To create a shower floor from scratch we use what is commonly referred to as “dry pack mortar” or deck mud. Deck mud contains three ingredients: regular portland cement, sand, and water. That’s it. Don’t let anyone tell you that a latex additive or anything else is necessary. It is not. Properly mixing and installing deck mud will create a shower floor that will last for years and years.

The ratio is very important to achieve the correct consistency and stability. You want 5 parts sand to 1 part cement. Your ratio can vary from 4 to 6 : 1 but the 5 : 1 is what I use and find to be the easiest to work. You want just enough water to dampen the mixture. It’s not a lot. Too much water will cause your mud to shrink as it cures and compromise the stability of your base. You just want it damp – really.

The easiest and most convenient way to get your mixture correct is to buy the quikrete “sand and topping” mix which is sold at all the big home centers. This is already mixed at a 3 : 1 ratio. For a 60lb. bag you need only add 30lbs. of sand to it. This is how I mix mine – it’s convenient. The easiest way to mix it is with a regular shovel or garden hoe in a mixing box or regular wheelbarrow, although you can mix it with and in anything that works for you.

After it’s mixed it should just be damp. When you pick up a handful of it you should be able to squeeze it without water dripping from it. It should be able to hold it’s shape when you squeeze it, just like a snowball.

Whether you mix the entire batch from scratch or use the sand and topping mix it should all have this same consistency. If it is any wetter it will shrink as it dries and it will not be as solid and stable as it should be. I usually start with about 1/2 gallon of water and work up from there. I think. I really can’t tell you exactly how much water to use because I don’t measure it. I’ll have to do that and include it here.

As you install and shape your base, slopes, and shower floors you want to pound the mix with a wooden or magnesium float. I mean beat the hell out of it. You want the mud packed very well with no voids. The harder you pack it the more stable it will be. I have or will have individual posts to instruct you how to shape shower floors, etc. This one is strictly to describe the proper recipe for your mix.

A couple of companies also make a mix specifically for shower floors and mud beds. I’ve only used one and it worked quite well. Just follow the mixing instructions on the bag and start with the minimum amount of water they suggest and work up from there.

When set (about 24 hours) the mud bed will be a perfectly suitable substrate for your tile installation. It will be sandy on the top. You can scratch it with your fingernail – stop doing that! It’s normal. I understand it’s counter-intuitive, but it really is normal.

Although you may have been led to believe that creating a shower floor from scratch is a very difficult thing to do, it is not. With careful planning and attention to detail you can create a shower that will last for years without any problems. Getting your mud mix correct is at the core of the proper method.

{ 624 comments… add one }

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  • Artman

    Just saw your posting today… and last night I did a booboo! I used Rapid Set Mortar Mix (50Lb bag) mixed with water, per Home Depot sales guy’s recommendations. I poured the first layer last night and created a “slope”. When I looked at it the slope wasn’t so even, AND have inconsistencies on the floor- not a smooth surface. It was my first time pouring cement.
    Do you think I can add a layer of deck mud on top of this to work a much smoother slope or do I have to tear out the cement I poured last night and start over with deck mud?
    If it helps, the shower in question is located on the second floor of my townhouse. Should I be worried from all the added weight due to the deck mud? I’m pretty sure it’ll be fine, but wanted to have your professional take on it.
    Also, any particular brand of cement you’d recommend? Home Depot carries so many different types!
    Thank you for all the pointers you’re giving us. I’ve emailed your link to a bunch of my buddies.

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey Artman,

      Stop listening to the guys at HD. :D Rapid set mortar mix is concrete – it’s gonna crack. It has no way to compensate for movement, that’s why you see joints in concrete installations. You should tear that out and replace it properly with deck mud. Get the quikrete sand and topping mix and add 25lbs. of sand to each 60lb bag. The deck mud can handle movement – concrete cannot. Deck mud doesn’t weigh any more than solid concrete like you have now, I wouldn’t worry about that aspect of it.

      By the way, your slope is uneven and pitted because that stuff shrinks inconsistently as it cures – another reason not to use it.

