How to Build a Shower Pan on Plywood Floor

When building or renovating a bathroom, the shower area plays a crucial role in both functionality and aesthetics. One crucial element of a properly functioning shower is a well-built shower pan. In this detailed guide, we'll walk you through the process of building a shower pan on a plywood floor. By following these steps, you can ensure a watertight and durable foundation for your shower, providing years of reliability and enjoyment.

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Materials

Before you build a shower pan, gathering all the tools and materials you'll need is important. This will save you time and help ensure a smooth construction process. Here's a list of the essential items:


  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Chalk line
  • Screwdriver
  • Notched trowel
  • Rubber float
  • Margin trowel
  • Level
  • Tile saw (if necessary)
  • Paint roller


  • Plywood sheets
  • Waterproofing membrane
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Mesh tape
  • Cement board
  • Cement screws
  • Drain assembly
  • Pre-slope mortar mix
  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout

Preparing the Plywood Floor

Before installing any shower pan components, preparing the plywood floor properly is crucial. Follow these steps:

1. Clear the area: Remove any debris, old tiles, or flooring materials from the plywood floor.

2. Check the floor's condition: Ensure the plywood is stable and free of rot or damage. Replace any compromised sections to guarantee a solid foundation.

3. Create the drain slope: Use a pre-slope mortar mix to create a gentle slope towards the drain. This will ensure proper water drainage and prevent pooling.
Installing the Drain Assembly

The drain assembly forms an integral part of the shower pan. To install it correctly, follow these steps:

1. Mark the location: Measure and mark the drain's location on the floor, keeping in mind the desired shower size and accessibility.

2. Cut the hole: Use a utility knife to cut a hole in the plywood floor according to the drain's specifications.

3. Install the drain base: Using the manufacturer's instructions, place it over the hole and screw it down onto the plywood floor.

Applying the Waterproofing Membrane

Applying a waterproofing membrane over the plywood floor is vital to ensure a completely watertight shower pan. Here's how to do it:

1. Measure and cut the membrane: Use a tape measure to determine the required dimensions of the waterproofing membrane. Cut it to size, leaving extra material to cover the walls.

2. Apply thin-set mortar: Using a notched trowel, spread a layer of thin-set mortar onto the plywood floor within the membrane's boundaries.

3. Lay the membrane: Carefully lay the waterproofing membrane over the thin-set mortar, pressing it down firmly. Smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles using a rubber float.

4. Seal the seams and corners: Apply mesh tape and thin-set mortar to the seams and corners of the waterproofing membrane, ensuring a secure and leakproof barrier.

Installing Cement Board and Finishing

Now that the waterproofing membrane is in place, it's time to install a cement board and prepare the shower pan for tiling. Follow these final steps:

1. Cut and attach cement board: Measure and cut cement board to fit the shower pan area. Attach it to the plywood floor using cement screws, ensuring proper spacing.

2. Check for levelness: Use a level to confirm that all edges of the cement board are even and level.

3. Apply a final layer of thin-set: Use a margin trowel to apply a thin layer of thin-set mortar over the cement board surface to create a strong bond with the tiles.

4. Allow the mortar to cure: Leave the mortar to cure according to the manufacturer's instructions, typically for 24-48 hours.

5. Tile the shower pan: Apply tile adhesive to the cured mortar bed and install your chosen tiles, following the manufacturer's instructions. Allow them to set and dry.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can confidently build a shower pan on a plywood floor. Remember to prioritize proper preparation, waterproofing, and ensuring a solid foundation. Building the shower pan correctly will result in a functional, durable, and visually appealing shower for years to come.

Shop From The Forest Today

With your shower pan successfully built, it's time to transform your entire bathroom into a stunning and inviting space. At From The Forest, we provide a wide range of high-quality flooring options to suit every style and preference.

Visit our website to explore our impressive collection of flooring products and discover the perfect fit for your bathroom or any other room in your home. Get inspired and take the next step towards creating a beautiful living environment today!

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