Introduction: How to Build a Walk-In Shower (Part 1: Wedi Shower Pan)

Picture of How to Build a Walk-In Shower (Part 1: Wedi Shower Pan)

I LOVE my walk-in shower.

Here’s the story, my wife and I built our dream master bathroom. We saved our money and splurged on the remodel. The key element was a custom tile walk-in shower. It’s way more convenient to stroll into the shower rather step over a tub or curb. This takes the worry out of falling and also makes cleaning a breeze. If you want to build a walk-in shower you’re in the right place. Today you’ll see how easy it is to install a Wedi Ligno shower pan. After you see our tutorial you’ll believe you can do this project yourself…I promise

Step 1: Buy Wedi Fundo Ligno Shower Pan

Picture of Buy Wedi Fundo Ligno Shower Pan

You’ve probably salivated over bathrooms on HGTV.

Who hasn’t right. Could you build one yourself?

These days the answer is an emphatic yes.

Wedi makes one of the best waterproofing systems for showers and tubs.

Their shower pans and building panels will make your shower 100% waterproof.

PLUS: Wedi is way lighter and easier to use than cement board.

You can use a utility knife to cut it and their’s no dust…great for us since my wife has asthma.

Today you’ll see how to install the Wedi Fundo Ligno shower pan.

You’ll be surprised at how easy the Ligno is to install.


Here are the supplies you need

  • Circular Saw
  • Utility Knife
  • Pencil
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Diablo Demo Blade (for Reciprocating Saw)
  • Hammer
  • Super Bar
  • Pry Bar
  • 4 Foot Leve
  • Liquid Nail
  • Caulking Gun
  • Framing Nailer (optional)
  • Impact Driver
  • Deck Screws
  • 3/4″ OSB or Plywood
  • Measuring Tape
  • Spade Bit
  • Jigsaw
  • Wedi Fundo Ligno Shower Pan (choose size)
  • Wedi Joint Sealant
  • Mapei Kerabond
  • Mapei Keralastic
  • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • Mixing Paddle
  • 1/2″ Mixing Drill
  • 1/4″ by 1/4″ Trowel
  • Sponge

I totally get that this is a long supply list.

BUT you can borrow many of the tools from friends, family or neighbors.

All things considered this isn’t a bad material list. Okay, let’s dive in and get started.

Step 2: Dry Fit Ligno Shower Pan

Picture of Dry Fit Ligno Shower Pan

Wedi makes a variety of walk-in shower pans.

We chose the 48″ x 48″ x 3/4″ Fundo Ligno. And no, it’s not because of the cool Italian name (although I am 50% Italian, haha). The reason for the Ligno is that it worked best for the shower in this tutorial. Dry fit the Ligno to ensure it fits.

Step 3: Cut Subfloor

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Mark the position of the Ligno with a pencil.

And cut the subfloor using a reciprocating saw. Steve’s using a 9 inch Diablo demo blade. Btw, Diablo has some of the best blades for saws.

Reciprocating saws make it super easy to cut along 2×4 framing.

Step 4: Pry Up Subfloor

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Wedge a Super Bar under the subfloor and pry it from the joist.

They don’t call it Super for nothing, this little bar has saved my tush a ton of times.

Step 5: Remove Nails From Joists

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Pry nails off the joists.

Very important step since a nail can perforate the Ligno shower pan

Step 6: Check Joists for Levelness

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Place a level on all the joists and across them.

If the joists aren’t level your Ligno shower pan won’t drain properly.

Joists can be shaved down if bowed upward.
Or you can sister another joist to your framing to create a level surface. I recommend a power planer for shaving down joists.

Step 7: Cut 2x4 Nailers

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Cut 2×4 pieces to sister to the joists.

Apply Liquid Nail to 2×4 nailers

Step 8: Attach Nailers on Joist

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Place the nailer 3/4 of an inch below the top of the joist.

Nail or screw it in place.