      Reply
  • Elizabeth

    Hi there! Great blog! I am attempting to do my shower floors myself…so I have been doing quite a bit of research, to say the least! As I have read so far, through the Internet, I am to put down a layer of “sand mix” and then the top layer is the “deck mud”…is that correct? And as I am reading on your blog, “deck mud” would be 60# bag of “sand and topping mix” mixed with 30# of sand? (that seems more like a 2:1 ratio, rather than 3:1 ratio) Does it matter what type of sand? I can use all the help I can get. I feel so stupid when it comes to this!! But..I figure…I’ll learn! Any help you can give me is surely appreciated!!
    Thanks!!!

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi there! Great question! :D

      The first layer you put down (pre-slope) is also deck mud. The ‘sand mix’ is way too lean for the stresses placed on a shower floor substrate. That just means it doesn’t have enough sand in it. You want to create that pre-slope with deck mud as well, then your liner, then more deck mud for your top layer.

      The 60lbs of sand and topping mix is actually already mixed at a 3:1 ratio of sand to cement – inside the bag. In other words it is 15lbs. of cement and 45lbs of sand. Adding an additional 30 lbs. of sand gives you a 5:1 ratio, which is the proper ratio for deck mud. I actually add 25 lbs of sand for a bit leaner mix. The mix doesn’t make much of a difference but bags of sand are sold in 50lb increments. It’s simply easier to add 1/2 bag of sand to a full bag of sand and topping mix. That works just fine.

      Start here: How to build a tile shower floor and read all five parts. Have a cookie – makes it easier. :D

      And for all you anal retent… *ahem* attentive to detail readers – that’s a 4.8:1 ratio I use for my shower floors. I’m a rebel like that. 8)

      Reply
      • Elizabeth

        Wow that was a quick reply! Thank you sooo much for answering me and doing it so quickly! Makes much more sense now!! :)

        Reply
  • Max

    Mr. Elf,
    I had 3 martini’s then decided to start mixing my deck mud for my pre-slope… I read your post and and several others…. went for the 60lbs of topping quick crap, and the 50lbs of sharp sand… from our favorite hoe despot center… then i proceed to pour the entire bag of sand into my brand new cement mixing basin…and dumped my whole bag of see-ment mix over top of it… not double checking, first, my ratios…(did i mention there were 3 martinis, real ones w/ olives and and spirits originating in Geneva).

    So instead of 30lbs of sand on my 60lbs of quickcrete, i ended up w/ a much leaner? mix….packed sloped and cured… 3/4″ thick at the perimeter…for the most part i had some “natural” sloping I had to account for….nonetheless… the pre-slope is cured, hard, very sandy, mostly flat, sloping to the drain all the way around, no hump at the drain like your published fails… made sure of that….
    its just that one little voice in my head… “theres too much sand in that…”, your infinite wisdom would be greatly appreciated on the matter, thoughts, comments, quips, slander, cold shoulder….

    w/ the stuff costing me all of $9 i am prepared to humble myself once again and do it all over…after chipping it all out, i’d rather do it now than wait till the membrane is down and another layer of mud has hardened.

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey Max,

      I only have infinite wisdom after 3 martinis. :D

      What you have there is a bonafide 6.3:1 mix – that’s a bit sandy. For your pre-slope, though, you’ll be just fine. Before you start your drunken top bed fabrication party go and get yourself TWO bags of cement and ONE bag of sand (for each 8 square feet or so) that way, although you’ll still see double of everything at least when you say ‘screw it!’ and dump it all in your mixing box you’ll have the correct ratio. :D

      The pre-slope is fine with what you have there – hell, in ancient Rome they set mosaics in a straight sand strata – and they’re still there!

      Reply
      • Max

        Thank your for your fast response….I can sleep this cold off (hang-over) instead of redoing my previous work now…and stay on schedule.

        Reply
  • Kami

    I have some re-work to do me thinks could use some advice. Re-doing a bathroom and wanted to use a linear channel drain from MyShowerGrate.com across the curbless entrance. OK, contractor, a hot mop aficionado , took the base of the drain down 4″ and raised the back of the shower an inch (it all slopes one way toward the channel drain) and had the hot mop guy come out. Now, there is no way I can achieve anything less than a 1/2″ slope (real nice pres-slope though…). So, thinking about removing the hot mop and joining the 21st century and using Nobel CPE. Then, lowering the back end of the shower so I can get an inch of mortar on top of it for the tile and filling in at the base of the drain with mortar to bring it up to level with the adjoining floor (minus room for the channel drain) and then slope it all 1/4″. One of many questions I now have though, is there a max depth for deck mud (I’m thinking 3 inches will be needed in this scenario at the base of the drain), and a minimum thickness at the back of the shower. Thanks!

