When you’re taking a shower, do you ever find yourself thinking about a shower base or a shower pan?
Whenever they step into their shower space, people usually stand on shower pans or shower bases. However, most folks don’t really pay much attention to them. What I can tell you here is that these components can be made out of different materials and come in different sizes.
If you’ve decided to install a new shower pan in your bathroom space, you’re probably doing a bit of research about the standard sizes of these things. To help you out, I’ve compiled a list of all important measurements related to shower pans.
In this article, I’ll be talking about the measurements related to the shower base and the shower pan in more detail. I will also cover a variety of potential issues that can arise during the installation of these components.
What Are the Standard Shower Pan Sizes?
So, let me answer your main question – “what are the standard sizes of shower pans?” The basic dimensions of this important bathroom element can be anywhere from 32” x 32” all the way up to 42” x 60”.
Things are a bit different when it comes to the so-called neo-angle shower pans, which are great for corner showers. While the neo-angle shower pans come in a variety of sizes, their average measurement is typically between 36 and 60 inches.
The shower pan’s depth, on the other hand, will usually be somewhere between 1” and 6” (the lip thickness).
The Shower Drain
During the installation of a new pan, it’s important to keep in mind that there are three different types of drain locations/drain styles: the on-edge drain, the off-set drain, and the center drain. Here are the differences between them:
- The most common of all drain locations, center drains work best when their location is at the bottom of the bathtub.
- The most important thing about the offset drain placement is that there needs to be an opening – at least 6” wide – between the drain and the shower wall. The purpose of this is to prevent the water from flowing back into another fixture.
- The “on-edge” drain location secures a potential overflow first before securing anything else. It’s a great choice if you’re often experiencing rough weather conditions in your area.
What Is the Purpose of Shower Pans?
The primary purpose of shower pans is to guide the shower head water down into the shower drain hole.
As you probably already know, most shower pans are slightly sloped, and this is precisely what allows them to direct water into the center drain. Due to this slightly-curved design, the water simply can’t pool on the shower floor – the only place it can go to is the shower drain.
One very important thing to mention here is that a lot of people think that there’s no distinction between the shower bases and shower pans. The shower base is installed below the shower. The shower pans, on the other hand, are what you usually see on the shower floor.
The Standard Shower Base / Pan Sizes
Shower bases or shower pans come in a variety of shapes – there’s something for everyone’s bathroom. However, all of them follow a single standard size.
In general, the dimensions of the shower pans and bases are 32” x 32” for the standard square ones and 36” x 48” for the rectangular ones. A neo-angle corner unit, on the other hand, will typically be between 38” and 60” wide.
It goes without saying that a shower pan is one of the most important shower parts. And when it comes to the depth of this crucial plumbing component, the lip’s thickness generally ranges from 1” to 6”.
What’s the Smallest Shower Pan Size?
If your bathroom space is really small, i.e. if you have a tiny bathroom, you’re probably wondering what’s the smallest shower pan you can get.
The smallest shower pan available on today’s market is the 30-inch one.
How to Measure a Shower Pan Size
There are various measures homeowners need to take in order to make sure their shower pans will have a proper fit:
- Step #1 – The first measurement you’ll have to make is that of the pan’s outside border. Don’t forget to take notes.
- Step #2 – You will also have to measure the pan’s depth. Measure it all the way from the bottom of the shower pan to its top edge.
- Step #3 – The final measurement you’ll need to take is the distance between the outside shower pan corners and the drain location.
A word of caution – if you’re about to install a shower pan for the very first time, it’s important that you ensure a complete match between the shower pan you’ve chosen and your already-existing drainage system and wall studs.
Materials Used in the Manufacture of Shower Pans
Ever since they were first released half a century ago, shower pans have gone through a number of important changes.
The result of this is pretty obvious – there’s a wide array of shower pans available on today’s market, both in terms of materials they’re made out of and in terms of their overall design. From luxurious to extremely cheap ones, there’s something for everyone’s pocket.
Composite Shower Pans
These kinds of shower pans are made out of stone and synthetic polymers. Composite shower pans are a top-end option, both in terms of price and quality.
Acrylic Shower Pans
Ideal for a tight space, an acrylic shower pan is a medium-priced option. These kinds of pans come in various shapes and are available in a number of colors.
Fiberglass Shower Pans
The shower pans made out of fiberglass are inexpensive and can be found in most home improvement shops.
Custom Tile Shower Pans
An elegant option for homeowners who want to change the décor of their bathrooms, the custom tile showers are quite expensive. However, the eye-catching design of the tile shower pans definitely justifies their higher price.
The Lifespan of Shower Pans
It goes without saying that the lifespan of a shower pan always depends on the material this component was made out of.
