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  1. #1
    Dick Guest

    Default shower stall finish; non-tile

    I am building a new house with a 4-1/2' x 5'
    walk-in shower.
    I want to use a finish on 3 of the 4 walls that looks like troweled concrete but it needs to be, obviously, water proof. The floor of the shower will be a concrete slab and I'd like to continue that look upwards on the walls.
    I have seen several examples in decorating magazines, but they always seem to fail to disclose the finishing material used. It's a great look.
    Any suggestions are appreciated.

  2. #2
    Myron Ferguson Guest

    Default Re: shower stall finish; non-tile

    Maybe contact Michael Bryne (ceramic tile forum) with this question because I really don't have an answer.

  3. #3
    Paul Ingram Guest

    Default Re: shower stall finish; non-tile

    We've done several of these. You need a custom plastering contractor. You should install the pan and lath the walls just like a tile setter. King Stucco out of San Jose has a good shower finish product. It can be colored. A cement plaster finish is indeed waterproof, contrary to some claims.

  4. #4
    B Barney Guest

    Default Re: shower stall finish; non-tile

    I've been in the tile and stone business for 30 years and have only seen a couple of showers done this way. Paul, (above) is is right about setting up your shower just as if you were going to install a quality mud (mortar-floated) shower stall. The finished surface would also be the critical part of a project like this, as water can penetrate through most cement based products without degrading. Also, if the finished surface is rough at all it will be a maintainance nightmare when it comes to mildew and soap scum.

    Waterproofing under the mortar-float is very critical for long term use. I would suggest the "Dens-Sheild" made by Georgia Pacific, as it has a layer of fiberglass on the surface in place of greenboard, green board is moisture resistant (to humidity) but not waterproof. Make sure to seal all joints and corners with a good polyurathane caulk such as the one made by Noble Seal Co. I would run the caulking out and lay some nylon or fiberglass web tape into it and then Knife it smooth and seal all of the screw heads as well. If your sheetrock is already installed you could add a layer of some type of waterproof membrane such as the ones made by Mer-kote or Laticrete to the surface of your sheetrock substrate. If cost is an issue compare the labor against the cost of replacing the green rock with dens-shield. Then go ahead with your typical vapor barrier, wire (2.50 or 2.75 ga. galvinized metal lath for this application would give more strength) and apply your 1/2" minimum mortar float.

    One job I worked on, the owner was a plastering contractor. His solution to water proofing the mortar coat finish at the shower was HOT Bee's Wax. He found some Bee's Wax and melted it down to a temperature that he could rub into the mortar float and another coating a day or two later. I have not been back to see how it worked long term so I'm not sure about the everyday maintainance. You may want to experiment with this one first, but it makes sense to me, because bee's wax is flexible, waterproof and of course a natural product. This plastering contractor said that he had used the Bee's Wax finish many times, the yellow color may be an issue unless you can locate a refined bee's wax source.

    As I stated before the waterproofing is the critical part of any shower or tub stall and cement products can crack with building movement. So underneath of the finished product the waterproof application needs to be somewhat flexible in-case of potential building movement down the road. The Tile and Waterproof industries have introduced new age products and membranes of all types, that can help in some of the difficult areas of architectural design in todays construction market.

    To save your self money... and time later, take time now to educate yourself, research products and don't forget to contact your local building department. Because they sometimes will want to see product data sheets on new and better products. Some of the new products are expensive and you don't want to have to tear it out be cause it is not approved by your building inspector. I know this comment is coming in late but maybe it will be of help to others.
    Good luck!

  5. #5
    John McElwee Guest

    Default Re: shower stall finish; non-tile

    It is probalbly too late to help Dick but
    B Barney's advice about waterproofing is right on. I have finished several showers with smooth Portland cement finishes. I like them bright white so I use pool plaster for the finish. The oldest one is about 20 years old. It still looks good.

  6. #6
    Paul Ingram Guest

    Default Re: shower stall finish; non-tile

    I will stand by my statement that a properly mixed and properly cured Portland cement finish, in three coats, is waterproof, with the exception of cracks or other penetrations through the plaster membrane. Even still, whether the finish is cement or tile,install your membrane as if you expect the finish to leak. That way you can never go wrong. Glaze n Seal Natural look is a good sealer that will help keep the porous surface from molding. I should have qualified my statement about lathing the same as a tile setter. The 20 guage wire lath over grade B paper and stapled to the green board with household staples would be too light for cement plaster. I wish I could have afforded a tile setter for my showers, but the colored cement plaster finish works very well and elicits some very positive remarks.

