Tips for Shower Installation With Pre-Fab Components

Make building a custom DIY shower easier with prefabricated components.

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Make building a custom DIY shower easier with prefabricated components.

Tools Required

  • 4 ft. level
  • Bucket
  • Caulk gun
  • Concrete trowel
  • Drill/driver
  • Table Saw (or Circular Saw With Cutting Guide)

Materials Required

  • Backer board screws
  • Construction adhesive
  • Screws
  • Wallboard adhesive

When you install a tile shower, the most difficult part is building the sloped base for the floor. I used a prefabricated pan, completely skipping that part. All I needed to do was set the pan and tile the walls. Built-in wall niches are a snap, and they’re prefabricated.

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Set the shower pan

My shower pan, set on a flat and level subfloor, required adhesive underneath and screws through the flange. Some pans require mortar to set and level them. If that’s the case with your shower pan, start by setting the pan in place without mortar and leveling it with plastic shims.

Lift the pan and staple the shims in place to the subfloor. Spread mortar about one inch thick over the subfloor. Set the pan in the mortar and press it down onto the shims. Recheck for level. Let the mortar set for at least 24 hours before you stand in it.

Shower panFamily Handyman

Step 2

Install the niches

I installed two niches, one high and one low. The lower one, 16 inches off the floor, is an accessible shelf for small kids and a foot rest for leg shaving.

Notch studs to accommodate the prefab niches, and add nailers and blocking where necessary. Attach the niches with backer board screws. Apply the rest of the backer board, then tape and mortar the seams and cover the screw heads. Allow the wall installation to dry overnight.

Install the nichesFamily Handyman

Step 3

Set the niche ledges

Set the niche ledges in place, angled toward the shower, using thin-set. The ledges run the full width of the niches. Cut them wide enough to stand proud of the finished tile surface by about a 1/2-inch. Solid surface material comes in many brands. It’s also easy to cut using standard carbide blades.

Niche ledgesFamily Handyman

Step 4

Tile and finish off the niches

Mix a batch of mortar and install tile on the backs of the niches. Cut solid surface material to fit the top of each niche. Cut these pieces wide enough to stand proud of the finished tile surface by about 1/4-inch. You can tile right up against them.

Cut the top full length, like the ledge, and the sides to fit between them. That way, when you install the sides, they’ll support the top. You’ll need to angle the bottom ends of the side pieces to match the slope of the ledges.

Tile nichesFamily Handyman

Step 5

Tile the walls

Mix your mortar and apply mortar and tile to the walls. Allow the mortar to set at least 24 hours, then grout your tile. 

Tile wallsFamily Handyman