We all prefer a spillproof shower to spend more time without messing up things. It depends on the settings, especially the installation of shower pans and wallboard. But there is great confusion! A question comes to mind while thinking about the settings, “Do you install the wallboard before installing the shower pan?”
Most professionals and homeowners suggest installing the shower pan first and the wallboard (drywall) last. Installing the shower pan first provides a tile-able surface that the wallboard does not. If you plan to tile your shower, you must install a shower pan first for many benefits.
I am here to explain the topic so that you can eliminate the dilemma of which one to install first: shower pan or wallboard. So, read till the last word of the discussion to know more thoughts.
Why Should You Install Wallboard after Shower Pan?
Typically, we install the drywall to increase shower resistance from the water. Installing it can prevent the construction from absorbing any moisture.
When you install the shower pan last, you will create a small gap or crease between two structures. Water can easily penetrate these creases. On the other hand, the wallboard can easily cover the edges of the shower pan, working as a sealant.
Benefits of Installing Shower Pan First
You can get several benefits from installing the shower pan first. These are:
Install tile or other finishes easily.
If you are planning to tile the shower area, it’s much easier to do so when the pan is already in place. The same goes for any other finishes you might want to add, such as mosaics or decorative accents.
Save your time and money in the long run.
Suppose you install the wallboard first and then tile over it. It can increase the risk of the tiles cracking. As a result, you may need to replace it. By installing a shower pan first, you can avoid this potential problem.
Installing the shower pan before the wallboard is more flexible.
When you do it, you do not need to cut the wallboard to fit around the shower pan. However, this may not be the best option if you are not experienced installing shower pans.
No need for vapor barriers.
If you install the wallboard first, you may need to install a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from damaging the drywall. It can add to the cost of the project.
It is easier to make sure the pan is level.
You may run the risk of the pan being installed out of level if you install the shower pan after the wallboard is up. It can cause problems, from leaks to water pooling in one shower area.
Waterproof the shower effortlessly.
You can easily waterproof the shower area by installing the pan before the wallboard. Indeed, it is necessary for bathrooms with a risk of water damage, such as those located below ground level.
You can ensure the drain is installed correctly.
The drain is one of the most critical parts of the shower. It is much easier to install when the pan is already in place. It ensures that the drain is appropriately positioned. Also, it will not cause any problems down the line.
Installation of the Shower Pan and Wallboard – What You Should Know
If you are working with shower pan and wallboard, you need to follow the order of installing them. Firstly, you need to waterproof the whole area. Then, take the shower pan and install it. And lastly, place the wallboard to complete the task. In this part, I will discuss how to waterproof the shower and install of shower pan and drywall.
Waterproofing the Shower Walls
Acrylic and tile – are the most known shower pan types we can install in our showers. Whatever we choose, we must waterproof the surrounding walls.
In the case of a tile shower pan, it requires waterproofing the mud job prior to flattening the tile. You must do it before waterproofing the walls. Also, you must install the wallboard after it as the membrane needs to be extended up the wall studs for several inches.
Hence, wall waterproofing should be extended to bit inches above the shower floor. It keeps the finished floor height right before you do further waterproofing.
The Height of the Wallboard
Another reason you should install the pan before the wallboard is the wallboard height and the pan’s finished edge. Usually, you should manage an expansion joint of 1/8” around the shower perimeter and between each board on the wallboard. It helps to move the studs easily.
You should install the drywall 1/8” above the shower pan. If you fail to do it, the shower pan won’t be in its proper place. As a result, the assumed height of the wallboard may make things unexpected, like inaccurate settings. Also, there will be an inaccurate expansion gap, either too large or too small.
Installing the Acrylic Pan
Most professionals get the acrylic pan easier to install than any tile shower pan. After all, you do not need to conduct any mud job or spend the waterproofing membranes. But you must have direct access to shower studs. Please remember that you should screw the pan directly to the shower studs.
If you get the wallboard in its place already, it might not be at a suitable height for the flange of the pan. So, you need to screw the pan to the drywall, which you might prefer to the studs. It leads to a tiny gap at the shower walls’ bottom. That’s why you should install the wallboard later than the shower pan.
Leveling the Shower Floor
You should make sure that the shower floor you want to install remains straight and level. You need to nail the floor to the pan shower studs and do some mud job. Consequently, you can start installing the wallboard from the level lip that appears around the shower pan top.
You can quickly line up and level the drywall by placing its bottom edge parallel to the shower pan because it does not touch it. As a result, you can quickly install the wallboard without thinking about leveling all the boards.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the shower pan go in before the backer board?
Yes, a shower pan goes first because the wallboard provides a waterproof barrier to prevent water from seeping through and damaging the underlying structure.
Does the cement board go over the lip of the shower pan?
The cement board does not typically go over the lip of a shower pan. The cement board is installed on the wall studs. Also, the bottom edge of the cement board should be flush with the top of the shower pan.
Is it necessary to put mortar under the shower pan?
Experts suggest using a mortar base under the shower pan. But you can check the instruction manual first to ensure if you need it or not.
Do you install the wallboard before installing the shower pan? – I hope you have the answer now. I have tried to explain everything relevant to the topic.
Always install the shower pan first and then the wallboard or drywall. It does not require too much time or make things challenging.
Lastly, thanks for reading the blog and starting your wallboard and shower pan installation.
Amos Christen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Drexel University — Philadelphia, PA. Since 2003, Amos has worked with top interior design professionals in this area, including architects and interior/graphic/lighting designers. As a skilled interior designer, Amos Christen is highly versed in fine arts and crafts and uses that to supplement his main area of expertise. He often publishes articles related to home décor on several websites, including Sprucetoilets.com, Sprucebathroom.com, and Mybesuitedhome.com. He also contributes to leading interior design magazines.