How to Build a Curbless Shower (Part 3: Waterproofing Shower Pan) — by Home Repair Tutor

How to Build a Curbless Shower (Part 3: Waterproofing Shower Pan) — by Home Repair Tutor


Today we’re going to show you how to waterproof
the VIM curbless shower pan. Now, this shower turned out awesome. We’re really happy with
the results. But the most important thing with curbless showers is not only waterproofing
the pan but the entire bathroom floor. So we’re going to show you how to do that.
The first step is to sweep the wood subfloor because we’re going to be adhering STRATA_MAT
to it. STRATA_MAT is an uncoupling membrane and prevents the tiles from cracking.
Now, what we’re going to do is… this is the Laticrete STRATA_MAT, and basically this
is going to be our uncoupling membrane for our outside floor. So what we’re going to
do is install this first, basically right over the plywood, thinset this, and then waterproof
this entire outside floor area. So the STRATA_MAT itself is just an uncoupling membrane; it’s
not waterproof. So this is not something that you’re going to put down and expect it to
be waterproof. You’re going to have to thinset this and then apply a liquid membrane or a
sheet membrane of some sort to waterproof it. But it does give us that extra isolation
membrane from the subfloor for the tile and helps prevent tile from cracking from expansion
and contraction. And then also with this type of pattern it kind of grips that thinset and
holds everything into place. So our plan is just to go up to the VIM pan.
And then when we do the waterproofing for the VIM pan, we’ll extend that into the
outside of the shower and throughout the whole bathroom. In a curbless system it’s really
important to basically waterproof your entire bathroom because you never know. I mean, if
that drain were to clog for any reason, it’s pretty much going to be outside of your shower.
Not only that, but there’s a lot of different ways that water can get out of a curbless
shower system. You just want to be sure that the outside floor is going to be waterproofed.
So we’ll get this pre-cut before we thinset it down.
As you could see, we just cut the STRATA_MAT straight in line with the edge of our pan.
And then we left an expansion and contraction joint between the STRATA_MAT and our drywall;
that’s really important. But it’s super easy to cut. All you need is a utility knife,
and you’ll be good to go. So we’re going to be adding STRATA_MAT to this entire bathroom
floor. You can use this anywhere that you’re going to be setting tile over a wood or concrete
subfloor. Take a damp sponge and wipe the substrate
off because there’s dust. So you want to apply this with basically a 3/16” square
notch trowel or a 3/16’ x ¼” V-notch trowel. We have a 3/16” square notch. So
burn it into the substrate first. For
this project we used Laticrete’s XLT thinset mortar. We mixed it up per the directions,
and made it into a little bit of a thinner consistency for the STRATA_MAT.
And then directionally troweling after that. It’s really important to do the directional
troweling because that way all of your trowel ridges will face the same direction. And when
you set the STRATA_MAT over top of it, it compress the ridges, remove the air, and get
a good bond between the STRATA_MAT and the substrate. So in this case you can see we’re
just putting in the first piece here over top of where the plumbing pipe’s coming
out of the floor for the toilet, and we’re compressing that with our hands at first.
Just take a grout float; it can be a wood float, and just smooth this out and really
want to… you still want that expansion and contraction with this stuff against the wall.
Laticrete recommends a ¼” gap between the STRATA_MAT and the drywall.
And then we’re going to make sure that this is flush. Put thinset under this corner. So
one nice thing about this is that you can really see whether you actually have coverage
or not because this is somewhat transparent. So if you had any voids, you would probably
see a hollow point. Like right here, you could see that it’s a little bit darker in this
area, and that means I don’t have any thinset right there. And true enough. See, I don’t
have any thinset right in that area. So in some ways this allows you to see any voids.
So after we got the firsts section of STRATA_MAT in, we just had to put another coat of the
4-XLT thinset mortar on our wood subfloor. And this will allow us to bond the second
piece. But again, it’s truly easy to set the uncoupling mat over top of that and compress
it, leaving your expansion and contraction joint along the perimeter there, and then
compressing it more with your float. Cut this against the pan.
What we like about the STRATA_MAT is you can see through it. So for example, you can see