  7. #7
    B Barney Guest

    Default Re: shower stall finish; non-tile

    Hi again Gents... Great comments about the tile free shower. You folks have far more knowledge about finish coats on top of brown coats than I ever will for sure. Thats why I keep setting the tile or stone over my wall mud. I do know enough though, that for one to stay out of trouble, it's best to recommed an expert and then ask all the right questions. I'm sure thats what Dick was thinking as well.

    I have used colored stucco mix over 2.75 ga lath on fireplace and feature walls before for a few of my clients then just left them to dry and recommended "stonetech" products to seal the work after a couple of weeks. I did a 9 ft long - ceiling high fireplace & wall at my home and it turned out great and not a crack in it for 4 years now. I think the heavy gauge wire is the secret. I never have used top coats though. I just dash a little water on the float and shine it up with a trowel and they look good when dry. I know interior is a lot different than exterior because outside you have to put it on much heavier. You guys know you products much better than I so I'm going to leave plastering to you experts.

    2 more cents if I could, or is it a buck and a half these days?... My three brothers and myself are all tile setters and learned it as mud set tile from our father. It's hard to force ourselves to do it any other way when we know it lasts for 20-80 years or until they don't like the color of the tile any more. What you guys are still doing every day is becoming a lost art in our end of the trade. Keep up the good work!! Barney

  8. #8
    Paul Ingram Guest

    Default Re: shower stall finish; non-tile

    We're always looking for a better way to seal these showers. Any more information on Stonetech products? Thanks

  9. #9
    B Barney Guest

    Default Re: shower stall finish; non-tile

    STONETECH??? They have good products for the tile and stone industry and the sealers seem to help out with our dirty grout problems and they are user freindly. For the Plaster trades you would want to experiment on a mock-up board with diferent products.
    One problem I see with my clients is that they are not educated in maintaining their tile or stone installation. I try to pay special attention to educateing them. We charge them for putting down a excellent sealer and then they use harsh ammonia or acidic based cleaners, guess what! The sealer is gone or short lived. Stone tech has a couple of cleaning products to minimize this problem for every day use, everyday use clean and reseal in one bottle -"Revitalizer". For heavier cleaning making sure to use warm water and 4 oz per gal. "Klenzal". Used properly these products will not remove the sealers. Klenzal is PH stable and helps to neutralize the surface such as in the case of lemon juice or wine on the counter or floor. Wine or fruit acids will etch stone in 7 hours or less. Clean up ASAP.

    The biggest reason I like "Stonetech" is because they have a good line of compatible products to seal, maintain and clean. I think one of the worst things a person can do is mix products or brands. Once you start with a sealing product, stay with the same brand and make sure to educate your client about care and maintainance of the finished installation. When it comes to sealing products there are so many brands out there that it gets real confusing. If you like "Glaze and Seal" and it has met your needs, I would stay stay with it. I am used to the stonetech products and haven't found anything better for an all around product for our trade. "Miracle Sealant Co." I feel is also a good product, but I use Stonetech because it is easier to use and for interior applications it dosen't have the strong odors that are left hanging around the clients home for a few days. Most of my work is high end remodel and my clients are living in the home. Also stonetech is FDA approved for kitchen counters and food processing areas. Stonetech's "Impregnator Pro" at $95.00 per gal. is the sealer I use most, It is solvent based and drops into the surface as much as the surface will allow. Then the solvents evaporate off leaving the sealer behind. Two coats are best) They claim that while drying, it expands to close up the pores of the stone, grout, or unsealed pourus tiles. I feel that the first coating is the most important. Saturate the surface liberally by using a low pressure garden sprayer for (big jobs) and move it around with a lambs wool pad for a few minutes then mop up the excess because you don't want it to pool on floors, walls are much easier.For real pourus surfaces they recommend using their water base product first and second coat with Impregnator Pro.(Water base first - Solvent base second, its the only way it will work). Stone tech recently came out with another product called "Bullit Proof" At $195.00 per gal. It is used a coating over the "Impregnator Pro" for use in food service areas or on very pourous stone such as limesotne or travertine, (Plaster?..give it a try). I keep a jug of it around and second coat all of my shower floors and often areas around the kithen or wet bar were staining or etching could be a potential problem.
    Go To: "stonetechpro" web site for more info.

    The Bullit Proof might be a good product for Dick's non-tile shower... It is a brand new product so you may have to call "Stonetech" direct to find out where you can get it or they may be able to ship it to you. They have good tech support if you want to call them about your particular needs. Stone tech is based in Castro Valley CA. Hopes this helps. The best of life to you... Barney :-} Our site:

  10. #10
    Paul Ingram Guest

    Default Re: shower stall finish; non-tile

    Thanks, Barney. This is great information that might solve alot of problems for us. We're down in Carmel and have some very demanding decorators who are always wanting us to push the envelope. I'll hang on to your website for future use.

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