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Learn How to Build a Walk-In Shower (Part 1)

Shower Pan Installation

 


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by Jeff Patterson in Bathrooms
How to Build a Walk-In Shower

I LOVE my walk-in shower.

Here’s the story,

my wife and I built our dream master bathroom.

We saved our money and splurged on the remodel.

The key element was a custom tile walk-in shower.

It’s way more convenient to stroll into the shower rather step over a tub or curb.

This takes the worry out of falling and also makes cleaning a breeze.

If you want to build a walk-in shower you’re in the right place.

Today you’ll see how easy it is to install a Wedi Ligno shower pan.

After you see our tutorial you’ll believe you can do this project yourselfI promise 🙂

You’ve probably salivated over bathrooms on HGTV. Who hasn’t right.

Could you build one yourself?

These days the answer is an emphatic yes.

Wedi makes one of the best waterproofing systems for showers and tubs.

Their shower pans and building panels will make your shower 100% waterproof.

PLUS:

Wedi is way lighter and easier to use than cement board.

You can use a utility knife to cut it and their’s no dust…great for us since my wife has asthma.

Today you’ll see how to install the Wedi Fundo Ligno shower pan (this is a link to pans available at our store).

Wedi Ligno

You’ll be surprised at how easy the Ligno is to install.

These are the supplies we use

I totally get that this is a long supply list.

BUT you can borrow many of the tools from friends, family or neighbors.

All things considered this isn’t a bad material list.

Okay, let’s dive in and get started.

 

Prep Your Subfloor for a Walk-In Shower Pan

Wedi makes a variety of walk-in shower pans.

We chose the 48″ x 48″ x 3/4″ Fundo Ligno.

And no, it’s not because of the cool Italian name (although I am 50% Italian, haha).

The reason for the Ligno is that it worked best for the shower in this tutorial.

Dry fit the Ligno to ensure it fits.

Dry Fit Wedi Ligno

Mark the position of the Ligno with a pencil.

Then cut the subfloor using a reciprocating saw.

Steve’s using a 9 inch Diablo demo blade.

Btw, Diablo has some of the best blades for saws. But we’re also starting to love the AX blades by Milwaukee. 

Use a Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating saws make it super easy to cut along 2×4 framing.

Saw Subfloor

Wedge a Super Bar under the subfloor and pry it from the joist.

They don’t call it Super for nothing, this little bar has saved my tush a ton of times.

Pry Subfloor with Super Bar

Pry nails off the joists.

Very important step since a nail can perforate the Ligno shower pan

Pry Nails from Joists

Place a level on all the joists and across them.

If the joists aren’t level your Ligno shower pan won’t drain properly.

Check Levelness of Joists

Joists can be shaved down if bowed upward.

Or you can sister another joist to your framing to create a level surface.

Power planers are great for shaving down joists.

 

Add the New Subfloor for the Fundo Ligno 

Cut 2×4 pieces to sister to the joists and apply Liquid Nail to 2×4 nailers

Liquid Nail Nailers

Place the nailer 3/4 of an inch below the top of the joist.

Nail or screw it in place.

Steve uses a piece of 3/4 inch OSB to make sure the nailer is positioned correctly.

Add Nailer to Joist

Why are you doing this?

You’ll place 3/4″ pieces of OSB or plywood on top of these nailers.

This will create a subfloor that’s 3/4 of an inch below the surrounding subfloor.

You’ll then place the Wedi Ligno shower pan on this sunken subfloor.

Pretty cool stuff.

If you have drywall underneath the joists it’s important to get your plumbing in place before attaching the nailers.

That way you don’t have to work around the pipes.

Apply Liquid Nail to the top of the nailers.

Liquid Nail the Top of Nailers

Then place your OSB or plywood on top of the nailers.

Nail or screw them in place.

Nail OSB to Nailers

Dry fit the Ligno shower pan again.

Trace the drain onto the subfloor.

Measure from the center of the drain and cut a 6 1/2” hole.

This is where your middle school math comes in handy…thank you Miss. Hartman! (my 6th grade math teacher)

Cut Hole for Wedi Ligno

Now it’s time to adhere the Ligno to the subfloor.

What’s the best way to do this?

