Create a Shower Floor for Tile – Video Post

by Roger

Since I’m just a tile guy I”m not usually up on all the new technological crap that has nothing to do with tile, like online video or the ‘SlapChop’.  I’ve decided that since I spend most of my days in other people’s showers that I should get out more and learn something else.

So naturally, since I own kitchen knives, I decided to make a video about a tile subject. So here is my first video, sans sound because in audio I sound like a drunk leprechaun, for my readers. Umm – that’s you.

And since I actually have a day job and bills to pay all you get is a time-lapse photography of the creation of a mud deck for a tiled shower floor. But I’m gonna call it a tile video ’cause Google loves that shit. :whistle:

If you’re old-school like me you can actually read the steps involved in this process starting with ‘How to Create a Shower Floor – Part 1’ wherein I will dazzle you with bad humor, lousy metaphors, and horrible photography. Oh, and a load of information on how to properly fabricate a shower floor for tile. But I know you just read my blog for the bad humor.

If you think my photography skills suck – wait’ll you see this. I’m absolutely certain the damn thing has already started playing even though I told it not to. Computers don’t listen to me. You can use the controls beneath the movie to start, stop, or FF, REW, all the old-school VCR stuff. :D

Feel free to leave a comment below. You know, something like ‘Hey dumbass, you shoulda bought a SlapChop instead!’ If you want more videos just let me know. Maybe one day, with enough practice, I’ll be able to make one that doesn’t look like a three-year-old did it. Enjoy.

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Josh

I know 2×2 and 4×4 is whats used usually for shower floor tiles, will a 2×6 staggered layout work for a shower floor and slope correctly?

this one: http://images.lowes.com/product/converted/097518/097518290757.jpg

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Roger

Hi Josh,

It could, but you’d really need to take your time installing them to get them flat. You are trying to install flat tile in a shallow bowl, that’s the reason for 2×2’s. And no, 4×4’s are not normally used on a shower floor by professionals, specifically for that reason.

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Matthew

Put my shower floor in yesterday afternoon / night / early morning…. :)
I thought I had 1 extra bag of floor mud… turns out I was a half bag short :(

I put that last bag of mud down 11 hours ago. Can I put the remainder of the mud down (maybe a quarter inch) on top of the existing or do I need to thinset then mud….. ORRRR just then set….. OR have a six pack and forget about it.. (I’m leaning toward the last)

Thanks Roger!

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Roger

Hey Matthew,

I’d go with the six pack. :D

You need to put thinset down then you can put down more mud.

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Jake

Roger, I purchased your Tile tips, ebook and am appreciative of all the great tips, I am faced with a problem at the moment though, I hope you may bee able to shine some light on, I have constructed the shower pan per your instructions however somehow I managed to leave the drain sitting above the pan near a quarter of an inch too high. It seams to me there are two ways to correct this problem but would like to know what you think would be best. 1) either I add more mudd to the pan and grade a new slope on top of the existing one in affect building the pann up higher. Or 2) digg out the drain from the existing pan and screw it down a quarter of an inch and then fix the hole around the drain which I dug out. Which would you advise I do being in this situation? (really wish I wasn’t) Thanks again or your valued insight!

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Roger

Hey Jake,

If, under the drain, you have the room to screw it down more (if the mud wasn’t there) then remove the drain, scrape out some of the mud and put it back in. Do this in small stages at a time and you should be able to lower it without needing to replace mud. If you don’t have the room you can raise the level of the mud but you’ll need to put thinset between your current mud bed and the new to bond it.

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Jeff

Hi floor elf,
I purchased the using schluter waterproofing system for showers from your site. Right now I’m in the process of buying all the material before I start the project. I just wanted to know if I actually purchased the right kerdi drain. I purchased the kdar/abs/e and now that I’m looking at it, it doesn’t look like its what I need to glue up to the new 2″ abs pipe that I’m stubbing up from under my raised foundation. Can you please tell me exactly which model I need because its the one thing on your forum that I wasn’t clear on. Thanks

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janice

Hi FE,
I noticed that you put hardware cloth over the curb after putting on the rubber liner. Where did you nail/staple it? I know there is an issue with perforating the rubber liner over the curb. Also do you agree that floor tiles should go on after the wall tiles? Thanks Roger!

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Roger

Hi JC,

I put metal lath over the liner on the curb (if that’s what you are referring to as hardware cloth). Metal lath holds it’s shape when bent into a ‘U’ so it is not necessary to attach it with fasteners, although you can on the outside of the curb should you choose to. Just overbend it a bit into a U shape and it will spring back when you place it over the curb to hold it in place. Once your curb is mudded you’re ready for tile.

I agree that you can put the wall and floor tile on in any order you wish. As long as your shower is properly waterproofed it makes no difference. I prefer the wall tile over the edge of the floor tile so I do the floor first – I just think it looks better. However you think it looks best is the correct way.

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Don

Roger, 
I’m reading your blog posts and learning so much – thanks.  Can you please point me to the post, or tell me: if the shower floor pan is “bowl-shaped”, i.e. curved, how do you put flat tiles down?   I know I am going to be amazed and embarrassed by how simple your answer is, but I don’t see it yet.  Thanks.  

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Roger

Hi Don,

On shower floors we normally use mosaics consisting of tiles no larger than 3″x3″ square. They are normally 2×2’s. The smaller tiles can conform to the shape of the shower floor. If you want larger tiles you can have a flat shower floor if you use a linear drain at one end. This way you can create a flat slope all the way to the drain and use whatever size tiles you want. I recently finished one with 18″x18″ tile and a linear drain. If you use a regular drain in the center, though, just use smaller tile.

