How to Build Tile Shower on Concrete Floor

If you're building a tile shower on a concrete floor, make sure you already have a drain set in the concrete.

If you don't, it is a tremendously difficult task. You'll have to break the area for the drain, put in both the drainage plumbing and water pipes and continue from there. This is a task for a plumber. If your plumbing is already in place, your task is now, just building the framework with a watertight shower pan, putting in the walls and the faucet attachments.

Lay out the shower. Make sure that you have adequate space for the plumbing and the drain area roughed in already. Work the framework of the shower around the plumbing. When you build a tile shower on a concrete floor, the best method for the shower pan is the fabric liner.

Take measurements from the framework to the center of the drain. For every foot, multiply it by 1/4 inch for the slope. Mark the distance up the side of the framework. If your drain is 3 feet away from the wall, measure 3/4 inch up and mark it. Use a level to make a line all the way around the wall's framework at that height.

Lay 15 lb roofing paper on the floor. You need it to overlap an inch at the ends so there's no floor showing. On top of the felt lay wire mesh. Nail it down with concrete nails every 6 inches. Put the drain in place but not clamped down and cover the opening with masking tape.

Mix the mortar. The mixture should be 1 part Portland cement to 3 or 4 parts of sand. Build the edge first. Put it up to the line that you drew earlier. Put a thin layer of concrete around the outside of the drain and slope the area together by filling in the gap between the two. Level with a board to make the area smooth and give the proper slope. Allow the concrete to dry overnight.

Hang the backerboard on the shower walls after you connect the faucet to the plumbing, if you haven't done it already. You'll need to cut holes for the handle stems and shower pipe.

Nail backerboard to the threshold. The difference between using fabric and rubber membranes is at this step and the next. While the fabric is expensive, you don't need a second layer of concrete or mesh wiring over the threshold.

Put a layer of thinset around the entire pan area and then lay the pre-cut membrane making sure that you center the hole for the drain. Lift the top of the drain and lay the piece for the drain area, then clamp down the drain. If you see any area not covered, apply thinset and use a strip to cover the area. Put cardboard on the pan to protect it while you waterproof the rest of the area.

Fold sections of the membrane in half and put thinset on the wall and pan. Put the fold on the seam between the wall and the pan and smooth the upper section to the wall and the lower area to the pan.

Put the fabric on the shower walls like you hang wallpaper. Lay it over the threshold and put additional strips in the seams where the threshold meets the wall. Allow the area to dry overnight and then test it for waterproofing. To do this, fill it with an inch to 2 inches of water and allow it to set overnight. You'll know in the morning if the water height's the same.

Allow the area to dry. Lay out your pattern of tiles first. Use a tile cutter to cut any tiles necessary. Put a layer of thinset down first then put on the tiles. Only put enough thinset down for an area you can complete in 20 minutes. Allow the tile to dry, then clean it and grout. Clean up the grout and wait several days before you seal it. Allow the sealer to dry overnight before put the handles and shower-head on to pipe stems.

Things You Will Need

  • 15 lb. roofing felt Boards Concrete backerboard Straight edge Tape measure Galvanized screws Drill with screwdriver bits Level Pencil Concrete nails Hammer Drain Board Portland cement Sand Fabric membrane kit Trowel Mixing pan Thinset