    Kami

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey Kami,

      There really is no maximum depth for deck mud – as long as you pack it down really well you can build it up to 6 inches if you want. The minimum thickness ideally would be 1 1/4″, but if you promise not to tell anyone I promise not to tell you I’ve gone 3/4″ before. Just don’t drive any trucks over it. :D

      Reply
      • Kami

        Thanks! Really appreciate the quick response! Not going to drive a truck over it BUT, I am going to install a freestanding tub on it (85 gallons). Do you think that would be a problem (I think I can squeeze an inch, maybe 1.25 out of it). Would it be worthwhile to add an acrylic fortifier to the deck mud mix as well?

        Reply
        • Roger

          Hey Kami,

          Your tub won’t be a problem. No need at all to add anything to your mud mix – the compressive strength of straight deck mud is more than enough to actually drive a truck over (at 1.5″ thick). :D

          Reply
          • Kami

            Great and thanks! If it doesn’t work out I can always use the space for parking!

            Reply
  • Tom L

    I bought a mountain home that has a sliding glass door leading out from the basement. The previous owner has a wood floor consisting of 3/4″ furring strips on the slab with 3/4″ styro inbetween, a layer of poly then 1/2 osb board on the surface. I’m thinking of cutting out approx. 3′ X12′ area in front of the door and laying some nice natural slate tile. I ‘m thinking of laying approx 1″ mud bed down to approx 1/4″ below the wood surface so the tile will end up about 3/8″ or so above the wood floor to accept carpet nicely. How does that sound? So yuu say the Quickrete sand mix is a bit too rich? cut with sand? any bonding agent needed to the conc. slab? Thanks Tom

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey Tom,

      A mud bed would be ideal for that application and 3/8″ is just about right (depending on your carpet). You want to mix one bag of quickrete (60lbs.) with 1/2 bag of sand (25lbs.) to get the correct mixture. Use regular thinset to adhere it to the concrete slab and make sure you pack the deck mud down really well – beat the shit out of it. :D

      Reply
      • Tom L

        Hey Roger: I got the mud bed in like a pro. I used my 3 framing levels a 3′ 4′ and 6′ for straight edges (screeds) and pounded the hell out of it :lol: Now my next challenge is to lay these 12 X 12 natural slate tiles. As I was inspecting them and giving them their first coat of sealer I noticed they vary quite a bit in thickness. I was thinking of grading them out according to thickness as to not get a real thick one next to a thin one. What size notch would you suggest? Thanks! Tom

        Reply
        • Roger

          Hey Tom,

          With ungauged slate I usually use a 3/8″ x 3/8″ square notch trowel and comb thinset on both the substrate and the back of the tile.

          Reply
          • Tom L

            Slate went in great– I was concerned with great color variations, but once they were down –really looks cool. The fact that it just inside my sliding glass door on slab level,with the single digit temps we have been having-the floor was really cold (not quite freezing) took a long time for the thinset to harden–wanted to grout the next day, but no way–gonna have to wait till next weekend. Would love to send you a few pics.

            Reply
            • Roger

              Hey Tom,

              Great to hear! You can send me pictures at Roger@FloorElf.com. I’m gonna have a page up here in the near future of projects from my readers – I’d be happy to add them.

              Reply
  • Matt

    Hey Roger,
    I’m digging the feed back as well as your informative website. thanks a million.

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey Matt,

      I’m digging that you’re digging it! Thanks! :D

      Reply
  • Matt

    Elf,
    What is the most practicle solution to leveling a large area of mud? I grasp the concept of establishing a level perimiter around a room, but when it comes to maintaing the integrity throughout the center of a given space, what technique is best suited for consistancy?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey Matt,

      When mudding a floor you can use screed sticks to keep a consistent, level deck all the way across. Fill in the perimeter with level screeds then place the screed sticks next to those. You need a straight-edge long enough to reach across the room from screed to screed. The sticks need to be the same height as your mud deck is deep. In other words if you are making your deck 1 1/2″ then you need screed sticks 1 1/2″ wide. After you place your sticks in there overfill and pack the center with mud then screed it off level.

