All it took was a little water to re-liquify the drywall mud and the tile
drops off. I know, this happened to my shower that was built in the early
70s. Ripped it all out, javexed the mold, and rebuilt the shower with
Wonderboard then installed new tiles with thinset. Lasted over 20 years, no
signs of any failure.
Avoid using real silicone on anything you won't in the future repair by
"Paintable silicone" caulk is not as strong, but may somewhat adhere to "real"
Here's how I fixed the exact same trouble in a rental (green drywall over
studs. tile adhesive to drywall):
Condition: Edge of tub at corner (faucet and exterior walls), tiles falling off,
Remove exposed. Drywall let area dry. Insert 1-by-3 across behind drywall (in
the hole) I
think I glued it to the back of the drywall, and maybe adhesive to studs? I
don't recall. I
may have used drywall piece to replace the removed area (since I didn't expect
to last long). Be sure the drywall piece does not extend down to the ledge of
the tub, else
it will soak up water. Prime with good sealer shellac-based should be good (I
don't recall if I
used oil-based primer or shellac based).
This repair lasted for 3? 5 years? More? I don't recall. Place was sold within
10 years later.
Reset cleaned tile and simultaneously "re-grout" with lots of two-part epoxy,
Original grout had been white. The epoxy cures to somewhat pale greenish color
gloss. Not worth worrying about, imo.
I did a lesser repair where the same green crap under a small window had become
underneath the tile. In that case I simply let the greencrap dry, since it was
(and well-backed since it had been laid over the sill framing). Then prime the
attached the tile, and replaced the caulk in the window area.
i forgot a step. i emulated the tarpaper vapor barrier somehow.
overlapped with existing tarpaper, I slipped pieces either of
also forgot the last step. recaulk bottom edge of tiles at tub ledge.
forgot to mentipn another rental tile on drywall (same era, 70's) soap dish was
dried the drywall, primed, same paste epoxy. it's been good at least 7 years. (i
often). the rest of the tile is ok, but someone used silicon along the bottom
aluminum doorframe) so i'm now dealing with that shit.
tile on anything but concrete and silicon (on anything but windows?) should be
Do yourself a huge favor. Carefully remove all the tile from all
walls. Be careful not to break any. Lay down a drop cloth and maybe
some cardboard to protect any that you may drop. Once you pull one or
two off the wall, seven or eight will follow and you'll be wishing
you had 4 hands. Maybe get an assistant to help you.
After all the tile is off, pull off all that drywall. Drywall in wet
locations like showers or tub surrounds is a big No-No. Tiling 101.
Replace anything that was behind the drywall that has been comprised by
moisture (i.e. insulation). Let that area dry completely before moving
As mentioned in the quality post above, install cement board. This is
the proper tile substrate for what you need. Do not use green board!!!
Reinstall tile, using a quality thinnest. Grout and finally seal your
If you need to use the shower during this project (form pulling the
drywall to regrouting the newly reinstalled tile), install heavy
plastic around the shower to prevent water from penetrating your work.
Only remove the plastic once the grout as cured.
If done right, you will do this once.
Don't try and band aid this problem; you're only going to have huge
If you don't know how to install cement board, or do tiling do some
research. There are plenty of great resources at your fingertips.
There are way to many scenarios to speculate about here.
As others have said, there's a reason those tiles fell off. Probably the
most likely reason is water got through the grout or there's a leak behind
the wall somewhere. You can glue em back on but you're only postponing the
inevitable. Putting them back up there will just prolong the problem which
ultimately needs to be fixed. I had a similar problem and ripped out the
entire wall where the leak was and replaced the "green" drywall with durock.
Took a few weekends to do it all but I'm confident it isn't coming down any
Nobody else said it, so I will- OP should also look at prefab shower
enclosures and/or solid surface or faux marble panels, as an alternative to
tile. No, not the thin flimsy ones installed as bandaids over rotted walls,
the real thick ones designed for retrofits. Still need to do demo to make
sure the walls are dry inside, and install whatever is called for behind to
support the panels, but it could all be done and usable in one day. Yes, a
quality tile job is prettier, but this is a basement shower, and one-piece
walls will be more durable and easy to keep clean. And they are a lot easier
for a non-expert to install than tile. Measure twice, cut once, etc.
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