where that vent is, and we just cut out the STRATA_MAT to fit around that. But it’s
very, very easy to use and to cut with a utility knife.
From that point, we’re going to fill all these waffles in tonight, and then we’ll
waterproof the VIM pan. So you need to fill all this with thinset before waterproofing
it, mainly because you need a smooth surface to do that liquid membrane. You don’t want
it to be very difficult where you have to be basically adding multiple layers of it
to be able to fill in all of these grooves. So the recommendation by Laticrete if you
want to waterproof this is to fill in this whole thing with thinset, let it dry, and
then waterproof over top of it. And I’m just doing that with a grout float.
It’s really important that the thinset mortar that’s being used to fill the STRATA_MAT
is completely flat over top of the STRATA_MAT and especially at the transition between the
STRATA_MAT and the VIM pan. The reason why is you don’t want it to interfere with the
waterproofing fleece and the tile. All right, so the next day everything’s
dry; all the thinset’s dry. We’re going to go ahead and start the actual waterproofing
of the curbless system with the HYDRO BARRIER. So first thing is obviously to just vacuuming
up any dirt off the surface. And then just take a damp sponge and wipe any additional
dirt off of the surface. And then we’re going to be going all along these walls and
waterproofing the entire outside floor area. Technically, if you’d only just want a foot
out, that would be sufficient. And I’d say you would have at least a minimum of a foot.
But since this is just a small bathroom and really, I kind of like the idea of having
the entire bathroom completely waterproof. But we’ll be going around the edges as well.
So do it like a 5” section along the wall and floor. So the first step is just to get
one coat of this in all the corners because we’re going to be using a mesh to bond between
the pan and the HYDRO BAN Board here. So I bet you want to have that first layer on here
dry and then embed the mesh. This is basically like a three-step process, basically getting
three entire coats on all the corners and then two entire coats on the whole floor area.
Well, obviously the corners are basically the most important part of the system
in a lot of ways because that’s where any areas can be a problem.
So in these corners and along the transition between the STRATA_MAT and the drywall, we’re
applying a very, very good thick layer of the HYDRO BARRIER because we’re going to
be adding that fleece, and the fleece needs to stick to the HYDRO BARRIER.
As you could see I kind of have a pretty big gap between my drywall and the floor, so I
just stuck some HYDRO BAN Board in there. But you can just use drywall. But you want
to make sure that this whole area is filled. If you’re kind of sloppy with your drywall,
like I am, you want to fill that area in. Okay, so after this sets and dries, we’re
going to go ahead and use the mesh to embed in all the corners. So I would advise before
you start putting that liquid membrane to get everything cut before you start it. It
would be a lot easier when things are dry. And then we’ll be going outside of the shower.
So we’ll just overlap this completely in the corner here, and we’ll go all the way
along the wall. The same thing with this side. Precutting the fleece definitely makes this
process so much easier and less stressful. So if you can, precut all the corners beforehand.
Okay, then we’ll cut little corner strips. So basically fold this in half and then just
put a cut mark on the one side, so then this will allow you to make a nice, tight corner.
So you just need like a 6” piece or so, fold it, and then just cut the one half, so
then I can just fold this thing in the corner. So we’ll make four of them.
Okay, then it comes with this full sheet of membrane which, since we have such a small
shower, we’re going to have way too much of this. But let’s just get this cut as
well before applying the waterproofing. And as you could see, this is going to come out
over top of our STRATA_MAT. So this is going to be perfect. It’s going to really make
sure that everything’s waterproof, especially over this seam. Okay, so we have that all
ready to go. Okay, so put a real nice generous coat on
these corners to embed this mesh. For some reason, it took me a while to get this mesh
in here, and it started drying. Apply another coat because it needs to be like it came right
out of the bucket to embed this mesh properly. So it’s not a bad idea to try to fold this
before embedding it. And then just take your brush and just dab the corners so it’s nice
and tight before smoothing it out. Let’s get more.
Again, be very generous with the HYDRO BARRIER in the corners of the curbless shower and
