Hot Mopping a Shower: A Guide to Timing and Process

Do you need to put anything under a shower pan?

If you’re planning a bathroom renovation that will include a tiled shower, hot mopping is a waterproofing technique to seriously consider. Hot mopping provides robust shower waterproofing, and it’s widely recognized for its superior long-term durability compared to some modern alternatives. But what exactly is hot mopping, and how long does it take? Let’s dive in.

What is Hot Mopping?

Hot mopping involves applying layers of melted asphalt (tar) and roofing felt to create a completely waterproof shower pan. This multi-layered barrier prevents water from infiltrating the shower structure, which protects against potential mold, rot, and structural damage.

Why Choose Hot Mopping?

  • Longevity: When properly installed, a hot-mopped shower pan can last for decades, providing reliable waterproofing throughout the lifespan of your tiled shower.
  • Slope Integration: Hot mopping easily conforms to the sloped shape of a shower pan, ensuring that water is efficiently directed to the drain.
  • Affordability: Compared to some modern membrane-based systems, hot mopping remains a waterproofing and budget-friendly solution.

The Hot Mop Process: What to Expect

The hot mop process is best left to professionals, but let’s outline the standard steps:

  1. Preparation: The shower area is prepped, including installing the shower drain, pre-slope, and curb.
  2. Felt Paper Layering: Roofing felt is cut to size and layered across the shower pan, overlapping at the seams.
  3. Hot Tar Application: Asphalt is heated to a molten state and then mopped over the layers of felt, thoroughly saturating the materials and sealing the seams. Multiple coats are typically applied.
  4. Final Touches: Flashing is installed at corners and around the drain for added protection.

So, How Long Does Hot Mopping Take?

The hot-mopping process itself usually takes about 1-2 hours to complete. However, there are a few additional factors impacting the overall timeline:

  • Cooling Time: The hot mop needs to fully cool and cure before tile can be installed. This can take anywhere from 2 hours to overnight, depending on the thickness of the application.
  • Water Testing: Many professionals perform a 24-hour water test to ensure the shower pan is absolutely watertight before proceeding.
  • Scheduling: Like any construction project, coordinating with a hot mop professional and other contractors will add time to your overall project.

Considerations When Hot Mopping

What is the hot mop method?

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While hot mopping has many benefits, there are some important points to consider:

  • Professional Installation: Hot mopping is best left to an experienced professional. It involves working with hot, hazardous materials and requires specialized expertise for a proper waterproof result.
  • Ventilation: During the mopping process, there will be tarry fumes. Ensure your workspace is well-ventilated for safety.
  • Regional Variations: Hot mopping is mandated by building codes in some areas, particularly on the West Coast of the United States. Always check your local regulations.

Related: Bath Fitter vs ReBath: Which One is Right for You?

Is Hot Mopping Right for Your Shower?

To determine if hot mopping is suitable for your shower renovation, consider the following:

  • Budget: Hot mopping is generally budget-friendly but it’s worth comparing costs with other waterproofing methods in your area.
  • Project Timeline: If you’re on a tight schedule, factor in the curing time and coordination with other contractors.
  • DIY vs. Professional: Unless you have considerable construction and roofing experience, hiring a professional for a hot-mopped shower pan is the safest way to achieve a waterproof result.

Beyond the Timing: Additional Tips

  • Seek a Specialist: Not all tile setters are experienced with hot mopping. Ask for referrals or specifically seek out a hot mop specialist in your area.
  • Check References: Before hiring, request references from the installer to ensure they have a proven track record.
  • Communication is Key: Clearly communicate expectations with your contractor, including the overall timeline, water testing process, and any specific requirements you may have.
  • Preparation is Essential: Make sure the shower pan is properly prepared with pre-slope and curb before the hot mop process begins.

By understanding how long a hot mop takes, along with the process, pros, and cons, you’ll be well-equipped to decide if this time-tested waterproofing method suits your shower project.

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