With today’s growing focus on health and wellness, designers and contractors are increasingly incorporating oversize showers, steam showers and soaking whirlpool tubs into projects—all which release an intense amount of moisture when used.

When designing for wet areas, several factors should be taken into consideration as it can be a complicated and labor-intensive process. Performance attributes, moisture management, product quality, aesthetics, price and quantity must all be carefully examined.

For complicated wet-area projects, mitigating the risk of moisture impact is critical. Damage from moisture and mold can have lasting and costly effects, which is why careful design, proper construction and a keen eye are essential. A poorly designed wet area is no better than a leaky roof, and when it comes to selecting the building materials for these spaces, it’s often an overlooked part of the specifying process.

Changing Times and Tactics

As the construction industry’s pace accelerates, building professionals are under pressure to produce impeccable work under extremely tight production schedules. Because of this, architects, specifiers and contractors naturally default to traditional installation methods and materials.

The problem is that shorter construction schedules mean that traditional installation methods, such as mud-bed and tiled shower designs, may not always be the best approach. Mud-bed shower installations have long been used because they allow for flexibility in design, and the materials are usually available at a low cost.

However, with ever-shortening construction schedules, waiting for concrete to cure and dry is hardly an option. Even under ideal conditions, a newly poured concrete slab can take days to be fully ready to accept tile or flooring. That is valuable time lost, and the long curing time can expose materials to moisture before they are ready. Even the composition of mud bed and concrete can be an issue because traditional mud-bed installations hold in moisture. Fortunately, there are steps that design and construction professionals can take to mitigate the risk of moisture and ensure a successful project.

Evaluate Costs and Risk

Common moisture problems can usually be traced back to poor decisions in design or construction. Each year, commercial property owners in the U.S. and Canada spend an estimated $2.4 billion on remediating floor coverings due to moisture-related failures. Improper planning can put a project at risk for damage caused by moisture, which can add significant costs and delays. To avoid this, here are four things specifiers and construction professionals should consider for their next wet-area project:

  1. Proactive planning. The key is to anticipate potential issues, and it begins with the design planning, specifying phase and jobsite management. This means everything from how to prevent water and condensation buildup on materials, to understanding the climate and ensuring that materials bond properly. Develop a moisture control plan before the project is under development.
  2. Source and work with local flooring contractors. A specialized contractor can use his or her expertise and knowledge to both conduct moisture testing and remediate issues from the get-go. They’ll be able to share guidance about building materials and recommended usage. Working with one is the right step for employing better design, construction and maintenance practices at the earliest phases of a project.
  3. Assess and test for moisture at the right time. Always conduct proper moisture tests to get a relative humidity (RH) reading before beginning any wet-area project. Testing should be in advance to adequately assess if existing moisture levels are low enough for installation to move forward. Testing early also means you can adjust or plan for what products are right for the project.
  4. Take advantage of products designed to speed up timelines. Consider the use of an integrated, fully bonded waterproof shower system. These assemblies are designed to control moisture while creating a solid base for a long-lasting shower. Installing one has multiple benefits: it weighs less than a mud-bed shower, requires minimal training to install, and manages water and vapor independently of tile covering. A solid waterproof base also provides both designers and contractors the ability to move with confidence to the next job faster.

Today’s fully bonded shower systems combine high-performance components with decorative accessories, making them attractive for architects and contractors. USG products provide desirable performance attributes like ease of use, versatility and tile-holding strength, enabling construction professionals to create the desired aesthetic while protecting it for years to come.

For more information about USG’s range of waterproof and water-durable tile and flooring shower system solutions, visit durockshowersystem.com.