Insane in the Membrane
The shower “membrane”, that is. After your shower pre-slope is fully dried— you waited 48 hours, right?— you can place the shower liner in and do your final pour of shower mix (sand and cement mixture). Then it’s smooth sailing. Honestly, don’t skip the pre-slope! Without it, your water will sit and mold will grow below your shower’s surface. Ewww, nobody’s got time for that.
Here’s what our pre-slope looks like after it’s had time to dry.
Now, you’ll need to buy a PVC rubber/vinyl liner for your shower pan. You may have to find a specialty shop that will custom cut your shower pan liner if you have a uniquely sized shower. Here’s what ours looks like all rolled up in the backseat. Shh, it’s sleeping.
I happened to find this at a little tile shop in Plymouth called Kate-Lo outlet. They said they normally don’t sell directly to the public, but when they priced our sheet at $38, I was all over it! While we love Tile Shop, we were quoted around $80, and more than $200 at another place, so this was a bargain.
Hardware stores and online retails will have some stock sizes on hand like 5×6. But if you have something different, I believe it comes in a 5′ roll and you can request any length. Ours, for example, was 5’x7′. More is better.
Shower Pan Lining Install
Here’s how Joe put the shower pan lining in. We’ve linked to a good video at the end of this post. It’s a little dry and technical, but it’s a thorough tutorial if this is your first time like it was ours. It covers everything from start to finish, from the drain to just before the tile.
We’ve become quite familiar with Oatey products over the course of this shower making process. You’ll probably want some X15 shower pan liner adhesive in case you have rogue seams to seal on your PVC liner. It can be found at any hardware store. If you’re using a different kind of liner, there’s another special resin you’ll need.
You should leave some extra liner on the sides, fastening it up the walls (about 6 inches excess). Use caulk to seal the liner. Use a nail gun or staple gun, only if it’s a few inches up! The point is to keep this thing as watertight as humanly possible. We’ll be covering the excess with shower walls, don’t worry.
Next, apply a bead of silicone caulk to seal the shower liner to the base of the drain. Then you can cut a hole in your drain and secure the top portion in place.
After you’ve finished the lining, and pulled your drain through it, you’ll want to level it with pea gravel before pouring the second and final shower pan layer.
The pea gravel is important because it keeps the weep holes open so they don’t get cemented shut. That way the water can drain. We even put the little chrome plate over the top. Not necessary, but you will want to cover the drain again with something as you finish.
Here’s a great little diagram and a good article if you want to read up. As long as you follow the floor layers in the right order, you’re good.
Flood Test the Shower Pan and Drain
Ta dah! The hard part is done. We’ll show you how to put up the walls later this week, but for now, all you need done is the shower pan lining. Now for the fun part: Get a test plug and pour some water. Test at least 4 hours for any leaks.
You can buy a drain plug, or we’ve read that you can use a water balloon to plug the hole. Who knew?
Once you’ve made sure there are no leaks, you can proceed.
Just like in Finding Nemo, all drains lead to the ocean. Or something like that…
You’ll likely want to do your walls before the final pour, but it’s not 100% necessary. The walls need to be at least 1″ above the rubber lining to leave room for the pour. We’d recommend at least doing the bottom of your backerboard before pouring. If not, no big deal, but you may have more cutting to do.
Final Shower Pan Slope Pour
Joe thought it was very important to show you how he mixes the sand+concrete floor mix. Same stuff for the pre-slope. It takes a lot of time and muscle. Here’s a little video that shows you his method. (You should be able to form it in your hands like dough.) You’ll want 1.5″ minimum height for the final slope and do it the same way as the pre-slope, angling everything toward the drain once again to reinforce it.
And then just sit back and let her dry. I know that was a lot. We seriously applaud you if you’ve done this for yourself.