Without water, your bathroom is useless; however, all that water can do significant damage if it reaches the wrong places. Bathroom waterproofing is therefore a must. Leaks and moisture can seriously damage countertops, walls, and flooring as well as lead to mold and mildew. Persistent dampness can even cause untreated floors to expand, shift, or become uneven. However, you can take steps to waterproof your bathroom and avoid expensive hassles and repairs.
Here are some secret tips to having a longer-lasting bathroom.
1. Install Waterproof Materials
When remodeling, choose moisture-resistant tile materials like metal, stone, ceramic, plastic, or porcelain. They resist mold and mildew better than organic materials like wood. Plus, they won’t decay or rot in the presence of moisture. Use waterproof backer boards when tiling a shower or tub surround, and a waterproof wallboard or moisture barrier for non-tiled walls, before installing the finished surface.
2. Waterproof Your Walls with Tile
Ceramic and porcelain tiles have long been popular because of their resistance to water entry and moisture damage. Their use is not limited to shower and bathtub surrounds. You can also use tile for backsplashes or cover your entire bathroom wall space with tile for an impervious moisture barrier. Water-resistant laminate, vinyl, and engineered hardwood are also available.
3. Use Fabricated Surround Panels
Fabricated shower or tub surrounds have no seams except for the corners. They’re also more affordable than custom tile. You may even be able to install the surround yourself. Just take care to caulk any seams you find; then inspect them annually and re-caulk if necessary.
4. Waterproof the Floor
Water has nowhere to go but down. Therefore, neglecting to protect your bathroom floor can have costly results; it costs $350 to $1,200 on average to repair flooring, according to HomeAdvisor. Once you clean and prep the floor, here are tips to ensure your new one is fully protected against water damage:
- Apply a floor primer designed for the specific type of floor, starting at a far corner and working around the edges first. Apply it about a half-foot up the walls as well (and six feet up in a shower recess). Wait at least four hours for the primer to dry.
- Fill the seams between the floor and the wall with a silicone sealant, using a caulking gun. If there are cracks in the floor, seal them as well, to prevent moisture entry. The sealant takes about 24 hours to dry.
- Line the wall with masking tape, to guide you in applying the waterproofing sealer (an oil- or water-based urethane compound works best for hardwood flooring).
- Fill a paint tray with the bathroom waterproofing sealer. Apply it with a paint roller or sponge mop (use a wool mop for hardwood), up to the masking tape. Start coating the floor from a back corner and work your way towards the door.
- Use a second coat of sealer and wait another 24 hours for it to dry. You can then remove the masking tape.
- If waterproofing a foundation, place a waterproofing membrane that blocks moisture from above and below. When properly placed and cut to size, it prevents mold and mildew from developing below the waterproof floor.
5. Make Sure Baseboards Properly Fit
Baseboards serve as the junction between the floor and walls in your bathroom. They should be caulked at the top and bottom to prevent water from seeping through. Flexible thermoplastic vinyl or synthetic PVC moldings are more water-resistant than wood baseboards. Well-caulked ceramic tile trim moldings are impervious to water as well.
6. Use an Exhaust Fan to Expel Moisture
Bathroom air is typically high in moisture content. Bathroom fans must expel at least 50 cubic feet per minute intermittent and 20 cubic feet per minute continuous, per building codes. You may need a bigger fan for a larger room. A standalone heater can help, but there are also exhaust fans that use infrared light to help burn off moisture.
7. Apply a High-Gloss Paint
Flat or matte sheen bathroom wall paint may streak and stain. Glossier paints tend to resist splashing and condensation. The easiest to apply and most durable choices are satin, eggshell, and semi-gloss paints.
8. Practice Consistent Moisture Management
Bathmats absorb moisture and help prevent water damage. They also protect against slippery conditions. Also choose tightly fitting shower curtains, so water spray can’t reach bathroom surfaces as easily. Re-paint and repair gaps in floors as needed. And when water spills, mop it up immediately so it doesn’t have time to cause damage.
9. Maintain Your Plumbing
Some homeowners are skilled enough to handle minor plumbing tasks. But in general, DIY plumbing work is not recommended. It’s best to have a professional plumber assist in your bathroom remodel or waterproofing project. Plumbers are certified to perform the work and are familiar with the latest building codes. It also helps to have an access panel to your bathtub or shower plumbing; it allows a technician to easily reach your water supply lines without tearing up tiles and wallboards.
10. Contact Express Plumbing Heating & Air
Our team provides a wide range of plumbing repair services in and around Boise. Trained in the latest techniques, our technicians can repair water damage and even help waterproof your bathroom to prevent issues. Members of our Protection Plan receive fast same-day service, an annual plumbing system tune-up, and a safety inspection. Whether you need help with bathroom waterproofing or remodeling, schedule service online or call (208) 996-8784 today.