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Make Shower Pan Construction Easy for Basement Curbless Showers

Important Tips and Tricks

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As Seen On
by Jeff Patterson in How to Build a Shower
Build Mud Pan

Learning to make a shower pan is an affordable project.

But if done wrong, the shower base will rot and look terrible.

We constantly get questions about how to build a curbless walk in shower. And many folks want this in a basement, either for themselves or for a family member who has mobility problems.

So we built this shower and will share the instructions.

Today’s tutorial has 5 tips for making the curbless shower pan. This is Phase 1 of building the mud pan.

Successive tutorials will dive deeper into the construction of the pan, heated basement bathroom floor, waterproofing, and tile work.

Let’s dive in!

Make Shower Pan: Phase 1

Making a shower pan begins with plumbing.

And that’s even more important in a basement since the shower drain is tied into the toilet stack. If you’re not comfortable with plumbing, hire a licensed plumber.

Tip 1: Get the plumbing configured before anything else

Plus, determine the location of the shower drain. In this curbless shower we centered the drain on the main wall.

Tip 2: Consider using a linear drain if this is your first mud shower pan

Linear drains make it easier to screed concrete and mud mix. KBRS makes a great linear drain module that can be used with ABS, PVC or other drain system.

Tip 3: Follow local building codes

Basement bathrooms are prone to water problems. Primarily from bad plumbing and foundation issues. We used 4 mil plastic and gravel in the shower pan area to prevent moisture from wicking up into the pan, but follow your local codes to see what they require.

Tip 4: Use a high strength concrete to build the initial phase of the shower pan

Quikrete’s high strength concrete is a few bucks per bag, we used about 5 bags for this shower. Mixing the concrete is easy with Milwaukee’s mud mixer and bucket mortar mixer. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re mixing a lot of concrete.

Tip 5: Flatten the concrete for the next phase of the shower pan

Use a 2×4 to flatten the concrete in the shower pan area. It doesn’t have to be perfectly level since the next phase of the shower base will be done using a 4-to-1 sand mix. More on that in a another tutorial.

Watch our video to see the 5 tips in action

 

Building the Shower Pan: Phase 2

The next step in this curbless shower was to install NuHeat and self-level the floor. Basement bathrooms like this one get cold, and having a heated floor is optional but certainly an awesome upgrade.

Phase 2 of this shower pan involves several important tips. What most people do is assume a few things and this leads to bad mistakes.

Imagine going through all this hard work and finding a leak! 

First, apply modified thin-set to the concrete base. Mapei’s Kerabond with Keralastic additive is a great option. Modified thin-set helps the concrete base bond to the next component, mud bed mix.

Use a quality 4 to 1 mud bed mix and follow the directions. Mapei’s mud bed mix is easy to use and solid choice. Again, the bucket mortar mixer is a godsend and helps get the mix to the correct consistency.

Remove the drain, add a temporary pipe, and pack the mud bed along the back wall. Then set the linear drain and begin packing the entire shower pan.

Shower pans require at least 1/4″ slope per linear foot for proper drainage and to prevent puddling. This shower pan was only 30″ wide, not terribly big. We had about 3/4″ of drop from the shower pan entrance to the linear drain, plenty of slope.

Watch our video for more tips and to make shower pan construction way easier

What’s Next

Curbless basement showers are awesome, they just take extra prep and attention to detail.

If you want to make shower pan construction and bathroom remodeling easier our course over on Bathroom Repair Tutor is great.

Grab our free guide if you’re doing a DIY bathroom renovation – it shares how to remodel a bathroom in 10 days or less

Send Me The Guide

 

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.

Ask your questions below and we’d be happy to help.

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

P.S. Our online store has great supplies for homeowners doing a bathroom remodel. You’ll find shower systems, tiling tools, and more.

9 Comments
  1. Clem Griffiths says:

    3 quick questions : what is the name of that backer board, does curbless mean what I think …. there is no door and how far up the wall does it go. Thanks Jeff

  2. Great questions Clem. We used cement board, i.e. Wonder Board in this shower. Curbless means what you think, there is no curb to this shower, you simply walk into it. You could install a door or frameless glass panel, which would be 6′ or more. Hope that helps.

  3. Clem says:

    Fantastic cant wait to see the details. I am ripping out a 5 month job that has gone bad and want to redo it myself this may be the thing for me.

  4. Clem says:

    Jeff in my case where I am fixing a shower install gone bad the tiles are in place on the rest of the bath room. I am only working with the shower stall. As you walk into the shower how much of a slope is present to stop the water from flowing out onto the other areas such as around the toilet ,etc? In your shot the floor looks like it transitions level from the heated zone to the shower stall. Would it be better to add the dry back to the perimeter of the shower ( 4 sides) first, build up the height to a predetermined level (say 1 inch) then slope down to the pan?

  5. Clem says:

    My apologizes you said as much in the video, is there a way to get a shot of the straight edge that would show how the shower floor falls away from the corners as it transitions from a corner that is high to the shower pan that is lower?

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