outside the shower as well. These are areas where water tends to find its way and leak.
Even though the shower pan is completely pre-sloped, water’s going to hit the wall and find its
way into those corners. So be generous with the HYDRO BARRIER.
You can see how liberal I am being with this sealer. I really want to make sure that that
membrane embeds in here nicely. Folding it actually does kind of help; it
gives a little bit of memory to the corner even though it doesn’t stay. Like a corner,
when you fold that it does kind of give a little bit of memory in the corner, and it
helps. Just dab that corner first; make sure that’s nice and tight, and apply more on
top of that.
Now, if this extends up above your base trim that you’re installing, you can always apply
a layer of drywall mud to cover that. And just pay attention to that because we’re
actually doing 5 ½” trim, so I know this is going to cover that. But a lot of times
bathrooms only have like 3” trim, so this might cover over that. But you could skim
this out with some drywall mud, or just simply cut this down below where your baseboard’s
going to be so you don’t have to do any additional work.
I’m trying to smooth all the wrinkles out of it.
As Steve just said, it’s really important to remove any of the wrinkles that are in
that fleece. A wrinkle could: (1) be a place where it could tear and be a leak point; and
(2) a wrinkle could also interfere with the tile setting inside the shower or outside
the shower if you’re going to be tiling the bathroom floor, which we are in this case,
or using tile up along the first few inches of the drywall. So again, just smooth out
any wrinkles within the fleece. It’s not hard to do. It’s really easy to install
it. Okay, so now we can go ahead and do our corners.
Now, put in a generous amount of this waterproofing on here. Make sure it’s folded. You kind
of fold it into place here. Now, what you will have to do is, once you get this embedded
into the corner nicely, is to lift this little flap and get some sealer underneath of it
so that will bond that corner nice and tight. So again, try to fold this as you have it
out that cut, and then just place it into the corner. Waterproof it and lift up this
flap to make sure you have it bonded underneath. So, fold it in your hand; set it in place.
Make sure it’s tight to the corner. Apply some more membrane to seal it out. And then
lift this flap to make sure you have enough underneath there for the membrane to bond
to itself. Never hurts to add extra HYDRO BARRIER to
the corner before applying your fleece corner. So again, we’re just adding the fleece.
We’re going to waterproof it again over top of that with the HYDRO BARRIER. Then,
we’re going to lift up the little flap in the corner that you had to fold over and waterproof
under that as well. Basically the HYDRO BARRIER serves as almost an adhesive for that little
flap. Just want to make this membrane tight without
any gaps. Keep in mind, all the videos on how we built
this curbless shower are going to be over in the Bathroom Repair Tutor video library.
If you want to check that out for yourself and simplify the craft of building custom
bathrooms, you can click right here. All right, let’s jump back into the video.
Okay, the next step is to go ahead and do your entire VIM pan. Now, as you could see,
my drain I don’t have cut down yet. I can deal with this later. I actually forgot to
get my inside pipe cutter to cut the rest of this. But as long as your membrane can
just go smoothly over top of this, you can address this later, which we’re going to
do. So with the membrane on the VIM pan, it’s
suggested or recommended to do a mopping motion, kind of a circular motion, and basically really
engrain this stuff into and work it into the pan. And then when you go close to the drain,
a little bit slightly over the drain, but we’re going to be really careful not to
get the liquid waterproofing into these screw holes, especially these little small ones.
But you do want to get the membrane around the drain partially. These screws don’t
really matter; it’s just the ones that you’re mounting your actual strainer to that you
don’t want to get filled with waterproofing. So just be careful when you go around it.
But I would say you want to definitely just kind of fill this whole groove against the
drain. And again, a mopping motion on the pan and embed it.
Okay, and then we’re going to come outside of the shower so that that membrane can be
bonded to our STRATA_MAT as well. I would advise having that membrane at least coming
out of the shower 6” to 8” that will bond to the STRATA_MAT. And then we’ll go ahead
and basically set this up like a blanket; let it float over top of the membrane here.
Okay, and then just holding down at the drain, lift this one corner up and then embed the
