What Do You Put Under a Shower Base?

by Charlie
What Do You Put Under a Shower Base

If you’re installing a shower in your home, you need to know how to make sure the base of it is secure, level, and firm, as this will minimize the chances of you accidentally slipping in the shower. If your shower base is unstable, there’s a higher risk of somebody falling while using the shower, so careful installation is critical for safety.

You also need to make sure your shower base is strong enough to easily support the weight of the shower users, and it should provide a barrier that will protect your floor from any moisture damage. Using the right materials is therefore critical to installing your shower properly and ensuring it works well.

What do you put under a shower base? Most people use a mortar base for their showers, because this is easy to level and strong enough to hold the weight of a person. It will also make it possible for you to install a drainage pipe, so that the water from the shower can wash away, and it’s reasonably inexpensive and easy to work with.

How Do You Create a Shower Base?

You can make a mortar base by getting a 5-gallon bucket and mixing the mortar with water. Follow the guidelines on your mortar’s packaging to get the right ratio. Next, use a trowel or another mixer to combine the mortar and the water, and stir thoroughly so there are no pockets of dry mortar.

Once you’ve done this, put a drain dam inside your drain pipe. This will protect the inside of the pipe and prevent any mortar from getting into it (this would prevent the shower from draining properly).

When the dam is in place, you can apply a waterproof liner to the subfloor. This will keep the subfloor dry and prevent molding. Don’t skip the liner, as this protects the subfloor, and otherwise, ambient moisture may creep into the flooring.

Start applying the mortar, spreading it evenly around the whole area of the shower, on top of the liner.

Remember that you want a nice, flat surface so that the shower tray is completely supported. Gaps will cause extra stress on the shower, and the tray may crack if it is particularly badly supported. You should smooth the mortar’s surface down using a flat trowel, and then gently but firmly press the shower tray into it.

Lift the shower tray back out once you are happy with the positioning, and leave the mortar to dry.

The mortar needs to be completely dry before you install the shower base. The curing process usually takes between 24 and 48 hours. Once it has cured, the base can be installed on the top.

What Sort of Shower Pan Should You Use?

The shower pan or tray is the part of the shower that you stand on, and there are a few different kinds of material that can be used. You can choose an aluminum pan, an acrylic pan, or a fiberglass pan. Some pans are designed to be tiled over (so you can match the existing tile in your shower room), while others are ready to use.

Regardless of the type you choose, the shower pan can be installed directly on top of your mortar. You should put it in place and double-check that it is completely level, using a leveler on either side of the pan.

If it isn’t level, you can add some shims to level it, and then tack the shims down to create a solid surface. If there is a big gap, you may need to add more mortar and let it dry.

Remember, a level base will drain better, and it should also last better, because it will be fully supported. It also reduces the risk of falls, because you’ll have a totally flat surface to stand on.

Once you are satisfied that the pan is level, fit the drainage pipe securely and attach the tray according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that there are no gaps or loose pipework, and make sure water drains away through the pipe as it should. Once this is done, you can attach the pan’s side panels to create a finished appearance.

Finally, seal around the shower tray, and you’re done.

What Kind of Mortar Should You Use?

There are a few different kinds of mortar, and they have different strengths and different bonding capacities. Most people mix Portland cement and sand with water to create their shower base, because it creates a moisture-resistant barrier, and this will reduce the risk of water getting through to your subfloor.

You can use other kinds of mortar if you prefer, and they should work, but this is the most popular mix because of its water-resistant abilities.

Can You Use Spray Foam Under Your Shower?

Some people do use spray foam under their shower trays, and this is an option, but it needs to be done with care. You should use minimally expanding spray foam, or there’s a high risk that it will damage your shower tray by putting too much pressure on it. You will still need to level the shower with care.

Foam can help to reduce flexing caused by gaps beneath the shower tray, because it is good at filling in spaces. Although you should ideally avoid gaps under the tray, it can be difficult to completely eliminate them. In most cases, they won’t be a major issue, but they can make your shower feel less stable and safe.

Spray foam is often seen as a quick-fix solution, but mortar is generally preferable. You must make sure the foam won’t expand much, because it will break the tray otherwise.

Final Thoughts

Shower trays are almost always installed on a mortar base, because this provides a solid, flat, and water-resistant surface that can easily hold the weight of a person. Mortar is generally easy to install yourself, and it only takes about a day to dry, so installing a new shower base should be a fairly quick process.

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