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Six3Tile® Panels for Shower & Tub Surrounds: A Watertight Seal You Can Depend On

If there’s one thing you should expect from a shower surround, it’s that it won’t leak. Unfortunately, leaks happen way too often. This could be attributed to the fact the average 60”x96” ceramic tile shower back wall has 96 leak points. Shower failures are a big problem for property and maintenance managers; repairs are urgent due to the frequent use of showers and the potential catastrophic damage to wall interiors. Most of the time they require some sort of tenant displacement or inconvenience creating a frustrating situation for all parties.  

But what if you had access to Six3Tile, a PVC tile panel solution with a proven watertight seal? In this article, we'll fill you in on the third-party testing done to prove this watertight claim, the mechanisms contributing to the seal, and more.

Note: The watertight seal applies to Six3Tile's Shower Surround Pro Kit and Tub Surround Pro Kit. The watertight seal is accomplished when the appropriate substrate is in place, Six3Tile is applied, and grouting and caulking have been completed.

Six3Tile's Watertight Seal Was Rigorously Tested By An Authority in the Industry 

"Watertight seal" isn't a term to be thrown around loosely. It indicates that water won't leak through the tile panels post-installation. To validate the application's watertight seal claim, Six3Tile partnered with Home Innovation Research Labs. The company has been around since 1964 and is a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) subsidiary. Behind the brand is a knowledgeable team of professionals, including electrical, mechanical, and structural engineers, architects, former builders, contractors, and more. The company acts as a:

  • Third-party test lab
  • Inspection agency
  • Certification body

Testing Methods and Findings for Six3Tile's Watertight Seal

Home Innovation Research Labs conducted two tests on Six3Tile Shower & Tub Surround Pro Kits. The tests were rigorous and hyper-targeted to evaluate the Six3Tile’s Shower Surround water resistance while being continuously sprayed with water or entirely submerged under water. Here's a brief explanation of both tests.

The Water Resistance Test

To prove the water resistance of Six3Tile shower and tub surround application, Home Innovation Research Labs conducted an official water resistance test per ASTM D2247‐15(2020) "Standard Practice for Testing Water Resistance of Coatings in 100% Relative Humidity." In this test, Six3Tile panels were mounted onto an approved bathroom substrate, grouted, and submerged under water. Per the parameters of this test, caulking was not required as it does not test a transition to the pan/tub or a corner but rather the surface of the tile and the tongue and groove seal.

Continuous Water Spray Test

In addition to the first test, Home Innovation Research Labs conducted a continuous water spray test. It's conducted in accordance with the CSA B45.5:22 / IAPMO Z124‐2022 "Plastic Plumbing Fixtures" Section 5.18 Field‐Installed Tiling‐Flange Seal Test. During the test, the researchers set up a continuous water spray and sprayed a wall (outfitted with Six3Tile panels) for 30 minutes straight.

Six3Tile Passed Both Tests, Deeming it Watertight.

Not only did Six3Tile not leak during the battery of testing, but the surface also showed no signs of discoloration, cracking, crazing, erosion, delamination, or other distress that may affect performance. These results serve as irrefutable proof that our tile panels and the tongue and groove connection for shower and tub surrounds will not leak when properly mounted, grouted, and caulked. We proudly stand behind our products with a 5-year warranty.

Why Six3Tile Panels Resist Water

We put Six3Tile panels to the test and they passed with flying colors. Now, let's get into exactly why these panels resist water. It's mostly in their unique and proprietary tongue and groove design, which automatically creates a grout channel that doesn't let water in.

Six3Tile panels are designed to fit together systematically. As such, there are two different panel designs that come in a kit:

  1. Panels with a channel on the bottom edge and a tab along the top. They are to be used on the bottom or middle rows when installing.
  2. Panels with a squared-off top edge. They are to be used on the top row during installation.

During the Six3Tile installation process, it's essential to know that the panels for the middle and bottom rows of the shower or tub surround are identical in design. Just know that the panels with the squared-off top edge are to be installed on the top row only.

Channels should always be facing down, and tabs should always be facing up. Installing the panels in this fashion ensures that a seal is created, making water unable to pool or penetrate.

Moreover, Six3Tile panels boast multiple lines of defense to strengthen the seal. They include:

  • Grouting. 1st line of defense.
  • Vastly reduced number of potential leak points vs. a ceramic tile installation.
  • PVC substrate. The PVC is waterproof and covers a large majority of the wall.
  • Tongue and groove joints. As briefly mentioned earlier, these joints meet to form a strong seal.
  • The substrate you're installing Six3Tile over. The appropriate substrate will adhere securely to the tile panels, reinforcing the watertight seal.

 How to Ensure a Watertight Seal with Six3Tile Shower and Tub Surround Tile Panels

A few specifications must be met for Six3Tile panels to deliver on that watertight seal promise.

To get a watertight seal with Six3Tile, installers should:

  • Install them on a proper substrate. You can install Six3Tile over moisture-resistant drywall, cement backer board, or existing ceramic tile. The surface should be smooth and solid. Visit this blog to learn about substrates and adhesives you can use to ensure a watertight seal.
  • Install them according to Six3Tile's instructions. Our Pro Kit installation instructions are available via PDF on our website, or you can read them on our blog. Read and follow those instructions to the letter for the best results.
  • Apply trim to cover any exposed edges. To learn about your tile trim options for Six3Tile, read this blog.
  • Apply grout in the grooves of the tile panels. You'll use non-sanded grout only and employ the same method you would when grouting traditional ceramic tile. Be sure to follow the grout manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Caulk the base and any corners. Use a silicone-based caulk for this. Sufficient caulking around the base of the shower or tub pan is essential to getting a good seal. Caulk is also recommended in the corners. Be sure to follow the caulk manufacturer’s instructions.

So, there you have it - an in-depth look at Six3Tile's watertight seal, why it works, and what installers need to do to activate it. When you choose Six3Tile, you're opting for a reliable system that's been rigorously tested and validated by Home Innovation Research Labs to be watertight. So long as you follow the simple installation instructions to the letter, you can bank on these watertight panels performing exactly as promised.

To learn more about Six3Tile kits for shower and tub surrounds, visit the Shower & Tub Surround Pro Kit webpage. And if you have any questions or concerns, we're standing by to assist - contact us here. Happy tiling!