membrane because you want to flow over this without being lifted. Because the pan is obviously
sloped, so you obviously to make sure that you’re not getting any creases or air bubbles
underneath it here. So again, just pull up the corner to the drain, and then just from
the drain out, kind of glide your hand over it and press it down. That will be the easiest
way not to get air bubbles. If you just started doing the outside, you’re going to end up
having a hard time getting this slope down, and it’s kind of a mess once it’s set
down. So again, pull up that corner and then just float with your hand to get everything
to adhere to the pan system. And just do that for every corner. And then from there, we
can use the brush applying more membrane to it. Be generous with it. And then we can go
over top of our drain. So basically what you’re going to be doing is, once this dries, we’ll
cut out this drain, and then the clamping ring… this is going to be basically forming
a membrane, and then you’re going to be clamping the drain to this membrane. So once
everything dries, you’ll cut this out. But you want to do two coats of this before cutting
anything out. Be generous with each coat. You don’t want it to be spread too thin
because you want to make sure that this membrane is fairly thick. And they give you two gallons
of this stuff, so you have plenty of waterproofing, especially if you’re only doing a tub-to-shower
conversion like this… because that means they’d give you enough waterproofing to
do a good 4’ x 6’ area, so there’s no reason to not be generous with it. And then
we’ll go ahead and waterproof over all this thinset over top of the STRATA_MAT, and that’ll
make this entire floor area waterproof. As you can see, it’s fairly quick to apply
the HYDRO BARRIER to the STRATA_MAT and the pan using just a simple paintbrush. And this
is our first coat, so it didn’t really take us all that long to let this set up [er the
directions. And we’re going to go over it again for a second coat.
And so following day, we’re going to put a second coat. And it’s technically a third
coat on all the corners. But you really want to get that second full coat on the entire
pan, which would just give you the mil thickness that you need that’s recommended by Laticrete
for this. So it’s kind of a two-day process, really. After this second layer dries, give
it 24 hours and then you can go ahead and flood-test everything. Then you could start
tiling. You pretty much did the mopping motion on
that first row, so really you just need to paint it on at this point. You could actually
use a 3/8 nap roller, if you want to, to quicken things up, depending on how big of a floor
you have. Again, be very generous with the HYDRO BARRIER
in the shower area and over top of the first coat in the bathroom floor area. It never
hurts to smooth this out. Again, you don’t want any kind of humps or bumps in the HYDRO
BARRIER that might interfere with the setting of your tile. So just keep an eye on that.
We’re going to install this drain assembly. So these are the screws to attach your clamping
ring. And the knife that it came with is kind of nice to use because it has like a really
nice, long blade. So basically you just want to feel where your drain hole is, and you
want to cut basically where the hole is for the drain. You don’t want to cut the outside.
You could feel the drain body, so that’s the outside. You want to cut the inside where
the actual pipe is. Because the idea of this is to just clamp basically this membrane that
we’ve created now to the drain. So this is obviously our waterproofing. So you want
to cut the actual hole. So you have an outside ring and an inside ring. So just be careful
how you cut this. It might even be good just to start in the middle and get to the edge,
and then cut it around. Be very, very careful when you’re cutting
this membrane and the fleece. So you definitely want to be inside the shower drain because,
again, we’re going to be clamping down over top of this entire waterproofing layer. So
just be extra cautious. Okay, so that’s cut all the way around there.
And as you could see, I still need to cut my pipe. So what I like to use is an inside
pipe cutter. You can find this at your local home store pretty easily or on Amazon. Now,
the only reason you have to do this is if you don’t have access below. Otherwise,
you’d be able to get this pipe perfectly and then connect your drain down below. But
in this situation, this pipe is already set by our plumber. And now we just need to cut
the excess pipe. So if this is the first time you’ve done
it, I would just say just do a little practice run higher up. Basically what you want to
do is get this level or just above your locking ring. So basically the floor of your drain
