Install a leak-proof shower stall

By Allan Britnell


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Ignorance may be bliss, but a water-saturated shower stall can leave you all wet. If moisture penetrates the grout below the stall’s tiles, you’ll eventually see mildew in the shower or, worse still, water damage on the ceiling below it.

The two hardest parts of a traditional installation of a new shower stall are properly sloping the mortar bed to the drain and preventing moisture from getting behind the tiles and saturating the mortar. A new, all-in-one-box kit from Schlüter Systems comes with everything that someone building a new shower needs to overcome these traditional difficulties.

The key components are a pre-sloped, two-piece high-density extruded polystyrene tray that replaces the mortar bed, and an 8-mil polyethylene waterproofing membrane (called “Kerdi”) that’s used to encase the entire stall. The kit includes 108 sq. ft. of membrane in a 39 1/2″-wide roll and smaller four-inch-wide strips to overlap all seams. The tray comes as a 4′ x 4′ square or a 32″ x 60″ rectangle for converting a bathtub to an oversized shower.

The shower shown here already had a two-by-four curb built in, but for new construction the kit also includes a 4′ length of polystyrene curb.

Another unique aspect of the kit is the drain itself, which has a square surface. Unlike a standard circular drain surface, you don’t need to cut the edges of the tiles where they butt up against it.

Everything is bonded in place with a fine layer of thinset concrete. Installing the tray and waterproofing should take a competent DIYer less than a day, with a second day needed for the tile installation.

The kit is available as a special-order item at Home Depot and through select tile retailers for about $500. Individual components are also sold separately.

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