How to Build a Curbless Shower (Part 1: VIM Shower Pan Install) — by Home Repair Tutor

Today we’re going to show you how to install
the VIM curbless shower pan. We recently built an awesome curbless shower in a very, very
small bathroom. And the first step in that process was to install this pan, so we’re
going to show you how to do that today. So in this project we’re going to be installing
the VIM curbless shower system. So this is going to allow us to be able to not have to
adjust anything with the framing of our bathroom but be able to simply install a pan that will
be level with our subfloor and create a seamless, curbless entrance into our shower.
So I want to show you what’s in the kit before we get started. And the video that
we’re going to be showing you, what we’re installing is it’s just going to be basically
where a tub was, we’re going to install this.

So it’s going to be like a 30×60 inch
thing. So we’ll be cutting this pan down to fit our space.
So what it comes with is a 4×5 shower pan. What I really love about this system is the
drain assembly. Not just the assembly but really this cover is really fantastic. And
they have different styles of this. But boy, look at that drain! Really nice size drain
here. I can’t remember. I think that’s 6×6. Yeah, it’s 6×6 is basically the size
of that drain. So that really has a real sharp look to it. We’ll show you how to put the
drain assembly in. But it comes with the drain assembly.

It comes with the strainer that
you, you know, and it has different finishes. You have the oil rub bronze, brush nickel,
things like that. And then they have different patterns of this. So you can choose which
strainer cover that you want to put it within that drain assembly. We’ll show you how
to put all this together. But it has a locking ring and drain attached to that.
And it comes with two buckets of waterproofing. This is a liquid waterproofing. In this instance
we chose the Laticrete Hydro Barrier. So this is what’s going to waterproof this whole
system and also partially of our shower walls as well. So two gallons of this is definitely
going to be plenty to do in our situation. It comes with a brush and then basically a
mesh fabric that you’ll be installing in the corners of your shower.

You have a bigger
wire or, what do you want to call this, more of a fiberglass reinforcement mesh. This would
be used to extend your shower pan. So if you had a 6 ft shower you would use this with
a feather patch material to basically extend the slope out on the shower. And then our
main fabric that goes over the pan. So this will basically encompass the entire pan with
the waterproofing. A couple other things that you might want
to consider getting. You need to install the pan with a modified thinset, so make sure
you have a couple of bags of modified thinset. You’re obviously going to need a trowel
for that. But if you’re cutting down the pan, you’re going to want a countersink

We’ll show you what we’re going to do with this. But if you’re cutting down
the pan, you basically need this to recess the screws into the pan. But make sure you
have one of these. This is pretty important if you cut down the pan. For the feather patch
if you’re going to extend your shower, VIM actually makes a corner trowel that makes
it really easy to get into the corners and slope towards the drain. Unfortunately, we’re
not going to be using this in this video, but make sure that you know that this is available
if you’re going to extend your shower bigger than what this pan is.
So we’re going to get this subflooring put in our shower for the curbless system, and
one of the first things you want to do is make sure that your floor is level.

As you
could see here, we are a good quarter inch out of level. It’s critical to get this
level, so what we’re going to do is make sure when we frame in the plywood between
here that we raise this enough to make up the difference of this unlevelness. Because
everything’s going to really rely on a level surface for this pan system to flow correctly
towards the drain.

That’s the first thing you do is just make sure that when you address
this framing that you make it level. So we’re going to use this as a reference
point. So typically if all your joists are level, you could just easily use this as a
template to make this even with your joist. But since we’re out of level, we’re going
to fix that problem by just raising this slightly to where we need it to be level.

And we’ll
just do that all the way on every single joist to raise this.
We’re using a scrap of ¾” plywood because we need to lower the studs below the top of
the joist by ¾” for our subfloor. So now that you have your levelness established
on this one, I would just leave plywood on here and then just keep everything straight
with the bottom of the level. Rather than level each piece out, it’s now going to
be more important to make everything is in a flush, straight line. So just raise everything
up to your level. It’d be more important to keep it straight than it is to try to make
everything level.

