Bathroom Remodel: Step 3 – TileRedi Shower Pan

The shower pan dictated much of the work ahead of us. Getting the walls ready for tile meant installing Hardiebacker cement board on the walls and also on the floors where tiling was required. The pan needed to be installed to finish up plumbing, cement board, and seams where the shower curb would hit the floor, and where the wall shower tile would hit the regular drywall outside the shower.

In the past, we’ve fabricated custom concrete shower pans. I must say, after doing this once, I would never try to do it again. TileRedi.com had a shower pan in stock as a direct replacement for a 3ox60 inch tub opening – pretty common in these 70′s tract homes.

Despite the hundreds of bad reviews on the Internet for this product, I opted to go for it and figure out how to make it work and prove many of these people wrong – many of whom were 35 year veterans of remodeling. In the end it worked out, and I was eager to share all the tips for this pan.

Tip #1: Prelevel the pan – lay the pan down and get a feel for what you will need to do in order to level it. In our case, we knew the curb side needed to be higher, and also higher on the right side.

The pan, itself, is molded from a composite that is lightweight, strong, yet somewhat flexible.

The underside has ribs that won’t stick to cheapo mortar. The manufacturer recommends a 3/4″ bed of mortar.

Tip #2: Use VersaBond mortar from Home Depot, and use a lot of it. The most common complaint I read was that after the recommended amount of mortar dried under the pan, it was still flexing and cracking tiles, so I knew we needed a mortar that would bond (hence the choice of VersaBond), and also that people weren’t getting all the ribs to adhere to the cement. We had so much that we framed the bed of mortar w/ a 2×4 to keep it from oozing out the sides. It was probably more like 1-1.5″ of this soupy mess to drown the ribs.

 

Tip #3: Lay down the pan, then take it off to inspect contact points. We initially put it down and realized we needed more mortar to get it level, so we lifted the pan up. In doing so, we also discovered there were 2 points that never touched mortar.

Just before it completely dried, I removed the 2×4 and used a spackle knife to clean up the edges. It was rock solid. We ended up mixing up the entire bag in 2 batches.


STEP 1 – DEMOLITION
STEP 2 – REPAIR
STEP 3 – SHOWER PAN
STEP 4 – FINISH CEMENT BOARD & FLASHING
STEP 5 – TILING & GROUTING
STEP 6 – SINK VANITY
STEP 7 – SHOWER DOOR

 

Comments
40 Responses to “Bathroom Remodel: Step 3 – TileRedi Shower Pan”
  1. Keith says:

    Great blog, hopefully this Tile Redi seating method will work for me as using regular mud meant I had to lift it up and break up the mud bed. I wish I had found this before.

    Did just one 50lb bag do the shower tray?

    Keith

  2. SM11111 says:

    Did you use any waterproof over the tile redi ? What kind of grout did you use to set up the tile floor?

    • knepacena says:

      No waterproofing added. The material is supposed to be all the waterproofing you’ll need. I used a non-sanded grout for the glass tile after using the epoxy mortar to set the tile.

  3. SM11111 says:

    Thanks for the answer and help. Wich epoxy mortar did you use the mapei kerapoxy or did you recommend another one?

  4. knepacena says:

    The epoxy mortar we used was one sold by TileRedi. They sell it in a wholesale fashion, so I’m not sure who they get it from.

  5. beezer says:

    Did you put the cement board under the shower pan and then mortar, or did you put the mortar directly on the plywood? I did it right on the plywood. Is the wood going to get soaked?

    • nepblog says:

      Cement board went over the plywood, then mortar, then pan. It should be fine though – since the pan is waterproof, the cement board only adds rigidity and levelness. Hopefully the tile won’t crack if there is any flexing in the floor.

  6. nepblog says:

    Now that I look again at the fotos, I’ll need to admit that the fotos taken of the pan on the plywood were only for test-fitting purposes. It was then removed before I added the Hardiebacker and began mudding the pan install. I apologize for any confusion.

    • ekromer says:

      I just want to verify a couple things as I’m getting ready to install my Tile Redi pan for the second time.

      First, how ‘soupy’ did you make the mortar mixture. Pictures seem to suggest almost a cake batter consistency. Will this allow the eventually hardened mix to still be strong?

