Every shower needs to be waterproofed, and it can be a bit confusing on the how’s and whys, the pros and cons, the costs and installation time, the availability of each system, and making an informed decision on which one is best suited for your project. Listed here are 5 common types of the ways your shower pan waterproofing can be done.
- Hot Mopping
- Fiberglass & Other Pre-Fabricated Shower Pans
- Vinyl Sheet Good Liners
- Elastomeric & Other Liquid Applied Products
- Kerdi Shower Systems By Schlueter
Believe me there are multitudes of them besides those listed here, and new products keep coming to market every year. In this blog we are going to explore 5 types of shower pan liner systems, with a bit of detail to get you started on the research needed to decide on the best choice to fit the needs of your project. So, let’s get cracking! Here are 5 types of shower pan liner systems commonly used both in California and Southern Nevada.
For the sake of transparency all these systems will work when properly installed per manufacturer’s instructions, it all comes down to what your project desires(needs) are, your budget, time restraints, availability, and the experience of the technician, installer or contractor.
Hot Mopping is a field applied system that uses multiple layers of asphalt and felt paper that bond together to form a monolithic waterproof layer. It is one of the oldest methods of waterproofing a tried-and-true method for centuries! A huge advantage is that when hot mopping your shower pan it conforms to any shape or size, being able to tie into curved or angled areas of your walls and/or benches and floor areas. All while still giving you the integrity of a fully monolithic coating. It also works with many styles of drain systems or can be adapted to most others that require special circumstances, with the proper planning. (link to blog?) Hot mop is installed quickly and ready for water test in as little as 2 hours after completion. Its longevity and durability are well respected throughout the building community. Specialty equipment is needed in its application so it cannot be installed by an adventurous DIYer!
Pre-fabricated units are one of the industry standards for production and cost savings. These come in a variety of standard sizes. They can be purchased easily either online or at many brick and mortar building supply chains and plumbing stores. Drain styles as well as drain placement is limited. Fiberglass units tend to be hard to keep clean over time. Higher end prefabricated units are much more costly, have a nicer look but will need to be pre-ordered.
There are companies that will custom make your prefab pan but will need plenty of lead time. You are committed to the size and style of your shower if you choose to use any prefab unit.
Also in the mix are prefab pans that are “tile ready” after the install, again standard sizes are the easiest available but drain styles and placement can be limited. All these units can be installed by a DIYer and are commonly used by builders and contractors alike, usually in the secondary bathrooms to help cut costs.
This is a sheet good product that comes mostly 6-foot-wide rolls. Field applied and easily available online and through many retail building and plumbing supply outlets. All seams, some corners and connections to drains will require an adhesive for the application. These sheet goods come in a variety of proprietary materials so that you will need to use the products that the manufacturer recommends for installation. Proper technique in doing the inside and outside corners is very important. This system is loosely laid on the pre-slope(see blog) and nailed or screwed to the walls. It can be a bit tricky to get your inside corners, they are folded or specialty pieces are available from some manufactures, for the inside and outside corners. Getting smooth transition over the curb without cutting and seaming and having to use a solvent or tube adhesive, is difficult at best, recommended dry times and proper preparation is paramount in ensuring seams and corners will be completely bonded with no separation upon completed installation. Many tile contractors will use this method to keep everything in house, or the availability of other methods and time constraints are a factor in the decision to use this system. An experienced DIYer is capable of installing this product.
These also are on-site application methods. It is a direct lay system. Most are applied with brush and roller, some can be sprayed or troweled also. These products can be used as a direct lay system which means that there is not a separate mortar bed needed for the installation of the shower floor tile or on walls in most cases, as it can be used on approved tile backer units for wall waterproofing. Most require two or more coats set to a recommended thickness with fiberglass reinforcing at seams and corners, dry time between coats and clean surfaces are a major importance. Red Guard is probably the most well-known product, and readily available at most building supply outlets but there are many to choose from and can be bought at tile distributor retailers. DIYer friendly and used by contractors to keep things in house and/or works well with the tile installation method that they are offering to you.
Manufacturers of another direct lay, on site, system, Kerdi fabric is a waterproof polyethene sheet membrane that is bonded directly to the substrate. It is a system that has several pieces and parts to do your whole shower. Including the pre-formed shower pan tray, curb, drain(s), wall substrate, corner seam reinforcements, benches, and penetrations. Though it can be used in conjunction with other methods to do your shower pan and walls, as is done with all the other methods described. It is recommended that their products are used throughout the entire shower. Kits are available for many standard sizes of showers with add-ons available, as mentioned above, that may be needed for your project. Kerdi-sheet goods are applied over its own special Kerdi board, or when using the shower pan tray liner, curb pieces, and benches or over other substrates that are recommended by Kerdi. Unmodified thin-set mortar is used through the installation as when attaching the sheet goods to substrates, at seams (to itself), and the surface materials themselves (tile or stone). DIYer friendly with those with a fair amount of experience, used by contractors and builders that prefer a no mud work application. Most feel this is one of the most expensive methods but prefer to have a one system for all applications.
As stated in my introduction, all these waterproofing methods can and do work! It’s all about the preferences and situations that come with your project, your contractor and your budget. Budget, availability, experience of the technicians, the reputation and reliability of the company hired are to name a few. The pros and cons of each will need to be determined by getting input from the professionals of their prospective fields. The importance of a top quality shower pan is without question.