You want to make everything a flat surface.
So again, the reason why we’re doing that is we need to drop these studs ¾” below
the existing joist because we’re going to be putting ¾” plywood in those spans. And
the reason why we need to drop the subfloor by ¾” is because we’re going to be setting
our pan over top of that. And when you set your curbless pan over top of this sub-subfloor,
for lack of a better term, it’s going to be relatively even with the existing ¾”
plywood that’s on the outside of the shower area. Now note, if you wanted to, you could
actually carry the VIM curbless shower pan further into the bathroom area. That way the
shower pan would be sloped a little bit more toward the drain. But you don’t necessarily
have to do that; it’s just an option if you wanted the shower pan to be slightly wider
and outside the shower area.

And as a matter of fact, VIM has a great tutorial on how to
do that and have the feather flow at the shower pan, if you want to see that, over on their
website. But in this case, we wanted to restrict the shower pan to just the area in which the
shower is going to be located. And you’ll see in another video how we waterproofed everything
and kept our slope. So this is kind of a common problem when you
tear out a subfloor. Not every situation is the same. But if you end up having a joist
that’s pretty close to the wall but is not underneath the wall, we need to fill this
area with something, with some kind of support. Now, the support that we’re really trying
to obtain is just support for the shower pan.

We’re not like trying to have a load-bearing
wall on this. So, you don’t have to actually have a full 2×6 framing member underneath
of it unless you’re trying to support the wall in some fashion. All you’re really
looking to do is just to get something that will just allow the thinset to support the
pan. And basically the way I like to do that is just to get a 2×4. It can be a little bit
difficult to do sometimes, but just get a screw in there and we’ll get some glue for
underneath the wall and just pop this underneath. Then we can just nail this from the side.
That kind of moved out a little bit, but that’s not going to hurt nay of that. And then what
we could do is go through the bottom plate with a 3-inch screw and grab that support.
And you know, I’ll just fill this little void right here with some liquid nail just
so that, you know, my thinset doesn’t ooze down into that.

But this is all you really
need in order to support that pan. So if you can just go through the bottom plate and grab
that 2×4, that’s usually the easiest way to go.
So as you can see we had to do the exact same thing for the left side of this main shower
wall, but not a big deal. Easy fix there to do. Now, the next step is to get the measurement
for your ¾” plywood.

So that’s what we’re doing here. Just cut that to size. You apply
liquid nails over top the 2x4s that you stuck ¾” below your joists. Add your ¾” plywood
over top of that and then nail it. So this is what we did for the rest of the shower
floor. Keep in mind, the reason why we’re putting in the sub-subfloor again is for the
VIM pan. So with creating the level, you could see
it’s kind of recessed, or it’s sitting above our joist here. But when you go to thinset,
you can just fill that in with thinset and it won’t be a problem. So that’ll be an
easy way to keep this level when you adjust for levelness.
Keep in mind if you don’t have a nailer to secure this ¾” plywood to the studs,
you can use deck screws to do the exact same job.

So that’s just a different option for
you. Okay so on the VIM shower pan, we recommend
that you put some additional blocking around the drain location. So I would just suggest,
now, when you cut the plywood out, you need an 8-inch circle around the center of the
drain. So if you put this framing about 6 inches or even 5 inches away from the center
of the drain, then you’ll have plenty of room to cut that hole without having to interfere
with your pan. So we put two pieces of blocking perpendicular to your other joists just for
additional support for that drain location. So what we’re doing here is adding extra
2x4s ¾” below the joist. The reason why we had to add the extra 2x4s is our joists
were spanning a little bit more than 16 inches on center, so we needed to reduce that width
by adding the 2x4s. And again remember, we’re just spacing them ¾” below the existing
joist so that our plywood will fit in that space. So again here, we’re just adding
our cross members, and we’re going to nail those to the 2x4s.
So just for blocking, you know, probably 4 ½ to 5 inches away from the center because
you want to have some plenty of room with that drain to move back and forth on it.

