Building our FIRST custom showerpan...need ADVICE!!!

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Daniko, May 30, 2006.

  1. Daniko

    Daniko New Member

    May 24, 2006
    Hi folks, i've been perusing this forum a bit, and feel like there may be some good advice in here for me. I and a friend are about to embark on the building of a custom shower pan for my brother, and have researched various sites online for information. The isntructions on this site

    seem to cover most of what's involved on a theoretical level...the basic outline of which is

    Rough-in shower drain pipe
    Prepare floor and walls for concrete and membrane
    Install base of drain.
    Lay thin layer of concrete to create slope
    Put down layer of roofing paper
    Cut and install membrane and top of drain.
    Hang concrete board on walls
    Pour final layer of concrete with chicken wire embedded
    Build form for threshold
    Pour concrete for threshold
    Tile it.

    we are about to purchase supplies, and I have a couple questions. What do people recomend for concrete type?... or mortar??,what type of membrane,.....also,..we are building a bench into the design, and i'm wondering about the installation of the membrane. Since i'm going to need to install cement board on the vertical aspect of the bench, how do i install the membrane without puncturing it?,..or if i need to puncture it, how is this done while still keeping the risk of leaks low?

    any advice or reference to other sites would be greatly appreciated. We are taking our time in trying to understand the process and see potential problems before we begin. Our experience is more with custom tiling on floors and walls, and like i say, we haven't done a shower before....


  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    You're close, but not quite there. Suggest you go over to and read their "Liberry" instructions on shower pans.

    You don't want the tar paper on top of the preslope or the lath or chicken wire in the final slope. You DO want some lath on the curb. You'll use three types of mortar: deck mud (5:1 portland cement to sand) for the preslope and final slope; some different mortar for the curb, and then thinset to set the stuff.

    While you are checking that out, consider using Kerdi from - then you can omit the cement board (cbu) and just use drywall - yes, really just drywall for the walls. Kerdi is a waterproof, tileable membrane. The significant advantage of this is that there is much less that can absorb moisture in the shower, so it dries out much quicker. That also makes it more immune to harboring any smells... They have a video on the site - shows them installing using a preformed pan, but you can use deck mud to make one instead in any size. If you go this way, you need to go the whole system their drain, too.
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  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    You have chosen a formidible task for your first shower base installation. Seats/benches in showers are the number one source of leaks, because most installers do not run the liner membrane up and over them so if the joint where the bench and wall meet leaks, and it will, the water goes onto the floor and out into the room.
  5. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Nov 8, 2005
    Hansville, Washington
    We're building a large Kerdi shower now and elected to use a standard portable ADA shower seat instead of building one into the shower, for reasons hj mentioned. Most of the time, the built-in seat serves only to provide a painful spot to bump into, and is a b*tch to clean. For the same reasons, we're just building in large niches with no shelves, planning instead to use stainless steel shelf assemblies that can be removed and tossed in the dishwasher occasionally.
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