What is the best shower pan installation

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Rob K

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I a general contractor, and I am building a new shower (in my own place). I was hoping that you could give me your opinion for what you would consider the best method or product to build a shower pan with a curb. I have not chosen my products yet so I can build it any way.

I hate to show my age but the last time I built one I lined it with lead and mortar.

My tile setter recommended using a Wedi shower pan but I'm not convinced. On the walls the Wedi seems flimsy. I was considering using Denshield. For shower surrounds I usually use cement board with red guard

Thanks
 
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jadnashua

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There are numerous methods, and done properly, they all can work quite well. Some can go together faster than others, with Wedi being one of the faster ones - you can have a bare studwall and subfloor, once the plumbing is set, potentially have it tiled in one day. Hard to do that on other systems where you want a full, tiled shower.

My personal preference is to use a surface waterproofing method rather than a conventional one. Redgard does work, but (this is a personal thing), I find it hard to ensure I get a full coverage at the required thickness without having areas either too thick, or too thin, or a pinhole here and there. Then, you have surface membranes, and there are at least several available to you in the states. I've used and been trained on Kerdi, which I like. You have a choice of either using a preformed pan, or building one with deckmud (cheaper, and easier to ensure it's level and the drain lines up properly), then cover it with the membrane. It is required to use their special drain, but I've found it to be very handy as you can easily adjust the exact placement after the main drain is installed for the grate. And, being square, makes cuts eaiser than a round drain cover.

Then, you have the choice of either a conventional, pitched shower to a central drain, or doing a linear drain. You have more choices for floor tile with a linear drain since you don't have to accommodate multiple slopes - you slope the entire shower pan in one direction to the drain (well, you can do a reverse pitch if the linear drain isn't at the wall).

The key to any of these is the workmanship and following one of the accepted industry practices (check out the TCNA handbook). Check out the videos on the Wedi and Schluter websites. Once you have tile installed and grouted, Wedi's foam boards (and KerdiBoard, if you choose to use it verses their sheet membrane) both are quite stiff.

There are other well regarded paint on waterproofing systems...read a little here on some other threads with search, and you'll get various opinions on them.
 
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Rob, I think that is you are installing the pan yourself and you are not a full time tile setter, I would recommend one of the foam pans that are out there. They are probably the most difficult to screw up as far as leaks, clogged weap holes, etc. Also, you don't have to use the foam panels (Wedi board) if you don't want.

Both Noble and Schluter both make foam pans that you can put cement or hardi board on and then a waterproof sheetgood over it (Nobleseal TS or Wall Seal; Schluter's Kerdi fabric). Also Laticrete has jumped into the game with foam pans and you use cement or hardi board and then paint their liquid waterproofer over it (HydoBan). All of these are good, solid systems. Laticrete's is probably the most similar to the way you are used to doing it.
 

jadnashua

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A mudbed is by far the least expensive way to build a shower and correct any flaws (and has the most flexibility of drain placement). And, while it does take some skill, it isn't all that hard to master. But, for ultimate speed and guaranteed proper slope (assuming your floor is level, which may NOT be the case), the foam pan wins. Personally, the foam does provide some insulation, and when first stepping into it, it is decidedly warmer. So, since your time is money, and you haven't done this before, the higher cost of a foam pan verses mudbed may make some sense.
 

jadnashua

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You have to decide if you want a tiled shower pan, or some other material. Once you do that, then the method you want to deal with to complete the shower properly. Building a shower isn't technically hard, but it is very detail oriented...skipping or messing up one step can cause it to fail. There are numerous methods that have been tested and validated. My preference is a surface applied sheet membrane, but that can go over either a pre-formed foam pan, or a mudbed (where the mudbed is less expensive in materials, and is the most flexible in configuration). That article does discuss the high points of one of them, and I've used it - it works.

If you're thinking a preformed pan, you have to deal with certain fixed sizes although some of them will customize them to your needs. They are not as durable as tile, and can be scratched, chipped (well, you can chip a tile, but it's a lot harder to do!), and if not installed well, flex can cause them to craze and eventually fail. But, they can last a very long time. A tiled shower should last forever until you decide to remodel, if done properly...they do not just wear out.
 
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