotted out the subfloor or the studs. But I've seen this before and I ended up tearing it all back to the floor joists (which were OK) and having to replace a couple of the studs. Between the rot and the mold it was a disgusting mess.
    – jwh20
    Apr 21, 2020 at 18:06
  • I went back and pulled more stuff away. It looks like there is waterproof subtrate on the other walls. I took a picture and made a red arrow on it. That board seems dry and not at all punky. If that's the case could I live with this awhile and fix the one wall then re-grout? Apr 21, 2020 at 20:33
  • Also, I have lived here 2 years and I have never seen water on the ceiling below this shower. Apr 21, 2020 at 20:40

There are three main issues here.

  1. There was not sound waterproofing in the shower. I don't see anything behind the tiles that points to waterproofing. You may have gotten away from big issues for a while if it weren't for issues #2 and #3. That being said the shower has to be totally ripped apart to the studs.

  2. Travertine tiles. These are porous tiles and really have no place in a shower. Kitchen, fine. Shower, no way. Here is the problem, even if you had great waterproofing, water still gets through the tiles. Yes you can seal them but its hard to trust people to do this right and enough. So after water gets through tiles and comes out where ever it can, it starts destroying the integrity of the shower. Until it wears away some of the waterproofing and boom you have an issue. (not having waterproofing was a disaster here)

  3. The shower design is really really poor. You have tiles on four sides of a small shower. This is a mold incubator. Basically your shower would need to meet commercial waterproofing guidelines for a sauna/shower to not have issues.

My advice - If you have another shower in the house, quit using this and remove the tiles. Understand that redoing this shower isn't a ton of cost compared to having a plumber or whoever do patchwork on it for the next two years. I am not sure what is behind the tiles. Maybe there is backer board - this may be able to be salvaged. This might make things easier to reassemble. Not sure.

The thing is you can probably continue using the shower if you can deal with the mold. It will start to ruin a lot of things around it though, that is the price you are paying.

  • love the downvote without a comment
    – DMoore
    Apr 21, 2020 at 21:40
  • Thank you, your responses are super useful. If you get a chance could you comment on my comment above and new picture? Apr 21, 2020 at 23:02
  • The red arrow looks like drywall - while its name has the word "dry" in it, it is basically the worst material you could expect behind travertine. There isn't redoing anything. I saw the comment about living space underneath this - I would not use this shower anymore period
    – DMoore
    Apr 22, 2020 at 4:15
  • Thank you so much for your help DMoore. Apr 22, 2020 at 12:57
  • Given that your shower pan was done right this could be relatively cheap to fix right. I would also really think about knocking out part of the wall to the left so that the whole front of the shower can be glass.
    – DMoore
    Apr 22, 2020 at 15:47

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