here is what you want to cut even with. So I’m just going to do a little practice run
starting above it just to get a feel for it. And I would definitely recommend that if this
is the first time you’ve used this to do that as well.
So if you put pressure to the outside of the pipe, it’ll keep your drill bit balanced.
So basically you want to just start out at full rpm, and then work your way over, and
then just hold pressure against the pipe, and that’ll essentially get a nice cut.
So again, just putting pressure against the wall of the pipe. So we’ll get down to where
we actually want to be. Never hurts to be patient while you’re doing
this pipe cutting. The reason why is if you mess it up, it’s not a good thing. So just
be patient and allow the tool to do most of the work. As Steve explained, if you apply
pressure to the inside of the pipe, that tool will cut nice and easily. And it doesn’t
hurt to have an LED light on your drill as you’re doing this so you can see what you’re
doing. Okay, so it’s nice to have it kind of flush
with your clamping ring at the bottom here so that water doesn’t build up against it.
But you could always keep dressing it up until you get it nice and flat towards that.
Okay, and then you just take your ring. And then there’s these little stoppers on here.
So make sure you wipe everything off. So there’s like a little stopper here. So you basically
just twist this until it drops. So you twist it until it feels a marker, and then that
lines up these screw holes to this. So you don’t have to fish around and figure out
where your screw holes are. As soon as you allow that to slide in, now it holds is perfectly
in line with this. And then you just take your stainless steel
screws and just pierce the membrane till you get it threaded in. Now, I wouldn’t screw
it tightly at first. I would get all of them in and go from one side to the other to get
the clamp evenly tightened. We’re going to add a drain plug here in
a few seconds, and it doesn’t hurt to actually add the drain plug before you add all these
screws. That way you won’t accidentally drop a screw down into the pipe, and that
would totally stink. And then once you get them all in, you can
just tighten them down from either side. And then we’re going to do some flood testing,
but we’ll put this in later. But this is your, basically, temporary plate. You always
want to have this in place basically just to keep stuff from getting in your drain when
you’re tiling, but it also keeps this cover spaced out properly for the actual drain cover.
The drain cover just slides down into the pipe that you screwed in place. Now, what
we’re going to do is flood test this area. So you just add plumber’s putty between
your tile floor and the shower pan, and you fill that up and test it to make sure it doesn’t
leak. This curbless shower looks awesome. The marble
floor and the subway tile really make it pop in addition to the frameless glass shower
doors. Now, if you want to see all the videos on how we built this curbless shower, we’re
going to put them over in the Bathroom Repair Tutor video library, and you can check that
out right here. Thanks for watching today’s video, and we’ll
see you in the next one.

15 thoughts on “How to Build a Curbless Shower (Part 3: Waterproofing Shower Pan) — by Home Repair Tutor

  1. I can’t decide if I like this system better than schluter. I’ve only installed schluter products but laticrete looks to be just as good. These companies really put a lot of thought into waterproofing. Great video.

  2. Perhaps I missed something and this is a dumb question, but why water proof the whole floor when there is an air register that all the water is going to go down?

  3. I may have missed it but what are the dimensions to this bathroom. I have a very small bath and this has given me a lot of inspiration.

  4. Excellent seeing this process! I like the narrations from both of you like you're doing here. It helps answer a million questions – especially when you occasionally go over something in elaborate detail. I would guess that the planning, filming and editing multiplies the workload. It's appreciated!

  5. I’m interested in using this system in my bathroom, but I would like to add heat to the tiles. Do you recommend a system and would that system go over or under the waterproof membrane?

  6. These flexible rubber products under tile don't seem a good idea to me. If the tile isn't rigid it is more likely to crack I would think.

  7. Curbless is not working probably when the heating vent on the floor, should relocate on the wall, at least 6 inches above the floor

  8. scissors work better and are far easier than employing a razor knife and less chance of making an unintended cut in material you don't want a cut in….

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