A Sloped Tile Shower Pan with a Linear Drain

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Tile contractor Tom Bouchard shows how to make a tile-ready, watertight sloped shower pan with a linear drain using Schluter Kerdi-Board, Kerdi membrane, and thinset mortar.

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Tile contractor Tom Boucher says his working life has gotten easier since Schluter introduced its Kerdi system of tile backerboard and membranes. One example: the work involved in prepping a shower floor for tile. Using Schluter's components — tapered Kerdi-Board tile underlayment, a Kerdi-Line linear drain with integrated waterproofing membrane, and Kerdi waterproofing membrane — Boucher can make a wood-framed shower with plywood subflooring ready for tile in an hour or two.

The example we're presenting this week comes from one of two custom bathrooms Boucher and colleague Bob Vedder tiled this summer for a new custom house under construction in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, by architect and builder Caleb Johnson. JLC followed along as Boucher connected the linear drain to the rough plumbing, installed the drain and the tile underlayment, and sealed the pan with mortar and membrane. For a closer look, see the slideshow.

Ted Cushman/JLC

This time around, Boucher's work was complicated a little bit by the way the plumbers on the job stubbed up the drain pipe in the shower floor. "We've worked with this plumber on other jobs closer to home, and we've taught them not to glue the pipe into the P trap," Boucher explains. "The linear drain body is stainless steel, and that gets attached to the plastic drain pipe with a rubber Fernco coupling that has two hose clamps. If they don't glue the plastic pipe into the P trap, we can just pull the pipe out, cut it to length, attach it to the steel drain body, and then glue the end of the plastic pipe into the trap as we set the drain. But the plumber's crew up here hasn't worked with us before and they didn't know about how these drains work. So they glued the pipe into the trap. We had to get the plumber back in to cut the pipe back, and then we had to glue another plastic fitting onto it."

Even after the plumber cut the stubbed-up pipe, Boucher had to trim the end of it back a little, and the fiddling with the drain slowed the job down. Even so, Boucher was able to get each shower floor ready for tile in about an hour apiece.