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  1. #1
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    Default Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    Residential inspection -- the house was a flip. The shower/tub had new tile installed on the walls in the shower/tub. Through the access panel I noticed they used USG Mold Tough Gypsum Sheetrock -- not a backerboard/cement board. I noted it in my report as a non-professional install.

    I'm wondering though -- what are the long-term implications of using sheetrock instead of cement board? Is the tile going to fall down soon?

    Thanks!

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    -Jon
    Errickson Home Inspections, LLC
    http://www.erricksonhomeinspections.com

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    It depends on several factors. I've seen some that's been up for over 30 years, with no visible problems. In the not too distant past, that was all they ever did in my area. Other times it can start to fail in less than five years, or if there is water penetration, even sooner. However, if there's water penetration, you'll have bigger problems before then anyhow.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ Sheetrock

    Although not right by todays standards, ordinary Sheetrock was the norm for decades.
    When there was a problem it showed up on the lowest tiles next to the tub and at the tub spout. Next to the tub and spout is where water would enter. However there usually was not a problem until 15,20 years or even longer.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Errickson View Post
    Residential inspection -- the house was a flip. The shower/tub had new tile installed on the walls in the shower/tub. Through the access panel I noticed they used USG Mold Tough Gypsum Sheetrock -- not a backerboard/cement board. I noted it in my report as a non-professional install.

    I'm wondering though -- what are the long-term implications of using sheetrock instead of cement board? Is the tile going to fall down soon?

    Thanks!
    I think that I might have noted that the wallboard behind the tile is not approved for tile applications in wet areas, like baths and showers per the manufacturer. http://www.usg.com/rc/data-submittal...tal-WB2390.pdf

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Errickson View Post
    Residential inspection -- the house was a flip. The shower/tub had new tile installed on the walls in the shower/tub. Through the access panel I noticed they used USG Mold Tough Gypsum Sheetrock -- not a backerboard/cement board. I noted it in my report as a non-professional install.

    I'm wondering though -- what are the long-term implications of using sheetrock instead of cement board? Is the tile going to fall down soon?

    Thanks!
    There very well may have been an applied substrate to/upon sheetrock Mold Tough, on the tile finish side which IS approved as a tile substrate. We don't even know what kind of "tile" is being discussed here.

    On what basis would/have you made this statement??? Merely your not having seen the back of durock, fiberrock or similar product from behind?

    A repair or replacement of tile in what aged home? Obviously from your description the home itself is NOT NEW construction (you referred to it as a "flip").

    You know you haven't provided enough information to indicate any concern whatsoever. There is more than one way to "skin a cat" when it comes to residential and there have been a LOT of advances in building materials, especially as it pertains to residential bathrooms in the last two decades.

    We don't know if this mold tough is C/X rated, its thickness, what the weight considerations are, if this is a separation wall, etc. if there is more than one wall layer, etc. You also haven't indicated if the tile or stone finish is extra-ordinarily large, heavy, etc, or in any way requires Durock or fiberrock type backer (which still requires waterproofing before tile install for a shower wall).

    There very well could be a tile membrane product installed, such as Durock tile membrane with its cementious finish layer, along with its branded crack isolation adhesive as a substrate for the tile (waterproofs, strengthens, approved tile backer, vapor perm.). There are also many other products, such as those produced by schulte (12 yrs +), and also paint or roll-on water-proofing tile backer membranes such as Lacrite and Redgard. Nothing you have shared indicates or specifies a specialty rating for backing.

    You have not indicated what might be installed between the finish tile and the wall board - I'm guessing its safe to assume that frankly you don't know.

    In any case, it is an unsupportable leap to presume or report an installation is non-professional merely because you do not see a (10 years old, 15 years old, or older) technology/product from the backside stud-wall view. Nothing you have indicated in your post evidences or supports your "non-professional installation" conclusionary statement.

    Observe and report. Leaping to unsupportable or ill-informed conclusions can find you on the wrong side of a lawsuit (including the installer or contractor who may performed the installation).

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 01-18-2011 at 03:34 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    Thanks H.G. I was more just wondering what the consequences were of installing tile in a tub/shower on gypsum board vs. cement board, which must be why I left out some details.

    The house was built in 1951 - one story rambler, about 1500sf. It was a flip and the entire bathroom had just been redone. This was definitely not tile from 1951 (or 1970, 1980, 1990, etc). It was 8"x8" tile.