Steve uses a piece of 3/4 inch OSB to make sure the nailer is positioned correctly.

Why are you doing this?

You’ll place 3/4″ pieces of OSB or plywood on top of these nailers. This will create a subfloor that’s 3/4 of an inch below the surrounding subfloor. You’ll then place the Wedi Ligno shower pan on this sunken subfloor. Pretty cool stuff. If you have drywall underneath the joists it’s important to get your plumbing in place before attaching the nailers. That way you don’t have to work around the pipes.

Step 9: Liquid Nail Top of Nailers

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Apply Liquid Nail to the top of the nailers.

Step 10: Attach OSB to Nailer

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Then place your OSB or plywood on top of the nailers.

Nail or screw them in place.

Step 11: Cut Drain Hole in Subfloor

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Dry fit the Ligno shower pan again.

Trace the drain onto the subfloor.

Measure from the center of the drain and cut a 6 1/2” hole.

This is where your middle school math comes in handy…thank you Miss. Hartman! (my 6th grade math teacher)

Step 12: Mix Up Modified Thin-Set

Picture of Mix Up Modified Thin-Set

Now it’s time to adhere the Ligno to the subfloor.

What’s the best way to do this?

Steve mentions this in the video…

NEVER use anything else to adhere the Wedi Ligno to the subfloor other than modified thin-set.

Otherwise you’ll void your waterproofing warranty.

Plus, why tinker with the instructions… …a team of German engineers figured this stuff out.

We mixed up Mapei Kerabond and added Keralastic latex additive to it.

About 1/2 bag of the Kerabond is needed for a 4×4 foot Ligno shower pan.

Mix up the thin-set and let it sit. While that party is happening (sarcasm, there’s nothing party-like with thin-set) you can assemble the Ligno’s drain.

Step 13: Add Wedi Sealant to Pan Drain

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Apply Wedi sealant to the drain in the pan.

Step 14: Add Wedi Sealant to Drain Flange

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Add sealant to the Wedi drain flange, too.

Step 15: Insert Flange Into Drain

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Insert the flange into the drain and compress.

Step 16: Hand Tighten Ligno Drain Assembly

Picture of Hand Tighten Ligno Drain Assembly

On the back side (not your tush) add the rubber gasket first, then plastic slip ring and finally the locking nut.

Just hand tighten the locking nut…no wrench is necessary. Frankly it doesn’t get any easier.

Step 17: Apply Modified Thin-Set to Back of Ligno Pan

Picture of Apply Modified Thin-Set to Back of Ligno Pan

Apply the latex modified thin-set to the back of the Ligno.

Comb the trowel ridges in the same direction that you’ll comb them into the subfloor.

This allows air gaps to compress and a good bond to form.

See, didn’t I tell you we’d have great tips.

Step 18: Trowel Modified Thin-Set on Wood Subfloor

Picture of Trowel Modified Thin-Set on Wood Subfloor

Trowel the same latex modified thin-set onto the subfloor.

Step 19: Embed Ligno Into Subfloor

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Embed the Ligno into the subfloor thin-set

Step 20: Move Pan Tight to Framing

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It’s critical to make sure your shower pan is tight to the framing.

Move it such that it can accept whatever size Wedi panel you’ll be using…in this case, it’s 1/2” Wedi building panels.

Step 21: Clean Ligno Channels With a Sponge

Picture of Clean Ligno Channels With a Sponge

Panels will sit down in the channel of the Ligno and be bonded via the Wedi sealant.

More on this in Part 2 of our tutorial.

So make sure those channels are clean and free of thin-set

Step 22: Compress Ligno Into Thin-Set

Picture of Compress Ligno Into Thin-Set

Place either tiles or bags of thin-set on the pan to push it into the thin-set.

Or have Chewbacca sit on the tile for 30 minutes, whichever works best.

Step 23: Watch Our Awesome Video!!

Now I’d like to hear from you.

What part of the Wedi Ligno installation did (or didn’t) surprise you?

