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Thread: Custom Fiberglass Shower Pan?

  1. #1

    Question Custom Fiberglass Shower Pan?

    We are re-doing our bathroom and have received four estimates so far. Each time, we asked the contractor about doing a custom walk-in ceramic tile shower and were told that creating a custom pan is very expensive ($3,000 or more). One contractor said it involves a "lead liner." They all encouraged us to go with a pre-fabricated fiberglass pan, but this limited the size of the shower we could have.

    We had a contractor come today and he told us that they build a wooden base and then pour the fiberglass in the shower, which they then tile over with ceramic tile (using concrete mortar) and can do it any size or shape we want. I've read that fiberglass isn't the best base for ceramic tile, even if you roughen it first.

    I can't find out much information about this method. He said it only costs a few hundred dollars more (not including tile, which is extra) to do the base this way. Will this work? Has anyone heard of this or had experience with this? I found one website that mentioned doing it this way but can't find much additional information.

    Thanks for your time on this!
    Last edited by CatM; 09-12-2004 at 03:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Plumber, Contractor, Attorney LonnythePlumber's Avatar
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    You should review John Bridges web-site on tile setting. I haven't found fiberglass or man made bases to cost much less than ceramic and they sure don't provide the life of a properly laid ceramic base. In my area only economy contractors would offer other than ceramic tile showers. I encourage you to get a bid from a tile contractor and read John Bridges.
    Last edited by terry; 09-12-2004 at 04:59 PM. Reason: added a link

  3. #3
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Some of us consider lead pans to be "old school" (where IS Sylvan), and inferior to the more modern PVC liner method. Whichever you use, it must be done right. See the John Bridge sight as mentioned. It is excellent. Also, get a copy of the Ceramic Tile Handbook from the American Tile Council.

  4. #4

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    Thanks. Does this mean you're not familiar with the method this contractor described? I looked at the site you mention but it really talks more about tiling and I guess what I'm really after is whether this method of making a fiberglass pan (that you then tile) is something anyone has heard of or would consider sound.

    Is the PVC liner method much more expensive than doing a pre-fabricated pan?

    Appreciate all the help,

    Cat

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    There are prefabricated pans that are not fiberglass. Tile and fiberglass are not great together, in my opinion (I'm not a pro, though). One system you could look at is on the www.schluter.com they have several kits designed for tiling. If you want a size other than the pre-fabricated ones, then you have other ways to make the floor. The Kerdi system from Schluter looks pretty neat, and if the installer is familiar with it, pretty fast to install, too.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    True that I am not familiar with the proposed method you describe. Some questions to ask, though, for your contractor: What is the actual material (fibreglas is NOT poured; it is a build-up of layers of glass fabric). Is the construction method structurally sound....the rap against pre-made fibreglas pans is if not properly supported under when installed, they flex and crack.
    Is this a foundation which will not move or flex in any way..which is bad for tile.

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