Creating your dream bathroom can cost a fortune. If you don’t check what your expensive taps and tiles are built on, you might flush your bathroom budget down the toilet.
Building experts agree that one of the most common defects they’re asked to fix is water leakage through showers. If a bathroom is on a second or upper floor, the leak will travel through the ceiling and into downstairs rooms. This can be very unpleasant and expensive to fix. For Master Menders, one of Victoria’s largest building insurance rectifiers, fixing renovation defects accounts for about 60% of their business. More than half of the defects they fix are related to bathroom defects or “wet area failure.”
Have you used the wrong materials?
Master Menders director Steve Peluso says that a combination of poor workmanship and choosing the wrong materials for the waterproofing and the linings are the main causes of bathroom defects.
Fixing a wet area can be expensive, particularly if linings, waterproofing and tiles need to be replaced. Mr Peluso advises that for a typical bathroom with an average size of about 2.2 m × 2 m, it can cost between $12,000 and $15,000.
Over a year ago Jack Winter and his wife noticed water in the garage of their Bella Vista home situated in Sydney’s north west and thought the problem was a leaking roof. When they later saw that the carpet outside an upstairs bedroom was wet, they realized the cause must be the ensuite bathroom.
The first rectifier told them that the membrane had broken, which meant that the water was going through the bottom of the tiles, flowing through the carpet and down the side of the building into the garage.
Mr Winter says that the whole bottom of the triple shower was removed and resurfaced at a cost of around $2,500. “It still hasn’t fixed the problem,” Mr Winter says. “We called the guy back, showed him it was still leaking, and he did a runner.”
Waterproofing that works
The Master Builders Association Waterproofing Council (New South Wales) was established specifically to address the problems with waterproofing quality through training and other measures.
However, if waterproofing does fail then the materials that are the substrate for the waterproofing are critical. Sometimes little pinholes in the waterproofing membrane are accidentally made during construction. The problem is they’re very hard to see. The pinhole in the waterproofing membrane can let in water, which may increase the risk of damage to the substrate.
Not all water-resistant plasterboard is doomed to fail. Typically, water-resistant plasterboard has a water-resistant seal. However James Hardie’s Villaboard® lining and Scyon™ Secura™ interior and exterior flooring products are homogenously resistant to moisture damage, which means that even if the material does get wet, it won’t deform or lose its structural integrity, like many other materials.
Mr Peluso says using Villaboard® lining is “easier for tilers, they prefer it.”