      ‘Sticks’ is kind of a misnomer – I use 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ aluminum bars. Once the deck is packed and level just pull the bars out of there and fill the voids with mud. Just over-pack the center between the screeds and shave it off, everything will be level and consistent.

      Reply
  • shane

    Roger
    I AM CONSIDERING THE IDEA OF TAKING OUT A BULKY AND SOMEWHAT TACKY EXISTING FIBERGLASS SHOWER UNIT AND INSTALLING A TILE SHOWER BUT I AM LEANING TOWARDS AN A.D.A. ZERO THRESHOLD PAN..DO YOU HAVE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A PARTICULAR UNIT TO GO WITH AND ARE THEY DIFFICULT TO INSTALL (DRAIN ALIGNMENT/HOOKUP) OR A PAIN IN THE A– GETTING READY SO I CAN TILE THE WALLS DOWN TO THE PAN?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey Shane,

      A couple of different companies make an ADA shower base and they all work fine. The biggest problem with them is the amount of space in front of them you need for the ramp up into them. They consist of two parts, the basin and the ramp. The basin goes in just like any other then the ramp is installed to the floor in front of it. There is usually a minimum of 2 1/2 feet needed for the ramp and keep in mind that is from the start of the ramp, you still need room in front of that The start of your shower will be about 5 – 5 1/2 feet from the back wall of the shower. The drains line up just like any other.

      If you can lower the floor of the shower enough you can fabricate a floor for tile, but that is a very involved process. The only drawback to the pre-fabricated acrylic pans is the amount of space needed in front of the shower for the ramp up – they aren’t very usable unless you have at least 8 feet from the back wall of the shower open.

      Reply
  • Eugene the Tilin' machine

    All you say is A-OK except my mind tends to wander as I imagine all the DIYers placing that mud. Do you slope it towards the drain or away from the drain like the ones I am constantly tearing out.???? Do you have to tamp it or ( pack) it or can I just be easy with it so that it falls all to hell when I go to thinset tile onto it ??? OH, yes, and you forgot to tell me about pea gravel at the weep holes so I guess we don’t have to address that do we ?? Hell, nobody else does, why should I ??? Right ??

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi ‘Eugene the tilin’ machine’, :roll:

      Welcome to MY blog. If you would care to delve a bit deeper into the information you are such an expert on, as these DIY’ers actually do before they build their shower, you will find a series of posts – as well as an entire ebook – which addresses all these issues you have brought up.

      I have not failed to tell you about anything – YOU have failed to attempt to find the information you seek which is actually very readily accessible by typing ‘shower floor’ into the search box, clicking the ‘shower floor’ link on the right, clicking on the ‘create a shower floor ebook’ at the top, etc., etc.

      But everyone that installs tile is a professional, right? So I don’t have to address inflammatory comments meant to demean my own ability from someone describing himself as the ’tilin machine’, do I?? Hell, nobody else does, why should I ??? Right ??

      Have a nice day.

      Reply
  • Susan

    Dear Floor Elf,

    My shower pan is somewhat sloped. All I did in demo is hammer-drill out the tile and grout. Can I fix the “potholes” with thinset then lay down the liner and top mud bed? The preslope already exists as I believe the builder used the tar mop to waterproof it twenty years ago. I’d hate to have done double work when it wasn’t necessary. I’m still going to install a liner and new drain so I must use some deck mud no matter what.

    If I must construct a pre-slope, I have to make the thinset slurry so the mud will adhere to the substrate. Should I let the slurry dry before I start the preslope? How thick a layer? Is the slurry thin enough to use a paint brush or roller or should it be a little more substantial and use a trowel?

    And, thank you for your continued support! (Wasn’t that a Bartles and James ad?)
    Susan

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Susan,

      That was, in fact, a Bartles and James ad. A great tagline, by the way. :D Wait, that wasn’t the question…

      If you are talking about using the existing pan as your preslope then yes, you can do that provided it is solid enough and in good enough shape to do so. You do not want to fill the potholes with thinset – thinset can usually only be built up to about a 3/4″ thickness. If your potholes are less than that go ahead. The fact that you’ve mentioned the word ‘potholes’ as a descriptor leads me to believe they may be a bit larger than that. If so you can fill them with deck mud. A preslope doesn’t need to be perfect (don’t tell anyone I said that) it only needs to be sloped consistently toward the drain to allow all the water to go where it should. You do want to fill the potholes, though, so water does not get trapped in them. (We call those birdbaths, I guess ours are smaller than yours :D ) Your entire preslope needs to be aimed consistently downward with no areas sloping back up – gravity doesn’t like that.

