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Old 10-10-2018, 08:58 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2018
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Practice Deck Mud Pan - Seeking Advice

Hey Everyone,

As seen in a similar post, I'm in the process of tackling my first walk-in tile shower, and am going to make a simulated deck-mud pan practice box from some 2X4 scrap in similar to identical surface area of my shower pan. I'd like to be very thorough and learn this head-to-toe so I want to practice perfectly if you know what I mean! My questions to all the pros out there, if you'd be so kind are:

1) Should I do this with actual deck mud? or would sand suffice? I assume actual deck mud to get the proper simulation.

2) Walk me through what I need to be cognoscente of while forming the pan, from a pros mindset. Aside from dimensions, are there any tidbits worth nothing for mixing, curing, packing? What are common issues to avoid? My thoughts are to screed a nice even surface with multiple trowels etc and check with a flash light to make sure there are no surface inconsistencies, sloping right to flush with the drain (below the extension), leaving room for tile above the deck and beneath the

3) 2.75" line on the perimeter, sloping down to 2" at the drain extension. Is this correct? What is a good way to guarantee the right pitch, by using a level? I've seen those leveling pitch sticks and heard mixed reviews on those.

4) Would Kerdi board (or any substrate for that matter) run to the sub floor behind the deck-mud pan, or does the substrate run down to the height of the pan, butting up on top of it?

I plan on doing this bad boy about 3-4 times to get a good feel for it. I appreciate all the wisdom you folks have to offer. Thanks so much!
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:30 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Nashua, NH
Posts: 12,493
1. I'd do it with real deck mud. It's pretty cheap, but a bit harder get rid of.
2. If you've drawn a level line all around the perimeter that has the desired height to provide the 1/4"/foot to the drain, it's fairly simplistic. FIrst, pack a band of mud around the perimeter at the needed height. You can use a level and a mallet to pack it down tight at the desired height while maintaining it being level as well. Then, use that and the rim of your flange as your guide...you can use a screed to shape the pan from the perimeter to the drain with it. You will probably need multiple straight boards to do the screeding to account for the variations in length between the edges and the drain on the rectangular surface.
3. Measure the furthest distance from the drain to the corner...make your line level around the perimeter at that level. Depending on the actual height of your drain add enough to get your at least 1/4"/foot (which is the minimum, it can be higher up to a point). Industry standards say a minimum depth of 1-1/4", but you can go thicker over a wooden subfloor. Isn't really needed, 2" is more than required at least for the preslope. The finished floor would be higher unless you're using a bonded sheet membrane, where there's only one slope.
4. It depends on the type of waterproofing you're doing. IF using Kerdi or a similar sheet membrane, yes, the board can go to the floor. If you're going with a traditional liner, no. Once the liner is in, then you run the walls down to it (with a gap) IF it's one that can be embedded. If you use something like HardieBacker, it CANNOT be embedded, so would be added after the final mudbed is installed. That also makes it harder to anchor since you can't put fasteners lower than 2" above the curb.
Jim DeBruycker
Not a pro, multiple Schluter Workshops (Schluterville and 2013 and 2014 at Schluter Headquarters), Mapei Training 2014, Laticrete Workshop 2014, Custom Building Products Workshop 2015, and Longtime Forum Participant.
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