      Second, the mortar should fill all the voids between the ribs, correct? Not just allow all ribs to make contact? So I need a depth that allows this, correct? You mentioned something like 1.5″.

      Thanks!

      • jshum says:

        The consistency ended up being like cake batter, but I’m guessing slightly thicker. I followed the mixing instructions on the package. The mortar doesn’t have to fill all the way up in between the ribs… only the ribs really need to touch. You can see from my test fit and from the side view of the mortar drying, that the pan doesn’t really sink in that much. The mortar is dense, and you really can’t push it down very far. I ended up adding additional mortar after the test fitting b/c the bed of mortar wasn’t even, but I only added mortar to ensure even contact w/ the ribs, not to achieve any specific depth.

        • ekromer says:

          OK, thanks! Did you weight your pan down while the mortar cured?

          • jshum says:

            I honestly don’t recall. I think that I spent so much time leveling, adding mortar, adding mortar, troweling, leveling… that I probably didn’t want to risk having it move too much after I finally had it leveled.

      • jshum says:

        OH man – what happened the first time??

        • ekromer says:

          It went in fine the first time but after curing and eventually stepping on the shower pan, there were a couple areas that flexed. I’m not sure if that’s simply because part of the ribs never adhered. That’s why I originally asked you if the mortar had to fill the voids between the ribs also. Fun!

  7. Paul says:

    I am attempting to do this today, per your advice, on a new concrete slab. I will frame the area with wood to hold the soup, put in some versabond, and ta dah!!

  8. paul says:

    wow that was easy, took longer to mix the mortar than to actually install. soup is definitely the way to go, that shower pan is rock solid.

  9. Mike says:

    I’m not finding anywhere on the Internet where it gives details about connecting the drain pipe when you can’t get below the subfloor. The only Tile Redi pan I installed had access below so I could connect the drain after setting the base. How do you glue it and make sure there is a good connection when you have to set the base in mortar AND connect the PVC drain pipe at the same time? Thanks.

    • jshum says:

      I’m not a plumber, but what I did was test-fit the small pipe from the pan to the p-trap, then glue the small pipe to the pan. Then your left with a pan and pipe sticking out. Once you place it in, you force it down. I braced the p-trap w/ metal strapping to support the pressure of pressing the pan pipe down into the p-trap fitting until the pan sat snug on the floor. You don’t need to glue it, as its not a tub, so my thought was the trickling shower water will never overflow and leak because there will be continued drainage that should never end up rising above the level of the trap. I didn’t think gluing both ends of the connection was necessary, but I could very well be wrong. To make you feel any better, its similar to a USDA certified kitchen sink, which drains into an open grate, so that if a backflow occurred, it would never flow back into the sink.

      • Richard says:

        jshum: I think I want to try the “no glue” drain like you did. Have you had any problems subsequent to the install?

        • jshum says:

          No problems that it know of ;) We also had a home inspection when we sold the house, so if a leak was detected, someone should’ve found it by then.

  10. John B says:

    Thanks for the blog, very helpful. I used Versabond mixed to the consistency of thick cake batter and it seems to be working well. The Tile Redi tech support told me the video on their web site is meant for general guidance and not entirely accurate – the mortar needs to be thinner than manufacturer recommendation. If so, the video should be taken down or corrected, as it is misleading.

    • Eric K. says:

      I agree. I had to thin down the Versabond considerably (cake batter consistency) but now it’s rock solid. Tile Redi does need to update their website and instructions.

  11. Lance says:

    I will be setting my tile redi shower tub tonight. i piurchased Mapei Ultracontact. Will this mwork as well as Versabond? Only have Lowes and Menards where I live and no Versabond available.

  12. Stugatz says:

    very helpful

    just ordered a 32 x 60 pan

  13. Shamus says:

    Quick question on the mortar base. You mentioned that you ended up with a 1″-1 1/2″ base of the mortar “soup” – were you able to achieve this with only one 50 lb bag?

    I don’t have access to the plumbing from below and am getting ready to cut out my flexing pan. Silly me, I followed the factory instructions! (#*&$#*&#$##) I’ll be busing out the bad mortar base and using the Versabond. Just want to make sure I purchase enough to get the job done right! I have a center drain 30×60 pan.