Adhering the wedi’s Fundo Ligno to the Subfloor

Steve mentions this in the video…

NEVER use anything else to adhere the Wedi Ligno to the subfloor other than modified thin-set.

Otherwise you’ll void your waterproofing warranty.

Plus, why tinker with the instructions…

…a team of German engineers figured this stuff out.

We mixed up Mapei Kerabond and added Keralastic latex additive to it.

Mapei Thin-Set

About 1/2 bag of the Kerabond is needed for a 4×4 foot Ligno shower pan.

Mix up the thin-set and let it sit.

While that party is happening (sarcasm, there’s nothing party-like with thin-set) you can assemble the Ligno’s drain.

Apply Wedi sealant to the drain in the pan.

Apply Wedi Sealant to Drain

Add sealant to the Wedi drain flange, too.

Add Sealant to Wedi Flange

Insert the flange into the drain and compress.

Insert Wedi Drain Flange

On the back side (not your tush) add the rubber gasket first, then plastic slip ring and finally the locking nut.

Just hand tighten the locking nut…no wrench is necessary.

Frankly it doesn’t get any easier.

Hand Tighten Drain Assembly

Apply the latex modified thin-set to the back of the Ligno.

Comb the trowel ridges in the same direction that you’ll comb them into the subfloor.

This allows air gaps to compress and a good bond to form.

See, didn’t I tell you we’d have great tips.

Thin-Set Bottom of Ligno

Trowel the same latex modified thin-set onto the subfloor.

Thin-Set Subfloor

Embed the Ligno into the subfloor thin-set

Embed Ligno in Thin-Set

It’s critical to make sure your shower pan is tight to the framing.

Move it such that it can accept whatever size Wedi panel you’ll be using…in this case, it’s 1/2” Wedi building panels.

Ligno Should Accept Wedi Panels

Panels will sit down in the channel of the Ligno and be bonded via the Wedi sealant.

More on this in Part 2 of our tutorial.

So make sure those channels are clean and free of thin-set

Clean Channels in LIgno

Place either tiles or bags of thin-set on the pan to push it into the thin-set.

Or have Chewbacca sit on the tile for 30 minutes, whichever works best.

Compress Ligno

For a fast pace yet complete detail step-by-step you can watch our FUN video.

Watch it until the end.

I reveal a little secret about my bathroom, but don’t share it with my wife

How to Build a Walk-In Shower (Part 1: Wedi Shower Pan Install)

 

What’s Next

Learning how to build a walk-in shower begins with this first step.

Part 2 explains how to finish off the shower walls using wedi’s building panels.

If you’re interested in getting the wedi Fundo Ligno shower pan this is a great place to start. 

 

We’d be happy to help you choose the right shower pan size and put all the components together. Send me an email at [email protected] if you’d like help.

Building a shower doesn’t have to be scary or frustrating when you know exactly what needs to be done. And that’s what our videos will show you.

Jeff Patterson

Jeff

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Again, if you’re looking for Part 2 of this tutorial check it out RIGHT HERE

22 Comments
  1. dave says:

    we are in the infancy stages of this ‘discussion’ as germinated by hgtv overdose…

    our situation is slightly different…
    single bathroom in house
    house on slab
    current tub is adjacent to w/c and is a fiberglass (all-in-one) set in
    your super board might still be an idea but not clear on how to position everything

    thanks

    1. If you’re going to tile Dave then check out Wedi and KERDI.

      Both are very user friendly and easy to use.

      Plus, there’s no additional waterproofing needed once your done installing each respective system.

      Will you be tiling a shower when you remodel?

  2. Frann says:

    We both take showers and I hate the tub/shower combo we have. The sides of the tub are so high I have trouble stepping over it just to get into take a shower. I looked through Part 1 of “Walk In Shower” and I’d like to know the next step(s), so I can email the “how to’s” to my husband. We are in our 70’s but have friends who would help us out with getting rid of the tub and making us a walk in shower. I loved the one we had in Las Vegas, it even had a seat that folded down off one wall so I didn’t have to stand all the time. It also had a stationary shower head and one that was on a wand, you just had to turn a lever a certain way to use one or the other, or even both shower heads. I’ve seen a lot of your videos, and even became a lifetime member because you have such good and cool ideas for DIY’s. Ok, so I rattle on, but I’m excited at the thought of maybe getting a walk in shower installed instead of the tub/shower we have now. Thanks so much for being here, I love your site.

