How to Build & Frame a Bathroom Shower Stall

Ceramic tile has many beautiful design options which is why so many people choose to build their own shower stall. Like in most aspects of construction, if you keep your framing level and plumb, you will make your job easier and give it a more professional look. Framing and building a shower stall is not a difficult task, but it can be somewhat physical. The cement board is heavy to move around, but with a little help you can tackle this project with confidence.

Layout and Framing

  1. Snap a straight line on the floor where the back wall will rest and mark the finish width of your shower remembering to add 1 inch for the cement backer board.

  2. Square off the back line with a framing square and draw a pencil line on the floor. Repeat this process on the other side. If you are using an existing wall, square off of it and shim the studs to your square lines if there is gap between your line and the sole plate. Measure the back and front of the shower opening to make sure they are the same width. If the measurement is not the same, your opening is not square and requires adjustment.

  3. Cut the sole and top plates to fit the back and side walls and layout the studs on 16-inch centers allowing for corner studs. On the wall where the shower valve is located, space the studs so that the shower valve assembly is centered between the studs.

  4. Cut the studs to the desired height with a circular saw and nail the wall together and attach it to the floor and ceiling with 16d sinkers. You may need to add 2x4 backing to provide a means to attach the top plate and for attaching the sheetrock to the ceiling. Nail the bottom plate first and plumb the wall before nailing the top plate.

  5. Build a curb by stacking at least three pressure treated 2x4s. If your shower is a corner shower, alternate how the miters overlap in order to interlock each 2x4.

  6. Install the cement backer board on the walls and curb by using cement board screws to attach it. Cement board can be cut by scoring it several times with a utility knife and snapping it like you would with sheetrock. Sometimes it is easier to score both sides. To cut the holes for the shower valve, mark out the location of the pipes with a marker and score both sides of the cement board. Use your hammer to punch out the area that was scored from the front side of the sheet. A circular saw or jig saw with a carbide blade works well to cut cement board, but there is an excessive amount of dust. Cut the cement board outside and wear a dust mask and safety glasses if you use this method.