The tile ready shower base makes it possible to skip all the tricky mortar work for building shower pans. Many professional tile setters now just build showers using these systems rather than building mortar pans. It’s not quite as simple as it seems though.
Here’s what works.
Two popular systems are most often used for tile shower pans ready to tile. The first type includes a preformed pan that is simply set in place and is ready for tile. The trick is the construction of the pan.
These pans are mostly a special foam that’s rigid and stiff so there’s no flexing of the base. Usually you get all kinds of other pieces with the system. The drain is part of the system. Usually wall coverings are integral to the system too. Two leading models are TileRedi and the ProPan by Fin Pan.
Another option is the Schluter system or the Kerdi shower. These people also make a formed pan much like the others. It is for standard sizes. But… They make a system with sheeting that lets you custom build a leak-proof shower using standard materials. This may require building a sloped mortar base to support the liner. This mortar work is not nearly as involved or skilled as traditional pan mortar work.
Here’s what doesn’t work…
Cheap shower bases from home supply stores are not designed as tile bases. The cheap bases do not have the stiffness and strength to hold up to tile construction. Install tile over a cheap base and the tile will crack and your work and material are wasted.
The only real disadvantage of the tile ready shower base is cost. That must be compared to the speed of installation. Then consider that the right base is easy to make leak-proof. Traditional shower pans are tricky to build, even for the pros.
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