Step down shower [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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02-17-2003, 07:45 PM
John and knowledgable gurus,
Thank you for all the information presented on this site. I got tired of lookin at my dilapidated shower and tore it out. Then I panicked when I realized that I had no idea how to rebuild. I immediately hit the web and came acroos this site. After hours of reading through the liberry and forum, I gradually developed enough confidence to tackle this on my own. I have a couple of questions, though.
I have a step down shower with about 8" between the bathroom subfloor and the bottom of the unbuilt shower pan. How do I tile the face of this. How do I meet this drop with the bathroom floor tile?
Also, I'm not sure how to remove and replace the existing shower drain. I don't know if it should pull straight out, unscrew, or what?
I appreciate any advice you can give.
Mark Bonkowski

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02-17-2003, 08:20 PM
Hi Bonx, welcome aboard. :)
I like your attitude, "Just do it!". :D You'll find all the help you need here. Cost you some pitchers of the project is all. Hang tight.

02-18-2003, 08:06 AM
Good morning Mark. Man does that look familiar.That could be a twin for 1 i just did about 6-7 weeks ago(maybe it was8) .It was for a handicap place.Now the one differance is i tiled the entire bathroom floor and i think you should consider this and let me tell you why. When you do your pan liner,that lil stepup without a curb can create a problem.Heres what i did. I did my liner as normal and ran it over the edge about 12" then i ran 1/2" CBU over the rest of the floor and nailed it down well.(now before everyone yells NAILS!!!!!. I then floated the pan as normal and ran C-Cures Pro Red 963 over the entire outside area and down into the completed mudbed.Also up the walls about 10" and 3" up the outside walls which got a ceramic base tile. This made the entire room 1 large shower pan. I did a little preslope to all areas of the bathroom and gave the CBU a slight pitch towards the pan area although i believe this extra step probobly was overkill.
I have to go to work now but i'll check this thread later in case of questions. Please read a little on shower pans in the liberry and do a search on surface membranes.Then put together any questions you may have. :)

John Bridge
02-18-2003, 04:24 PM
Welcome, Mark. :)

Another idea would be to do away with most of the step-down. You could furr the framing up to say a couple inches below the bath floor, then do a low curb and treat the thing like a standard mud floor shower. That's what I would do. In the process you can change out the drain to a new one and end up with everything brand new. :)

02-18-2003, 04:37 PM
Thanks Tileguytodd. That's definitely food for thought. I already plan on replacing the bathroom floor, I just want to keep the toilet in place as long as conveniently possible. I also plan to put a sliding glass door right at the edge of the floor before the step down to the shower. Because this is a second floor master bath, it might be a good idea to go with the whole bathroom shower pan idea. I would hate to have to get that deep into it, but if the water is constantly hitting the 1/2" to 1" of tile on the upper floor on the shower side of the door, it might be a wise move. I will actually be extending the upper floor out of the bathroom and into the bedroom right past the vanity. How far out should I use liner and preslope? The section in front of the vanity is hardwood floor which I will remove, but I don't want to climb a serious step from the hardwood bedroom floor up to the tile floor in front of the vanity. I will try to post a couple of pics later tonight to further illustrate just what I'm dealing with. Also, I'm still not sure how to remove/replace the drain assembly.
Thanks again,

02-18-2003, 04:52 PM
Hi John.

Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I thought about that and may end up doing it. I really like that step down, though. It's kind of an interesting/unusual feature and I'd like to keep it as long as it doesn't make my life too complicated during the next few weeks.

John, I would like to thank you and everyone else who takes the time to post advice on this site. This is really a wonderful thing you have going here. For someone in my position right now, it's almost a godsend.

02-18-2003, 07:56 PM
Well Mark,if your dead set on the shower door idea then i would go with johns thought and build a low curb.The way i described it above is more of a roll in type shower.The bathroom floor just rolls right down into the shower area.You could minimize the height change by using a 1/4" utilicrete and a 2x2 porcelain type tile. Keep us informed OK :)

John Bridge
02-19-2003, 10:09 AM

To use a swinging door you need clearance under it, otherwise you won't be able to open it with a rug in front of it. Even a low curb -- a couple inches -- would be enough to tuck a PVC liner into. You can still have your sunken shower. I wouldn't want to step down more than four or five inches, though.