Or maybe you have a question about something from our tutorial.

Leave a comment and let us know.

I’d be happy to answer any questions.

I’m no Yoda but will give it my best shot.

Jeff

Founder, Home Repair Tutor

Comments

JohnJ232 (author)2016-06-05

Wedi products are very nice but most of them are just way overpriced. We actually use some of their products in all our installs - but just for their "Subliner Dry" and associated joint sealant. It's super fast to apply and provides a bullet-proof installation that is quite reasonable to create a shower pan. Hydroban is also an excellent waterproofing solution. Wedi's panels are also nice but one can get Fin-Pan's Pro Panel for a lot less, and is easily installed by one person.

Regardless of what one uses, as long as the shower is water-proofed and passes a comprehensive flood test then go for it. We run our flood tests for 48 hours instead of the 24 hour min. The only time I would ever consider going "all Wedi" is perhaps a steam shower. It's just too darn expensive.

Actually, we mix and match various products in any shower to keep the cost down, and to allow ease of install and for flexible designs. Linear drains are so much better, more attractive and flexible than traditional drains. Their cost is finally so reasonable that they are now the best choice in every way, since the rest of the job is so much easier with a single pitch. Shower floors look so much better with a single pitch and large format tiles!

ShariSmo (author)2016-03-17

Is there a Wedi base that can be used on a concrete basement floor?

You'd have to chisel out the floor and then use the pan, kind of a pain but doable

BeachsideHank (author)2016-03-16

I'm just finishing up a conversion from a garden tub to a walk- in shower. I have reused the original drain location which is less than a foot from the wet wall, and was one of the reasons I had to DIY, contractors cling to the obsolete theory that to drain properly, it must be centrally located and didn't want the job. This is a false notion; using the 1/4" per foot pitch dictum here in the states, it matters not where the drain is located as long as the pitch is held constant. In fact, wet wall trench drains are gaining much in popularity since nobody wants to stand on a drain grate along with dirty water swirling about their feet, the wet wall location takes the waste water away and down, giving a more comfortable (read sanitary) result.

haroun (author)BeachsideHank2016-03-17

Uncentered drains give an uneven height at the floor/wall junction, making tiling difficult & sometimes unsightly, or you wind up with 2, 3, or 4 different slopes to the floor, one of which approaches verticle, an unhappy customer, & not getting paid. Also, unusual layouts are sometimes hard for the average tradesman to deal with. Centering the floor drain has good reasoning behind it but if you're willing to deal with the aesthetics then by all means go for it. I did a corner shower with a drain in a completely whacked out location & it all worke quite well, but the client was into offbeat design & handwork.

BeachsideHank (author)haroun2016-03-18

Uncentered
drains give an uneven height at the floor/wall junction, making
tiling difficult...”

How
so? If pre- slope and top slope are done correctly, that is to say
from a level line struck around the perimeter, all tiles then will
lay in equal distribution. This formula works for floor tiles up to
4” square, mine are 3” square porcelain and laid down without
any problems- most contractors balk at anything larger than 2”
square, preferring 1” in fact. I also custom tinted the grout to minimize
the joints with a dark gray to match, nobody should be using white
grout in a shower deck anyway, it's too unsightly in a short period
of time.

I
did exhaustive research into this project, finding the best resource
to be the forum of:

http://www.johnbridge.com

I
also found that if you get 4 contractors together, you'll get 6 ways
to do the job, so best to keep your own counsel.

haroun (author)BeachsideHank2016-03-19

If you're working with a premade slope, such as the one in this Instructable if you deviate from the shape of the base your height end up different around the perimeter. So, given the base in this Instructable has a centered drain any change in the shape from square throws the perimeter off.

