Compression-type shower drains attach to the home drain pipes with compression washers and nuts. They are easier to install, generally than glue-on shower drain connections.
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When installing a compression shower drain, the drain fitting is first installed into the shower base. Like the compression-type shower drains, this type can be used with steel, fiberglass, and plastic shower bases.
With glue-on fittings, it can be harder to get the pipe measurement right, so make sure to measure carefully and double-check the dry-fit pieces before gluing. If you are installing a drain for a custom-made tile shower base, the drain fittings are positioned during early steps in constructing the ceramic tile pan.
How to Build a Shower Pan
Installing a Shower Drain. Continue to 2 of 4 below. Compression Shower Drain. You may have to put the shower base into place to mark the right height, then remove the pan to cut the pipe. Put the cardboard friction ring and large rubber washer onto the tailpiece from under the shower base.
Tighten the shower drain until it is nice and tight, then remove any excess putty or silicone. Put the shower base into place and push the rubber gasket into the drain pipe. Tighten the nut with this tool. If you use silicone, you will have to let the silicone dry before testing the drain for leaks. Continue to 3 of 4 below. Glue-On Shower Drain. Shower liners beneath the mortar are what protect the subfloor from deteriorating in the same way.
Most modern shower floors incorporate a flexible liner as a waterproof membrane beneath the tile and mortar.
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The membranes are used in lieu of the outdated lead shower pans that were used years ago and would ultimately fail over time. The flexible liners, available at plumbing wholesale stores and ceramic tile shops, are made of a rubber-like material that is impervious to water and resistant to the many chemicals found in a home.
The flexible liners conform to the various contours of the wood framing, bending upward at the walls and folding into corners. Installing a flexible shower pan liner is not beyond the ability of a smart do-it-yourselfer, but there are a few guidelines to help ease the procedure. This article will assume the subfloor of the shower is constructed of plywood, although the same principles apply to concrete flooring where the sloped mortar bed is applied beneath the pan liner.
The installation method is the same for CPE and PVC liners, with the exception of the bonding adhesive used for seaming. For a typical plywood subfloor, begin by cutting a hole in the center of the shower floor for the drain assembly. Then lay the drain base in the opening. Once you have made a good fit, use adhesive silicone caulk on both sides of the liner where it contacts the drain.
In some cases this may stop some of the water from easily flowing into the drain. One solution to this is to route a channel that allows the top of the drain flange to be flush with the subfloor. Then solvent-weld the drain base to the drain pipe using the appropriate solvent cement. To prevent the small weep holes in the drain from getting clogged with cement or debris, place washed pea gravel over the holes.
Many tile shower drains have threaded, adjustable finished drains that allow you to adjust them to a wide range of finished floor thicknesses.
How to Install a Shower Drain
The flexible liners attach to the drain like a rubber washer pinched between a nut and bolt. Once the adjustable finished drain is tightened, all the water in the shower will flow toward the drain. The pre-measured liner needs to lap up the sides of the shower walls at least 9 inches. It is nailed to the framing studs of the shower near the top of the lapped edge. If it is necessary to seam together two pieces of material, a special solvent can be used to glue them together to form a single waterproof liner. Spread the liner material from the drain body outward, toward the side framing and the curb so it lays flat on the floor.
Fold the corners and nail or staple the liner to the sidewall framing or wall studs. Work your way around the perimeter of the liner, fastening it into the framing.
Lap the edge of the liner completely over the shower curb and nail it to the outside edge of the curb. Tip: Are you also building the framing of the shower? If you can adjust the rough framing slightly, installing the liner can be a much easier job. The gap provides a good place to store the extra CPE membrane material that bunches up as you round the corner. Test the installation by plugging the drain pipe and filling the shower basin with water just below the top of the curb, and then let it sit for four hours.
Check for leaks and repair as necessary. Completely drain the water and dry the shower before moving on with construction. Whereas the walls can still be tiled, this single-piece composite material will last virtually forever without any problems of water penetration. Virtually all new tiled shower installations develop cracks in certain grout joints within the first five years.
However, using a composite pan eliminates the grout joints in the floor and, in turn, eliminates the leaks. These pans are custom made, poured into a form according to the exact measurements you provide to the supplier, so make sure the dimensions you specify are correct for your shower framing. The molded piece of composite also features a pre-sloped surface to send water straight to the drain. This single-piece flooring rests on a bed of sand that conforms to the shape of the bottom side of the flooring and provides an adjustable, cushioning barrier between the floor and the liner.
Make sure sand does not get into the drain and clog the weep holes. Spread the sand evenly over the liner surface.