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 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.
82 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?


  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″.


      • 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.

    • Dave says:

      @Paul & @Nepblog – I know you did this a while ago but I’m hoping you can help me as I tried to install my TileRedi pan yesterday and failed. The instructions say that the ribs should be hitting the ground after pushing into the mortar. That just seemed ridiculous to me based on the thickness of the mortar they recommended (1.5″ based on the depth of the deepest rib. After lots of shimmying and pounding I gave up and pulled it all out.
      @Neplog your installation largely floats on the mortar bed. All the airspace within the ribs below the deck is OK and sturdy enough?
      @Paul – did you have the same results in terms of how much depth in the mortar your pan went. I was thinking a soupier mix can lead to greater depth which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

      Thanks in advance,

      • jshum says:

        Hi Dave – sorry for the late reply. I hope all went well w/ the follow up attempt. The pan ribs definitely floated in the mortar. The ribs don’t need to be drowning in mortar… they just need to be touching. It’s very much like tiling, but you create the ribs in the mortar using the trowel.

        • Don Hershman says:

          The saga continues. The ribs of the shower pan, when all was said and done were they just sitting on the versabond thin set or did the thin set bind to the ribs on the bottom of the pan?

          • John Shum says:

            Sorry for the delayed response – hope it went well. The ribs were sitting in the thinset (just a little bit) and never touched the flooring substrate. I think everyone agrees the instructions misguided everyone.

  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.


  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).

  18. VPD says:

    Just a theory I tried and it looks like it’s working out. After reading all the posts on line about the issues with installing tile redi bases got me thinking. Being an advanced DIY’er, I too thought this base was the way to go, but after the posts, needed to rethink. The tile redi video is carp, just like the Durock instructions are carp(friggin auto correct!) The pros say to put thin set under durock, not mastic, which I agree with.

    Tile redi video shows throwing down some dry set or thin set on the floor, and setting the base. From what everyone said, lotsa flex possible. Obviously due to the fact that putting the mortar down on the floor and expecting it to bleed up into the ribs is a lot to expect.

    So I thought……. why not place the base, flip it over from its location (I have a 33 x 60 pan I’m installing, going into 3 walls), fill most the ribs full of mortar, then scratch the floor with 1/2 x 1/2 trowel. Flip back over, and Walla! Push to level and fully rock solid! Let dry and spark a dime off any surface!

    Ok, this takes a lot of mortar to do, but if you don’t want to wreck expensive tile, $30 bucks of mortar under a $600 shower pan is whatever. Had to mix 2 1/2 bags (versabond) 3 times in 5 gallon buckets (had to haul ass on this phase). Mix thick so it won’t pour outta bucket, fill at least perimeter ribs and every 2 nd rib.. scratch floor with 1/2″ trowel then carefully and quickly flip over into position.. looking solid so far..

    • derick says:

      I bought a curbless tile-redi shower pan because I thought it was the ‘the way to go’ too! ;) And thank you for your post VPD, because after reading all the troubles out there with folks sinking their pans into 1.5″ of mortar (or more!) I decided to flip the damn thing over and fill in ALL the fins with mortar FIRST and then scree in the usual mortar bed (1/4″x1/4″ trowel) for tile on the floor and then I flipped the pan over and set it. Solid! I’m waiting for it to set fully, but I’m pretty sure this is the way to go with these PVC things. I used Versabond mortar for my 32″x60″ left drain pan, 1 and 1/3 bags, but I threw out a LOT of mortar so it probably took 1 and 1/5 bags overall. I was worried about the volume and weight but it turned out to be no big deal AT ALL! :) I had the room to lay the pan down upside down next to where I was going to put it, so I realize that won’t work for every application. I’m sure most pans can be lifted into place with two folks.

  19. jshum says:

    Very good tip -Thx for chiming in!

  20. Terry says:

    I take it you are using the Versa Bond Thinset mortar. Correct?

  21. JSPete says:

    Has anyone considered filling the voids under the pan with expanding foam, letting it cure and then cutting it flush with the bottom of the shower base, and then setting it in the thinset?

  22. rbj1111 says:

    Used this method to install a 48×48 this week end. Rock solid thanks for your recommendations.

  23. Ramiro says:

    I noticed you used glass tiles and I love the concept, I am thinking to use glass tile as well, how slippery they are? by the way, great tutorial, this was my guide for my shower pan installation.

  24. Stan K says:

    I just bought the tile-redi shower pan (42″x72″) and I was not impressed with the manufacturers installation video and all of the negative comments I saw regarding the way they mortared in the basin. Your method looks rock solid, I’m glad I found it, thanks!

