Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shower Pan

We have a shower pan!!!!  It seems so silly to be so excited about poured concrete and hardy backer, but let me tell you that getting this shower pan installed was a beast.  First of all, shower pans are not something to be messed around with and definitely not a DIY job (unless you are an expert).  With visions of the potential damage done by a poorly installed pan, I went for the best installer I could find only to discover that he was booked six weeks out.  So, for the past six weeks, we have carefully avoided our shower area and focused on projects we could get done.  Finally, Monday was the day of shower pan install and it happened just in time.  With the rest of the bathroom pretty much done and functional, it is time for us to get going on this last but major element.  Plus, my Mom is visiting in October and I would love to be able to reveal the completed bathroom to her.

Prior to our installers arrival, we made sure that our shower was good to go.  With our insulation in place, floor drain and wall plumbing updated/installed and curb built, we were ready to go.


Day one of install started with a mortar pour in the shower pan to create a nice even base.  Then, a waterproof membrane was inserted within the shower.


This waterproof membrane is crucial.  It attaches to the studs within the shower and folds up over the curb of the shower.  At the end of day one, our installer filled a water balloon up, set it in our drain and filled the membrane up with about three inches of water to sit over night.  Luckily, there wasn't any signs of leakage.

Day two started with installation of the bottom three feet of hardiebacker.  Please note that this is 1/2" hardiebacker for wall tile, verses the standard 1/4" hardiebacker used for floor tile.


Once installed, a sheet of metal lathe is laid in the bottom of the pan and then the mortar is poured on top.


The grading of the mortar pan was the main reason for us not wanting to DIY this project.  Pans have to be graded to at least a certain angle per code, but this angle is slightly adjustable based on the floor tile that you plan to lay.  For instance, we are using river rock for our floor tile.  If we were using large river rocks, the angle of the pan would have to be greater so that water would not pool between the rocks.  In our case, the river rocks are relatively small so this was not a concern.  It made me feel good though when our installer asked to see our tile prior to the pour so that he could adjust accordingly.


The final step was to silicon caulk in the front of our curb.  In two days when the pan is dry, I will get in there and do two VERY thorough coats of RedGard on everything (especially focusing on the corners of the curb).  Come Sunday, we should be able to start tiling!

While the custom shower pan install wasn't cheap (it cost about $700 in labor and supplies), I think it is well worth the money.  If you think of the cost associated with fixing a leaking shower (ripping it out and repairing damage that in our case, would occur in both the bathroom and the poker room directly below), it seems well worth the expense. At least I can have some peace of mind.  On to tiling!

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