Installing a good shower pan is important when setting up a new bathroom for the first time. It will help you avoid many issues related to moisture and adds a bit to the overall aesthetics of the bathroom. Shower pans are also relatively cheap and universal, so you won’t have trouble finding one that fits in your bathroom. The main point to address when choosing a shower pan/base is what size you should use.
Shower pans/bases range from 36” x 36” to 60” x 72”. There are many different sizes within that range, including square and rectangular ones. You must also consider whether you want your drain to be centered or offset, as that will further limit your options. The slope of your bathroom is another important point as it will determine the ideal height of your shower pan/base.
What Are the Standard Sizes for Shower Pans/Bases?
Shower pans/bases almost always come in even sizes. There are some minor exceptions, such as rectangular models with a 37” side, but those are relatively rare. For the most part, you should account for an even number between 36” and 60” for either side of your shower pan/base.
The most common size you’ll find on the market is 30” x 60”. It’s universal, widely available, and easy to install in most showers. However, if your bathroom has a more special layout, this size might not be appropriate for you, especially if you need a more unusual drain placement.
Height (or depth) is another important aspect. Pretty much all models on the market start at 2” and don’t go deeper than 6”. If your bathroom has a significant slope, that could be a problem for finding the right pan/base, and could require additional modifications to your bathroom’s layout.
Standard Sizes for Centered Drains
If you want to use a shower pan/base with a centered drain, the smallest option available is 36” x 36”. This might seem small, but it’s enough for a single shower and can fit nicely into any bathroom. You don’t need to do any additional remodeling to fit it in.
If you don’t insist on having a square shower pan/base, you can go a bit lower with one of the sides. Rectangular models are available with widths as low as 32”, though these also come with a much higher length, starting at 48” for most models. If your bathroom has an unusual layout that makes it difficult to fit in a 36” x 36” centered drain shower pan/base, this can be a good substitute instead.
One of the largest models with a centered drain available on the current market is 60” x 72”. That’s quite a lot, and this size is usually only recommended for homes with very large bathrooms where people need more space for showering.
Standard Sizes for Offset Drains
On the other hand, if you want your shower pan/base to have an offset drain, your smallest option will start at a rectangular 32” x 48” configuration. Square shower pans with an offset drain can be found on the market, but they are relatively rare.
Offset drains are perfect for those awkward situations where you need one side to be as short as possible. Some models in that category start at just 30”, though they also have a length of 60” on the other side.
When choosing a shower pan/base with an offset drain, you will often have little to no control over the exact location of the drain. This can be problematic if you’ve already run your plumbing and need to hook up the drain in a very specific spot. In that case, you might have to order a customized model instead.
Choosing the Right Height
In most cases, the standard 2” height should work fine for your needs. Taller/deeper shower pans/bases are intended primarily for bathrooms with sloped floors where it’s difficult to fit a regular base without significant modifications to the bathroom’s layout.
Make sure to measure your floor slope carefully, taking measurements at the exact location where the shower pan/base is going to be installed. This will be an important factor in identifying the ideal height of your shower pan/base.
In most cases, you’re going to want to go with an offset drain when working with a sloped floor, as a centered drain will likely be too close to the floor to allow for a comfortable connection to the plumbing. Inadequate construction can also lead to waterproofing problems, as indicated by at least one study.
Q: What should I do when my bathroom has a sloped floor?
A: Sloped floors usually call for a rectangular shower pan/base which runs along the slope. The height of the model must be picked carefully as well to ensure that you’ll be able to fit it over the slope without making any modifications to the existing floor. An offset drain will help in hooking it up to the plumbing without any awkward layout problems.
Q: Should I always go for the largest available shower pan/base?
A: If you have the available space in your bathroom, and can afford a larger shower pan/base, it’s generally recommended to go for it. Larger models have several advantages, including a higher weight capacity and more space around the base for toiletry racks.
Q: When is a rounded shower pan/base a more appropriate choice?
A: Rounded shower pans/bases are a good idea if your bathroom is very tight and you’re limited on space. Since you will typically only use the center of the shower most of the time, it makes sense to reduce its overall dimensions by shrinking the corners. However, be careful to ensure that you’ll still have enough space for showering comfortably.
There are many standard sizes of shower pans/bases available. Choosing the right one for your bathroom can take a while if you have a more unusual layout that requires additional accommodations. This is especially true when dealing with a sloped floor, in which case you’ll likely want to go with a rectangular shower pan/base with an offset drain, and you’ll have to carefully choose the ideal height for it.
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.