There are a few clues that can help to show you that your tiling project may have a problem. Water stains in particular can be a dead giveaway that tiles which have been installed in a wet area like a bathroom, have a problem. Even if the stains have just recently appeared, many times the area or structure hidden behind or under them may have become soaked quite some time before. Be sure to follow the steps and advice below to help you figure out what the cause is so you can deal with it as quickly as possible.

Once you realize you have stains checking the area around the stains themselves may tell you where the water is coming from. Expansion joints should be looked at to see if they have been properly filled with sealant or caulk. If you still have no idea what the cause is your next step should be to:

Look For Loose Tiles

If the tiles are loose you may be able to lift them up and look underneath. You’ll want to see if there is a waterproofing membrane, which there should be. If there isn’t, or if the area under the tile feels a little squishy to the touch you may have to end up doing some tile removal and making repairs. When the lack of a membrane is not the cause a smart idea would be to then:


Check The Water Supply

Often there can be another culprit involved. Leaks in your water supply not your tile installation, may be the problem. If you have an access panel you can open it to look inside but if not, you might have to remove a bit of drywall. Take a good look at both your hot and cold watery supply lines. The problem could also possibly be the result of:

Leaking Drain Lines

Water stains may also sometimes be caused by leaks from the drain line. In a tub shower you can check to see if this is the problem by first filling the tub with water until it goes into the overflow. If this is not the cause of the leak then you should definitely remove the drain plug and investigate the drain line as it is most like the cause.

For a stall type shower you’ll want to take out the drain screen and plug up the actual drain pipe. Next fill up the stall with water up to the curb. Open your access space and look for droplets of water to help you decide if the leak is coming from your shower pan or sub-drain. If none appear you may want to give it around forty five minutes to an hour and then check again.


This time if there aren’t any, remove the drain plug and keep an eye on the drain pipe in the process. In the case that you can see the plumbing is the source of the problem you will need to get it repaired. Or if it turns out to be the shower pan, you’ll have to remove the tile and purchase a new one.

Don’t be freaked out by water stained tiles, with a little patience you can discover the cause. Once you know what that is, it’s just a matter of applying the right fix. So follow these steps to help you identify and solve the problem by stopping it in its tracks before it gets bigger.

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