nathanh1000 (author)haroun2016-03-19

Again you prove yourself a shyster hack. If your pre-slope is not perfect you can still add slope when you set the tile. If you are not comfortable with your setting silk, which clearly you are not, you can use thinset to adjust the slope after the pan is in. If you are a tile setter and you truly believe these concerns to be valid, you should seriously reconcider your line of work. At the very least seek more training. If you are a do it yourselfer I can see how an inexperienced person can come to these conclusions and I appologize if I have offened you. There is a lot of reference matterial available from the manufacturers of these new products, and they are also usually pretty willing to offer assistance via email of phone call. I've even seen a schleuter rep come out in person and demonstrate how their Kerdi system should be installed.

haroun (author)nathanh10002016-04-09

First thing I learned was that thinset was THINly laid down, not built up. Thinset sets by both evaporation & hydraulically. If thinset is too thick it'll take a long time to set up. I make sure the slope is proper before I place any membrane & drain system as if the slope isn't right the membrane can lead to water soaking & staying in the wetbed & a musty smell in the shower.

BeachsideHank (author)haroun2016-03-19

Although I'm real happy with how my installation turned out, if I had seen this guy's vision of a trench drain, I'd've gone with it in a heartbeat:

http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/showthread.php...

You really only need a slope in one direction to get it right. And again, no standing on a grate or in a puddle of soapy dirt.

nathanh1000 (author)haroun2016-03-19

Yes these are exactly the kinds of excuses to look out for from lazy or unskilled tilers. Good one about the vertical slope. HA! "Do you mean the wall, buddy?!" Yeah, that one would have me laugh that guy right out of house.
The slope over 8 feet is 2 ½inches. Where the drain is at is a none issue for an actual tiler. Anyone who says it is not actually trained in the craft. Or lazy or both.

sWillyPs (author)BeachsideHank2016-03-17

Agreed, I've done dozens like this. Keep in mind you need to slope four planes, and you'll be good to go.

BeachsideHank (author)sWillyPs2016-03-17

Here's my latest renovation with the aforementioned drain location.

Nice, great job!!

That's the nice part of the pre-sloped pan like this one, there's no need to worry about the slope...already done for the installer.

Mark 42 (author)sWillyPs2016-03-17

You could make it a convex dome shape - only a very slight dome, like you'd see at the top of a huge sphere like a water tower.

Great points, the standard drain is looking old compared to the newer layouts

Coolerman (author)2016-03-17

Hi Jeff: Great tutorial. Just don't understand why you removed the subfloor? Could you not just use the existing subfloor where the old shower stall is? This is what I had planned to do.

Like SteveS204 said, the pan has to be the same heigh as the surrounding the subfloor. That way the tile in the pan and the adjacent bathroom will be the same height and hence a walk-in shower.

I think you mean to say curbless walk-in shower, and that is reason for the confusion about why you lowered the subfloor. Most often a walk-in shower would have a 3 or 4 inch high curb at the door and difference in floor levels is not an issue. This shower being curbless is one of it defining features, and I'm not sure that's being clearly defined by just calling it a walk-in shower.

SteveS204 (author)Coolerman2016-03-17

This trick puts the top surface of the shower at the same height as the sub-floor. That means you can install a tile floor in a continuous flow without having a raised entrance to the shower. That is where the name "Walk-In Shower" would come from.

Thanks SteveS204 ;)

caperjack (author)2016-03-17

nice ,but crazy prices ,I just deleted the bookmark

Understand, the shower pan is pricey but takes the guesswork out of setting a shower pan. And the expense is nothing compared to having a water leak then needing to repair that damage. The cost is $40 for a 3'x5' Wedi panel. This is more than cement board BUT keep in mind you still need to waterproof cement board and that adds to cost.

I shall rephrase my comment ,to pricey for me , if it was a new-newer house I would not question the price ,but I need to take out a leaky tub and replace the floor and some joist ,and the house is almost 70yr old ..and we only need it for maybe 8-10 years ,its not worth the expense ,,,

danzo321 (author)2016-03-17

OK, I didn't see you creating a slope to the drain. Then I didn't see the Wedi pan have thicker edges to create the slope. So what gives?

