How to Build a Shower Pan for Tile

Tiling the floor of a shower stall isn't just a matter of mortaring the tiles onto the frame. The proper process is to build a shower pan as a base for the tiles. A shower pan is a constructed of two layers of Portland cement, built out at a slope and sandwiched over a plastic shower liner. The drain assembly has hidden holes in the sides to divert any water that seeps through the first cement layer to the liner. This is a very complicated project that you shouldn't do yourself unless you've had some carpentry experience.

  • Tape measure
  • Shower drain assembly
  • Screw gun
  • Hole saw (same diameter as the drain )
  • Razor knife
  • 5/8-inch cement board
  • Carpenter's glue
  • 1-1/2 inch drywall screws
  • Concrete mesh
  • Tin snips
  • Staple gun
  • Portland cement
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Flat shovel
  • Wire mesh
  • Cement trowel
  • Plastic shower liner
  • Shower liner glue
Measure for the center of the plywood floor of your framed-in shower stall. Mark the circle for your drain, using your drain assembly as a template. Cut out the circle using a hole saw attached to your drill.

Measure and cut the cement board to the size of the framed-in shower floor. Cut it by scoring it with your razor knife and snapping it at the line. Drill a hole in the cement board for the drain, using your drain assembly as a template and using your hole saw to drill the hole.

Spread carpenter's glue on the back of the board. Set it in place in the shower, with the hole lined up with the hole in the shower frame. Sink 1-1/2 inch screws every square foot on the board.

Install the two-piece drain assembly into the center hole on the floor, letting the adjustable top piece rise up several inches over the surface of the cement board.

Cut wire mesh to the size of the base with tin snips and lay it on the floor. Use the snips to cut the hole for the drain in the mesh. Staple the mesh to the board with a staple gun.

Mix Portland cement in the wheelbarrow. Shovel it onto the cement board, spreading it out so it's about 1/2 inch deep around the drain. Use your trowel to create a slope toward the walls. The slope should rise by about 1/4 inch for each foot of length. So if it's 3 feet from the drain to the wall, the cement should be 1-1/4 inch thick at the wall (1/2 inch plus 3/4 inches of rise over 3 feet of length). Let the cement set overnight.

Spread plastic shower liner over the cement slope. Use your razor knife to cut out the circle for the drain. Use liner glue to glue down the edge of the liner around the drain. It should be glued just below the holes that are in side of the assembly. Staple the outside edges of the liner to the stud walls, cutting it off about a foot up from the floor. (The liner will be covered when you install the cement board walls.)

Mix a second batch of cement. Spread it over the liner in a second layer, making the layer 1 inch thick and following the slope of the first layer. Set the drain flange into to surface of the cement. Let it set overnight. The floor shower pan is now ready for tiling.

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