The second largest number of repair jobs I do aside from flooring repair jobs would have to be shower pan repairs. A “shower pan” is what is underneath your tiled shower floor. It is constructed with metal lath, concrete and a 40mil pvc liner (really durable plastic sheet). The construction of the shower pan is EXTREMELY important because it is the reason why the water in your shower runs down the drain and not down your walls, ceiling and leak out onto your bathroom floors! I’m sure you can imagine the damage a leaking shower floor can do, maybe you’ve experienced it first hand?
Often times there can be no indication of a leaking shower until the ceiling from underneath is peeling away and has to be replaced as well as the wooden subfloor and shower floor. Or at the very least, if your shower is constructed in the basement level, maybe you’ll just have some bad sheetrock that needs to be replaced, maybe some carpeting and of course tear out the shower floor and construct a new shower pan and re-tile the shower. The most common mistake in a leaking shower pan is around the shower curb. Most general contractors will construct the shower curb out of 2×4’s then cover the 2×4’s with durock and tile over that. The problem with this is that the shower liner, the 40mil plastic that creates the waterproofing of the shower floor, has to be installed on the inside of those 2×4’s which make up the shower curb, this means that your shower pan liner ends inside your shower. For example, let’s say you have a glass shower door as many do. How much water is hitting your shower door and running down to the shower curb? A lot. Even though the tiles used in a shower are water proof and impervious to water, grout is not. Grout is a porous material as well as concrete and when it gets soaked, water gets through! So if the water in your shower is running down the shower door and onto the inside of the shower curb, chances are that over time those 2×4’s will get water logged and expand cracking the tile of the shower or worse yet, leak water down into your subfloor rotting the wood underneath and eventually the ceiling of the room below until you finally realize you have a serious problem! This picture shows what can happens when you build the shower curb out of wood. You can see how the wood of the shower curb is all rotted and moldy and it contributed to a very costly repair of not only the shower but the subfloor of the bathroom and the ceiling underneath!
There is another way… When I construct my shower curbs I make them out of concrete. I do this at the same time I’m laying the concrete for the shower floor and installing the plastic liner. This way I can form the liner to be inside the shower curb, well away from where the water is coming down the shower door. The shower pan liner extends outside the shower preventing any chance of leaking for as long as the shower is constructed! I don’t mean to start sounding monotonous from blog to blog, but I will put a guarantee on every shower I construct for….ever.
It just so happens that I am currently working on a shower pan repair. So, I thought it the perfect opportunity to show you what goes into repairing a leaky shower floor. In the next few days I’ll be adding a few new blog posts to show the progress of the project and explain how and why I’m doing what I’m doing. So check back for some pics and to see how the project comes together!