Bathroom wall repair - what to do?

Hello,
I got some good help on an electrical problem I had here, so I thought I'd ask another question. In my bathroom, there was an area of wall near the spot that it met the tub that was colored brown with slightly bubbled paint around it. So I poked at it with a screwdriver to clear out the rotted parts.
I have a picture of what I'm left with at http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeq1uog /. Basically, there a gap between the tub and wall and some green board is exposed.
What type of repair do I need to do here? Can I just use some sort of compound to patch it up, then sand it down and paint? Do I need to put in board? I wiped the area down with bleach in case there was some mildew/mold in there and have dried it out again.
Thanks for your suggestions, Matt
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Matt wrote: there was an area of wall

Since you already removed the bad parts I think you might be able to just patch and paint. Since you seem to have plaster over cement board you should patch with plaster. I had a similar problem with my bath. Those walls next to the tub are exposed to quite a lot of water when you shower. What I did was used several coats of an quality high-gloss enamel paint. This kind of paint is not cheap or pretty but is highly resistant to water. I think an oil based paint is more water resistant than the latex. After painting, You can use a bead of silicon in that crack where the tub meets the wall and that will help to prevent water from getting behind your protective layer of paint.
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Hard to tell from the picture, but it doesn't look like plaster to me. Looks like green wet-area drywall on a badly framed stub wall, and they glopped on the mud extra deep to try and make that area look right. That corner bead looks to be metal edging, which on a 5-inch wide wall, is awful hard to fade in and make look square. (Builder should have run the tile to the corner, and used a corner cap, IMHO).
Matt, can you post what year house was built? And maybe pull an outlet cover and take a peek to see what wall is covered with in the non-tile areas? Lawrence's advice is basically correct- patch with something water resistant, paint with paint suited for a wet area, and keep the cracks caulked. If you do that and problem recurs, water is probably coming down behind the tile somehow, through bad spot in grout, or a leak in the plumbing fixtures, if they are on that wall.
aem sends...
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Thanks for the responses. The house was built 1936. I believe the previous owner told me the bathroom was remodeled in the last 10 years (I moved in less than a year ago). I'm not sure if it's important, but there's no tile, just a plastic shower/tub stall that meets the wall where the problem area is.
I took off an outlet cover, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. But I'm thinking that you'll be able to make an educated guess about what the wall is made of based on the age of the house.

So, I would patch over the existing wall only, not in the cracks (I would caulk those)? What kinds of materials would I use for the patching?
Thanks again, Matt
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cover
(looks at picture again, slaps head) Okay, now I see- based on the size of the nail head and the joint between the panels, I mistook it for a closeup of a field tile and a base tile.
Still not sure exactly what you have. 1936 would be plaster walls originally, either over lathe or that funny backer board with the holes in it to give a plaster key. So unless they gutted entire bathroom, they probably skim-coated the new walls for the enclosure over greenboard, which is what the exposed substrate still looks like to me, to get a matching surface. At this point, you have little to lose- assume it is plaster, and use the hard-rock patching stuff that comes in a bag, and you mix up to use. You only need a little, and the small bags are cheap. Takes several days to cure, so you will need to be inventive with tape and plastic to drape the area to keep splash off of it. (I assume this is the only shower in the house.)
Lawrence is right about the paint- you need something with water-beading capability, and you need to keep any crevices well sealed. This repair shouldn't take more than 20 or 30 bucks of material, so don't be heartbroken if it fails in a year. Other alternative is to replace or cover that strip of wall to the corner with something inherently waterproof, like faux marble or solid surface. A black band around the shower enclosure, including along the top, might look nice, and would be appropriate for a 1936 house. That would cost a few bucks, though, unless a local dealer had scraps he would cut and edge for you on the cheap. Edge tiles would also work, but then you would have to deal with grout, which is a pain.
aem sends...
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Matt wrote:

You have to plaster right up to the edge of the surround but it would be almost impossible to prevent it from touching the surround. Your plaster will touch the surround but you naturally will want to get as little compound on the shower surround as possible, which will be hard to do. Try masking the surround to prevent plaster from getting on it and to give you a nice line for caulking. It is in this remaining line or crack where you want to caulk. You might want to caulk the entire perimeter of the surround everywhere it meets the wall even in the areas that that are still OK. This is the only way to ultimately protect the plaster from moisture. Lawrence
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on an interior wall it's often your shower/tub water causing damage, once the shower water was just sneaking by visibly on the tub's rim and disappearing into the floor. be a detective while someone actually takes a shower we once found a shower door leaking at its seal of the translucent panel to the sliding frame. in other cases for us the moisture problem from within the wall was the tub fixture's overflow not sealed at the tub, another was the showerhead pipe dripping in use, tub spout not snug to the wall, and hot/cold faucet packing loose at wall. this is presuming the roof isn't leaking into your wall cavity.
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buffalobill wrote:

Concerning this possibility, would I normally see other signs of leakage on the same wall where the trouble spot is located?
On the first floor of the house, I have an interior wall that appears to be on about the same line as the damaged wall in the bathroom. The other day, I noticed a couple of bubbled spots on the paint on that downstairs wall (wall seems otherwise solid, not rotted like in the bathroom). Wonder if it might be related. The home inspector indicated the roof had maybe 2 years left in it when he inspected it a year ago. I plan on getting the roof done this year, perhaps I should do that ASAP.
Matt
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Matt wrote:

If what I'm seeing in the left of the picture is a 2 or 3-piece fiberglass shower, that caulked seam has a lip behind it that collects any water drips from either the shower valve or the head, and channels it right into the area where the joint compound has gotten water soaked.
That happened with mine, but I caught it earlier at the first sign of bubbling - it was the internal gaskets of the shower valve that were leaking, so I popped in a new set and all was well.
As for the patch, either build up several coats of drywall mud or use a thick application of quick-setting-type joint compound.
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Bob (but not THAT Bob) wrote:

Now that I look closer, it appears to be a 3-piece: tub, and two panels that cover 3 sides. The seam of the two panels is not near the trouble spot (the seam is located at the center the long side of the tub), so I don't think that's the problem in this case.

Concerning all the possible leaks that you and a previous poster mentioned, I can get to the pipes via an access panel in a closet that sits on the same wall as the shower. I should be looking there for any possible leaks? I guess I'm asking whether there could be anything behind the fiberglass that might be leaking and I can't get to easily.
Thanks again all, Matt
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