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Facts to Know About Manufactured and Custom Tile Shower Bases

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If you’re planning to add a walk-in shower to your home selecting a shower base or pan is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make.

Manufactured shower bases come in standard sizes or can be custom shaped to fit around a built-in shower seat or irregular walls. Manufactured shower bases are available in a variety of colors and there are flange options. There are also threshold options that include standard full height, low profile and ramped.

Custom tile shower bases are popular because they can be built to fit into almost any space and add personal style to a bathroom. Small mosaic tile used for custom shower bases provides traction when wet and is slip-resistant. Threshold options include standard full height, low profile, zero threshold and ramped.

Custom Tile Shower Bases

This custom tile shower base is crafted with colorful mosaic tile and a granite threshold.

Here are several facts to know about manufactured and custom tile shower bases as you plan your walk-in shower project:

Manufactured Shower Bases

Manufactured shower bases are made from solid surface materials and come with a pre-formed threshold and hole for drainage.

Standard manufactured shower bases.

Standard square or rectangular shower bases range in size from 32-by-32 inches to 60-by-42 inches. There are also standard neo-angle base pans for corner showers that range from 36 inches to 60 inches in diameter.

Manufactured Shower Bases

A manufactured neo-angle shower base was used for this stunning bathroom.

Custom manufactured shower bases.

Custom manufactured shower bases are cast to order. They are commonly constructed with a solid surface material such as Onyx. Templates are made before the base is cast to assure a perfect fit.

Walk-in Shower with Onyx Custom Shower Base

A walk-in shower with an Onyx custom manufactured shower base.

Custom Tile Shower Bases

Custom tile bases can be designed to meet your specific needs and conform to the space where the shower is placed. The base can be crafted to fit around a built-in shower seat or be integrated with a tub deck.

The process of installing a custom tile shower base requires constructing a subfloor. A waterproof liner is then laid over the frame. A mud bed of tile mortar is spread over the base and tile is set.

If you plan to use a custom tile base for your walk-in shower project, discuss threshold options with your contractor.

Walk-in Shower with Custom Tile Base

The custom tile base for this walk-in shower was designed to be integrated with a shower seat. Note the length and height of the threshold.

Threshold Options

Shower base manufacturers offer four basic threshold options. A shower threshold can serve as a dam for water but it can also present a barrier for some users or be a tripping hazard. In planning your project here are the options to consider:

1.  Standard full-height threshold

A standard threshold for a walk-in shower base is approximately 4 inches in height.

Standard Full Height Shower Base Threshold

A rectangular shower base a standard full height threshold was used with a standard surround for this walk-in shower with a door.

2.  Low profile threshold

The height of standard and custom low profile threshold bases ranges from 1¼ inches to 2½ inches depending on the size of the shower. The base is typically sloped ¼ inch per foot of area toward the drain hole to allow for water drainage.

Low Profile Shower Base Threshold

This walk-in shower in a small bathroom has a low threshold and a drop-down shower seat.

3.  Zero threshold

Zero threshold entries are commonly used with walk-in showers with or without doors for easy access and safety. If you’re remodeling an existing bathroom, and like this feature, you’ll want to discuss installation with your contractor to assure that there is an adequate floor structure for drainage. This is a “Universal Design” feature that is gaining popularity among bath designers and homeowners.

Zero Threshold Walk-in Shower

This master bathroom has some unique features. The shower has a custom tile zero threshold base.

4.  Ramped threshold

Ramped thresholds are designed for people who use a wheelchair. A ramped threshold can be integrated with a shower base or it can be a separate removable piece when used with a base that has a low threshold. The slope of a ramp base can increase from zero to 1½ inches or from zero to 2¼ inches depending on the length of the ramp.

Ramped Shower Base

A manufactured walk-in shower base with a ramp threshold.

Shower Base Design

All shower bases should be slip-resistant, have an adequate slope and a watertight seal.

In standard manufactured bases you will find either a center drain hole or an offset drain hole. The drain hole in the base should be matched to the existing drain or framing if possible.

If you are using a custom tile base you will be able to adjust the drain location for the existing drain line, framing and shower shape.