    • jshum says:

      Hi Stan – Glad you found our link – hope it all works out for you!

    • Stan K says:

      Best advice ever!!! I used a bag and a half. Laid it down with a 2×4 to keep it somewhat formed. Dropped pan in and set it with pressure. I used 50 grits sandpaper before dropping it in to rough up the ribs under pan for better adhesion. The side of the pan closest to the 2×4 was bouncy initially and it made me very skeptical so I added a little weight, evenly around pan. Let things settle for 24 hours before checking it and I have to say the pan is ROCK SOLID in there, no bounce or flex anywhere!


  25. A Khan says:

    I cant find the size I need. I was going to use the barrier free tray. Is it possible to cut the tray on the barrier free side to the correct depth? I am assuming I can use a table saw with a pvc cutting blade.

    • jshum says:

      I haven’t seen anyone on this thread share experience with cutting a pan to size. The concern would be the structural integrity of the pan, and leakage around the area that you’ll be cutting, so if you have that figured out, then it could work. Let me know what you figured out.

  26. todd says:

    can I just use PL premium contractors adhiesive? to attach tile pan to concrete floor?

    • jshum says:

      I haven’t heard of anyone doing that, but quite possible if you have an adhesive that cures with little flex. You’ll be tiling on the pan, so any additional flex (other than the pan) will increase the risk of a tile cracking. It’s also A LOT of adhesive you would use to completely fill the base to make sure it stuck to all the ribs, so it just might be a matter of cost.

  27. Kari Smith says:

    I just had a redi tile shower pan installed. I told my plumber that there needed to be 1/2-3/4 inch of mortar under the pan. I don’t think he put enough on though. The pan is still flexing some in the middle. Is it too late? Can I pull it up and put more mortar down. I can’t get ahold of my plumber (it’s the evening) but I’m not sure it can wait until tomorrow.

    • jshum says:

      I’ve heard of homeowners pulling up pans and remounting the pan, but it sounded like a rough experience. It’s possible, but I think you’ll need to chisel out all the old mortar, and carefully scrape off everything stuck to ribs of the pan.

  28. Jeff says:

    Thanks to everyone for the valuable tips. Laid down my 42″ x 60″ Tile Redi pan with the VersaBond mortar as outlined above. Started with 1.5″ and sank the pan about .75″ into the mortar; leveling was easy. 48 hours later it is rock solid. Will probably outlive me! Thanks again. Jeff

  29. Rbj1111 says:

    1 and half years later set in 2 inch wet veesa bond , still rock solid with no issues. Thanks again for the advice. Btw I used mason jars and divided epoxy and hardener in half in separate jars before mixing and that made tiling much more manageable. Pre cut fit pieces for around the drain and mine came out perfect. I did the 48×48 plus the bench.

    • John Shum says:

      That is great to hear that the pan has held up! Thx for the tip on the epoxy – I’m sure it helps to relax a bit on timing with the tile. I laid the entire pan of mosaic tile in one go and by the time I got to the end, I could only nudge all the tiles a few millimeters.

  30. Aaron mena says:

    knepacena, I did not look to see when this blog was made so I was shocked to see it was in 2011. I am getting ready to try the tile ready shower pan and I am going to use all of your tips. You advice is greatly appreciated, Sincerely, Aaron Mena

    • John Shum says:

      Thx for reading thru the thread. It’s obviously an issue for TileRedi and hope they improve the documentation b/c from the looks of all the comments, the instructions are lacking some credibility. The pans are expensive, and the hardcore installers scoff at consumers buying this expensive pan, but it really can be a good solution accompanied by better installing tips.

  31. Joe says:

    So glad I found this before my install. I do have one question about laying the versabond. Did you use a trowel to make grooves or did you keep it smooth? Also did you put some weight in the pan while it was drying? About how much pressure did you use to set the pan in the thinnest?

    • John Shum says:

      I didn’t trowel the mortar, as I wanted as much contact as possible. The shower pan is already ribbed. I don’t recall how much weight I put on top during the drying period (some weight seems appropriate).

  32. Scott says:

    Thx John for all the comments….question, were you concerned at all about mortar running out from under the drain hole at the subfloor? The 2×4 in front makes a ton of sense, but what about around the drain hole where the mortar can run out and possibly create a void around the drain?

  33. Matt C says:

    Great blog/thread. I’m getting ready to install a 72″ x 48″. The first one I bought was damaged. It had a crack in one of the sidewalls. They are sending a new one but I’m crossing my fingers the next one comes in undamaged. It seems a lot less fragile than I was expecting but looking forward to using your advice.

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