How to Install a Shower Liner

A Ceramic Tiled Custom Shower Requires Installing a Shower Liner

By Mark J. Donovan

A shower liner needs to be installed into the base of a shower stall if you have plans for building a ceramic tiled custom shower. Over the years I have heard my share of horror stories where improper shower liner installations have lead to mini disasters in the home. It is imperative to install a shower liner correctly to prevent shower floor leaks. Shower floor leaks ultimately lead to rot, mold and mildew growth. In addition, if the shower is located on an upper level of a home, water will inevitably find its way on to the lower level ceilings.

A flexible shower membrane liner is at the heart of every quality mortar shower pan.

More specifically a shower liner is installed between two layers of mortar that have been purposely sloped towards the shower drain.

Installing a Shower Liner

Before attempting to install a shower liner it is important to first make sure you have properly framed your shower stall. Make sure that the wall studs are on 16 inch centers and that there is blocking material installed along the perimeter base of the shower stall.

In addition, make sure that the shower subfloor has no deflection. If the floor has deflection the mortar could crack over time, which could lead to a damaged shower liner.

The first step in installing a shower liner is to pour a pre-sloped mortar bed into the base of the shower stall. You will need to trowel the mortar so that you create a gentle slope upwards and outwards from the shower drain. The slope should be ¼” per foot.

However, before you install the pre-slope mortar layer make sure to install an adjustable shower drain so that you can adjust the height of the shower drain to the finished height of the shower base, including the height of the ceramic tile. In addition, also lay a layer of felt paper and metal lath into the base of the shower floor prior to pouring the mortar.

Allow the pre-slope mortar to set up over night before moving forward.

Once the pre-slope mortar has cured, you can then install the shower liner. Make sure you use enough shower liner material to have the material run up approximately 6 inches along the sides of the shower walls. Fold the shower liner with lap joints and tack onto the wall studs and blocking material approximately 5” inches off of the base of the shower floor. Also tack the shower liner to the outside edge of the shower curb.

Once you have tacked up the shower liner material, cut a hole out for the shower drain.

With the shower liner installed, fasten the cement backer board onto the shower walls. Make sure to put some cardboard over the membrane liner to prevent damaging it when installing the cement backer board.

Next, hand form shape and apply metal lath over the shower curb area. Nail it to the outside edge of the shower stall.

After installing the cement backer board and attaching the curb metal lath, pour one final layer of mortar into the shower base to complete the shower liner installation. Trowel the mortar so that you maintain the same slope as the pre-slope. In addition, trowel mortar over the curb and metal lath.

How to Install a Mortar Shower Pan Membrane Liner eBook.

Allow the mortar to set up over night, and you can then begin the process of tiling your custom ceramic tile shower.

For information on installing a shower pan membrane liner for a ceramic tile shower, see the Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation Ebook from  The Shower Pan Membrane Liner EBook will quickly teach you the step-by-step process for installing the shower pan membrane liner correctly. It includes instructions on framing the shower stall, pouring the pre-slope and shower base mortar, and installing the shower pan membrane liner.

See’s Ceramic Tile Calculator

See my “How to Tile a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower” Ebook to learn how to tile your own shower:  For a detailed set of instructions on tiling a shower floor and walls, including pictures for every step in the process, see my “How to Tile Custom Ceramic Tile Shower Ebook”.

Related Information

Additional Ceramic Tile Resources from


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