We're purchasing a condo with 2.75 baths. Both the shower and the bathtub surrounds are tiled directly onto drywall, it seems. The inspector said there wasn't cement board. I'm unsure how he could tell that, but I'm just a DIYer. Is there a way I could check?

The shower's tile grout is chipping away and in some spots is completely gone in 1-inch segments. We could just regrout them, but there's a chance that there is water damage to the drywall if it is indeed tiled directly to the drywall. There's also a pre-fab pan that might need repair or replacement. The shower is 3-feet X 4-feet.

In my couple of days of research, it seems these are our options:

  1. If drywall is fine, put Kerdi Membrane onto drywall, re-tile walls and replace pan.
  2. If drywall is fine, put Kerdi Membrane onto drywall, re-tile walls, tile pan.
  3. Rip out drywall, put up cement board, re-tile walls and pan.
  4. Rip out drywall, put up cement board, re-tile, put in pre-fab pan.
  5. Rip out drywall, put up cement board, install complete pre-fab surround and pan.
  6. Rip out drywall, put up cement board, install Hydro-Blok, tile walls and pan.

Here's what we're looking to achieve:

  • Ease of installation (I really like Kerdi's and Hydro-Blok's systems for that).
  • Long-lasting (biggest reason I think avoiding pre-fab is favorable).
  • Stain resistant.

Am I missing anything? Overthinking or under thinking?

  • 1
    Ask your local building permit department what they require first. It might limit your options. More options might be removed or added to once you see what the walls are like.
    – crip659
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 17:18
  • 2
    Drywall is not going to survive having the tile removed. Realistically, i wouldn't count on cement board surviving either. You're likely going to the studs and good odds everything will need to come out. Finally, in case you're not aware, cement board still requires a moisture/vapor barrier. Check out the John Bridge forums. Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 17:39
  • @aquaticapetheory - Yes, I've learned that since posting this. Thank you! Definitely preparing for a full teardown. Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


I have re-done many shower and shower/tub combos in homes and condos.

The process I use for most is tear out the walls to the studs.

Repair any rotted areas.

Change any plumbing if desired or needed.

Sheathe the walls with cement board. Tape the seams with cement board approved mesh tape. mud the seams and screw holes.

If the floor of the shower is in good shape, it can be tiled over. Yes I know there are some that say you cannot or it will come up in short time. However in my area of Fla. tiling over the shower floor is done whenever possible. One local tile store has thinset that they recommend for tiling over tile. ( It will hold 1/4" steel plate to a ceiling) There are even drain riser kits that can be use to get the drain to the correct level.

Use a waterproofing agent on the walls this will be a vapor barrier, and uncoupling membrane. I like Aquadefense but there are others.

Then tile. You have many choices, but remember to tile the floor then the walls. Do your grouting and you are done.

  • Just a side note: The price for the AquaDefense at the "wholesale club" is notably higher (for the 1 & 3.5 gallon sizes, at least) than they are at my neighborhood Lowes. Yet another reason pricing is off-topic at all SE sites... ;)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 17:43
  • confusion abounds for me. I see no reference to any pricing for anything?
    – RMDman
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 13:16
  • No, no... I made the pricing reference, then noted that this is why pricing is off topic. Sorry, I guess that was confusing...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 13:26

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