Even though they’re not really that expensive, acrylic shower pans can last as long as 10 years. The tile ones, on the other hand, can last as much as 15 years with a bit of maintenance (they require re-grouting every now and then).
Once again, it is the choice of material that has the biggest impact on the long-run performance and sturdiness of a shower pan. These are the most commonly used materials:
A shower pan made out of polycarbonate is somewhere in the middle when it comes to robustness and durability.
Unfortunately, the tile pans are not the most durable ones out there. The tile pans are much more likely to break and fracture over time.
Store-bought fiberglass pans are also not the best choice if you’re looking for durability. They have a shorter lifespan due to their porous surface.
What is more, this type of showering pan is much more prone to breaking if the water you’re using has high mineral content.
As far as I’m concerned, natural stone is never a bad choice when it comes to choosing a pan for your shower area.
Due to its innate durability – as well as beauty – a composite shower pan is easily my personal No. 1 choice.
Installation of a Shower Pan on a Concrete Floor
Is the installation of a shower pan on a concrete floor a good idea? In short, yes, it is.
While it’s true that a regular floor can handle water – even absorb some of it – using it for an active shower room would be a pretty bad idea, even if it was treated or prepared for it in some way.
What is more, there’s always the risk of water leaks, i.e. water leaking into the cracks beneath where the home occupants step. This can lead to all kinds of issues later, and some of these can be pretty costly to fix.
On the market, you should be able to find concrete sealers that have been specifically designed for concrete shower use.
The last thing worth mentioning here is that the shower pans are often quite easy to install. Once you’ve placed the pan in the mortar base, all you need to do is let it dry off.
Tiles vs Shower Pan – What’s a Better Option?
When it comes to the question of whether you should go with a shower pan or just tiles for your showering area, the decision should depend upon which one of these two options provides easy access – and which one of them is more financially accessible – in your particular situation.
Fortunately, today’s shower pan market offers a myriad of options that are inexpensive and don’t require a labor-intensive installation.
You can easily get a shower pan that offers a guest bath functionality in a glass enclosure-free (open) layout or a spa-like luxurious shower pan with genuinely charming design elements such as gold fixtures or a cultured marble floor.
One saying that is particularly true when it comes to bathrooms is that not all spaces are created equal.
If you’re searching for something that will match your specific needs or go well with the décor of your bathroom, your best bet is installing tile in a shower pan that’s already there instead of opting for an expensive custom mosaic work.
Do I Need a Liner for My Shower Pan?
The shower pans of standard sizes (and other sizes as well) all require a liner. To give safety to your snower pan, make sure to install a liner just underneath it.
The only time when a shower room works with no liner installed underneath it is when it’s set down on a concrete surface and when its top is covered by tiles.
Why is My Shower Pan not Working Correctly?
There are three very common symptoms that can tell a particular shower pan is not working as it should. They are as follows:
Excess water – or water that is pooling in a shower pan – can sometimes be a pretty big issue. Whenever you open the faucet, the water will be escaping from the surrounding cracks.
The primary cause behind this kind of problem is typically a defective shower pan.
Mildew or Mold
When you notice mold growing on the walls of your showering space, you can be sure that your shower pan is slowly deteriorating.
The appearance of mildew or mold tells that the water is already in the process of leaking through the ledge on the house’s side. Are the slabs on the first floor of your home discolored? If so, you’re probably dealing with a leaky shower pan. Read our guide on how to get rid of mold in the shower for more information.
If you notice water puddling while inspecting the ceiling, the drywall, or the area close to the showerhead, your shower pan is probably cracked.
If you notice any of these issues on or next to your shower floor, do not ignore them, as they can lead to the appearance of even more complicated problems. Hire a professional to make the necessary fixes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Walk-In Shower Worth It?
As far as I’m concerned, it is, as it can add value to the house. There’s rarely a need to replace a shower of this type while replacing a bathtub can take quite a bit of time. They are also great if you have older people or kids in your family.
What’s the Size of Walk-In Showers?
The recommended size for walk-in showers is 32 inches (width) by 32 inches (length). Obviously, this can vary depending on the size of the bathroom.
Are Shower Pans Available In All Sizes?
There’s a wide variety of shower pan sizes on today’s market. You can get a pan whose size will match both the shower shape and the layout of your bathroom. Your individual pan could be as small as 30” x 30” and as big as you need it to be.
Shower Pan Sizes – Final Thoughts
One can easily transform the entire bathroom by using a shower base and a shower pan – these can make a shower floor look larger than it actually is.
Do not be afraid to add a tile surface to your shower floor. While it may seem like a difficult job, it’s something that adds style and long-lasting durability. After all, you can always hire a professional contractor to do this job for you.