Look, building a shower pan the old fashion way is a big hassle. The pros don’t even agree on the best way to get it done. That’s because the pan construction is mostly mortar work with several places to go very wrong. That’s why a tile ready pan looks so good. You can forget all the mortar and mud tricks and get a leak proof shower just like a pro. Watch out for the tricks though.
Cheap shower pans won’t do.
A cheap unit from the box building supply store won’t do. Those vinyl pans are not made to hold tile up and tile over cheap pans will crack and fail. Those are made for a different purpose. See, they are too flimsy. Here’s why that won’t do.
Ceramic tile must sit on a perfectly rigid base. Know why? Cracks. If the tile base moves, the grout, and maybe the tile, will crack. That’s disaster and that’s why you need a base made for tile. It’s heavier and tougher too. Then there’s this.
Consider the space where the shower must fit.
Your shower space in may cases isn’t of a standard size. Now what? Two choices. One is to do the carpenter work and fit the space to the shower base. The other is to somehow get a custom shower base. That may be possible. But it won’t be cheap.
The size issue suggests one of the main obstacles for using tile ready pans. There are easy ways to get around this challenge, but just realize that many tile shower pans are mostly just available in certain sizes. Here’s another bump.
Consider drain location.
It matters. There’s a standard location for a drain. Otherwise, two choices again. Change the plumbing or use a custom shower base. In either case, that often becomes an expensive issue.
How does it all go together?
Some ready to tile bases offer clean designs, but the drain design is lacking. Consider how the base and the drain meet up. Strange as it may seem, getting a good seal at the drain to base becomes very much of a problem with certain designs. If you can’t easily see how the drain mates with the base, that likely is a problem area.
Consider this tile ready system.
There are a couple of tile systems that make it possible to build a tile ready shower pan in any size and shape you want. Custom size is no problem. Funny thing is, a tile shower system is what many pro tile setters are moving to. Many tile setters no longer build traditional masonry shower pans. They just use the easier method and get the best results.
One system includes a waterproof membrane that goes over mortar. This method of construction makes it easy to build a base of any size or shape. That can really be an advantage. If you have a more standard size you won’t need to do any mortar work at all.