How to Repair a Leaking Shower Without Removing Tiles

Researched & Written by Craig

Is your shower leaking? Don’t fancy pulling up the whole bathroom to fix it? Then take a look at the steps in this article to repair a leaking shower without removing tiles.

To repair a leaking shower without removing tiles do the following:

  1. Remove the old grout
  2. Clean between the tiles
  3. Regrout and replace damaged tiles
  4. Clear away waste materials
  5. Seal the shower with silicone
  6. Apply two coats of clear waterproofing

Seems simple, right? That’s because it is! And you’re in luck because the rest of this article has been dedicated to explaining these steps. So, if you’re ready to find out how you can fix your leaky shower, stay tuned!

How to Repair a Leaking Shower Without Removing Tiles

A leaking shower is the start of a domino effect. The leaking shower creates a whole host of other problems such as:

  • Stained ceilings
  • Peeling paint
  • Damp
  • Black mold

These, in turn, create more problems such as:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Allergies
  • Infestations of white ants

So, if you have a problem with a leaking shower, you are no doubt keen to nip it in the bud. But retiling the bathroom is expensive. And hiring a professional can be pricey. So what can you do to cut down on the cost? Take a look at the 6 steps to repairing a leaking shower below.

1.   Remove the Old Grout

The first step to repairing your shower is to remove the old grout. You should also remove any moldy or deteriorated sealants.

Dirty Grout Tiles

Ensure to remove all the grout as it may have spread underneath the surface

To get the shower looking as professional as possible, you should remove all the grout. Don’t just concentrate on the deteriorated areas. This is because the old grout may be beginning to leak under the surface although it doesn’t look bad.

Are you ready to remove the old grout but aren’t sure how to do it? No worries, take a look at the mini guide below:

The tools you will need

  • Safety glasses
  • Rotary tool
  • Tough, dull blade
  • Flathead screwdriver

Steps:

  1. Put the safety glasses on.
  2. Turn the rotary tool on and run the blade up and down the grout. Use a steady hand and don’t press too hard. Try to keep the tool away from the edges of your tile.
  3. Use a flathead screwdriver to knock away at any stubborn pieces of grout. You can also do the same with a tough, dull blade, to further free stubborn bits of grout.

2.   Clean Between the Tiles

After you have freed up the grout from the tiles, you should clean between them. Remove all waste materials and excess dust from between the tiles.

Not too sure how to do it? Then take a look below:

The tools you will need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Hand broom and dustpan

Steps:

  1. Sweep up large pieces of grout with a hand broom and dustpan.
  2. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the smaller pieces of grout and dust from between the tiles.

 

3.   Regrout and Replace Damaged Tiles

After you have finished removing the grout and cleaning the tiles, you will need to apply new grout. You should take advantage of the opportunity to remove any damaged tiles from the walls and floor as needed.

This isn’t a “MUST” but anything obviously damaged is always worth a quick replacement.

You should wait a few days between removing the old grout and applying the new. This will give the shower wall time to dry. It will also help to kill off any mold and mildew in the wall.

Applying new Grout

Ensure the shower wall is dry before applying new grout to prevent growth of mildew and mold

Regrouting tiles, sounds complicated, right? But don’t worry, this is one of the most fun steps in the process! Take a look at the mini guide below that will help:

The tools you will need

  • Safety gloves
  • Pre-mixed grout
  • Grout spreader
  • Grout shaper
  • Sponge

Steps:

  1. Put the safety gloves on.
  2. Spread some grout across the grout spreader. Pass the spreader along the groove between the tiles. Pass it with long strokes, these will help to work the grout into the grooves.
  3. Remove any grout that spreads onto the tiles with a damp sponge.
  4. Once the grout has hardened slightly, pass a grout shaper across it. It should be passed in one smooth movement.
  5. Fill in any gaps that appear with a little more grout and wipe the excess away with a damp sponge.
  6. Repeat these steps on all the tiles.

 

4.   Clear Away Waste Materials

Once you have regrouted the tiles, wait for it to dry completely. Once it’s dry, clean the surface of the tiles with water. Wait for the bathroom to dry thoroughly before moving onto the next step. To move things on faster, keep the bathroom window open or put a fan on.

This step is super simple. Grab a bucket of warm water and a sponge and you’ll be on your way! Here’s how to do it:

The tools you will need

  • Warm water
  • Sponge

Steps:

  1. Wash the shower with warm water and a sponge. Pass the sponge over the tiles in circular motions to remove debris and waste materials.
  2. Allow the bathroom to dry completely before continuing.

 

5.   Seal the Shower With Silicone

Once the shower is dry, seal the joints with silicone. You should also seal the internal floor waste with silicone.

What can you do if you’re worried you won’t be able to apply the silicone in straight lines? Wiggly silicone lines will make the bathroom look less than professional. So, if you are worried about keeping a steady hand, use tape. Place two lines of masking tape around where the silicone should sit. One above the groove and one below. That way, if you go outside the line, it won’t matter.

Using tape to apple new grout

Using tape provides a guide to prevent uneven applications

Not too sure how to seal the shower? Then take a look at the steps below:

The tools you will need

  • Silicone
  • Masking tape (optional)

Steps:

  1. Apply the masking tape above and below the groove. (Optional).
  2. Start at the edge. In one clean sweep, squeeze the silicone across the groove.
  3. Ensure that there are no air gaps by pressing your finger down across the length of the silicone.
  4. Apply a second layer of silicone on top of the first in one smooth motion.
  5. Wet your finger with a silicone wipe. Gently run your finger across the silicone to create a smooth finish.
  6. Repeat these steps around all the joints and the internal floor waste.

 

6.   Apply Two Coats of Clear Waterproofing

We’ve made it! This is the last step and, of course, the most important one. This step will ensure the effective waterproofing of your shower.

Once you have finished applying silicone to the joints, clean the shower. Allow it to try thoroughly before moving on to this step. Once the shower is dry, apply two coats of clear waterproofing. By applying the clear waterproofing, your shower should stay stain-free for up to 10 years!

This is an important step. So I’ve laid out all the details you need to follow the project through successfully. Take a look at them below:

The tools you will need

  • Safety gloves
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint roller
  • Clear waterproofing sealant

Steps:

  1. Put the safety gloves on.
  2. Dip the paintbrush into the clear waterproofing sealant. Apply the sealant to the walls and floor of the shower as you would apply paint to walls.
  3. Wait for the layer to dry.
  4. Once dry, apply the sealant to the roller. Run the roller over the tiles of the floor and walls. Apply the sealant carefully as you would apply paint to a wall with a roller.

Can You Waterproof Over Old Tiles?

Now you may be wondering, is there any way to skip the regrouting process? Can you simply apply a clear waterproofing sealant over old tiles?

Yes, you can. But it depends on the status of your tiles. If you have a brand new bathroom for example, then there will be no need for you to regrout. Simply pass the waterproofing sealant over the existing tiles.

But unfortunately, we don’t all have swanky new bathrooms. And the chances are that if you’re reading this article, it’s because you have a problem with your bathroom tiles. How can you know whether it will be worth it for you to waterproof over your existing tiles? For it to be effective your old tiles will have to be in excellent condition. This means:

  • The tiles should be firmly attached to the substrate.
  • The tiles should not be loose.
  • The tiles should not be cracked or chipped.
  • The tiles should not be hollow sounding.

Conclusion

A leaking shower unit can be a real pain. If left unattended to it could force you to have to repaint your ceiling, or even redo some of your flooring. But thankfully, you can catch it early. It is also possible to fix a shower without removing the tiles. I am sure that this article has shown you the best method for you to do so.

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Have a great day!

-Craig