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Steps for construction of a shower pan from scratch.

I am remodeling the entire bath from the floor joists to the wall studs. I have just about finished the central area with the sink and toilet. Next step is putting in the shower. The walls are already studded ant the outside wall is cinder block. I have purchased the shower pan liner. Guide me through the process up to ready for laying the tile.


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Posted 2010-12-12T03:36:50+0000  by lefty lefty

The last portion of the install includes hanging backerboard and preparing the final bed of the shower for tile.


Step 1

Secure poly sheeting to the stud wall using staples. Leave a few inches overlap with the shower pan liner 2-3 inches with your last staple for the poly just above the liner. “DO NOT STAPLE THE POLY SHEETING THROUGH THE LINER.”

Step 2

Now we hang the backerboard. Be sure to leave at least a 1 inch gap between the bottom of the backerboard and the shower pan liner. This is to prevent the backerboard from absorbing any moisture that finds its way onto the liner. Just as with the poly sheeting make sure you don’t drive any of your backerboard screws through the liner.  Things get a bit tricky around the curb as you still need to leave the gap at the bottom of your backerboard  and have no choice but to secure the side and top pieces with screws. Install the sides first, then the top and try to keep to a maximum of 3 screws per piece.


-          To avoid the issue of screws that applying backerboard at the curb presents, some people do prefer to use a lath method. This entails molding the lath to the shape of the curb and applying mortar mix to shape the curb. Some things to note about this method is that you will have to take into account the thickness of your tile while forming the curb to make sure you match up to the surrounding walls.

Step 3

Before we lay in the last mortar bed we need to figure out the floor slope. The easiest way to do this is to screw in the upper drain portion, then using a straight board and level translate that height to the wall. The rule of thumb is ¼” slope per every foot traveled. So for example if the drain is 3 feet away from the wall our slope should result in a change of ¾” from wall to drain. Now that you have the slope figured out place markers along the wall to give yourself a guideline for the mortar bed.


Step 4

Cover the weep holes of your drain with pea gravel (tile spacers are equally useful) to prevent mortar from clogging them up.  Now we fill the pan with mortar and once again using the perimeter marks as a guide to create the slope to the drain. Take care that the pea gravel used to protect the weep holes remains in place as they are covered.  Use a piece of wood to screed (spread) the mix evenly from our wall marks to the drain carefully removing excess as needed. Keep at it until you’re satisfied that the slope is well formed and the mix tightly packed, then take your trowel and smooth out the slope between floor and drain. Let this set for 24 hours.


It’s been quite the journey but at this point believe it or not, you’re ready to start tiling.


Tile work tips

Tile the walls and curb first. While working the walls protect the floor with a heavy piece of plastic sheeting and or cardboard. This will prevent damage to the floor and make cleaning up way easier.

When setting the floor tiles be sure to think ahead to cutting the tile to fit the drain. Have a good idea of what will be required so you don’t end up “painting yourself into a corner” so to speak.


Other general tips

Plan it all out.

-          There is no such thing as too much prep work.

Give yourself enough time.

-          This is not a one day project, rush the job and you’re only making more work for yourself.

Follow manufacture stated directions.

-          If it says allow “blank” to set for “blank” hours, give it that time. Do it once again save yourself a possible headache.

Check your work.

-          Never know what you might miss and we all miss something from time to time. Having a buddy on hand is a great way to stay motivated about the project  and have an extra set of eyes available.

Now the most important tip I can give.

-          Enjoy yourself for all the trouble you might encounter there is really no greater satisfaction than knowing you did the work and did it well. Plus you can totally brag to everyone about how awesome you are for building your own shower from start to finish.


If your interested in a more visual walk through of this process a lot of the information here can also be found in the book The Home Depot Plumbing 1-2-3I hope this helps and be sure to give us a yell if you need help along the way. We love to see the great things you guys accomplish so be sure to keep us updated on this and any future projects you may have.






Best Answer

Posted 2010-12-12T21:08:29+0000  by Chris_HD_ATL

How ya doing lefty, ChrisFixit from the Atlanta Home Depot here, hope you’re ready because this post is going to get involved.  I’ll try and break this up a bit to make it easier to digest. Before we start here is the what, and why of the process we’re about to delve into.


“A shower floor requires a three-layer mortar bed to support the tiles. The first is sand mix – a mixture of Portland cement and sand that forms a strong substructure.  The second layer is a plastic liner.  The third layer is regular mortar that goes on top of the liner.  Together the three layers provide a dense, watertight surface that won’t flex.  The bed is covered by a layer of thinset and finally, the tile.”

