Video /
Jan 27, 2020

How to Build a Curbless Shower

Home Repair tutors demonstrate how to install a pan and waterproof shower

Home Repair Tutor co-hosts Jeff Patterson and Steve White share how builders can install a curbless shower to create a sleek, modern look in the master bathroom. 


In the first tutorial, White demonstrates how to install a VIM curbless shower pan, which can be cut to any size needed. He says that remodelers will need to tear out the existing floor and replace it with the shower pan.




The second part of the tutorial details how to waterproof a shower wall. Jeff Paused Laticrete's Hydro Ban Board, which he sealed with Hydro Ban sealant and screwed into studs. 


“The main thing is to remember to always smooth out the sealant that oozes out between the boards and between the VIM shower pan,” he says.  “That’s really important for your tile setting.” 


In the third installment, Patterson and White waterproof the shower pan itself. 


Watch the video to learn more. 




Today we’re going to show you how to install the VIM curbless shower pan. We recently built

an awesome curbless shower in a very, very small bathroom. And the first step in that

process was to install this pan, so we’re going to show you how to do that today.

So in this project we’re going to be installing the VIM curbless shower system. So this is

going to allow us to be able to not have to adjust anything with the framing of our bathroom

but be able to simply install a pan that will be level with our subfloor and create a seamless,

curbless entrance into our shower. So I want to show you what’s in the kit

before we get started. And the video that we’re going to be showing you, what we’re

installing is it’s just going to be basically where a tub was, we’re going to install

this. So it’s going to be like a 30x60 inch thing. So we’ll be cutting this pan down

to fit our space. So what it comes with is a 4x5 shower pan.


What I really love about this system is the drain assembly. Not just the assembly but

really this cover is really fantastic. And they have different styles of this. But boy,

look at that drain! Really nice size drain here. I can’t remember. I think that’s

6x6. Yeah, it’s 6x6 is basically the size of that drain. So that really has a real sharp

look to it. We’ll show you how to put the drain assembly in. But it comes with the drain

assembly. It comes with the strainer that you, you know, and it has different finishes.

You have the oil rub bronze, brush nickel, things like that. And then they have different

patterns of this. So you can choose which strainer cover that you want to put it within

that drain assembly. We’ll show you how to put all this together. But it has a locking

ring and drain attached to that. And it comes with two buckets of waterproofing.

This is a liquid waterproofing. In this instance we chose the Laticrete Hydro Barrier. So this

is what’s going to waterproof this whole system and also partially of our shower walls

as well. So two gallons of this is definitely going to be plenty to do in our situation.

It comes with a brush and then basically a mesh fabric that you’ll be installing in

the corners of your shower. You have a bigger wire or, what do you want to call this, more

of a fiberglass reinforcement mesh. This would be used to extend your shower pan. So if you

had a 6 ft shower you would use this with a feather patch material to basically extend

the slope out on the shower. And then our main fabric that goes over the pan. So this

will basically encompass the entire pan with the waterproofing.


A couple other things that you might want to consider getting. You need to install the

pan with a modified thinset, so make sure you have a couple of bags of modified thinset.

You’re obviously going to need a trowel for that. But if you’re cutting down the

pan, you’re going to want a countersink bit. We’ll show you what we’re going to

do with this. But if you’re cutting down the pan, you basically need this to recess

the screws into the pan. But make sure you have one of these. This is pretty important

if you cut down the pan. For the feather patch if you’re going to extend your shower, VIM

actually makes a corner trowel that makes it really easy to get into the corners and

slope towards the drain. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be using this in this video,

but make sure that you know that this is available if you’re going to extend your shower bigger

than what this pan is. So we’re going to get this subflooring put

in our shower for the curbless system, and one of the first things you want to do is

make sure that your floor is level. As you could see here, we are a good quarter inch

out of level. It’s critical to get this level, so what we’re going to do is make

sure when we frame in the plywood between here that we raise this enough to make up

the difference of this unlevelness. Because everything’s going to really rely on a level

surface for this pan system to flow correctly towards the drain. That’s the first thing

you do is just make sure that when you address this framing that you make it level.


So we’re going to use this as a reference point. So typically if all your joists are

level, you could just easily use this as a template to make this even with your joist.

But since we’re out of level, we’re going to fix that problem by just raising this slightly

to where we need it to be level. And we’ll just do that all the way on every single joist

to raise this. We’re using a scrap of ¾” plywood because

we need to lower the studs below the top of the joist by ¾” for our subfloor.