when you cut this plywood, you want to have an 8-inch circle all the way around the drain.
So you don’t want to have this blocking interfere with that.
Okay, just make sure that this is center. You want to put your 8-inch circle on your
plywood, so just make sure that you’re center. If not, just measure to one end to where your
center is. So we go 6 1/8. So that’s going to be my center point, and we want to come
out 4 inches. And let’s measure this way 4 inches too. This bucket is actually 8 inches,
so we’ll just…. So we’re just using a spade bit to get our
hole started, and then we’re using a jigsaw to cut out that 8-inch circle to the bottom
of the VIM pan.

pexels photo 6315305

So then you just need to apply your liquid nails on top of all of the 2x4s
that you added there, and nail that piece of plywood just like you did for the other
ones on the floor. I’m going to use some liquid nail. I’m
just going to fill in some of these grooves just to keep the thinset from moving down
in there. Just kind of make it a little bit easier when I go to thinset over all of this.
I wouldn’t do this if you’re going to thinset it right away.

I would just go ahead
and move on to the thinset area if you’re going to move on to the pan right now, but
we’re going to do the pan another day. Okay, so the first thing you want to do is
determine where the drain location is. If you have the ability to install the drain
afterward, it actually makes it a little bit easier. But if you had a plumber that already
set it, then you’re kind of stuck with what you have, and you want to just basically measure
off of this to cut down the pan to fit. Now we did said in a prior video, you just want
to make sure you have an 8-inch circle cut around the plywood of your drain. This will
ensure that you have the ability to move that, you know, basically have enough room for that
recess to that pan. The pan has a really large, basically reinforced portion of it that sticks
down below the subfloor.

So you really want to make sure you’re not fighting yourself
by having too small of a hole. So let’s see what our full width is. Our
full width is the 60 inches. So we don’t have to cut it down lengthwise. It’s not
a bad idea just to double-check and see how square you are just to see if there’s going
to be any problems with squareness and whether you have to adjust that. You’ll be able
to find that out as soon as you get the pan in here, but it’s just kind of a good idea
to know whether… we’re a little bit unsquared there, but I think we have a little bit more
of a gap coming out towards the edge.

Let’s just see what that comes out. Sixty inches,
not bad. So anyways, so we’re going to be cutting down the pan to the edge of our subfloor.
So we have 30 inches all the way along here. So it’s going to be 30 inches overall. Let’s
find the center of our drain. So our center of our drain we have at 14 5/8.
So you want to make everything as tight as you can. You might have to do a little bit
of additional cutting if you’re unsquared, but try to make that pan as tight as possible
to your framing.

So we’ll go 14 5/8 to the center of the drain. Check it this way, and
we’re exactly in… with using the full pan, it’s going to have to be 30 inches
on center. There’s really not any movement either way that you’re really going to be
able to cut. So if you have your plumber install the plumbing, make sure it’s 30 inches at
least lengthwise. So we’re good on that. We get straight right down here to determine
the center of this drain. The overall width of this recess is 6 ½.

So we should be 3
¼ to the center. So we’ll make this our…. See our screw holes here to determine… showing
this is the middle. So we said from the back end, we said 14 5/8
to the center. Make sure everything looks…. All right so we’ll go ahead and cut this,
and we’ll cut the width after we cut it. Okay, now you just cut 30 inches over.
So as you could see, you could see how this big hub off the back here needs a recess into
the plywood. So that’s why it’s important to have enough wiggle room around the sink
so you’re not fighting this in. Okay, and we’ll just check our ability to put the
drain together here. And that’s nice, a nice fit.
Okay, so before we go thinsetting everything we’re going to make sure we get this pan
completely ready. Now that we cut off our edge flange, we need to recreate these recesses
for the screws on the edges. So basically every 8 inches. Just go an inch and half,
an inch and ¾ from the edge of your pan, and then every 8 inches after that we’ll
be putting a countersink bit for the screws.

Just go off that line there. And we’ll just
go kind of reduplicate what they have there. Three quarters of an inch in from the edge.
And same thing on the back. Just go in the center here and every 8 inches. Next, we use
our countersink bit. And basically you’re just allowing these screws, number 14 inch
and a half screws, to recess. So as long as you’re flush, that’s all that’s required.
For this project, we used Keralastic.

