Building a Shower Stall for a Custom Ceramic Tile
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.
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.
Photo by Mark Donovan
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
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
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