Demolishing a Shower

Let the fun begin!

Actually, the fun began Thanksgiving week, when we decided to use the break to get our shower demoed and tiled. But a stomach bug hit my hubby, so we got to the cement board installation and then were on hold for a long while.

But first, let me give you the backstory.

We walked through this house twice, and both times I had children with me. Since the house was occupied, I never felt like I got to give it a good once over with my eagle-eyes. I notice things like water damage, over-wear-and-tear, things that don’t work, and things that need repair. I was counting on the home inspector to be my eyes, but he missed something pretty big. I know he was distracted by what he thought was a bigger issue in that our fan doesn’t vent out of the roof. It vents into the attic and there are some nails in the sheetrock that have rusted, but he totally missed that the caulk and grout had failed and water was trickling out through the shower door and had caused some damage to the sheetrock and floor.

I noticed the damage right when we moved in but it felt dry so I figured someone must have fixed the problem without fixing the damage. After a few weeks of using the shower, I realized that neither was fixed and the wall was soaked. I panicked and cut the wet drywall out and pulled up the peel-and-stick tiles to find mold. Fabulous.


A contractor came in and told me the mold wasn’t the bad kind, just mold, and found the source of the problem and that the shower needed some waterproofing. He gave us a bid, we called our homeowners insurance, and we were told they didn’t cover damage from faulty caulk or grout.

So, we decided to redo it ourselves! I’m sure you’re surprised.

I had taken the glass shower door off a long time ago and taken it to our Habit for Humanity Surplus Store. All I had left was tearing down the walls!

It’s a dirty job. You’ll need safety gear. Specifically a face mask, gloves, and eye protection. I would also recommend some heavy-duty clothing.

You’ll also need some heavy tools.


I mostly ended up using that big hammer on the left.

You’ll also need a way to haul the debris out, especially if you are a bedroom, a hall, a flight of stairs, an entry, and a yard away from the truck you’re loading it all into.


I decided buckets were a good solution.

And figure out a way to cover your drain. You don’t want any of it going through your plumbing. I ended up using a scrap piece of plywood.

The only way to get started is to start hammering away. If you’re breaking through ceramic tile like I was, you’ll be very grateful for the eye protection now. Those suckers shatter into tiny shards!


But once you make some headway, it gets a lot easier. When you can see some joists, then you can figure out what lines to break so you can pull big chunks of wall and tile down. See how I just broke through all the way down between the studs?


Along this edge, I used a utility knife to score the wall board because I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to take off. I ended up going all the way to the corner, but was glad I did this until I was sure.

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See? A nice sized chunk. That was pretty rewarding. Also, I ended up on my hiney a few times trying pull large chunks off. It does require some yanking.

The back of the shower is an exterior wall, and so whoever had installed it had put a sheet of plastic between the studs and the wallboard. I had read that you shouldn’t do that because if moisture does get behind your tile, it has nowhere to go.

That was true for this shower.

I gave that wall one solid whack and the whole thing practically crumbled. There was an obvious difference between the dry and the wet. Plus, it stunk! Musty, moldy yuck.


It probably took about 10 solid hits with the hammer before this whole wall crumbled to the floor.

I got that last wall down, and a few days later it was time for hanging the cement board!

And that’s where I’ll leave you for today. On the next installment of The Great Shower Makeover!, lessons I learned about installing cement board.

It’s harder to cut than you think.




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1 comment

  1. Demolishing can be therapeutic. (Except the niggling worry in the back of your mind that this all has to get put back together at some point.) I’m so impressed you do this kind of stuff! Go you!