    Thanks!

  14. sdcbo says:

    My impression hasn’t been as favorable. I was expecting something heavier and sturdier. The pan is too thin walled, is not square and is very flexy. Its ended up costing more time and would have preferred to built my own base. Anyway, right now I’m struggling with the fact that the back wall is bowed out, because its not straight. I was thinking of screwing the rear wall of the pan into the studs, first pre-drilling and countersinking them. I am concerned though that the plastic walls are too thin and actually seem brittle and the thing may just crack. Have you had any luck drilling into the pan?

    Great blog, many thanks.

    • jshum says:

      Personally, I’ve never drilled into these pans. I’ve read a lot of posts where the base doesn’t quite stick to the manufacturer-recommended concrete base installation mixture, so several users have used masonry screws and have driven through the pan, through the concrete below, then through to the plywood subfloor to anchor the pan so it doesn’t flex. A dab of silicone over each screw head, then the epoxy mortar mix over top for the tile should be enough to keep the water from penetrating.

      I don’t know how much flex the pan can withstand before it cracks. To play it safe, you could work with the bend on the side wall, fill it with caulk or something to keep it solid, then make sure the flashing does its job diverting water from the wall to the pan by also backing it with some caulk or mirror mastic adhesive (something thicker than standard caulk).

      Sorry for the late reply, I’ve sure you’ve already tried a few things by now. How did it go?

    • LaNell Barrett says:

      You got a bum pan. Too late to return?

  15. I wasn’t there when the plumber installed the pan, so I don’t know what was used. However, I’ve done a lot of tiling and know about flex issues. I did a lot of the finish work in the house myself and this shower was one of the last projects. Two things I had to work with were bowed out walls and floor flex. For the walls of the pan, I used a pilot hole, then countersunk the heads. The walls are quite thick. The installation of the pan was such that I couldn’t pull it up and reset it, so I had to figure out how to fix the flex. Unless I fixed the flex before I laid the tiles, I knew that either the grout or the tiles or both would crack the first time it was stepped on. I ended up buying play sand as it is the finest, drilling holes in all the places where there was flex, brushing the sand into the holes, then using a compressor with a ball inflator (without the needle attached) into the hole (which fit perfectly inside the hole opening) and blowing the sand as far as it would go. Once I finished one hole (because it wouldn’t take any more sand), I’d go to the next area of flex, drill the next hole, and start all over again. The forcefulness of the compressed air limited the distance the sand could fly only by mortar being in its “flight path.”. I ended up using more than one bag of play sand, but the floor is rock solid with no flex at all. I spent hours doing this, but it was well worth it. I used 1cc of bag A, 2cc of bag B, and 9cc of the powder that they provided with the pan to plug the holes. I hope this is helpful to somebody.

  16. Gilles Bernard says:

    I’m going to install my first Tile Redi pan (66×42 in) in a few days and I find this blog very interesting. Looking at my pan, it seems for me that air will be trapped in the different channels under the pan when I will sit it in a pretty liquid mortar bed. The pan will float on the bed of mortar and adjusting it will be quite difficult. Somebody tried to drill holes on the walls at extremity of each channel just under the floor slab level? This should not effect the strength of the pan letting air evacuate.

    • jshum says:

      I would not worry about the trapped air channels. The air should work their way out before the thinset dries.

      • Gilles Bernard says:

        My pan is now installed and I thing it is perfect. I used SikaTop 122 Plus mortar at full diluton with part B (liquid). It was easy to put in place. I thing the holes on the sides helped the mortar to take place everywhere under the pan. Now when I hit the pan with a piece of wood, it sounds like terrazzo on all the surface.
        Thank you again for precious informations.

  17. LaNell Barrett says:

    Thanks for the honest share of comments and to your photographer for her work (-: as well.
    I am about to jump in and customer order one to fit in my demo footprint.
    And will thinset over a center drain concrete slap. Just cannot decide drain to replace old one. And mixed info for a 12 x 14weep hole that I cleaned the sand from. Perhaps with the bag od pea gravel I have.

    • LaNell Barrett says:

      Oh…and my Durock and everything will get three coats of RedGard (no plastic sheeting over studs,please).

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