How to Figure the Drain Height for a Tile Shower

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A tile shower installation has a number of variables to ensure that everything comes together, such as ensuring the drain height is flush with the surface of the tile rather than too high or too low. There are several things that you have to worry about in terms of determining the height, not the least of which is the material itself, along with the mortar used and the drain itself.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Determine what type of drain you will use for your tile shower. The easiest type to use is an adjustable drain that can screw down into the flange. This will allow you to actually adjust the height of the drain itself during the tile installation so you can flush everything out properly. If not, measure the finish height from the bottom of the flange to the top of the drain.

  • Measure the thickness of the tile material you are using. While ceramic tiles normally are 1/4- or 3/8-inch in thickness, other types of tiles, such as natural slate stones or tumbled marble tiles, will have different thicknesses. Add this to your measurement.

  • Figure out how much thin-set mortar will be applied under the tile installation. For example, a typical ceramic tile that is 12 inches in facial dimensions will need a 3/8-inch notched trowel to apply the thin-set. Once the tile is set in the mortar, it compresses down to 1/4-inch of mud, which should be added to your measurement.

  • Measure the thickness of any concrete and waterproofing elements if you are going to build your own shower pan. A custom shower pan will have anywhere from 2 to 3 inches of concrete mud floated into the pan to create the slope necessary for the water to drain. Painted waterproofing won’t add any depth, but vinyl sheet waterproofing will add another 1/8-inch to your shower pan.

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