Copper vs. synthetic shower pans?

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by steve717, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. steve717

    steve717 New Member

    Feb 1, 2006
    For our custom shower, our plumber wants to use a copper shower pan that he intends to fabricate to measure. I was surprised because I was under the impression that copper was a thing of the past, and that there are more modern techniques with synthetic materials that are better than copper.

    Does anyone understand the relative pros and cons here? Should we insist on something other than copper?
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Copper can fail in as fewe as a couple of years if your water is corrosive. A membrane liner is guaranteed for life (or at least 50 years). All liners should be installed so that it has a slope to it, not installed flat on the floor. There are (in some places) voluntary standards for shower pans - Tile Council of America. In some places it is the code. If your liner does not sit on a preslope, the water that does get under the tile (and it will no matterwhat you do, although just a little at a time) will just sit there if it can't get to the liner and then flow to the drain. A proper shower drain (with one one exception I know about) has weep holes below the top surface that allows that water that comes through the top surface (mostly through the grout, even if it is sealed) to drain out.

    A high tech alternative to either of those is a shower system made by called Kerdi. The whole shower is absolutely waterproof and is sealed to the drain. This drain does not have or need weep holes, because no water can get underneath it. This has the advantage that the whole shower can dry out much faster and you should never have a problem with mold or mildew.

    You might want to go over to ask your questions there, do a search on copper pans. Also, go to their 'liberry' and read up on the proper way to build a shower. Even if you are going to have it done, reading about how it should be done will help you with your installer. My personal opinion, if he is going to use a copper pan, especially one that is installed flat on the subfloor, I wouldn't want him to do my shower.

    Last thing, if he even hints at using any premixed thinset materials or grout in the shower, definately throw him out! Those components have no place in a wet shower environment - only use cement based products that are mixed with water (or a latex additive - usually not needed as most thinsets already have that in it for strength, stickiness, and flexibility). The one exception to this is an epoxy grout or epoxy which is required for some marbles (mostly green) which will warp when used with normal thinsets.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2006
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  4. finnegan

    finnegan New Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    Jad gave you all the advice you need. I plan to use Kerdi on my next shower project.
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