How to Build a Shower Pan on Concrete Floor

How to Build a Shower Pan

A shower pan makes an essential part of a bathroom, as it creates a waterproof barrier beneath the shower tile floor. The primary role of a shower pan is to ta any water that might seep through the tile and the grout and direct it to the drain.

It is called a shower pan because it is shaped like a pan.

Indeed, a shower pan is an essential structure in any shower. It, therefore, follows that its installation must be meticulously done so that it can serve its purpose to the best. Knowing how to build a shower pan on a concrete floor is the very first step for DIYers.

With a high-quality shower pan, you can get your dream bathroom. These structures are built with the latest technology to allow easy entry and exit to your bathroom, durable construction, and a water containment base among other features.

Remember that the shower bases are made from a variety of materials, including acrylic, fiberglass, custom tile, and composite. Also, they are of different shapes, sizes, and angles.

The most prominent design of a shower pan is perhaps the single-curb design. The curb is the front edge of a pan that rises about 2 to 6 inches above the ground. This vital because it prevents water from leaking out of your shower.

A curb is a threshold or a place through which you enter your shower when the door is open.

Shower pan curb

The other design is a barrier-free design. This design does not have a curb, though some have a very low edge. However, this design might feature a splash wall to direct the water into the drainage. They are advantageous in homes where some individuals use wheelchairs.

How to Build a Shower Pan On Concrete Slab

Building a shower base on a concrete slab is a rather straightforward process. If you follow the following procedure, you’ll realize how easy it is.

A concrete slab is stronger and stable, giving an excellent surface to work on. It provides you adequate subflooring. To be able to know how to build a concrete shower pan, you need to have a mortar, concrete backer board, and tiles.

Step 1:

Use pressure-treated wood to frame the wall of the bathroom. It should rest directly on the concrete slab. To fasten them you can nail them one by one, or you can anchor them using a 2 1/2-inch. This step is followed by creating a shower curb. To create a curb, you can stack Douglas fir (2×4’s) on the wood and nail them singly. The height of your curb should be anything between 2 and 6 inches high.

For those who want to know how to build a curbless shower pan, it is not necessary to stack the Douglas fir. Only frame the wall and proceed to the next step.

Step 2:

Create a shower pan “box”. To do so, you will need to create a backing at the base of the shower stall. You can use timber of 2 x 6 around the perimeter of the shower pan. Sometimes, a 2 x 10 timber can be very effective considering it is a little bit higher. This part is important as it allows the membrane to rise up the wall.

This step is also essential in learning how to build a concrete shower pan.

shower pan box

Step 3:

Create a pre-slope and drain assembly. This is a necessary step in the construction of a pan. A pre-slope is a necessary part that allows all the water collected on the shower membrane to drain away through the shower drain assembly. Use the concrete mix to create a 1/4″ per foot slope. The concrete should be sloping from the wall towards the drain

To create an effective drain assembly do it through the sub-floor. The drain installed on the floor should be at least 2 inches.

Pre sloped shower pan

Step 4:

Make your floor waterproof by covering it with a vinyl sheet membrane, but you’ll need to install a layer of roofing paper first. This part provides cushioning. Alternatively, you can use a hot mop with tar.

Step 5:

Reinforce your curb using diamond mesh. The diamond mesh is vital in holding the mortar. Diamond mesh is chosen because it is mold-able, and it will allow you to staple only the outer face of your curb. The inner face will be held in place by the mortar on the floor.

If you know how to build a walk-in shower pan, you’ll realize this step isn’t necessary.

Shower pan curb

Step 6:

It is time to test if your floor can stand up against the water. You’ll have to fill the pan with water and allow it to stay for 24 hours. Mark the first level of water and note if there is a noticeable change in the level of water.

Step 7:

Install tile backer board on the shower walls. Before installing the tile backer board you will have to protect the membrane temporarily. Besides, you need to staple the vinyl sheets to the wall studs first. This way you have a guarantee of log integrity.

tile backer board

Step 8:

This is the final step. You will only need to place the top mortar layer over the shower liner. At least a 1 1/4″ thick mortar bed is desirable at the drain assembly.

You can finish with tiles.


Building a shower pan is rather straightforward. Whether you are building a walk-in curbless shower base or a shower base with a curb, the preliminary steps are the same.

Besides, you can customize your creation by learning how to build a custom shower pan on a concrete floor. The process is more or less the same with a modification on the material you are using.

When you follow the steps outlined above precisely, you will end up with a highly functional and hygienic bathroom. Remember, tile finishing on your bathroom makes it look beautiful. Besides, it is one of the primary ways to customize your bathroom.

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