Guide to the various types of showers and how to install them

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Guide to the various types of showers and how to install them

Sunita Vellapally Sunita Vellapally
Scandinavian style bathroom by Studio Gritt Scandinavian
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Whether you are building a new bathroom or renovating, the installation of the shower drain presents several options. The type of shower pan will determine the choices. Additionally, the type of drain pipes in the home will also influence the decision on the shower drain types that are most suited for it. Certain manufacturers also have recommendations on the type of shower drains that will be compatible with the shower pan model.

It’s essential to remember that the drain pipe into which the shower drains is 2 inches wide. This is because showers tend to flood easily and require a slightly wider drain pipe than the standard 1 and ½ inch pipe. Therefore, if you are converting a shower-tub combination to a shower in a bathroom, the size of the drain pipe will need to be changed before the shower drain replacement is carried out.

Selecting the perfect combination of the shower pan and drain is not easy, and the last thing you want is to have a shower drain installation that isn’t efficient in flushing out the water. It’s advisable to consult a professional interior architect or bathroom designer to ensure that the right type of shower drain covers is installed in your bathrooms.

Today, we provide details and tips on all you need to know about installing shower drains, depending on the material used for the bathroom floor.

What are the different types of shower drain covers?

There are three types of shower drains that are commonly used in bathrooms – compression type, glue-on and tile shower drains. The compression type of drain for the shower gets its name because it uses compression washers and nuts when it is attached to the drain pipes in the home. They are usually made from PVC, ABS or brass. All these materials are compatible with shower bases made of plastic, fiberglass or steel, which makes them among the easiest type of shower drain to install.

The glue-on type, as the name suggests, is fixed to the drain by using glue. They come in PVC plastic and ABS and are compatible with fibreglass, plastic or steel shower bases. However, when installing a glue-on shower drain in a bathroom one should ensure that the type of plastic in the drain is the same as that of the drain pipe.

Tile shower drains are used for custom-made shower bases with ceramic tiling. These drains are installed at the initial stage of constructing the ceramic tile pan. They are usually made of PVC, ABS or cast iron. Ceramic tile shower drains have a flange that attaches the waterproof liner to the pan to provide resistance and ensure that the water drains without accumulating under the mortar.

How to install a compression shower drain

A compression shower drain should be installed into the shower base keeping the following points in mind:

  • The drain pipe needs to sit around ¾ inch to 1 inch below the top of the shower drain. To ensure that it is at the right level, one might need to place the base in its location, measure and mark the height, and then remove the pan before cutting the pipe to the right height.
  • Next plumbing putty or silicone caulk should be placed on the top flange of the fitting. Then, the tailpiece of the fitting should be inserted into the opening of the drain and the fiction ring and the rubber washer inserted onto the tailpiece from under the base of the shower.
  • After this, the shower drain should be tightened, and the excess silicone or putty removed.
  • The shower base can now be put into place, and the rubber gasket pushed into the shower drain pipe.
  • Using the tool that comes with the compression drain kit, the nuts can be tightened from inside the drain.
  • If plumber’s putty is used, the shower drain is ready to use as soon as the nut is tightened. In case silicone is used, enough time should be allowed for the silicone to dry before testing whether the drain is set or of it has any leaks.

How to install a glue-on shower drain

The installation of glue-on drains is more complicated than that of compression drains. It’s not as easy to get the measurement of the drain pipe right, so one should ensure that the measurement is done accurately. The pieces should be fitted dry to ensure the measurement is right before it is glued in place. The points to be noted for glue-on fittings are:

  • The drain pipe needs to be at the right height. Therefore, before gluing, one should ensure that the pipe isn’t cut too short by placing the lower part of the drain onto the pipe and then, placing the shower base to check if the pipe is at the right height. If it isn’t, the necessary adjustments should be made, and the process repeated until the system fits correctly.
  • After determining the right height for the pipe, the drain can be installed on the shower base and then, the flange at the top tightened once the base is set. Alternatively, the bottom part of the shower drain can be glued onto the pipe before the flange is tightened.
  • Putty or silicone can be used to glue the top flange and the friction washer and rubber washer fitted onto the tailpiece from under the shower base.
  • One should ensure that the right type of glue is used for glue-on drains. For white plastic, PVC glue is recommended, whereas ABS glue should be used for black plastic.

How to install shower drain for tiles

For custom-made tile showers, the drains usually have three parts – the bottom flange, the middle flange and the strainer.

  • First, the subfloor of the shower should be laid and cleaned.
  • Following this, the bottom flange can be glued onto the drain pipe.
  • A trowelled mortar should be used to create the underlayment of the shower, and it should be sloped at one-fourth inch for every foot from the wall to the drain to ensure that the water flows towards the drain.
  • After this, the liner is fixed over the floor and the flange of the shower pan, using silicone caulk to seal the two surfaces. Then, the liner can be trimmed around the opening of the drain.
  • Next, the middle flange can be inserted over the liner and the drain opening with bolts to secure it to the bottom flange below the liner.
  • The drain strainer can be assembled, ensuring that it is around one and a half inches above the liner.
  • After this, the rest of the ceramic tile installation in the shower can be done.
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