Installing a Shower in your Basement

So you want to install a shower in your basement? This can be a great project to implement to improve the functionality and value of your home but it can be a bit challenging to implement because it involves the knowledge of several trades: carpenter, tile setter, and plumber. Let’s look at the steps needed to accomplish the installation.

First, you are going to need two things. Obviously, a water supply and a water drain. For the purposes of this article we will assume that the water supply and drain are located pretty close to where they need to be for your basement shower. If not, make that happen before proceeding any further. The drain may be your biggest challenge of the two.

First Steps

The next thing you need to do is define your desired enclosure. Whether you are determined to make your own stall or install a prefabricated enclosure, you still need to create your framework. You will either be using a prefab shower stall or doing things from scratch.

If doing things from scratch, make your measurements and frame your enclosure where you want the shower to be after subtracting the dimensions of the greenboard or cement board and ceramic tile. This will be where you will frame the enclosure. It is a good idea to use pressure treated 2 X 4’s for the framing since showers are moisture intensive environments.

If you plan to use a prefab shower surround, your measurements will be slightly smaller since the prefab unit’s dimensions will differ from ceramic tile slightly.

Whichever method you are following, you will next nail your greenboard or cement board to your framing studs.

Set the Tiles

If you are working from scratch, be sure you have holes in your greenboard or cement board where the supply nipple is and the manifold hot/cold water handles are. Go ahead and apply ceramic tile to the walls, floor, and threshold to the enclosure using appropriate mastic. When the tiles are set, grout them and seal the grout to protect against moisture.

If you are going prefab, install the prefab unit per the manufacturer’s instructions. Now install ceramic tile and grout as needed as described in the above paragraph. Use a high quality silicone caulk to seal any areas between tiles and prefab enclosure edge.

Finish the Plumbing

Now that your shower is in place, it’s time to finish connecting all the plumbing. You’ve got the hole in the wall where the shower head nipple (approximately 45 degree bend) goes. Using Teflon ™ tape, install it, making sure that it is pointed down when installed. Attach the shower head to the nipple, also using tape the Teflon™ tape.

Screw down your floor drain. This step might vary in appearance whether you are building from scratch or going prefab but in either case it is pretty straightforward.

The Details

Now that you’ve got all the inside done, what about the outside of your enclosure? Every case will be different but at the minimum you will need to hang sheetrock on the outside of your shower enclosure framing, and then finish as needed, either paint or wallpaper. Don’t forget to add clothes hangers and towel racks!

Nothing to do now but wait for all the grout to dry, hand a shower curtain and lather up! You’re done! (And you probably need a shower after all that work!)