How to Build a Walk-In Shower

Interior of bathroom in 3d
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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 3 - 4 hrs
  • Total Time: 6 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

The bathroom can be a personal, sometimes spa-like space for many people, which is why bathroom remodeling DIY projects are so popular. It is also a very cost-effective way to save both money and space in a small bathroom. You may be surprised just how easy it can be to build a walk-in shower.

Having a professional install the shower may be necessary, so do a little research to make sure that your DIY project is up to code. According to a national survey done by HomeAdvisor, the average cost to install a shower professionally is around $3,500. However, the benefits can be huge. Installing a walk-in shower can increase your home’s resale value by as much as 66 percent of the total you paid to install it.

Choose the Location Wisely

When you are deciding where to put your walk-in shower, consider its position to the rest of the bathroom. Will the shower door have room to open and close without hitting the vanity or toilet? You’ll need about 30 inches for door clearance.

  • Measure and sketch out a detailed floor plan. This will help prevent headaches later.
  • Dry fit your shower pan before you install it for added peace of mind. The shower pan creates a waterproof enclosure so that the water cannot seep into your flooring or get trapped in the walls and baseboards.
  • What You'll Need

    Equipment / Tools

    • Hammer
    • Screwdrivers
    • Tape measure
    • Compass
    • Pencil
    • Putty knife
    • Tenon saw or hand saw
    • Level


    • Shower pan
    • Shower panels
    • Channels
    • 2x4 nailers
    • Plywood square
    • Nails, screws, and washers
    • Thinset mortar
    • Sealant


    1. Prepare the Space for the Shower Pan

      Cut the subfloor, according to the dimensions of the pan, then pry it up. Make sure that all nails and protrusions in the joists are smooth or removed. You don’t want anything to puncture the shower pan.

      Use a level on all the joists, both along and across them, to ensure all is straight and true. If they are not perfectly level, the pan won’t drain.

      Install 2x4 nailers along each joist, dropping them about 3/4-inches lower than the joist top, then place plywood on top of the nailers. This creates a subfloor that is slightly lower than the subfloor that surrounds it, allowing the shower pan to fit in that space.

    2. Mark the Drain

      Dry fit the shower pan in the space created by the lower subfloor. Mark the area where the drain is and trace it directly on the subfloor. Use a compass to measure 3 1/4 inches out and draw a circle that is 6 1/2 inches in diameter. This is the standard shower drain size.

    3. Install the Shower Pan

      Look for a pan that has a slope to ensure it drains properly.

      Position it over the area where your plumbing will be for the drain and secure it to the floor using a thinset mortar on the subfloor and the bottom of the pan.

      Add a sealant to the drain on the pan and the flange, which is the metal disk that secures the drain to the pipes. Insert the flange into the drain and put together the drain assembly. In most cases, hand tightening is fine.

      Place the shower pan into the space and adjust it so that it is tight against your framing.

    4. Prepare the Shower for Panels

      Install the channels along the edge of the pan and bond with a sealant. The panels will sit in the channels to form the sides of your shower, so they need to be well sealed to prevent water from escaping.

      Put a heavy object on the shower pan while it dries. You can use unopened bags of thinset or other materials if they are heavy enough to push the pan into the thinset.

      Let it sit for about 30 minutes.

    5. Install Your Panels

      Measure the wall where your shower will be and cut the panels to fit. This is a very precise task, so take your time. You want it to be as close to perfect as possible.

      Clean the channels in the shower pan and apply the sealant. Fit the panels into the channels and press, then secure the panels to the stud framing with screws and washers. The first row of screws should be 12 inches above the pan’s edge and they should be 12 inches apart.

      Apply joint sealant between each panel as you install them.

      Secure two adjacent panels at once by pinching the washers and screws at the panel seams. If any sealant oozes out from the seams during installation, quickly smooth it out using a putty knife.

      Keep screws between 1 and 2 inches from the top.

    6. Install the Ceiling

      Use the same panels you used for your shower walls to create your shower ceiling.

      Apply the sealant to the panel seams using the same technique you used on the walls. Place washers and screws every 6 inches for the shower ceiling.

    7. Waterproof the Shower

      Apply sealant to all the joints, seams, washers, and screws. Smooth the sealant with a putty knife.