Installing a Shower Pan

A shower pan is installed in order to collect water that falls in the shower, and is used when the shower floor will not have tile. The correct shower pan will make a big difference in the ease and convenience of your shower.

Installing a shower pan is something that a homeowner can generally do without having to call in a plumber. When installing a shower pan, the instructions that come with the specific pan will need to be followed, but the general installation is much the same for most pans.


Shower pans can be made of several different materials, such as fiberglass and acrylic. It is important to buy a good, sturdy pan that will last a long time instead of a less expensive one that will need to be replaced in a few years.

Installing a shower pan that is well-built and strong can mean that it will not have to be replaced for 20 years or more. Flimsier pans can also leak, and some cheaper models can grow mold and mildew

Most shower pans will come with a ready-made slope that will keep the water running toward the drain to avoid standing water. The main work involved in installing a shower pan that is pre-molded is to lay a mortar base underneath it, directly onto the subfloor. The manufacturers instructions will usually detail exactly how thick the mortar should be.

Installing a Pan for a Ceramic Tile Shower

The popularity of ceramic tile showers is going strong, and they require installing a shower pan membrane liner beneath the tile. Shower pan membranes function to funnel water seeping through the floor or wall grout into the shower drain.

The membrane liner is a flexible plastic material that sits under a bed of mortar. This sheet is then covered by tile. Several different types of shower pan membrane liners are sold on the market, requiring some research before purchasing to ensure that you get the type that will be needed for your specific shower.

A shower pan liner requires a few extra steps than installing a shower pan for a non-tiles floor. The floor must be pre-sloped before laying the liner. To do this, a layer of mortar should be applied to the floor of the shower, sloped toward the drain. It should be troweled so that a gentle slope exists, starting at the shower wall. The pre-slope mortar will have to cure for awhile before the shower pan liner can be installed.

Final Steps

After the mortar has cured sufficiently, lay the membrane liner onto the shower floor. The material will have to be formed and folded into the base of the shower and then secured to the sides of the shower wall. Use staples or nails to secure the liner into place. An opening in the membrane should be cut to allow the drain to fit through it.

A final coat of mortar will be applied to the top of the membrane liner to secure it into place. After that mortar has been allowed to cure, the tile can be laid on top of the liner. The tiles should sit for at least 24 hours before the grout is applied. After the grout has been applied, that should be left to cure for another day.

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