How To Build A Shower Pan
Maybe you want to learn how to build a shower pan for a new shower you wish to install. Or do you have water damage with your existing shower and want to know how to fix the bottom of your shower? In either case, this article will give you the general plan for how a shower pan is constructed.
First... repair damage.
If you have decided to replace a shower floor, you are probably doing it because of damage from water leaks.
Damage is usually to the sub floor below and around the shower. Remove rotted material and replace it. Or at least remove the rotted material back to sound surfaces. You'll have to decide if there is enough sound material left. It may require ripping out whole walls to get all the rotted wood out and that may not be necessary.
But you must have a good sound subfloor for the shower to be built on. When you have a solid subfloor you're ready to install the drain.
Install the drain base.
Rough in the drain base. The drain is installed so it can collect water that weeps through the tile floor of the shower. A ceramic tile floor is not waterproof, so some of the water on the tile leaks through the floor. The drain is at the level to catch this weeping water.
Build your curb or thresholds to define the boundaries of the shower. It's best to build a solid form of stacked lumber or even stacked bricks.
The lower mortar base..
Build your floor slope. The mortar floor is sloped to the drain to prevent standing water. Build a base about 2 inches thick, sloped 1/4 inch per foot. Let this bed cure before the next step.
Install shower floor pan liner membrane.
Install the waterproof membrane which goes over the mortar base. The shower pan membrane is a rubber-like material that's waterproof. The membrane lays on the shower floor bottom and then up the sides of the walls several inches. The main trick is folding the thick membrane in the corners. There's a lot of bulk to get folded in a tight area in each corner. The membrane is the key to a waterproof shower floor pan.
Building the top mortar layer.
A top mortar layer is installed over the liner. This layer is often built with reinforcing wire to add strength. The slope built into the bottom mortar layer is maintained with this top layer.
Install your tile.
After the second coat of mortar cures, install a coat of thinset. Install tile and then grout. Spectralock is an epoxy grout that is completely waterproof. Consider using Spectralock in your shower as grout.
It takes several days to complete a job like this, since there is cure time between the layers. But this is a job that any handyman can learn to do and can be a real source of satisfaction.
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There's another way. Build your custom shower with no mortar work and get a no-leak shower. Forget about learning how to build a shower pan the traditional way. Look at the Kerdi shower kit at this link...