The shower pan is an essential part of the shower component. Not only does it protect your shower floor from moisture and leaks, but it helps to drain water from your shower floor. There are several options available when it comes to finding the right material for your shower pan. We've researched some of the most popular ones, and in this post, we will share them with you.
Here are 12 of the best shower pan materials to consider:
- Stone resin
- Cultured stone
- Molded stone
- Cast iron
- Stainless steel
There are a few different factors that you should consider before it's time and in the right shower pan material for your bathroom. Shower pans can come in multiple colors, models, designs and with varying levels of durability. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between various shower pan materials.
What Are Shower Pans & Bases and What Do They Do?
Shower pans are a single solid piece of material installed on the shower floor to help channel water down the drain and protect the shower base from leaks beneath the structure. Whether you are looking for an angled shower pan, smaller pan, or a larger pan to retrofit a customized shower, it's good to know what options are available.
The materials for shower pans range in shape and size and will come with different characteristics, strengths, and appearances. Knowing about these materials and their strengths and weaknesses can make choosing a shower pan much easier.
On the other hand, shower bases serve a few functions, which makes them especially important shower components. Their main job is to make sure that water drains into the plumbing in your bathroom and doesn't drip on your floorboards or the lower levels of your home. Bad installation of shower bases can cause water issues such as leaks, mold, and warping, which lead to expensive repair jobs.
Therefore it's important to have a professional contractor determine the best material for your particular shower and install it properly to prevent potential water damage. Lastly, you want to make sure that the shower pan's surface is physically comfortable and in-step with your decorative taste.
12 Types of Shower Pans & Bases To Consider
1. Stone Resin
Stone resin makes for a beautiful shower pan. These molded stone pans can feature hidden drains and are typically low profile, making them go well with any decor. You may also hear this material referred to as Engineered Solid Stone, as it is comprised of stone that has been reinforced with acrylic cross-linked resin. It can be installed in various ways, allows for easy entrance into the shower, and is relatively easy to clean.
Stone by itself makes for a very durable shower material, with the resin reinforcement of this material transforms it into a very high-performance structure. You can purchase these pans online at most hardware improvement stores, or you can have one custom built. They come in a variety of color options as well as different sizes and shapes.
A porcelain shower base is also a great choice. Porcelain is very sturdy, making it a very durable and long-lasting material to use for a shower base. Its heavy weight helps prevent instability, and these bases are known to last for several years before needing replacement. While this type of shower base can be more expensive, it does make up for it with its dependability.
You can find porcelain shower bases online or at any local hardware store. They range in sizes and shapes, color options and can also be custom-made to your specific shower setup. If you are looking for a shower base that will be around for a while, porcelain is worth consideration. It is made of quality moisture-resistant components that are great for high-traffic areas.
3. Cultured Stone
Cultured stone shower pans are made of a combination of ground stone and resin. The most common stones used for these pans or marble, granite, and limestone. The sprayed-on gel coating helps these pans offer superior waterproof protection against leaks, scratches, and deterioration.
Cultured stone is fairly expensive, and though it is available in many sizes and shapes, you may need to find customized options for specific patterns and colors.
One of the most significant issues with cultured stone is that the outer layer can chip fairly easily compared to regular stone. However, these chips can be repaired with a simple epoxy. On the upside, the material is highly resistant to stains, chemicals, which means that you don't have to worry about damaging it with hair dyes, shampoos, or cleaning products.
While tile shower bases are popular, this can be one of the more expensive options due to the maintenance and installation cost. Some bases can be purchased pre-made, which means that they already come with connecting drains, plumbing lines, and waterproof epoxy. They are great for high-traffic areas and can stand up well to wear and tear over time.
Pre-made tile bases can range anywhere from $650 to over $2000, which doesn't include installation. The base can be installed in about 4-8 hours, depending on the size of your shower. The most common colors are gray, off-white, or eggshell, but you can also purchase customized options. You can also create your tile base from scratch. Tile shower bases are very durable and easy to maintain.
5. Molded Stone
If you are looking for an elegant shower base, molded stone is definitely worth considering. It's made from synthetic plastic and natural stone and can give your shower area a luxurious appearance. It's also very durable and can resist common issues such as mildew and mold. Molded stone is very easy to keep clean, and can be cleaned with an all-natural solution such as vinegar and water or a bit of baking soda.