      If you do make a slurry (info for everyone else) it is simply really thin thinset which is placed on the slab beneath your preslope to adhere the deck mud to the slab. You do not let it dry first, it’s just like installing tile – place your thinset (slurry) then your tile (deck mud), once cured it isn’t going anywhere. You can put it down with a brush or roller but it would be a huge pain – use a trowel. The slurry really shouldn’t be THAT thin, just thin enough to barely hold the ridges when trowelled on.

      Thank you for your support!

      Reply
  • Jon

    Hello,

    I set the mud last night (almost 24 hours ago) at a 4:1 ratio, and it seems too dry and “dusty”. I guess I expected it to be solid like a concrete pad. Do I need to mist it, let it set further, and check tomorrow, or something else altogether?

    Also, it doesn’t seem to be a perfect “dish” shape. For example, it slopes a little horizontally as it slopes to the drain, if that makes sense?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated. First time doing this, so you won’t hurt my feelings if you tell me I’ve done this wrong. :)

    Thanks.
    – Jon

    Reply
    • Jon

      Ok, well maybe I should have read more before I posted this. I see now that you’ve written that it should be sandy and not to panic. Phew!

      Ok, I feel better now. Please feel free to give any other advice if you want.

      Thanks.

      Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Jon,

      You did it all wrong.

      Just kidding…

      It’s supposed to be dry. It may be a bit dusty if you did not get all the smaller particles pounded down into the bed enough. If it is a bit too ‘dusty’, so to speak, you can mix up some thinset and coat the top of it to lock in all the small, loose particles. You can try to mist it down with water if you want, it may activate some of the concrete if it did not get enough moisture, but I honestly doubt it would help. I would skim it with thinset and let that cure and that should give you a workable surface for your tile.

      For any spots that are not quite the shape or slope they need to be you can either build them up a bit with thinset or you can sand it down with a rubbing stone or piece of sandpaper. Provided they are not huge discrepancies from the ideal slope that will work just fine.

      Reply
      • Jon

        Ha ha, probably! Thanks for the info. I should mention that I have just laid down the first layer of mud. Does that change anything? If not, I’ll go ahead with the membrane and then add the second layer.

        Thanks again!

        – Jon

        Reply
        • Roger

          Hey Jon,

          Makes no difference at all, both layers should be identical in feel and finish.

          Reply
  • Lonnie

    Hello,
    I am attempting to make my own shower in my new house. I have looked at several web sites for advice on how to do it. I think I know how to do the sloped mud beds, but I have a question concerning the curb. My plans are to wrap my curb in green board for tiling. After my first sloped bed is done, I will lay the PVC membrane on from 8″ up the wall to cover the shower floor. What is the best way to secure the liner and green board to the inside vertical curb wall without having to use screws or nails?
    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey Lonnie,

      First, unless you are using Kerdi, greenboard is absolutely NOT an approved substrate for tile in a wet area such as a shower and never, ever for a curb. Even using Kerdi regular drywall should be used rather than greenboard.

      To create your curb you should use two or three 2 x 4’s stacked if building on a wooden subfloor, or regular or concrete bricks if over a concrete substrate.

      The liner is then wrapped up and over your curb and adhered by bending metal lathe around it carefully (as to not puncture your liner), then covering that with deck mud / fat mud to create your tile substrate.

      Greenboard in any part of a shower, especially anywhere below a waterline such as the curb, will do nothing but disintegrate.

      Reply
  • Russ

    Two questions:

    1 – Can’t find the sand/topping mix at our local big box store, but we do have a bunch of regular mortar mix left over from another project. Can we use mortor mix and add some sand? If so, how much sand would you guess to a 60 lb. bag of mortar? I tried to find the sand/mortar ratio on the quickrete website, but it’s not there.

