How to remove a shower base

by Roger

Ever get tired of trying to scrub that ‘white’ (it started life as white, anyway) acrylic or fiberglass shower base? Ever try to take one out? It’s stuck, isn’t it? Ever get tired of rhetorical questions?

In order to create a shower floor for tile you must first remove that big, ugly base which seemingly attracts dirt from some unknown aspect of the magnetic force of the universe. It’s not really the magnetic force – it just feels like it. It’s actually the rubber force – as in the rubber gasket around the drain pipe.

Rather than attempting to pry the base out of there until you’re almost ready to fire up the propane torch and see if it will actually melt (it will), you can simply pry the ring from around the drain pipe and  lift it out. Really.

This, of course, is assuming you have already removed the screws or fasteners attaching the flange to the studs. Almost all pre-formed shower pans have a vertical flange, about 1″ high, around the perimeter which may or may not be visible without removing the wall substrate.  There is normally one or two screws or nails directly above or through this flange on each wall which hold it to the studs. You need to remove these first.

Shower Drain cover

Photo 1 (Remove the cover)

I’m assuming this because if you are trying to pry your shower base up and have not removed the perimeter screws first – you should probably request some assistance from someone. Just sayin’…

This is gonna be quick and easy. Just grab your 5-in-1 tool (don’t have one? Why not – everyone should have one! If you signed up for TileTips you’d already know that) or a screwdriver or something similar. Anything pointy will work. (Did I just type ‘pointy’??? I need a beer…)

Remove your drain cover – it’s likely just a plastic piece of crap cover over your drain pipe like in photo 1.

Pry the rubber gasket out

Photo 2

You should see a big rubber gasket around your drain pipe (the 2 inch pipe in the middle) and your shower base. It’s the big black ring in photo 2.

Just stick your pointy tool (that totally didn’t sound right) between the gasket and the shower base. NOT between the gasket and drain pipe – you may damage the drain pipe.

Then pry it up. It’ll only come up a little bit at a time. You need to work your way around the perimeter of the gasket a little at a time staying between the gasket and base.

Photo’s 3 – 6 show working around the drain gradually prying it up a bit at a time.

Prying the rubber gasket out

Photo 3

Prying the rubber gasket out

Photo 4

Prying the rubber gasket out

Photo 5

Prying the rubber gasket out

Photo 6


















Once you work the entire gasket out you’ll feel the final portion of it break the seal. That’s the best way I can describe it – you’ll simply feel when it no longer is sealed between the pipe and base.

Gasket's out!

Photo 7

When it does that you can simply grab it and lift it out. That’s it. That little three inch thick gasket was driving you crazy. Once it’s out the base will nearly levitate out of there.

Okay, it won’t levitate – but you can simply lift it up out of there and build a real shower floor.

One that can be cleaned without a sandblaster.

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So, i was looking around for a suitable “pointy thing”
to pry out the rubber ring around the shower drain and it occurred to me… Why not drill-out the rubber gasket? I thought that if I could get a section out, then I could pull mightily with some needle-nose pliers. I inserted my drill bit (~1/4″) in the drill and applied drilling pressure to the surface of the ring. The bit fell into the gap around the outside of the ring, at the shower tray, and walked around it and lifted the ring out using the grooves in the bit!! Voila! I was careful not to damage the drain pipe, but this proved to be freakin’ magic.



Hey Scott,

Excellent solution! Never thought of that – thank you!


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