So now that you have your levelness established on this one, I would just leave plywood on

here and then just keep everything straight with the bottom of the level. Rather than

level each piece out, it’s now going to be more important to make everything is in

a flush, straight line. So just raise everything up to your level. It’d be more important

to keep it straight than it is to try to make everything level. You want to make everything

a flat surface. So again, the reason why we’re doing that.


is we need to drop these studs ¾” below the existing joist because we’re going to

be putting ¾” plywood in those spans. And the reason why we need to drop the subfloor

by ¾” is because we’re going to be setting our pan over top of that. And when you set

your curbless pan over top of this sub-subfloor, for lack of a better term, it’s going to

be relatively even with the existing ¾” plywood that’s on the outside of the shower

area. Now note, if you wanted to, you could actually carry the VIM curbless shower pan

further into the bathroom area. That way the shower pan would be sloped a little bit more

toward the drain. But you don’t necessarily have to do that; it’s just an option if

you wanted the shower pan to be slightly wider and outside the shower area. And as a matter

of fact, VIM has a great tutorial on how to do that and have the feather flow at the shower

pan, if you want to see that, over on their website. But in this case, we wanted to restrict

the shower pan to just the area in which the shower is going to be located. And you’ll

see in another video how we waterproofed everything and kept our slope.


So this is kind of a common problem when you tear out a subfloor. Not every situation is

the same. But if you end up having a joist that’s pretty close to the wall but is not

underneath the wall, we need to fill this area with something, with some kind of support.

Now, the support that we’re really trying to obtain is just support for the shower pan.

We’re not like trying to have a load-bearing wall on this. So, you don’t have to actually

have a full 2x6 framing member underneath of it unless you’re trying to support the

wall in some fashion. All you’re really looking to do is just to get something that

will just allow the thinset to support the pan. And basically the way I like to do that

is just to get a 2x4. It can be a little bit difficult to do sometimes, but just get a

screw in there and we’ll get some glue for underneath the wall and just pop this underneath.

Then we can just nail this from the side. That kind of moved out a little bit, but that’s

not going to hurt nay of that. And then what we could do is go through the bottom plate

with a 3-inch screw and grab that support. And you know, I’ll just fill this little

void right here with some liquid nail just so that, you know, my thinset doesn’t ooze

down into that. But this is all you really need in order to support that pan. So if you

can just go through the bottom plate and grab that 2x4, that’s usually the easiest way

to go. So as you can see we had to do the exact same thing for the left side of this main shower wall,

but not a big deal. Easy fix there todo. Now, the next step is to get the measurement for your ¾” plywood.

So that’s what we’redoing here. Just cut that to size. You apply liquid nails over top the 2x4s that you stuck ¾” below your joists.

Add your ¾” plywood over top of that and then nail it.

So this is what we did for the rest of the shower floor. Keep in mind, the reason why we’re putting in the sub-subfloor again is for the VIM pan.


So with creating the level, you could see it’s kind of recessed, or it’s sitting

above our joist here. But when you go to thinset, you can just fill that in with thinset and

it won’t be a problem. So that’ll be an easy way to keep this level when you adjust

for levelness. Keep in mind if you don’t have a nailer to secure this ¾” plywood to the studs,

you can use deck screws to do the exact same job. So that’s just a different option for you.

Okay so on the VIM shower pan, we recommend that you put some additional blocking around the drain location.

So I would just suggest, now, when you cut the plywood out, you need an 8-inch circle around the center of the drain.

So if you put this framing about 6 inches or even 5 inches away from the center of the drain,

then you’ll have plenty of room to cut that hole without having to interfere with your pan.

So we put two pieces of blocking perpendicular to your other joists just for additional support for that drain location.

So what we’re doing here is adding extra 2x4s ¾” below the joist.

The reason why we had to add the extra 2x4s is our joists were spanning a little bit more than 16 inches on center,

so we needed to reduce that width by adding the 2x4s. And again remember,

we’re just spacing them ¾” below the existing joist so that our plywood will fit in that space.

So again here, we’re just adding our cross members, and we’re going to nail those to the 2x4s.

So just for blocking, you know, probably 4

½ to 5 inches away from the center because you want to have some plenty of room with that drain to move back and forth on it.