The Ligno is pre-sloped toward the drain, it's done by Wedi at the factory. The slope is hard to see but is certainly present. Therefore the installer doesn't have to slope the pan...just set it in the modified thin-set. That's why the new subfloor has be be level, otherwise you could get water pooling at a corner.

WayneH36 (author)2016-03-17

Nicely done. I take it the Wedi Ligno pan is pitched to drain towards the drain? Sure seems to make the whole process much easier.

Yep, the Ligno is pre-sloped and will allow water to drain with no standing water issues. This makes the installation easier for either a DIYer or Pro.

PeterD9 (author)2016-03-17

Great piece of instruction, I have just compiled a wet-room as a walk-in shower; the one thing I did not consider was adhering the shower tray to the sub-floor.

The comment that danzo321 made regarding water run to the drain, as far as I'm aware all wetroom shower trays are routered for the appropriate fall to the drain.

Thanks for the info

This pan is sloped accordingly to allow water to drain, so no sloping by the installer is necessary. Thanks for bringing up this question.

BrendanS19 (author)2016-03-17

Question 1: In your install, waste water pipes get attached to the drain flange after the base install right? If so: why that way?

Yes, that's correct. The drain is attached to the pan after the pan is installed. It's near impossible to attach the drain to the pan before embedding the pan in the sub-subfloor. Wedi has specific instructions on how to do this and it's very straight forward. That said, you should install all the waste pipes first before adding the nailers. And always be careful to not compromise the joists by cutting holes in them at the wrong location. If you can create a chase for the waste pipe instead of cutting or notching the joists that's best.

BrendanS19 (author)2016-03-17

Question 2: I think i'm clear on how the wall pieces keep the edges waterproofed but how about for the entrance? Is it common to just not worry too much about waterproofing after the plane of the entranceway - after the area where the water's going to be actively flowing?

Part 2 of our series will show how to waterproof the panels to the pan, but you'll want to use a product like DITRA at the transition or a Wedi approved membrane to waterproof the tiling area.

BrendanS19 (author)2016-03-17

Question 3: Did you get paid for this product placement extravaganza!? ;)

Nope, we were installing a walk-in shower and decided to show how we do it :D

flyingfarm (author)2016-03-17

I appreciate your "Instructable." It should be helpful to some people but most will be daunted by the cost. At fourteen hundred bucks, and up, these fundo shower kits are insanely expensive!

Some rubber sheet, cement and sand is the traditional way to do it. Total cost can be under fifty dollars for the shower pan part of it. I takes practice to get the slope just right but if you don't get it right the first time it is very easy to break it out and do it again. It's not for everybody, but if money is a factor, give it a try. I am an amateur and have managed to successfully do a half dozen tiled showers this way in my owner built homes.

Understand your point, that said, not many people want to practice on their shower pan. Time is limited for the DIYer and professional installer...especially the latter. New products like the Ligno provide less opportunity to mess up the pan installation which can lead to costly water leaks. But again, totally understand where you're coming from

jwilliamsen (author)2016-03-17

It might be worth noting *why* you were cutting out the subfloor. At first, I was thinking, "Why is he cutting out the subfloor and then putting more subfloor back in it's place?" ... and then I realized that you were effectively dropping the subfloor down to the tops of the joists so that, once installed, the pan would sit flush with the original subfloor.

So, sometimes the "why" is important to comprehending what's going on ;)

Step 8 tells the "Why" behind the subfloor tear out :)

ron.stone.733 (author)2016-03-17

someone works for Wendi Ligno. lol

Nope, we simply like their pans and panels

billbillt (author)2016-03-17

Great work!..

Thanks :)

Leonardned (author)2016-03-17

Does Wedi make a pan that is offset to the corner? I am considering remodeling a shower on a slab that already has the drain there.

They do have different drain options other than this standard one.

Leonardned (author)2016-03-17

The pan with the drain offset to the corner.

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