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Thread: What's your favorite shower pan material?

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member jch's Avatar
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    Question What's your favorite shower pan material?

    As mentioned in another post, I'm replacing a clawfoot tub with a shower, 36"W x 50"L with 12" neo-angle on one end.

    Our designer keeps pushing us towards getting a custom shower base made (either acrylic or some solid material that I can't recollect).

    I was under the impression that a tiled pan (mud or schluter foam) would give a longer-lasting finish. (I'm hoping for 20+ years)

    Based on old shower installations that you've seen (and how they wear), what would be your first and second choice for shower pan material??

    All opinions welcome.

    Thanks!
    .../john
    ----------
    - John

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Tiled. And, I'd use a surface membrane like Kerdi on it. This way, there is so much less that can get wet. For a neoangle shower, you probably wouldn't want to use their foam pan, make it out of mud. While you can cut the foam pan to shape, you need to cut it evenly so the outside edge stays at the same thickness or your bottom row of tile won't be aligned. Functionally, it doesn't matter, but you may not like the look. But, at 1/4" per foot, it often isn't much. A mud pan will compensate for an uneven floor - with any preformed pan, you must make sure the floor is leveled before you install it or nothing will line up or drain properly. Have you checked out www.johnbridge.com?
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member jch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Tiled. And, I'd use a surface membrane like Kerdi on it. This way, there is so much less that can get wet.
    Definitely, that was the plan if I went the tile route. I've been reading up on the Schluter system, and have the John Bridge Tile Your World book and Kerdi e-book.

    For a neoangle shower, you probably wouldn't want to use their foam pan, make it out of mud. While you can cut the foam pan to shape, you need to cut it evenly so the outside edge stays at the same thickness or your bottom row of tile won't be aligned. Functionally, it doesn't matter, but you may not like the look. But, at 1/4" per foot, it often isn't much. A mud pan will compensate for an uneven floor - with any preformed pan, you must make sure the floor is leveled before you install it or nothing will line up or drain properly.
    Good point. My hesitation is that this designer is super-insistent that a pre-made custom pan (fake marble? or acrylic) would be way easier and that "all her tile guys use them and have never had a problem" (sound familiar?)

    Personally, I prefer the feel of a solid shower pan on my feet but just envision it looking beat up after only a few years.

    To me (never having done it myself) tile *seems* like a better choice, performance-wise, but I wanted to check with people who had actually been called in to replace old showers and had seen first-hand how pre-made pans had held up.

    Have you checked out www.johnbridge.com?
    Yah, love that site.
    ----------
    - John

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The acrylic pans will end up dull eventually. It may take a long time, depends on use. All it takes is one trip back from the beach where you end up with a lot of sand and you could start to scratch the surface.

    The biggest issue to me and probably the designer who isn't up on the newer methods with a tiled shower pan is that the tile is not waterproof. Some moisture will get beneath the tile. If that pan is constructed with conventional deck mud, that gets damp. Assuming it is built right, that moisture will migrate to the weep holes and drain, eventually drying out if not used regularly. On a shower that is used frequently, it may stay damp. This can lead to mold growth unless you religiously clean soap scum and crud up in the shower. With a surface membrane like Kerdi, the whole structure is waterproof - walls, floor, curb. And, when properly installed, no moisture ever gets underneath into the mudbed or walls. This is why you can use regular drywall (the preferred method with Kerdi) on the walls and curb - the membrane completely seals any moisture out from them. Because the thinset is by design thin, there's no place for moisture to accumulate and the whole shower dries out faster.

    I've used both the Schluter foam tray and a mudbed. The mudbed 'feels' different than the foam pan. I think I'd prefer the foam pan if the floor was a concrete slab, but over wood, it's a tossup. Once tiled, the foam is very stable and provides some insulation from the floor (that's why I think I prefer it over a slab - it ends up not being as cold and warms up almost instantly when you turn the hot water on). The foam curb looks like it would be wimpy, but once it is thinsetted into place, you'd need a sledge to get it out of there. Their curb is fairly wide, and a stack of 2x4's with drywall over them gives more flexibility on height and shape, but either works fine.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member jch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    The acrylic pans will end up dull eventually. It may take a long time, depends on use. All it takes is one trip back from the beach where you end up with a lot of sand and you could start to scratch the surface.
    That's what I was thinking. Didn't know whether the "fake-stone" ones were any better...?

    The biggest issue to me and probably the designer who isn't up on the newer methods with a tiled shower pan is that the tile is not waterproof.
    <snip!>
    This can lead to mold growth...
    <snip!>
    That was exactly her argument. Told her I'd use Schulter/Kerdi if using tile and she said she'd never heard of it.

    I've used both the Schluter foam tray and a mudbed.
    <snip!>
    Once tiled, the foam is very stable and provides some insulation from the floor.
    Wow, the "cold feet when getting into the shower syndrome" had never occurred to me.

    Any experience with the durability of the non-acrylic / non-fibreglas pre-formed shower pans??
    ----------
    - John

  6. #6
    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    post(s) deleted by John Whipple
    Last edited by johnfrwhipple; 03-17-2014 at 05:29 AM.


    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

  7. #7
    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    post(s) deleted by John Whipple
    Last edited by johnfrwhipple; 03-17-2014 at 05:30 AM. Reason: Schulter to Schluter sp


    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member jch's Avatar
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    Cool.

    Does the "lid" come off so you can clean hair balls out of it??
    ----------
    - John

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    DIY Senior Member asktom's Avatar
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    I think the best shower pan is a cast iron bathtub.

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member jch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asktom View Post
    I think the best shower pan is a cast iron bathtub.
    I agree, space permitting. Cast iron feels great on the feet and is easy to clean. When I re-do the shower in the other bathroom, I'll replace the existing built-in cast iron bathtub with a new one (Kohler Villager).

    But the bathroom I'm (still) working on doesn't have enough room for a full built-in tub. Hence the custom neo-angle shower. Finally finished re-plumbing *all* the drains in the house, installing a drainwater heat recovery unit, and about to start replacing all the supply piping.

    Once that's all done, *then* I can start building this shower....
    ----------
    - John

  11. #11
    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    post(s) deleted by John Whipple
    Last edited by johnfrwhipple; 03-17-2014 at 05:30 AM.


    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member jch's Avatar
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    I just posted a thread on my new Drainwater Heat Recovery Unit here:
    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/show...y-installation

    I have no affiliation with these guys. Just saw DWHR units mentioned in my Home Energy Audit (which outlines how much grant money is available for various house upgrades) and started doing my research.
    ----------
    - John

  13. #13
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    My "favorite" shower pan material is whatever the tile installers want to use. I do NOT install them, so I don't have to worry about them getting punctured, or otherwise damaged during the construction. Unless, I am installing a preformed shower base, that is.

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