Doug Horgan

Even the least-trained plumbers or tile installers take reasonable care with the bottom of a shower pan, but showers can also leak at curbs, walls, and benches, which are much less likely to be done well. One plumber, when we asked him to cover the curb, even said: "The shower pan fills up 1 inch above the drain; everything above that is just a waste of time."

The damage shown in the photo above is typical of the problems we see on existing showers. Cracks in tile and stone grout lines allow water through the finishes, even when those finishes aren't submerged. Curbs are especially problematic because they are commonly framed in wood—typically double or triple 2x4s — which shrinks and expands with...

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