Shower Anatomy
Any time there is a great deal of water involved, such as a tile deck or
shower, waterproofing is a major consideration. Water leaking into a
wood frame structure like a house and the dry rot that it causes is a
messy, unsanitary and expensive repair to deal with.

It would be an understatement to say that over a million showers have
done just that in the last 40 years.
Even with all that is known, sadly to say, every day, tile showers are
still being put it, that will cause a major problem and need repair within
2 to 12 years.

On this page we will walk through the basics of shower preparation
with this custom shower.
This is what a shower looks like when it is ready
for the tile setter to start.

In this shower, you see the shower curb, wood
floor with a shower drain. This shower has two
seats, one on the left and one on the right.

The walls have sheetrock on them, but around the
floor the sheetrock is held up 9" and around seats
4" is the minimum.
Here we have waterproofing over that layer
of mortar. This is the Shower Pan Liner.

There are many types of shower pan liners.
In the old days, lead and copper sheet
metal was used.
For decades the hot tar and roofing paper
method has been and still is used.
Commonly called the "hot mop" method, it is
the number one reason why millions of
showers have had to be repaired or
No matter how thick it is, "Hot Mop" usually
lasts 8 to 12 years, then leaks start to
occur. Water goes through the pan and
wicks right into the wood structure of the
building, which starts the "dry rot" process.

Copper, lead, hot mop or just plain roofing
paper as shower pan liners will rot and leak
in a matter of years.
On the left, this is what a shower looks like
before the mortar works begins. The blue and
the orange materials are also CPE or PVC.

The first foot or so above a shower floor should
be lined with this material and shower seats as
Above that is standard black water resistant
paper. In a standard shower, water will rarely
reach this paper.
In a steam shower CPE shower liner would be
used on the walls and ceiling too, instead of the
black paper.

The metal wire is to hold the mortar on the
The picture on the right is after the mortar
work has been done.

By using mortar, the wall can be made flat
and plumb, thereby overcoming difficulties in
the building structure.

The mortar on the shower floor is about 2"
deep and the floor slopes at a pleasing rate to
the drain.
The top of the seats and the top of the curb
also slope towards the shower floor.

Tile is then installed over this mortar bed.
Looking up at the ceiling
Looking at the left side seat.
Above the seat on the left side.
The right side corner seat.
The finished shower is sealed for low maintenance.

In this next picture, you see a layer of mortar
has been placed on the floor before any
water proofing is installed.

While you can not see it, the mortar slopes
down from the perimeter walls to the drain.

This makes it possible for the water that
soaks into the tiled floor, to travel towards the
drain. At the base of the drain are small holes
which allow the water to escape from under
the tiled floor into the drain pipe.

If this step is skipped then water that's
trapped under the tile shower floor starts a
decomposing process of  the present organic
material. That process creates a smell that
can't be bleached out.
These leaking problems were worked out in
the 1960's with CPE and PVC shower pan
liners, materials that won't crack or decay for
These are the pan liners that we use and they
cost no more installed than the "Hot Mop"
The Tile is Tumbled Marble in two different
sizes and two different colors with a mosaic
stripe. Diagonal and straight joint patterns and
borders bring this shower to life and give this
area a 'warm' feel to it!
The Finished Shower