Filling a hole in a household shower/bathtub stall
January 9, 2017 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Kicker: the shower is "tiled" with wood, which has rotted at the base.

In an unfortunate and most likely penny-pinching move, the builder of my 40-year-old home "tiled" the shower stalls with 6" x 1" wooden planks. Not surprisingly, the base of several of these have rotted, leaving a 3" x 5" x 8" hole that extends to the vapor barrier inside the outer wall of the house (the wooden planks were not installed on top of green board or cement board), and causing wood rot to nearby wall studs.

I'm gut renovating the bathroom in a few years, so I need a quick, dirty and ugly solution to fill the holes and prevent further wood rot.

I've been looking at a two-part epoxy by Elmer's called Damaged Wood Repair System, but I'm not sure if it's sufficient in volume to fill the entire hole, and additionally, I'm worried about slathering it on to the vapor barrier.

Is there another solution that I might use to fill the 3" x 5" x 8" hole, and achieve waterproofing for the shower? Aesthetics and final appearance are not a concern!
posted by Gordion Knott to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
(A) Don't listen to me about home repair without getting confirmation from someone competent. I live in an apartment and call the super to fix things. But (B) that sounds to me like the epoxy you found, or something similar, is what you want, except that you'd want it over a fiberglass-cloth patch to carry it over the width of the hole. And then maybe put the gut renovation on an accelerated schedule.
posted by LizardBreath at 7:48 AM on January 9, 2017

you should get some sheets of plastic from your local big box that are great for covering the whole wall. Some of them have a "tile" pattern! Attach those to the whole wall with construction adhesive, caulk at the joints, and start saving for the real renovation work to happen really soon. There is way more rot there than meets the eye.
posted by rockindata at 7:57 AM on January 9, 2017 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Plastic is a good suggestion. Would spray foam insulation (from a can) be another alternative? Would it provide a strong enough base for the two-part epoxy?
posted by Gordion Knott at 8:09 AM on January 9, 2017

You should consider gutting ASAP and/or at least stop using the shower. Half-assing waterproofing over already-rotting studs is a pretty bad idea.

If you need a 'cheap' stopgap, buy a pre-built shower stall and put it in place.
posted by so fucking future at 8:50 AM on January 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

If it's just a stopgap, I'd find a chunk of cedar, or ipe, or teak an 1" larger than the hole, run a bead of bath and tub caulk around the perimeter of the backside and screw it into the existing "tile". That will last a couple of years without failing.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:21 AM on January 9, 2017

Just put in a cheap fiberglass shower stall. Anything else will fail and you'll be in the same spot, only irritated that you spent $$ on a crap solution.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:38 AM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Great Stuff like spray-foam won't last a week. It has no structural stability itself, deteriorates quickly when exposed to UV, and is composed of open cell foam which will start soaking up water immediately.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:49 AM on January 9, 2017

Find a section of rigid plastic to cover the hole. Caulk the heck out of it.

I'm having trouble visualizing the situation though. Can you post a pic?
posted by LoveHam at 11:20 AM on January 9, 2017

You could always install barker board over the mess for now to waterproof the shower stall... pretty cheap and easy to install.

You are better off taking the entire wall area around the shower stall down to the studs as that is likely not to be the only rot, putting in some proper backer board and finishing it off with cheap tile. That way you don't have to worry about it for a few years until you rip it all out.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:22 AM on January 9, 2017

When we moved into our house, the tub/shower was in bad shape but we didn't have money to do a proper remodel. I hired a company that quite cheaply builds a custom fiberglass enclosure to cover crap. They come out, measure the existing tub and enclosure, and then build a cover for it, essentially. We thought this was a short-to-medium-term stop-gap but it's held up for 14 years so far and we've felt like it was a good deal for the money.
posted by Orlop at 2:48 PM on January 9, 2017

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