    2 – how thin do you think one can go with the deck mud? We have a high spot in our concrete floor near the drain – which is just the right height for the level of where our drain height is currently (gives us 1/4″ slope over 1 foot to the drain). Can this work — or should we raise the drain so that our deck mud is not too thin?

    Thanks for your help….we really need it!

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey Russ,

      1. Are you talking about regular thinset mortar? If so then no, that won’t work. You can get regular concrete mix or just plain old portland cement and mix it with sand to make your own mix. Mix it at a 5 : 1 ratio (5 sand to one portland).

      2. You need to have your deck mud at a minimum of 3/4″ for your pre-slope. You may run into information stating 1 1/4″ but that is for a regular mud pack for a floor. Raise your drain a bit and you’ll be fine.

      Reply
      • Russ

        Regarding question 1 below, actually the leftover mortar we have is a portland cement mix which was used for building our block retaining wall. So, I guess we could use this if I can just figure out the right amount of sand to add to it.

        Regarding question 2 below, if the pre-slope under the pan liner is at least 3/4″, does the second deck mud coat over the pan liner also need to be at least 3/4″ at it’s lowest point near the drain?

        I hope we are not wearing out our welcome on your site with all these questions…thanks, again.

        Reply
        • Roger

          Yes, you can use that if it is regular portland cement. Just weigh the amount you have left and mix it with 5 times as much sand. i.e. If you have 20lbs. of portland left mix it with 100lbs. of sand.

          Yes, your top bed should be 3/4″ as well. It should be 3/4″ thick from the drain to the wall if you already have your pre-slope sloped correctly.

          You are absolutely not wearing out your welcome. Glad to help. :D

          Reply
  • cat in mud

    both doors are closed :) he wont be getting in..

    id like it cured harder so that i can apply unmod thinset tomorrow and kerdi it… and hopefully use it on monday/tuesday..

    Reply
    • Roger

      You should be good with that. Just make sure to mix you’re unmod a bit thinner for the Kerdi. It also helps if you use the flat side of the trowel on the pan first just to “burn in” the thinset then trowel it out as normal. Helps ensure absolute coverage and grab.
      Have fun!

      Reply
  • cat in mud

    had to rip it out :(.. ripped it all out today morning (sat) and got the 3rd one in… went with a 5:1 mix using sand topping mix + sand… used a magnesium float… helps a lot more i beat it with both a small 4″ cut from a 2×4 and then also with my magnesium float.. also used it to shame it here and there and remove high spots.. i currently have it covered with sheeting so that it stays wet longer.. not sure if thats of any benefit. im in CA., as is on all day s its dry in my house. didnt want it to dry to soon?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Crap – You’re gonna be an expert by the time you’re done. :D
      Covering it will cause it to cure a bit more slowly and make it a bit harder so that will help.
      If you have any high spots left after it cures you can use a tile rubbing stone to “sand” it down level – a regular sanding block with coarse paper works as well.
      Lock up the cat. :D

      Reply
  • cat in mud

    thank you for your response roger

    a pic can be seen at

    pic of mud

    this is after i took a sweeper to it … i started poking around and found a loose spot.. shdnt have done that,,, took a vacum to it and ended up with a tennis ball sized hole :) this was one of the spots the cat had messed around.. the other spots held…

    i will be using versabond to create a smoothie/milk shake consistency thinset mix.. smear on the tennish ball hole do a 4:1 ish dry pack mix.. and pack it in.. let it dry over night… get my kerdi and unmodified thinset ready and kerdi it up the next day..

    if it starts crumbling during the application of unmodified thinset + trowel, ill rip it apart and do again..

    p.s. this was the 2nd attempt.. 1st attempt wasnt sloped enough..
    :)

    Reply
    • Roger

      Sounds like a good plan! I hope you don’t have to tear it all out (again). From what I can see in the pic your plan should work fine. Good luck.

      Reply
  • cat in mud

    Hello, how long does it take mud to reach full cure/hardness?

    My cat jumped in my 5:1 packed shower bed right after I finished packing it while I was eating and had pulled a decent amount of it apart… I don’t expect it to be usable and will break it apart… I did however pack it again… Just in case… As the mud still had a little hold to it.. Nothing great.. I misted it down with a sprayer and covered it..