Because when you cut this plywood, you want to have an 8-inch circle all the way around the drain.

So you don’t want to have this blocking interfere with that. Okay, just make sure that this is center.


You want to put your 8-inch circle on your plywood, so just make sure that you’re center.

If not, just measure to one end to where your center is. So we go 6 1/8. So that’s going

to be my center point, and we want to come out 4 inches. And let’s measure this way

4 inches too. This bucket is actually 8 inches, so we’ll just….So we’re just using a spade bit to get our hole started,

and then we’re using a jigsaw to cut out that 8-inch circle to the bottom of the VIM pan.

So then you just need to apply your liquid nails on top of all of the 2x4s that you added there,

and nail that piece of plywood just like you did for the other ones on the floor.


I’m going to use some liquid nail. I’m just going to fill in some of these grooves

just to keep the thinset from moving down in there. Just kind of make it a little bit

easier when I go to thinset over all of this. I wouldn’t do this if you’re going to

thinset it right away. I would just go ahead and move on to the thinset area if you’re

going to move on to the pan right now, but we’re going to do the pan another day.

Okay, so the first thing you want to do is determine where the drain location is. If

you have the ability to install the drain afterward, it actually makes it a little bit

easier. But if you had a plumber that already set it, then you’re kind of stuck with what

you have, and you want to just basically measure off of this to cut down the pan to fit. Now

we did said in a prior video, you just want to make sure you have an 8-inch circle cut

around the plywood of your drain. This will ensure that you have the ability to move that,

you know, basically have enough room for that recess to that pan. The pan has a really large,

basically reinforced portion of it that sticks down below the subfloor. So you really want

to make sure you’re not fighting yourself by having too small of a hole.

So let’s see what our full width is. Our full width is 60 inches. So we don’t

have to cut it down lengthwise. It’s not a bad idea just to double-check and see how

square you are just to see if there’s going to be any problems with squareness and whether

you have to adjust that. You’ll be able to find that out as soon as you get the pan

in here, but it’s just kind of a good idea to know whether… we’re a little bit unsquared

there, but I think we have a little bit more of a gap coming out towards the edge. Let’s

just see what comes out. Sixty inches, not bad. So anyways, so we’re going to be

cutting down the pan to the edge of our subfloor. So we have 30 inches all the way along here.


So it’s going to be 30 inches overall. Let’s find the center of our drain.

So our center of our drain we have at 14 5/8. So you want to make everything as tight as

you can. You might have to do a little bit of additional cutting if you’re unsquared,

but try to make that pan as tight as possible to your framing. So we’ll go 14 5/8 to the

center of the drain. Check it this way, and we’re exactly in… with using the full

pan, it’s going to have to be 30 inches on center. There’s really not any movement

either way that you’re really going to be able to cut. So if you have your plumber install

the plumbing, make sure it’s 30 inches at least lengthwise. So we’re good on that.

We get straight right down here to determine the center of this drain. The overall width

of this recess is 6 ½. So we should be 3 ¼ to the center. So we’ll make this our….

See our screw holes here to determine… showing this is the middle.

So we said from the back end, we said 14 5/8 to the center. Make sure everything looks….

All right so we’ll go ahead and cut this, and we’ll cut the width after we cut it.

Okay, now you just cut 30 inches over. So as you could see, you could see how this

big hub off the back here needs a recess into the plywood. So that’s why it’s important

to have enough wiggle room around the sink so you’re not fighting this in. Okay, and

we’ll just check our ability to put the drain together here. And that’s nice, a

nice fit. Okay, so before we go thinsetting everything


we’re going to make sure we get this pan completely ready. Now that we cut off our

edge flange, we need to recreate these recesses for the screws on the edges. So basically

every 8 inches. Just go an inch and half, an inch and ¾ from the edge of your pan,

and then every 8 inches after that we’ll be putting a countersink bit for the screws.

Just go off that line there. And we’ll just go kind of reduplicate what they have there.

Three quarters of an inch in from the edge. And same thing on the back. Just go in the

center here and every 8 inches. Next, we use our countersink bit. And basically you’re

just allowing these screws, number 14 inch and a half screws, to recess. So as long as

you’re flush, that’s all that’s required. For this project, we used Keralastic. That’s

an additive that you add to unmodified thinset, in this case Kerabond. The Keralastic will

make this a modified thinset. You mix that per the directions. And then vacuum the subfloor.

