Shower Pans

New Shower Pan
source: Flickr: Angela Schmeidel Randall

One of the most important aspects of any shower is the pan. This is the entire floor of the shower and it collects the water and funnels it down the drain. The underlying surface of the pan is made of two layers of sloped cement, with a PVC liner between them which collects any water that seeps through the surface. If not installed correctly, your bathroom could flood. In addition, part of the pan is the surface on which your bare feet step. If the surface of the pan is too smooth you can slip, but if it’s too rough it won’t be comfortable to stand on.

Why Tile?

One of the most popular materials for shower floors is tile. The surface of tile is smooth, yet the small gap between each tile provides traction. Aside for periodic grout cleaning and the possible need to replace the grout, the tile itself can last an extremely long time and is easily cleaned. Further, tile comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns that can match your bathroom’s existing look, create a unique style or add an attractive flair, making it ideal for almost any shower.

What Kind of Tile Should I Use?

Most tiled shower floors are made of either ceramic or porcelain tiles. Ceramic, which is clay mixed with minerals and water, solidifies when heated. Because it’s porous, however, ceramic tiles should be glazed when installed in a shower. Not only will glazed ceramic tiles last for years to come, they’ll also resist bacteria and odors. Alternatively, porcelain tiles are made of finely-ground sand which hardens by applying pressure and heat. The process creates a dense, glass-like material which absorbs almost no water, similar to glazed ceramic.

Tile floors generally cost between $2 and $20 dollars per square foot, while an entire shower pan will typically cost between $300 and $500. The prices depend on the style, size and quality of the material used.

Can I Do It Myself?

Laying down a shower pan is a complex project. It must be completely waterproof or else the shower will flood and your bathroom will look like Jersey City, New Jersey after hurricane Irene. In addition to waterproofing, the pan also requires sloping for drainage, though the slope has to be slight and gradual in order to remain comfortable to stand on. If the pan is not installed correctly the shower can become corroded or leak, in which case a professional plumber will have to be called in.

Additionally, when laying the tile over the pan, a circle must be cut into the laid-out tile to allow the water to enter the drain. This requires a tile saw and experience. For these reasons it’s recommended to hire a professional tile installer instead of attempting to install a shower pan on your own.

Whatever style of tile you select for your shower pan be sure to contact an experienced professional for best results.

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