Shower pan installation the conventional way involves a lot of mortar work. There are several ways do-it-yourself tile setters, even pros, make mistakes. Some of these mistakes will result in a shower that fails soon and leaks with all the water damage you don’t need. Here are several common mistakes and a method to side-step these problems.
Mistake 1: Not getting the sub-floor right.
A plywood subfloor is standard. You can build a shower over a concrete floor as well. No matter what the subfloor, the floor must be braced to take the weight of the shower. You don’t want flexing of the base. That’s a sure way to get a cracked tile floor.
Mistake 2: Not sloping the mortar base.
The shower base in built in layers. The first layer is masonry over which the liner is installed. That base should be sloped to help route all the water to the lower shower drain holes. That way the water doesn’t build up above the pan with nowhere to go. A sloped shower base is necessary for the shower to drain properly.
Mistake 3: Not using deck mud.
Deck mud is Portland cement, sand and water. The proportions must be right. If you use mortar with extra lime, the mix will be too sticky to work and may be too hard to really get as flat as it should be. Deck mud must be right.
Mistake 4: Using the wrong liner.
The right liner is a PVC sheet that’s actually built into the masonry floor. Some people are tempted to use no liner. Others think a cheap plastic shower bottom is a suitable base for tile. Neither is true. A waterproof liner is necessary for a leak proof shower.
Mistake 5: Not sealing the liner to the drain properly.
The actual liner forms a waterproof barrier within the shower floor. Critical is the seal of the drain to the membrane. The liner must be cut and fitted to the drain base and then glued to the base with the right adhesive. Get this right or you’ll have leaks.
Shower pan installation using masonry is a proven way to build a shower that works for decades. However, it’s easy to make mistakes that cause premature failures. There is a way to build a shower without so many potential problems. It’s a newer technology and you don’t even use masonry at all with some models. That’s an easier way to a leak proof shower.