You need to fill this entire waffle barrier with thinset. So again, just using a modified

thinset, fill the whole back portion of the pan. Now if you have a full pan, like a 4x5

pan, you’re basically going to be using an entire bag of thinset to fill that all

in. Okay, so once you get the pan all thinsetted, let’s go ahead and do our subfloor. And you always want to wipe down a wood subfloor so that the thinset doesn’t suck all the moisture out of the thinset right away. Not only that, it gives you a chance for you to clean everything.

Okay, so use the flat side of the trowel to burn it into the subfloor first. And do directional

troweling. And this is also another area. If you needed to make this level—we already

leveled the subfloor, so we’re good—but if you needed to do additional leveling, you can add more thinset in low areas and just build that up. So there’s many different options if you have an unlevel floor system that you have many chances to level that out. I’m going ahead and set the pan in. Because the VIM shower pan has so much thinset on it, make sure that you line it up as best as possible before setting it on the subfloor.


Yeah, so you just want to make sure that this drain’s going to fit, and make sure that

there isn’t any adjusting that’s needed on the pan. Now with all this thinset, it is going to be very difficult to move this. So I would use either a big pry bar or something if you needed to move it left to right. This way, I mean you can normally get in between the plywood and this and tweak it, but you just want to reset this, especially if your drain pipe is already placed like this. Now, if you have access below then obviously no big deal. You just have your plate out and extend down and it’d be no problem. So now that you got everything set, you can go ahead and use your 1 5/8” screws. Well, 1 ½” is minimum. Just put them on your new countersink sunken areas. Probably the most crucial area is this portion right here because this is going to ensure that that pan slopes down towards this drain. I always like to double-check. Make sure that everything looks good. The last thing that you want is some kind of big hump that’s going to create a problem. We’re going to go ahead and attach this drain to it. And you can allow this to extend wild up out of the drain and still connect it. But basically what we’re going to need is an inside pipe cutter to cut this down close to the drain. The first thing is this comes with 100% silicone.


So this is the only portion of the drain that you’re actually going to be siliconing.

So just put a generous bead all the way around this flange. And use it all because, like

I said, there’s no other part of the drain that you’re using this silicone for. So

just be careful you don’t get the silicone into the screw holes, obviously. Then you

slide this down until basically these two little notches that kind of slide down in.

And then use the screws that it comes with. And I would tighten this as if you were tightening

a tire, one side to the other. And then this comes with like a little grease

for your rubber gasket that will go over the pipe. So make sure that this… there’s

two sides here: there’s a flat edge and then a beveled edge. You want to have the

beveled edge sitting up. And then you have your tightening collar. And you could see

there’s little notches at the top. It has a beveled portion here. This goes down into

the drain. Basically get that rubber gasket down to the point where you can start to thread

on your tightening collar. Basically I’m just using the flat edge of this wrench to

press down on it. So we’re just going to adjust the last little bit with a flathead

screwdriver just going to the edge and just making sure that this is nice and tight against

there. So the next step, which is to just use an inside pipe cutter and cut this down

to where it’s flush to the bottom of this. So for now, I’m just cutting this so it’s

below here. I forgot my inside pipe cutter. For right now, so I can get my waterproofing

done, I’m just cutting this down below my drain. And then we’ll clean this up with

a pipe cutter afterwards. But essentially, you just want to allow that fabric and waterproofing

to go over the entire drain assembly. And then once everything dries, you’re basically

putting this in as your clamping ring. We’ll show you how that’s done, but it’s important

that this drain at least sits down below the drain assembly at least temporarily.

The next video’s going to show you how to waterproof the VIM curbless shower pan and

the entire bathroom floor. So make sure you check that out. And if you’re looking to

learn how to simplify the craft for building custom bathrooms, make sure you take a look at We’ll put a link to it right here. That’s a phenomenal website for you. Thanks for watching today’s video. If you have any questions, ask them down in the comments. Take care!


Find the transcripts to the second and third video by going to the video page and clicking the three buttons above the “Subscribe Button. From there, you can “View Transcript.”



Yes, you DID adjust the framing. By cutting your joist you have the potential of undermining the structural integrity. The regular homeowner does not have the necessary knowledge to know what the correct span is for a particular joist.
Especially when tiling, you need a strong floor or you are asking for trouble. I have to come in and fix jobs like this all the time because the owner or contractor "thought" it would be just fine and it actually wasn't.

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