02-19-2003, 03:17 PM
Hi Todd and John, thanks for the replies. I don't need to roll into the shower (I dont party like I used to). What I plan to have is about a 5" or so step down running the length of the shower. I would like to try to avoid building a curb as it would increase the step down. Wouldn't the step function as a curb only with no drop on the bathroom side? Todd got me thinking of just leaving the door off and and making the whole bathroom sort of one big shower area. The room only has a toilet and a shower and is fairly small. The shower is half of the room. I came across bathrooms like this overseas and thought it to be a neat idea. It makes the bathroom really easy to clean - you could pretty much just hose it out.
I plan to use a sliding glass door as the shower is pretty long. The shower originally had a sliding door and I like that the it kept the shower nice and warm while in use and the floor outside stayed dry. So I think I will go that way for the daily convenience. I do like the idea of the paint on waterproofing and may do that to the floor and a ways up the wall for added piece of mind if the cost is not prohibitive. How much does that stuff run?
The biggest question I have at this point is still tiling the vertical face of the ledge. I came up with a couple of ideas, but having no experience in this I don't know if either work.
Idea 1: Could I put CBU on the bathroom floor starting about 6" from the ledge dropping down to shower, fold the pvc liner from the shower up over the ledge to where the CBU starts or even a little under it, use wire mesh from the CBU toward the shower pan, fold it down over the ledge - just like a regular curb, and morter over the mesh from the CBU down the ledge to the floor of the shower? I'm not sure if I'm explaining this well, but it would be like a curb that instead of dropping down on the bathroom side would meet and be at the same level as the bathroom floor. Perhaps I would need to leave a small gap between the morter and the CBU and tape it before laying tile?
Idea 2: Attach CBU to the vertical face of the ledge and cover everything with the paint on waterproofing as Todd suggested.
I sort of like idea 1 as there will not be holes in the liner. As I have no experience with any of this, I would appreciate any insight.
Thanks, Mark;)

John Bridge
02-20-2003, 09:48 AM
Hi Mark,

I suggested the low curb so that you would have a place to attach the liner at a point outside the shower door. That's what is needed when using a PVC liner. If you want to eliminate the curb, I would suggest not using PVC. Go with Todd and the trowel on.

Or go with Schluter Kerdi. Whether you use the Kerdi or a different membrane, I would suggest at least using the Kerdi-drain. It's the only one available that is designed for surface applied membranes.

02-21-2003, 07:52 AM
Better yet do the combination liner like i stated above. Dont worry about the holes in the upper part of the liner.This is the reason for the trowel on liner. you no longer worry about those holes, water cannot get to them because water does not run uphill. The trowelable membrane runs about 100.00 a gallon and a gallon would more than likely 2 coat everything you need to do.

Check out C-Cures Pro Red 963.starts out pink and turns brite red when its dry!!

02-21-2003, 11:22 AM
Thanks for the replies. I seem to have this project turning around in my head all day long. Makes it hard to think about anything else. I woke up this morning dreaming about it.
I really would like to avoid using a curb. There is a short wall to one side of the shower and a dropped cieling above it. both end even with the stepdown. To get the curb to line up, I would have to bring out the wall into the bathroom making it seem smaller or build the curb in the shower making it narrower.
I like the idea of using both a liner and a trowelable membrane. Would I then attach CBU to the vertical surface of the step with maybe a couple of rows of screws toward the top and held in place at the bottom by the mortarbed??

02-21-2003, 11:38 AM
Ok Mark. I am Following you now. Here is what i would do.
Run your pvc liner up and over like we already discussed.Attach your CBU at the top edge only.Your preslope should already be done.Install your pan liner up and over.Now put in your CBU step.attach at the top. now float your pan.The mud will hold in the bottom of the CBU.Run your Bathroom floor CBU over the liner above the step.(you can staple or glur the liner down if you would like)
Run the leading edge over the CBU riser Now Nail the CBU down evry 3" through the field and every 3" near the edge for this area only.(there is no thinset under it) Thinset all other areas down and nail or screw as normal.Now, You have a standard pan in place with no holes in it in the shower area itself.Now using the trowelable membrane run this throughout bathroom and up walls 2 it down into the shower within a foot of the drain all the way around and up the walls (especially pay attention to your corner areas where your PVC comes up out of the shower area.) If moisture gets through the tile at the drain area it will reach the PVC liner and exit through the wep holes.Water does not run uphill,therefore there is no need to do the trowelable membrane throughout the entire shower floor,Just up and over the rise really.If you have some remaining you can use it for niches,shower seats etc.(you could probobly fix your roof too :) )

02-21-2003, 01:48 PM
Thanks Todd, That's exactly how I'll do it:shades:

07-02-2003, 01:57 AM
After almost 5 months I am finally about finished. I gotta say it turned out better than I expected.
Pitchers (

07-02-2003, 05:56 AM
Nice job!

Too bad about the Jeep!:(

John Bridge
07-02-2003, 06:51 PM

It does my heart good to see a project come out really first class. Nice work, buddy. ;)

07-02-2003, 06:58 PM
Wish I could see it. I tried to download it, but my mom won't let me stay online that long. :p

John Bridge
07-02-2003, 07:27 PM
Yeah, Kelly, he put all the pictures up there full size. They are spectacular, too. :D