Construction of a Cement Shower Pan for Tile Installation

Tired of cleaning your fiberglass shower pan? Not happy with its plastic-like feel under your feet?
If you’re a do-it-yourself home improvement type person and you want to remodel your bathroom with tile in your shower, then here is a how to guide for the methods of installation of a cement shower pan.

A cement shower pan base is the foundation for tile installation for under your feet. If you are remodeling your bathroom, particularly the shower area, it would benefit to use this type of feature, both aesthetically and functionality. Tile is durable and can last at least as long as your home’s life cycle. Plus, a tile floor in your shower area completes the room, ties everything together, and if you plan on selling your home in the near future, it could be that element that stands out in your potential buyers’ minds.

First, if your remodeling an old shower, you’ll want to remove everything that’s there (whether old tile, fiberglass, even a tub) down to the bare subfloor and studs. Clean the area with a shop vac or broom, picking up every piece of debris and pulling any protruding nails or screws. Then you’re ready to start building your shower receptor.

  1. Install a layer of moisture barrier over the subfloor and up the walls. Stapling 15lb roofing felt is a great material for blocking any water damage to the wood.
  2. Lay a lath, or wire mesh at the base, around the drain. We are now going to build the pre slope. This directs any water towards the drain. Mix a combination of 1 part Type II Portland cement into 4 parts moist mason sand. When mixing, you want the consistancy to be strong enough to make a ball without it falling apart. You want more of a dry mix than wet, so use water sparingly, a little at a time. You want a slope that is a minimum of 1/4″ per foot towards the drain.
  3. Once the pre slope has dried (about 24 hours), lay a rubber waterproof membrane over the pan, and wrap up the walls at least 3″ above curb.
  4. Install cement backerboard over the walls and use a level to mark lines at center of studs. Screw the backerboard into the wall studs. Do not penetrate the waterproof liner, so be sure to stay a foot above the floor.
  5. Now we are going to “mud” the final slope. Make another cement/sand mixture, same as we used for the pre slope. Measure from the drain to the farthest point on the wall. You’ll want to make a 1/4″ slope per foot, so if the drain is 2 feet away from the wall you’ll want the level of the mud to be 1/2″ above the top of drain. Make a pencil line with a level around the backerboard for a guide. Then pack the mud starting against the wall and sloping toward the drain, ensuring that there are no high or low spots. Wait a day for the cement to harden and then you’re ready to tile.
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