Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A Tile Shower Pan is the Great Mystery of Home Repair

A tile shower pan is one of the great mysteries of home repair or construction. Anything to do with tile showers is left to the pros. But actually many handy people install showers themselves once they see the mysteries revealed.

See the real trick to a tile shower is hidden below the floor. You can't actually see the tricky part from the top of the shower or from underneath for that matter. Not too long ago my tile shower started leaking. I finally saw the cracked grout down near the floor, but I thought there was a shower pan under the shower so why was it leaking?

Here's the scoop.

Tile floors are not waterproof. Water seeps right through tile showers, mostly through the grout. Grout is porous masonry so water slowly goes through grout. So the shower pan is actually a waterproof liner below the surface of the floor that catches the water.

But then where does the water go?

Ah, another trick. A tile shower has a special drain with two layers of drain holes. The bottom layer is actually below the floor, and that's the one the waterproof layer sends the water to. So the shower pan is built in three layers so all the water is captured and routed down the drain?

Three layers?

The bottom layer is a sloped layer of masonry built on the subfloor or concrete. It's sloped to help send the water toward the drain. The bottom layer is flush with the bottom drain holes. The second layer is the waterproof liner which is a tough vinyl sheet that's glued to the drain base to make a waterproof pool to catch all the water that seeps through the floor. The top layer is another masonry layer that's poured and sloped above the liner. This is the base for the shower floor.

That's the trick to a shower - the sloped layers and liner route the water to two layers of drain holes.

Now you have other choices when building a shower. Several materials can be used for bases, but the traditional construction is hard to beat for price and performance. Plus you can learn to do it yourself if you want to.

Get more tricks to building or repairing a tile shower pan at our site.

Al Bullington invites you to visit for answers to your tile questions.

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