- The Home Depot Plumbing 1-2-3





Step 1

Since you’ve already studded out your walls your next step will be to add your curb and blocking.  The curb is typically framed with three 2x4s on edge.  Nail 2x6 blocking between the studs, this gives you a completed frame for the bed as well as a location to nail or staple the shower pan liner to.



-          As far as the wood used for your curb and blocking some people have a preference to using pressure treated over un-treated.

-          Another thing to note at this stage is that some installers swear by installing a slipsheet (roofing felt) and mesh directly onto the sub-floor.  In this setup the slipsheet , laid directly on top of subfloor, prevents moisture loss in the mortar before its cured and the mesh (stucco lathe, chicken wire, etc.) gives the mortar something more substantial to grab to. In the end the choice is yours.


Step 2

Cut a hole in the subfloor if necessary and install your drain base, tape the opening shut to prevent anything falling into your drain line.  In preparation for the first mortar bed you’ll want to take some time and check for any dips or rises in the level of the subfloor.  Make marks at even intervals to give you a visual reference of the perimeter height of the mortar bed. The idea when laying the mortar bed is to provide a slope from the shower frame to the drain that will allow any trapped moisture to run down to the weep holes of the drain.


Step 3

The mortar should be mixed with just enough water to make a crumbly mixture that just holds itself together.


Step 4

Lay your mix between the drain and marks on the blocking to create your slope. Use a piece of wood to spread the mix from your marks on at the bed perimeter sloping inward toward the drain. Remember the goal is to get the mix packed densely while doing your best to prevent any dips or high spots. Carefully remove excess mix as you go and use a steel trowel to finish up with a smooth surface. Now you sit back and admire your handy work and let the bed cure according to whatever directions the manufacture gave.


*first image found at ""

Posted 2010-12-12T16:24:38+0000  by Chris_HD_ATL

In this post I'll cover the shower pan liner installation.


Step 1

Cut the shower pan liner to size. Remember that you need to cut enough liner to accommodate around a 6 inch rise up each wall as well as some overlapping of the curb. It will be likely that you need to seam the liner to get the correct size. Seaming involve the overlapping and joining along an edge of two pieces of liner.

-          Make sure surfaces are clean and free of dust

-          Apply solvent (X-15 shower pan liner adhesive) to mating surfaces

-          After a minute or two line up surfaces and press together

-          Let set for 5-8 minutes and then attempt  to separate. If seam does not hold repeat the two previous steps.


Step 2

Add a bead of caulk around the face of the drain base. Partially screw in your drain bolts. When you start to put in your liner this will make it easier to locate the bolts and cut slits for them to pass through.


Step 3

*I’ve included a pdf showing a really good technique for making shower pan corners. Located at end of this post.

Work the liner flat with your hands starting at the drain and moving your way out towards the walls. Make sure to prevent any air bubbles from getting trapped. Fold your corners (see attachment) and staple the liner to the walls at about ½ inch below the upper edge of the liner. Next trim and cut the liner to allow bends around the edges and curb and the gluing in of shower pan corner patches. Finally cut the drain hole out of the liner, bolt down your clamping ring and allow it all a night to cure.

finish the liner.jpg


Step 4

Before going any further it’s important to test our handy work for leaks. This is done by plugging the drain with a test plug and filling the bed with water up to the curb. Allow it to sit for a few hours periodically checking for leaks. Repair any issues you find of course. If all is well we can proceed to the next phase.

Posted 2010-12-12T17:13:20+0000  by Chris_HD_ATL

Thanks for the info. This will be a big help for finishing my rebuild.

Posted 2010-12-13T00:43:52+0000  by lefty

Is the CustomFloat "pre-blended "mortar bedding sold by Home Depot the appropriate mix to use as the final bedding mix prior to thin-set and tile?

Posted 2011-11-16T16:46:19+0000  by cas

Hey there cas,


Thanks for your question!~ = )


I haven't had much exposure with the CustomFloat product since we don't carry it out in my market, so I partnered up with Custom Building Products' technical service team to get the best answer for you.


As far as a final bedding product, CustomFloat is definitely the way to go for your project! It's got a great bond strength and very, very low shrinkage making it easy to use.


They did advise me to make sure that you use the proper mortar for the type of tile that you're using. While our Versabond product has become a common catch-all for most tile jobs; if you're using a tile such as porcelain, they recommend you use a product called FlexBond for the optimal adhesion.


Hope this helps answer your question!~ Best of luck with the project and keep us posted on how it turns out = )

Posted 2011-11-17T17:32:49+0000  by Jay_HD_CHI

Just the information I have been searching for.  Thank you!! 


Next step is the walls.  Will you provide those steps also??

Posted 2012-12-31T02:28:35+0000  by HMT
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