How to Float a Shower Pan

The hardest part of tiling a shower floor is floating the shower pan, or floor. When done correctly, the water will flow to the drain without puddling. Unfortunately, a lot of shower pans are installed with dips and valleys. Learn how to correctly float a shower pan so your shower floor stays as dry as possible.

Proper installation will keep water flowing to the drain.

Step 1

Prepare the pan. Remove all dirt and debris. The wall tile must be installed, and the bottom most row of tile must be no higher than the height of the finished shower floor. If there is a rubber pan, the folds need to be neatly tucked into the corners.

Step 2

Mix the dry pack cement. Pour 15 gallons of sand on a hard surface. Pour an 80-pound bag of portland cement onto the sand. Slide a flat shovel under the pile and lift the sand onto the portland. Do this until all the sand and portland are mixed together.

Step 3

Add add just enough water to dampen the mix. It will change color when damp. You do not want the mix wet, just damp.

Step 4

Bring a bucket of damp cement mix to the shower. Push the cement mix into the collar all the way around the shower. The collar is the section of the shower wall below the tile that does not have a backer board. It must be solid to prevent mold.

Step 5

Place one end of a bubble level on the shower drain. Use the other end of the level to determine where on the wall the shower floor will end. It needs to be 1/2 to 3/4 inches higher than the drain. Use the level and a pencil to draw a line around the shower pan at this height.

Step 6

Dump a bucket of damp cement mix into the shower pan. With the grout float, push it against the wall all the way around the shower. Use the float to pack the mix down. This will form a solid shelf. A margin trowel can be used to shave extra cement off the shelf.

Step 7

Fill the pan with the rest of the cement mix. Use the grout float to pack it solid. The floor should go from the shelf you built down to the drain.

Step 8

Use a straight edge to smooth the cement. Rest one edge on the shelf; the other edge needs to be 1/4 inch below the shower drain. Scrape away the extra cement. Fill in any low spots -- it is these low spots that create puddles. Remove all dips and hills before the cement dries.

Step 9

Clean away any extra cement. Lightly dust the floor with white thinset. This will prepare the floor for tile.

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