A totally doable project for the home owner!
“Doable,” but perhaps not “fast.” Watch the video below for an overview, and read on for more detailed direction.
So what we’re looking at here is just a set drain pipe and a basic opening for where the shower will go. The dotted yellow line is where we need to cut out with an angle grinder for a perfect rectangle. Yours will likely differ, so plan your shower around the available door dimensions that you are planning on using.
Frame in the shower base with the 2×4’s flat against the floor.
Add a second 2×4 frame on top of the first, and ABS glue the drain base to the drain pipe.
Pour in sandmix cement, enough to fill about 1/4″ less than the top of the first 2×4 (1 & 1/4″). Pack it very tightly, and don’t skimp on thoroughness here. The sandmix needs to fill all small voids in the base. After sloping the sand mix down towards the drain, it should be relatively level with the first 2×4.
Using a basic flat trowel, angle the base at least 1/8″ per linear foot; from each corner to the drain.
Let it dry and cure fully before moving on.
Open and lay out your shower pan liner to make sure that the size you have will work for your shower. It will need to fully cover the shower pan and pan sides going down to the floor, and go up the wall at least 2 feet (check your local building codes).
After weighing down the corner areas with some of your tile, attach the pan liner to the studs in the wall using a basic nail-and-hammer method. Only nail at the top of the pan liner and not below. The fewer holes in the liner the better. Ensure that the liner is taut, with tight and neatly folded corners, and does not have any loose areas.
Once the liner is installed, trim off any excess with a razor knife. Also with your razor, cut a hole that is 1/4″ less in diameter than the drain spout and screw it in to your desired drain height. Use a level or straight edge of some sort going across the top 2×4’s and see that the top surface of the drain spout is lower than the 2×4’s. You will need to calculate how much lower depending on your shower size (using 1/8″ per linear foot to calculate). Spread out a handful of pea gravel around the rim of your drain so the next layer of sand mix won’t clog the weeper holes around the bottom.
Pour in sand mix and angle toward the drain. The temporary walls we put up are only to keep our blind dog from walking on the project during the drying time, and isn’t necessary to add.
While the pan is drying, we insulated the walls for sound. There is a bedroom on the other side of this wall, so we want as little noise as possible going through this wall. Used here is a 2″ “insulation panel,” which is just styrofoam with a branding sheet melted onto it.
Add backer board up the walls and a small strip around the floor pan.
This horizontal 2×4 stud will be essential for our chosen shower head. If you need any additional supports for anything like that, do it before putting the backer board on.
Lay the first outer line of tile, squaring it up with both walls. Once you have a proper starting line, you can lay the rest of the tile without having to worry about being square, although it is suggested to check every few rows.
Finish up the floor pan tiles and the surrounding curb tiles.
Spread your thin set up the wall and attach the vertical tiles.
Go back and make all your cuts at once, instead of walking back and forth to your cutting area (likely outside) for each row end.
Once all of the cut tiles are installed, follow the directions on your specific material and finish the tile with grout.
Because each shower head can differ so greatly, I will just reference my shower head install with the next few pictures. (I also do not want to give too much advice on plumbing because of the potential damage a bad plumbing job can create)
I needed to add that horizontal stud from before so that I could attach this bracket after the tile was installed. It’s a great idea to know what hardware you’ll be using before you start building the shower!
Lookin’ great so far!
If you are installing a soap dish(es), now is the time to do that. I had to drill through the tiles, insert the plastic sleeves (covered in silicon), and then attach with screws.
These soap dishes match our faucet head and will look great when the project is finished!
Now both are in place. We love the look so far!
The very last step is to install the shower door that you have chosen. We chose to use a prefabricated frameless glass door. Let me just mention here how difficult it was to install; the door took me about three days to install by myself, and it was a complete and total headache. Many places in the instructions said something to the effect of “do not attempt this install on your own, hire a professional,” or something like that. You may want to do that if you choose a frameless glass door and don’t have a lot of confidence in your ability to install it.
And there it is! Now we just need to clean up, and *finally* I can take a shower in our new bathroom instead of using the bath tub! This project took me a few weeks to do, but that is mostly because I work 40+ hours per week and needed to find the time to get to everything. I tried to keep it very basic rather than writing a novel. If you have any questions about how I did something or want more detail, I am happy to advise through the comments section below! Let us know what you think…