How to redo a bathroom shower?

Due to…well…crappy luck and poor craftsmanship, the wife and I have to replace the shower stall in our master bathroom. After only 6 months, the POS four piece fiberglass stall we had cracked. The drain was set too high and thus forced the center of the pan higher than the rest…this resulted in poor drainage and eventual cracking of the fiberglass due to weight.

In an effort to save some money, I wanted to do the deconstruction myself. I pulled the side panels off with no problem. But the shower pan is obviously glued into the drain. So how do I get it off? Do I just use a reciprocating saw and cut through? If that is the case, then how would I attach a new drain pipe for the replacement shower? If I just cut it, will the tile guy be able to put a new one in? Or do I need to call in a plumber just to put in one section of drain pipe?

Thanks for any and all help!

I have not see drains actually glued to the shower pan, and regular shower pans have the drain already cut into them, with the structural fins on the underside supporting where the drain is…I’m trying to figure out what you mean that the drain was set too high. Did the pan’s underside (or at least the supporting fins) not even rest flat on the underlayment b/c the P-trap was too high?

Anyway, to me the first consideration is whether or not you can get at the underside of the subflooring supporting the pan. Typically there is a removable collar there, if there is nothing to unscrew from the topside. If all you have to do is remove ceiling drywall from a room below, it’s not a hard task. If the drain plumbing is all PVC it’s also something you can replace yourself and lower it to the correct height. Generally to do this you will need access from below.

My 2 cents.

Ok, a little clarity.

While it was a renovation to an old house, it was a total gut and redo. Including re-leveling the foundation. The reason for the crack is that the plumber made the drain too high. So it pushed up on the center of the floor pan. So the middle was higher than the rest. To the point where stepping in the shower caused the outter parts to move downward under the weight, but the center wouldn’t budge. This eventually caused the fiberglass to crack, and leak into the bathroom below.

Yes I can get to the underside, but to be honest my drywall repair skills are limited. This house already cost us a fortune to redo, I can’t afford to dump another $1500 or something into having this fixed. I was hoping that I could get it all ready, then just have someone come in and tile. It would cost a lot less than having to get a plumber to redo the drain, a tile guy to do all the tile work, and a drywall guy to fix the hole in the ceiling underneath.

But the immediate problem you are having is replacing the shower pan, right?

If you are definitely going to replace it, make sure that size is available. Once you are positive that you have a replacement of the right size, you can remove the old one by cutting around the drain. That drain is going to be the end of a P-trap, likely; if the plumbing is new it will be PVC and not cast iron. the drain pipe sticks up into an extension that is often screwed with a collar (not glued) into the shower base. I assume what you are proposing is to cut around the drain so you can remove the base.

You will have to pay attention to how big the hole in the subfloor is if you do it this way. If the hole is just barely bigger than the pipe, your reciprocating saw is going to need to cut through the shower base, underlayment and subfloor to get a wide enough margin; the P-trap is going to curve under there and must be avoided, and finally, it’s possible that the drain pipe is close to a joist which will interfere with the circle you are cutting…once you have the base out you may still be faced with needing access from the bottom b/c the drain pipe itself has to be secured to the shower base extension with either a washer/collar mechanism or else glued to the extension pipe tail.

I apologize for this long-winded and half-assed explanation. The bottom line is that your removal of the base may not save the installer much.

I personally think drywall is very easy to cut and replace, and it’s less than $25 to do so between the drywall, tape, mud and drywall knife. Scary and messy, but not hard.

If you are replacing the fiberglass sides with tile: make sure you put a waterproof backerboard (cement backer board or one of the modern equivalents, e.g.) and not just drywall greenboard. Don’t use interior spackling for the seams. Tiling is easy and fun. Use a wetsaw and buy spacers. Use tile adhesive made for walls. Use narrow grout lines and unsanded grout. Don’t use epoxy grout if it’s your first time tiling ever.

I’m sure there are good resources for tiling that will give you more tips, including a tile specialty store. It is surprisingly easy and will look surprisingly good. Over the years I’ve put in thousands of square feet of tile (inc 1800 sq feet in my current home) and I’ve always felt like it’s one of those jobs which seems horribly complicated but really isn’t. I know the feeling of looking at the Money Pit. Best.

I’m with Chief Pedant on this one. The fiberglass/acrylic shower pans I’ve installed were all supplied with top fitted drain assemblies that you’d tighten around the drain stub up. IF the rough stub was too tall, cut it back, as they have a range of accomodation. Zurn and Oatey are two manufacturers which come to mind.

Thanks Chief Pendant. I think I see what you’re talking about. I probably won’t be able to tell untill I’ve gotten at least most of the shower pan out so I can see what is there.

We have the knock-down ceiling texture, so that’s one reason I’m hesitant about replacing a section. It’s a bit more work to make it all match.

I’m not even considering doing the tile work myself. If it was just a regular floor, I’d give it a whirl, my wife and I tiled the backsplash in our last house. But since it needs to be water proof and have a proper slope to the drain, I want to make sure somone that knows what they’re doing does the work. I would really like to not have to do this again in a year or so.

I think a dremel is a good idea ctt, I’ll pick one up. Any excuse to buy a new tool!

Thanks again for all the advice and help!