It also doesn't require grout, which makes cleaning very simple and quick. You can usually find the shower base available at around $700 or $1300. The installation process is fast, as it doesn't require tiling. The colors available for molded stone are typically black and various shades of gray. It can be customized to fit your specific shower shape, or you can buy them pre-made from any shower installation company.
Acrylic is another common shower base material. These bases are moderately priced and can be customized to fit your specific shower setup. You can also order a custom acrylic shower base to match specific patterns, colors or to fit irregular shower spaces.
One of the biggest benefits of acrylic shower bases is that they are pretty low-maintenance and can be easily cleaned with an all-purpose shower cleaner or homemade solutions. The shower bases typically come in one single slate and are less likely to crack and chip, making them one of the most durable shower base options available on the market.
7. Cast Iron
One of the more popular materials, cast iron, can also be used as a shower base material. Not only is it extremely sturdy, but its dense makeup allows for complete stability. If you are looking for a sturdy shower base that will last for years to come, cast-iron is worth taking a look at it. The biggest downside of cast-iron shower bases is that they are extremely weighty and require a rather involved installation process.
Cast iron bases are pretty easy to clean and can usually be wiped down with an all-purpose cleaner or a natural solution. They can also include a safeguard or slip-resistant finish to minimize slips and falls on their surface.
If you are looking for a durable material that can provide a clean and modern look, cast iron is worth considering. These bases can be custom-made for various shower sizes. However, when it comes to color, you will typically find that they come in white--though you can also have this customized as well.
8. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel shower pans are one of the most durable types of shower pans that you can purchase. Not only are they very easy to install, but if they can integrate seamlessly into customized or older shower setups. Whether you have your pan custom-built or pre-made, a silicone sealer can be used to provide waterproofing around the edges of the panel.
Stainless steel shower pans are naturally stain-proof and rust-proof, and many are antibacterial as well. While stainless steel comes in one color, you can have it customized to fit your shower dimensions. One of the great things about stainless steel is its easy maintenance and durability. You don't have to worry about chips and cracks with this material, and it can easily be cleaned with your general all-purpose cleaner.
If you are looking for an affordable shower base material, take a look at fiberglass. You can purchase a fiberglass shower base at around $200-$300. Their price point makes them very tempting to many consumers, so they are prevalent in US households.
However, if you purchase a cheap fiberglass shower base, be ready to spend time maintaining it. The more affordable options of this material stain fairly quickly and chip easily.
However, more expensive options can offer more durability and reliability. Fiberglass shower bases will require a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning to keep them from harboring mineral deposits and water stains, which can be harder to remove if left untreated.
You also have to worry about cleaning solutions that you use on fiberglass, as it can scratch with abrasive cleaners. Most fiberglass shower bases are available in white, black, gray, or off-white. You can find them and sizes of about 30x30 inches, though you can also have them customized.
What can be said about marble shower pans--they are simply beautiful. Nothing compares to the modern and sleek look of natural marble. You can purchase the shower pans in a variety of patterns, shapes, and colors for a shower area that looks regal. You can also find faux marble shower pans; if you want to save a few bucks, that is.
Marble is a natural stone which means that it is hard-wearing and very resistant to shattering. It's also somewhat hard to chip and can be cleaned easily using any stone polisher or all-purpose cleaner. Marble shower pans can be customized to fit any size and are naturally durable, meaning that they can last for several years with little maintenance.
If you prefer a solid shower base that will stay in place for years to come, concrete is a great option. You can pour the concrete yourself if you have advanced carpentry skills. However, you will need to lay down a shower base liner or a rubber mat before installing the concrete base. These bases are super durable and can be customized to fit any shower size.
On the downside, they typically come in only a few standard colors, which include white, gray, and black. The price for most pre-made concrete shower bases is around $600-$700. These shower bases are pretty easy to maintain and clean and are chip-resistant for the most part. If you're looking for something durable and that requires little maintenance, here's a good pick.
Composite shower bases are composed of plastic or fiberglass resin. These bases have impressive durability and are designed to make water draining easy when connected to plumbing. The base usually comes with a waterproof epoxy, and installation is pretty straightforward.
The shower base will need to be installed before any tiles, and the epoxy we'll go around the bottom and the side of the base to ensure that it does not leak behind it to the drywall. You can expect to pay about $500 or so for a composite shower base kit.
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