    I’ll check on it before leaving to work tomorrow and will nit be able to take it appart till Friday… Just trying to prepare myself with how much effort will be required to take it appart agaig

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi “cat in mud” :D

      Deck mud will be solid in 24 hours and fully cured (for all intents and purposes) in 28 days. Not sure if your cat could do enough damage to warrant removing the entire thing but I can’t see it from here. :D

      The easiest way would be to chip enough out to get a crowbar beneath it and you should be able to pry out reasonably large chunks if you pry from the bottom.

      Reply
  • David Jones

    Hello roger –

    I just checked it about an hour ago and it is pretty hard already – I will not poke anymore –

    thanks for your advice – DAVE

    Reply
  • David Jones

    Thanks for the info – I ended up having to use floor leveling cement for the Schluter pan as my floor was a bit out of whack which added almost an inch of thickness to the deck mud. So I used 200 lbs of sand and 40 lbs portland approx – which is at your recommended 5:1 mix – It is curing as I write – how hard does the deck mud get? It seems soft now as in I can poke my finger into it – believe me I packed it tight.

    thanks for your advice – have a great day – DAVE

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey David,
      It will get rock hard – literally. Stop poking it with your finger. :D It will be sandy on the top so you can rub it and remove sandy particles – don’t do that either, it’s normal. It should cure to hardness in about 24 hours.

      Reply
  • David Jones

    Hello – One related question?

    I am creating my mud bed with the prefab Schluter 48″ shower pan and then filling in the uncovered areas with deck mud – overall the sq footage is 6 sq feet. How can I calculate how much deck mud – ie portland and sand – I need to fill the gaps – the schluter pan is 1.5″ thick.

    Thanks in advance for any help – DAVE

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi David,

      To determine how much sand to use per square foot (average) I use 10 lbs. sand and topping mix and 5 lbs. sand per square foot. So for your six square feet 60 lbs. sand and topping mix and 30 lbs. of sand should get you pretty close.

      Reply
  • home remodeler

    Thanks for all your help.

    I put the vacuum to it, pulled up the easily loose stuff… I guess its just a few little patchs here and there.. and seems pretty secure everywhere now. There is about 5 tennis ball sized areas that are now about 1/4 down. I just add a bit extra thinset to fill those, So I will go ahead on put my tile down on it. Thanks again.

    Reply
  • home remodeler

    Most of its sandy….. which I assume is fine. Its the edges where I used a 2×4 to make sure they where level… I thought I had that as my best pack ;)

    It will rub away… if I rub my finger back and forth aggressively, I can remove a 1/4 in 30 seconds.

    Someone else recommended using a wet vac to remove the loose parts… and then finishing it off with some FAT mud, that has an latex acrylic add in it. You think that sounds right? The voids seem small for thinset and mud.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Roger

      Sandy is fine. It’s supposed to be like that. Stop doing that. :D You’re gonna hurt your finger. If you continue to rub something against it aggressively enough (even your finger) you will be able to rub it all the way to the floor. It is not like concrete – it isn’t supposed to be.
      If you’ve rubbed enough to cause an area that needs filled you can do it up to 1/4″ with just thinset. You do not need fat mud – which is just drypack with more water and lime to make it sticky – it’s for vertical surfaces such as walls.
      It sounds to me as if you’ve correctly fabricated your shower floor. Stop questioning yourself, it’s fine. There is a reason I included the second to last paragraph in the post above. ;)
      And stop rubbing it! :D

      Reply
  • home remodeler

    I did an install with 4:1 mixure, and I notice that some of the surface, mainly near the walls, seem to crumble really easily, most of the base does not. Should I try to remove the loose parts and refill this with an adhesive in the mixture? It seems to me I might have made it too dry here.

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hey HR,

      A 4:1 mixture is fine for your drypack. The surface is supposed to be sandy but should hold together. If by “crumble easily” you mean it’s sandy then it’s fine.
      If you mean you can pull chunks at a time up or it’s cracking that means you did not pack it down well enough. It is not a sign that it was not wet enough.
      If the latter is the case you can pull out whatever chunks want to come up and pack more deck mud into the space. You want to first put thinset into the void to lock the old and new parts together. Then make sure you pack it down WELL. Do not use adhesive in the mixture.
      If the surface is simply sandy – that’s normal. You can go over it with thinset and the flat side of your trowel before you tile to make tile installation a bit easier.

      Reply