I recently bought a 1930s Spanish Revival house with original black and yellow tile wainscot. The walls are of original lath and plaster. I'm worried about water infiltration and potential mold, even though I've painted with high-gloss paint as recommended by painters. Considering the tile has been in place for nearly 90 years, maybe this is not a problem. I have considered re-tiling with a similar motif up to the ceiling, but it would look out of character with the rest of the bathroom. 

Has anyone encountered this issue and come up with a solution? Water is currently infiltrating behind the paint at the seam of wall and black tiles. Should I re-do the paint and seal?


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WOW, that bathroom is awesome. The hundred year old home I purchased as a solid fiberglass shower... yuck! You are soooo fortunate to have acquired this home.  I spoke with a tile person who said you need to re-seal.  He did seem to be concerned with the mold idea, just suggested you thoroughly clean with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, then let it dry and re-seal.  Hope this helps!  

Thanks Theresa for your reply! We do feel lucky, and want to do what we can to keep in tact. I appreciate you speaking with someone on my behalf! 

as an expert in historical preservation I would not be concern about mold if you have good exhaust fan.  Here is how your walls are constructed under the tile.  You do not have plaster behind the tile you have a hand mixed mortar mix that is about 1 inch thick.  The tile is attached to that base.  Rock solid.  keep the tile grouted and enjoy the beauty of old craftsmanship.  



saving our history 

I forgot to mention within the 1” thick mortar walls, you will usually find a heavy steel diamond lathe reinforcement.


Also get in the habit of squeegeeing the shower walls and running the fan for a while after showering.  Keeping the moisture down will help keep mildew from getting started. A good practice with any old house bathroom.


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