    1. Thanks Frann for you wonderful words.

      The next step for this project will be the Part 2 video…which will come out soon here on Home Repair Tutor.

      That’ll have all the details of how to install the Wedi building panels. Each panel weights less than 10lbs and installs with screws and washers.

      Price for a 3×5 foot panel is roughly $40 here in Pittsburgh and you have to get the Wedi sealant for each seam.

      What’s nice is the panels are easy to lift and cut, great for anyone!!!

      I’ll send you an email next week with all the details 😉

  3. Connie says:

    I want to remove our current fiberglass shower stall (complete with holes from God knows who, dropping whatever) and replace with a tile shower. Would like to do a “walk-in”, but we are on a slab. How do you handle that, or can you even do it? Thanks.

    1. You can do it it Connie but it’s a bit more work. You’ll need to remove the slab where the shower pan is to go or you can do a curbed shower, which is a bit easier. What systems have you looked at so far?

  4. Heather G says:

    This was my dream. But we’re on a slab (most homes in FL are) and our contractor said he’d have to chisel and grind out part of the slab to give us a “walk-in shower.” So…nothing was done (yet – LOL). Maybe one day…
    Anyway, I still love watching the videos and reading what you write. Thanks for all you teach us.

    1. Thanks so much Heather, I think you’d love a walk-in. Wedi is a great option 🙂

  5. Sue says:

    We, too, live on a slab. I understand a walk-in with a curb is probably my best option. Are you thinking of doing any kind of video for those of us with slabs? I sure would appreciate it, as it looks like others would, too.

    Thanks Jeff. I enjoy your videos and am trying to build up the courage to tackle this job.

    1. We’d love to do a tutorial on a slab. We’re keeping an eye out for a project like that. Did you have a shower system in mind?

  6. Squafdonoboles says:

    I have the opposite problem — tub too shallow, and would like to install a deeper tub. Any tutors on this would be well appreciated.

    1. You’re in luck. We’re working on a tub video tutorial now. It’ll show how to install the Kohler Archer tub. Great option since it’s acrylic and has a deep dimension.

  7. Diego A says:

    So Jeff, after using Wedi and KERDI, which one would you recommend?

  8. Clem says:

    There is a space around tge pan to accomadate the wall panels but I did not catch that detail in the discussion. Is the pan sized for your measurement so as to leave that gap.

  9. Pete says:

    Jeff,
    I like the way you put this together in that you provide the commentary and Steve does the action. Gives it a nice flow and easy to follow.
    And then when Steve takes over , he does cover the details of the installation very well.
    Good format!

  10. Rosita says:

    Jeff, thank you. I want to replace my shower/tub by a walk in shower but I need someone to do it. However, in the Atlanta area, I am having a hard time finding the person familiar with these new products. Any tip? Thanks.

  11. Bob Lehardy says:

    Hi Jeff, wanted to say, thanks for putting this together – you’ve done the DIY world a great favor.
    So, we are in Hawaii, on one of the smaller islands, don’t have ready access to Kerdi or Wedi without having to pay essentially double for shipping. We have done the demo of a 70s era fiberglass tub/shower. We have a good concrete slab, the existing copper and drains and the studs all are clean and dry. Would you recommend that we just eat the cost for the wedi/kerdi and DIY, or pay someone to do a mortar bed? We’ve done tiling before, so have some experience there, but have never tried to do a mortar shower pan.

  12. Eddie says:

    Thank you for promoting a proper way to do tile. There are way too many people using improper methods. Keep up the great work

  13. Dennis says:

    Have you installed a walking shower in an existing 3″ cement slab?
    I know you have to cut the slab to inset the pre sloped pan, what manufactured pre made pans have you installed? (KBRS , Kerdi , Wedi)
    Do you have a video of the prep & install of pan & wall waterproofed system?
    Thanks
    Trying to decide on a product , Kerdi has the size that can be cut to fit the best

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How to Build a Shower:
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Learn step-by-step how to build a custom tiled shower and get awesome results.

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