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Building a Shower Stall for a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower

How to Frame a Shower Stall that is Structurally Sound and Won’t Lead to Leaks

By: Mark J. Donovan

Custom ceramic tile showers have become the rage with homeowners in recent years. It seems everyone is looking to convert their ordinary shower stall into a private waterfall sanctuary. Part of any custom ceramic tile shower project includes building a shower stall frame structure that can support the mortar shower pan and concrete backer board. If a shower stall is not framed correctly the mortar shower pan may not be installed properly and the shower plumbing fixtures could end up eventually being inadvertently pulled out of the shower walls.


This said, building a shower stall is easy to do if you possess some basic carpentry knowledge. Over the years I have framed many shower stalls. Building a shower stall for a custom ceramic tile shower basically involves standard framing techniques. The use of 2x4 and/or 2x6 lumber is typically used to build a shower stall. As with most residential framing, 2x4 vertical wall studs should be placed on 16 inch centers when building a shower stall. The 2x4 wall studs should be fastened to top and bottom 2x4 plates.

Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet


Also important is to add 2x6 blocking in between, and at the base of, the 2x4 wall studs to provide a nailing surface and form for supporting the flexible shower pan membrane liner and mortar shower pan while it cures. The 2x6 blocking should be fastened so that it is flush with the inside edges of the 2x4 wall studs. If done properly, approximately a smooth 6 inch high wall should be created at the base of the shower stall, less the shower curb opening.


In addition to the 2x6 blocking at the base of the shower stall, additional blocking should be installed around the shower valve assembly and supply lines that feed up to the shower head assembly. Also, if shower handles or shower head sliding bars are to be installed it is important to include blocking in these areas as well.


Make sure that the blocking is installed slightly recessed back so that the fixtures do not protrude out beyond the 2x4 wall studs.

For the shower curb opening, three lengths of 2x4s should be stacked, or laminated together, on their flat side and fastened to the shower floor with 3.5 inch screws or 16d penny nails.


Finally, if there are plans to install glass shower doors, then additional 2x4 wall studs should be installed vertically along the outer and open edges of the shower walls.


By building a shower stall in this fashion you will be guaranteed to provide a rugged framing structure for supporting the mortar shower pan, cement backer board and ceramic tile.

Building a shower stall correctly is critical for achieving a perfect custom tiled shower.

Photo by Mark Donovan


See My Shower Pan Ebook for More Details:  For a more detailed set of instructions on building a shower pan, including pictures and a detailed cross-sectional view of the make-up of a shower pan, see my “Shower Pan Membrane Liner Ebook”.


For more information on tiling a custom ceramic tile shower, see the How to Tile a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com.  It provides detailed instructions for every step in the process of tiling a custom ceramic tile shower and is loaded with instructional pictures!


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For more help on bathroom remodeling, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet. The Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet provides you with the knowledge and information you need to plan a bathroom addition project, and what to look for when hiring contractors. It also includes a detailed cost breakdown table and a spreadsheet for estimating your own new bathroom remodeling building costs.

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- Building a Shower Stall for a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower -

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