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Home / Home / Home Improvement

Tiling a Shower Stall starts with a Shower Pan

By:Mark J. Donovan

Building a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower

The most important feature in a ceramic tile shower stall is the shower pan. The shower pan channels water to the drain and prevents the shower from leaking. Consequently it is critical that the shower pan be installed correctly and that it is waterproof and durable.

The shower pan is actually a mortar bed consisting of a flexible shower pan liner sandwiched between two layers of mortar. The shower stall walls are framed with 2x4 studding and faced with some type of backerboard underlayment designed for receiving ceramic tile.

The installation of a shower pan starts with the spreading of a layer of mortar. The mortar needs to be sloped properly to enable water to run off towards the drain. The flexible plastic shower pan membrane liner is then installed on top of the sloped mortar bed.

The shower pan membrane liner should be cut to size and hand molded into the shower base.

Note: The shower pan should be cut to size such that several extra inches of shower pan material can be run up the shower stall side walls to enable the shower pan to be secured with nails to the studs. Also, the shower pan should be installed prior to the installation of backerboard on the shower walls.

After the shower pan membrane is secured, the second layer of mortar should be installed in the base of the shower, again maintaining the slope of the mortar towards the drain.

Once the shower pan mortar bed has set up, you can install the backerboard to the walls and begin to install the ceramic tiles.

Start the installation of tiles in the center of the shower pan area and work your way outwards.

Next, install ceramic tiles on the walls. Use a plumb line to run straight lines down the length of the walls. Position the plumb line at the ceiling and centered on a wall. Snap the line, so that you have a vertical line running the length of the wall.

Next, Install your tiles outwards from the line toward the edges of the wall. Repeat this process for all the walls.

For tile cutting, a wet saw works best, as you can obtain very accurate cuts and minimize ceramic tile waste.

After the ceramic tile has had 24-48 hours to set up, grout can then be applied to the tile.

Finally a sealer should be used on the grout to minimize moisture seeping through the grout lines.

For more information on installing a shower pan membrane liner, see the Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation EBook from The Shower Pan Membrane Liner EBook will quickly teach you the step-by-step process for installing the shower pan membrane liner correctly. It includes instructions on framing the shower stall, pouring the pre-slope and shower base mortar, and installing the shower pan membrane liner.

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Article keywords: Tiling Shower Stall, Shower Pan, Custom Ceramic Tile Shower

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Over the past 20+ years Mark Donovan has been involved with building homes and additions to homes. His projects have included: building a vacation home, building additions and garages on to existing homes, and finishing unfinished homes. For more home improvement information visit and

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