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david

Hey Roger,
I am using a Schluter kit with 48 x 72 sixe with the polystyrene pan.
Getting ready to lay it down on the sub floor. (wafer board). Couple of questions before I go too far. Do you think these trays are OK. This is going to be a handicap accessible shower every once in a while. ANd on a different not, I have made a couple niches and a window opening. Can one put the metal sheetrock corners around those openings with out causing any issues.
THanks,

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Roger

Hey David,

The pans work fine. I’ve actually seen a forklift driven over one of the tiled ramps schluter makes – they work. Do not use the metal corner beads, use the plastic ones.

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Dave

I noticed you didn’t block between the studs at the bottom. I’d be afraid (I get nervous easily) if someone kicked/bumped the bottom of the wall the Durock would flex & crack sealant or grout lines. What’s your experience?

B-t-w, thanks for sharing your design tips on listellos & niches. I’m trying it in my basement – I’ll send a photo.

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Roger

Hey Dave,

Sometimes I block them and sometimes I don’t. Thank you for pointing that out, though. I should stick that in there for people. It’s difficult sometimes to get everything down in print since I do it every day. I often forget little things like that since I really don’t think about it while I’m building it.

On the showers that I have not blocked I have never had any problems. Now, right along the lines of ‘I’ve done it this way for 20 years’ line of crap that people will throw at you that does not mean you should not block them – just that sometimes I don’t and I haven’t had problems with those. I’m a rebel like that. :D

I’ll keep an eye out for the photos – have fun!

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fast carz

FloorElf,
I really appreciate your time and willingness to share your professional opinion and expertise with us. I have a question. I am remodeling my bathroom. I have an fairly good knowledge of DIY experience with a good track record, although not by trade. I wish to build a shower using wall to glass and a flush tile floor with out a shower curb. Can you point me in the right way to accomplish this and also achieve proper drainage? :corn:

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Roger

Hey Fast – can I call ‘ya fast?

What you are looking for is a curbless shower. (That’s actually what it’s called) There are a couple of ways to achieve that. The best is to actually lower the floor beneath where the shower is so that you can create a properly draining mud deck with the highest point being flush with the bathroom floor. The second is to create a ‘speed bump’ of sorts where bump starts about two feet outside of the shower then back down into the shower with the top of the bump being the highest point of the shower floor.

What type of substrate are you going over? Wood or concrete? There really isn’t any good how-to’s online about how to do it and I haven’t gotten around to writing that one yet (it’s on the list :D ) Maybe I should get one that, eh? :D

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fast carz

Sure you can call me fast and thank you for the reply. It would be going over concrete, I have a slab foundation. This sounds pretty intense and i dont think i would be up for tearing up the concrete, thinking of all that would be involved makes me want to tear up. :cry: I hoped it wouldnt be that much maybe ill stick to a curbed shower. :-? thanks again for the quick reply.

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fast carz

Follow up question: as far as the shower curb, what dictates the height?

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Roger

Only the distance to the drain from the furthest corner of the shower. Your floor needs to slope toward the drain at 1/4″ per foot so if your drain is three feet from the farthest corner of your shower your curb needs to be a minimum of 2″ – that is 3/4″ for the 1/4″/foot plus a minimum of 1 1/4″ of thickness for your deck mud at the drain. Your floor would be 1 1/4″ thick at the drain up to 2″ at the walls. Your curb can be a minimum of 2″ high. As long as you have it that high it will be fine. I usually have it 2″ – 4″ above that height. How high you want it above the shower floor is entirely up to you.

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fast carz

Mrs Carz and i were speaking and are looking into the speed bump option on the curbless shower. but i was a bit confused as to the bump being the highest point of the shower floor and its proximity of 2 feet out of the shower. can you elaborate on this? would the bump be constructed of the same material as the deck mud? would the curb basically be a rounded off version of a curb and how tall would the curb need to be? thank you once again for your expertise. :rockon:

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Roger

Hey Fast,

I actually may not have been clear when I typed that (imagine that! :D ) The top of the bump would need to be higher than any other part of your shower floor. It is effectively a regular curb which is sloped down on each side. The two feet (approx.) is simply where the curb slopes down into the bathroom rather than dropping straight down from the top of the curb – like a regular curb. It is made from deck mud as well. The height is determined by the distance from the drain to the furthest corner. It simply needs to be at least that high. (The 1/4″/ft. plus the 1 1/2″ of deck mud)

Your ‘curb’ or bump would start approximately two feet outside of the shower to give it a gradual slope up to the height needed for the top. So it will slope gradually up from your bathroom and back down into the drain. It’s a speed bump for your shower. So yes, it is basically a rounded off version of a regular curb.

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George Sadler

I have a question. The grout around the drain in my shower was coming out. I have the small one in tiles. I started removing the grout and the tiles started coming up. Under the tiles was something that seemed to be just sand. I removed the tiles around the drain. Some of the sand has mold in it. From what I could tell the entire shower floor has about inch of sand under the tile. Is this just morter that has broken down or is it really just sand. Do I need to replace the entire floor?

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Roger

Hi George,

To be honest I don’t know, I can’t see it from here. :D Most likely it is simply a case of the deck mud being mixed either too dry or with the improper ratio of portland to sand. If it is that unstable it may be best to replace it. Is it literally like sand? If you stick the hose of a shop-vac into it would the mud bed be sucked up? If so it would probably be best to replace it but if it’s solid enough you may be fine with just mixing up a bit more deck mud to fill that area and retile it.

While you have the area around the drain open you should check the weep holes to see if they are plugged. Mold should not be present in your mud bed because it has no food source. Excess moisture (from plugged weep holes) along with soap, shampoo, etc. would allow mold to grow. A properly draining floor has no viable way to grow mold.

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