    The wallboard was 1/2" USG Mold Tough Gypsum Sheetrock. I viewed it from the plumbing access panel behind the tub -- so I could see it resting on the top of the tub. You raise some interesting points about other products that may have been used on top of the sheetrock. I was not able to view any of that because of the limited access.

    Would you have just reported then that you observed the 1/2" USG Mold Tough Gypsum sheetrock or not mentioned anything because there's no way of know what other products may have been used on top of it?

    -Jon
    Errickson Home Inspections, LLC
    http://www.erricksonhomeinspections.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    What was wrong with reporting what you just indicated in the immediately abbove post? Admitting what the unknown/unobservable was, sharing what the observed was, and indicating a concern as to the 8x8 (large) tile being sufficiently supported

    and

    sharing your concern regarding movement, wall surface failure, and/or leaking in present or the future with potential to cause damage structurally, (wet, rot, etc.) and deferring to a slightly more invasive investigation (such as removing the shower escutcheon, tub spout, etc.) to determine what may be supporting and IF an appropriate water proofing method was used behind the tile/stone installation and/or inquiries/disclosures/certifications of the seller and/or contractor?

    P.S. according to USG "Mold-Tough" wasn't introduced until '07 and was introduced regionally on a stepped schedule by market.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    P.P.S.

    Also there are other backerboards besides cement/fibermesh board, and there is the next generation durock lighter and thinner.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    Thanks HG. I like the suggestion of a slightly more invasive investigation by removing a tub spout, etc. I hadn't thought of that.

    At the time, I discussed my concerns with my client and talked about potential early failure of the wall and the potential for leakage and further damage b/c it was an improper material. Thanks for the suggestions/education.

    -Jon
    Errickson Home Inspections, LLC
    http://www.erricksonhomeinspections.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    Have to re-direct the investigative end of this ...
    No, No, No, do not remove the tub spout. Way too much liability there. For various reasons tub spouts tend to be installed 'not quite kosher', especially by flippers.
    It is much safer to remove/loosen the faucet plate. Two screws, pull the plate out and one can see and take a pic of the wall. Fast, easy and much safer. I do it regularly.
    As others have mentioned, regular rock and last a very long time or very short time. It really depends on how the caulk joints and grout lines are maintained.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Have to re-direct the investigative end of this ...
    No, No, No, do not remove the tub spout. Way too much liability there. For various reasons tub spouts tend to be installed 'not quite kosher', especially by flippers.
    It is much safer to remove/loosen the faucet plate. Two screws, pull the plate out and one can see and take a pic of the wall. Fast, easy and much safer. I do it regularly.
    As others have mentioned, regular rock and last a very long time or very short time. It really depends on how the caulk joints and grout lines are maintained.
    Not to mention sealing all pipe entry points.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    I was in no way recommending the HI perform a more invasive inspection!!!I know better, HI is not invasive. I would not recommend a HI remove an escutcheon plate either - that would be invasive, as same is often sealed and to do so is beyond the scope, best left to a plumber or other contractor.I meant to refer/defer as in deferring to a slightly more invasive inspection, as in suggesting another qualified professional, investigate - with appropriate permissions from the seller, or as mentioned inquiring further of the seller for the details - i.e. further disclosure for the client to investigate or consider persuing, not the home inspector.Just as for example an HI might recommend a further investigation/inspection, slightly invasive of a stucco or EIFS system, etc.


  13. #13
    William Corbett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    You are going to come accross this issue more times than not! Do not take apart anything that adds to your liability. Simply show the potential home owner where the potential problem is or could be in the future along with possible maintainance suggestions to prevent a future problem with that item. Always note everything you say or do on the report along with pictures to cover yourself.

    Hope this helps!



    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Errickson View Post
    Residential inspection -- the house was a flip. The shower/tub had new tile installed on the walls in the shower/tub. Through the access panel I noticed they used USG Mold Tough Gypsum Sheetrock -- not a backerboard/cement board. I noted it in my report as a non-professional install.

    I'm wondering though -- what are the long-term implications of using sheetrock instead of cement board? Is the tile going to fall down soon?

    Thanks!



  14. #14
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    Default Re: Wall tile install w/ sheetrock

    BTW, the most frequent problem I see with ceramic tile over WRD is at windows above tub/showers - the combination of a flat surface, three inside corners, and an outside corner subject to mechanical damage is an invitation to premature failure.

    I use a hard xylophone mallet:



    - Amazon.com: Innovative Percussion Hard Xylophone or Bell Mallet, Birch: Musical Instruments

    to check these areas, and frequently find loose tiles that are not visually obvious.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

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