Shower Pan Installation for the Home Handyperson

If you think that the tiled surface of your shower floor is what keeps your shower from leaking, you would be wrong. It seems logical but it is actually the shower pan liner that handles all the leak prevention responsibility.

During your shower pan installation, a liner was applied in the form of a kind of membrane that ensures the subfloor remains dry and the water is transported efficiently through to the drainage system. Shower pan installation must begin with a floor that is structurally sound, whether it is wood or concrete. If the floor itself is not adequate, there is no point proceeding any further until it is rectified.

One Step at a Time

The first step in shower pan installation is to apply a layer of roofing felt over the surface. A concoction of 1 part cement to 5 parts sand is applied in a slope angled towards the drain.

Next, the pan itself is laid out over the concreted surface, and the pan's sides are smoothed approximately 10 to 12 inches up the walls and then folded over the ledge of the step in a procedure similar to wrapping a gift from the inside. To ensure watertightness, the corners are folded, then sealed and can now be inspected for any leakage problems.

Finally, a mortar bed is created over the top of the pan, again, sloping towards the drain to ensure efficient water drainage. The mortar bed consists of concrete and wire mesh and if you intend to do this yourself, you should seek advice before tackling it on your own.

Shower pan installation seems, at first, to be a fairly simple task, albeit with several vital stages, but if not done correctly, it can lead to disastrous results over time.

What can go Wrong?

  • Water damage caused by a leaky shower pan can lead to the need for significant renovations.
  • If you don't achieve enough fall in the floor, your drainage won't be efficient and water will build up while showering, causing grout decay.
  • The pan must be attached to the drain correctly or it will leak and the damage will radiate to adjoining areas of the home.

Seek advice to make sure you are using the right drain! This can be costly and frustrating. If you use the wrong one, you will be forced to remove the pan liner and it may become damaged in the process.

  • Using an incorrect ratio of sand and cement will not result in an efficient base for your shower. The shower floor may not be strong enough and could actually crumble. If you add too much water, your mud will be difficult to work with and could cause waves in the shower floor. This leads to poor drainage.
  • If you do not know how to properly chop your mud, your shower floor could become lumpy.
  • Folding the corners incorrectly will mean water will travel down the walls to behind the shower pan liner, resulting in wall damage.

Many keen handymen complete shower pan installations with no problems at all. It is a matter of knowing what you are doing and understanding the process, from preparation to completion. Installed correctly, a shower pan liner will last years and years, but if you do not follow instructions or do not use the correct materials, you will eventually be faced with leaks and resulting water damage.