Sunrise Specialty » What is a Shower Pan?

What is a Shower Pan?

Whether it is about building a new bathroom or re-modeling the old one, one thing that definitely goes into the to-do list is revamping the shower area. Can it be done without having a shower pan, shower filter or a basic shower door? And the answer remains NO, it cannot be!

Building a shower pan can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. It is challenging because it will ask you to utilize all of your planning and designing skills and is rewarding at the same time because of the satisfaction that we get after completing any project.

A shower pan building project can be no different. Most modern bathrooms come with a shower pan that is placed in a convenient location as per the building’s plumbing and water drainage systems.

Here are some tips and suggestions that will help you if you are planning to build one or going to get one built through any contracting agency.

What is a shower pan anyway?

What is a shower pan anyway

If you think it is the bathroom version of a frying pan and is used to heat up the water, well you are sadly mistaken. It has got nothing to do with heating what-so-ever. It has everything to do with water though.

Since this core component is usually hidden from view, many of us are not even aware of its presence in our bathrooms.

A shower pan is a single piece vinyl or lead tray that fits below the tiles of your shower area or shower cubicle. It is often slightly raised than the rest of the bathroom floor and is enclosed by the sheets of fiber than form the shower cubicle.

What Does A Shower Pan Do?

What Does A Shower Pan Do

A shower pan has only one primary function. To direct the water that has flown out of the shower to the right area of the cubicle – the drain pipe. It is shaped in a particular way and slopes towards the drain hole.

Another important function that the shower pan does is to catch any water that may have seeped through the tiles or from between them and prevent it from seeping deeper into the floor further.

There is a vinyl layer between two fiber layers that catches any water or moisture that may escape through the tiles and directs this water towards the drain hole.

Are There Different Types of Design Or Categories of Shower Pans?

Are There Different Types of Design Or Categories of Shower Pans

If you call a center drain, left drain or right drain design as different categories, then yes, the shower pan comes in various designs. Shower pans are generally composed of acrylic, composite, fiberglass and custom tile, and you will further find lots of designs available in the market or online stores.

Depending on where your bathroom drain is, select the right one. Observe carefully and notice how it gradually slopes toward the drain hole. If you understand and internalize this concept, you will understand a lot of things about how intelligent things have been right from old civilizations to the latest modern-day bathrooms.

Going for a contemporary design that matches the classy look of your bathroom will not make your bathroom or bathing area a pleasant experience. It is very important to take your current family and personal needs into consideration and do give a thought on how the needs could change in the future as well.

You will be surprised to learn that seemingly unimportant things can make a deep impact on the costs saved vis-a-vis damage repairs done at a later date. It not only enhances the overall atmosphere, but will also allow you to spend that quality time in your daily routine, and leave you recharged after a refreshing shower.

Can You Build Your Own Shower Pan?

Can You Build Your Own Shower Pan

Technically, yes.

With the right knowledge about masonry and the appropriate tools such as mixing vessels, spatulas, a spirit level or a laser level measurement tool and some good quality cement and gravel mixed in the right proportions, you can design and build your own shower pan.

Just make sure you follow the right process of waterproofing. A good idea is to install a shower pan liner below the pan and then fix the pan to the cubicle walls.

What Should You Consider When Designing Or Installing One?

When remodeling or designing the bathroom, consider these points when it comes to selecting your shower pan:

  • How high should be curb for getting into the shower cubicle?

How high should be curb for getting into the shower cubicle

If you have toddlers and elders in the family, you might want to keep it as low as you can go for so as to avoid any slips or falls. After all, your loved ones’ safety comes before anything else.

  • Who is going to clean your bathroom and the drains?

Who is going to clean your bathroom and the drains

Yes, if it is just you who is going to toil in the bathroom to get is shining and clean, do go for a pan that is acrylic or vinyl made. Like any shower panel, it just needs soap and water to clean.

For the shower head or shower filter, you may require once in a while thorough cleaning. But other than that, the shower pan is very simple to clean, that too with things which you have every time you shower, lather and wash.

So, you won’t have to spend too much time cleaning between the tile joints like those old tiled shower cubicles.

  • How does it complement the overall ambiance of your bathroom?

How does it complement the overall ambience of your bathroom

The shower pan clearly marks out the area that will be used to take a shower and is one of the biggest components you will have in the bathroom. Make sure the design you choose goes well with the overall ambiance of your bathroom and does not look out of place.

Pro Tips

Shower Pan Pro Tips

One thing to remember is that water can and will always find a way through cracks, and corners tend to be ignored. Do not cut corners when it comes to getting your shower pan right.

Some extra efforts and costs initially may look like a burden. But, in the long run, it will, however, pay off in the form of peace of mind and a rich and invigorating experience each time you go about doing your daily routine.

In case the area of your shower cubicle is larger or extra wide, the standard sizes may not fit appropriately.

Don’t try to retrofit the standard size shower pan and patch up the remaining sides. Doing this may seem to solve your problem for some time but it will be a costly affair in the long run.

Instead, ask the stores for custom sizes. Most stores will be able to help you by taking the measurements and building the right sized one for your requirement.

More than anything, the biggest advantage of building a shower pan on your own gives you the freedom from the limits of the standard size availability and the material used.

Shower pans actually tell you how much of the bathroom area is going to be used as a shower cubicle.

So, depending on your overall bathroom design and your preferences, you need to go for the right ones that you need.

Be critical about the space they will occupy and be selective about the product you purchase. Check and double check on the parameters suggested in this article.


From your experience, if you would like to add any more tips and tricks or suggestions about designs or precautions to be taken while building your own shower pan, installing it or other crucial elements such as shower door or shower valve in the right way, then let us know. Remember — sharing is caring.