That’s an additive that you add to unmodified thinset,
in this case Kerabond. The Keralastic will make this a modified thinset. You mix that
per the directions. And then vacuum the subfloor. You need to fill this entire waffle barrier
with thinset. So again, just using a modified thinset, fill the whole back portion of the
pan. Now if you have a full pan, like a 4×5 pan, you’re basically going to be using
an entire bag of thinset to fill that all in.
Okay, so once you get the pan all thinsetted, let’s go ahead and do our subfloor.

you always want to wipe down a wood subfloor so that the thinset doesn’t suck all the
moisture out of the thinset right away. Not only that, it gives you a chance for you to
clean everything. Okay, so use the flat side of the trowel to
burn it into the subfloor first. And do directional troweling. And this is also another area.
If you needed to make this level—we already leveled the subfloor, so we’re good—but
if you needed to do additional leveling, you can add more thinset in low areas and just
build that up. So there’s many different options if you have an unlevel floor system
that you have many chances to level that out. I’m going ahead and set the pan in.
Because the VIM shower pan has so much thinset on it, make sure that you line it up as best
as possible before setting it on the subfloor.

Yeah, so you just want to make sure that this
drain’s going to fit, and make sure that there isn’t any adjusting that’s needed
on the pan. Now with all this thinset, it is going to be very difficult to move this.
So I would use either a big pry bar or something if you needed to move it left to right. This
way, I mean you can normally get in between the plywood and this and tweak it, but you
just want to reset this, especially if your drain pipe is already placed like this.

if you have access below then obviously no big deal. You just have your plate out and
extend down and it’d be no problem. So now that you got everything set, you can
go ahead and use your 1 5/8” screws. Well, 1 ½” is minimum. Just put them on your
new countersink sunken areas. Probably the most crucial area is this portion right here
because this is going to ensure that that pan slopes down towards this drain.
I always like to double-check. Make sure that everything looks good. The last thing that
you want is some kind of big hump that’s going to create a problem.
We’re going to go ahead and attach this drain to it. And you can allow this to extend
wild up out of the drain and still connect it. But basically what we’re going to need
is an inside pipe cutter to cut this down close to the drain.
The first thing is this comes with 100% silicone. So this is the only portion of the drain that
you’re actually going to be siliconing. So just put a generous bead all the way around
this flange. And use it all because, like I said, there’s no other part of the drain
that you’re using this silicone for.

So just be careful you don’t get the silicone
into the screw holes, obviously. Then you slide this down until basically these two
little notches that kind of slide down in. And then use the screws that it comes with.
And I would tighten this as if you were tightening a tire, one side to the other.
And then this comes with like a little grease for your rubber gasket that will go over the

So make sure that this… there’s two sides here: there’s a flat edge and
then a beveled edge. You want to have the beveled edge sitting up. And then you have
your tightening collar. And you could see there’s little notches at the top. It has
a beveled portion here. This goes down into the drain. Basically get that rubber gasket
down to the point where you can start to thread on your tightening collar. Basically I’m
just using the flat edge of this wrench to press down on it. So we’re just going to
adjust the last little bit with a flathead screwdriver just going to the edge and just
making sure that this is nice and tight against there. So the next step, which is to just
use an inside pipe cutter and cut this down to where it’s flush to the bottom of this.
So for now, I’m just cutting this so it’s below here.

I forgot my inside pipe cutter.
For right now, so I can get my waterproofing done, I’m just cutting this down below my
drain. And then we’ll clean this up with a pipe cutter afterwards. But essentially,
you just want to allow that fabric and waterproofing to go over the entire drain assembly. And
then once everything dries, you’re basically putting this in as your clamping ring. We’ll
show you how that’s done, but it’s important that this drain at least sits down below the
drain assembly at least temporarily. The next video’s going to show you how to
waterproof the VIM curbless shower pan and the entire bathroom floor. So make sure you
check that out. And if you’re looking to learn how to simplify the craft for building
custom bathrooms, make sure you take a look at We’ll put a
link to it right here.

That’s a phenomenal website for you.
Thanks for watching today’s video. If you have any questions, ask them down in the comments.
Take care!.

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