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Can you replace shower pan without replacing tile?

The technical answer to this question is Yes, you can remove the shower pan only without replacing ALL the tile. With some shower pan removals, you may be able to reuse the tile that is already there if you are careful with the removal process. In this post I will explain why it is nearly impossible to replace any shower pan without replacing some of the tiles and if there is a pan that can be replaced without replacing tile what type of pan would that be?

First, what type of shower pan can be replaced without replacing the tile? The best chance of doing this is with a pre-made shower pan such as an acrylic shower pan.

This acrylic shower pan was not leaking and was installed correctly. However the homeowner wanted a tile shower pan without remodeling the entire bathroom
Shower Pan Replacement without removing ALL the tile

Here's an example of a shower pan that the homeowner wanted to replace. And he called my shower pan installation company for help. The shower pan itself was installed correctly and was fully functional and containing and draining water as it was designed to do. The shower pan was operating 100% with no problems.

However, after years of use and cleaning the pan lacked the original luster when it was brand new. The homeowner had a few options he could decide to go on.

#1 He could have the acrylic pan refinished. Many bathtub refinishing companies will also refinish an acrylic shower pan and even repair large cracks and chips. Here in the Denver - Boulder Metro areas Miracle Method Surface Refinishing has the specialized finishing that I highly recommend.

Picture of Acrylic shower pan

The Anatomy of an Acrylic Shower Pan

I inserted this picture of a pre-made shower pan to help you understand the work that will be involved in removing the pan. Can the pan be removed without disturbing the tile? The answer is No! Why do I say No? As you examine this picture you will notice a lip on 3 sides of the pan, with no lip at the entrance of the pan. The extended lips allow the installer to screw the pan to the frame of the shower. A wallboard is then installed to cover these lips.

When installing the wallboard the installer is careful not to install the wallboard directly onto the pan, but leave it at least a 1/2 inch away from the pan base so that water will not wick up the wallboard and cause future problems and perhaps structural damage or excessive mold growth. the wallboard can now be tiled. The tile is set to sit on the pan with the shower pan lips behind the tile and wallboard.

At this point of the shower replacement process we have reverse engineered the installation to the point that the new drain and pan can be installed.
Shower Pan ready for new cement-poured shower pan

Shower Pan Replacement Process

Let's reverse-engineer the shower pan installation. The Installer began with a framed-in shower. To get back to that point we need to #1 first remove at minimum the bottom 1 or 2 rolls of tile. Depending on the size of the tile and the tile pattern. It may be possible to salvage some of the tiles, however, with over 40 years of shower pan replacement experience, we have cracked or chipped tile during the removal process no matter how careful we are, which makes it necessary to buy more tile to match the wall tile. In most shower pan jobs the wall tile is easily located because many are recently installed and leaked due to installer error.

The shower pan is now filled with water with a red plug tester in the drain the blue tape floating on top of the water will help us indentify water movement anywhere in the shower. With static movement and no water outside the shower we can pull the plug and test for proper water drainage.
Waterproofed Shower Pan

#2 Remove the wallboard.

We first remove the tile, then we can now remove the wallboard exposing the acrylic shower pan with extended lips and screws allowing us to remove the shower pan from the frame of the shower. #3 Loosen the drain and the shower pan can be lifted out or at times can be cut in half and removed.

We will cut the pan in half so we do not damage the walls helping to keep the shower pan replacement less invasive with minimum damage to surrounding work areas. At this point in the process, we have successfully removed the pan and now have access to installing a new shower drain, new tile shower pan, wallboard, and tile installation.

Shower Pan Replacement Completed

With this shower pan replacement, tile also needed to be replaced. Fortunately the homeowner was able to match the exisitng tile in the shower.with a slight color difference.
Tile Shower Pan

The new shower pan has been waterproofed with a Schluter-Kerdi waterproofing membrane with a new Schluter shower drain design for the membrane to adhere to the drain using the appropriate thinset.

The pan can be tiled with any tile. You don't have to match the wall tile. But you do want to select a tile that will complement what is already in the shower and the rest of this master bathroom.

The one thing to keep in mind for the pan tile is to buy a sheet-mounted tile that will follow the contour of the new shower pan. 2x2 inch tile to 3x3 inch tile works best.

With the tile and grout installation completed, our tile installers will re-install the glaas doors.
Shower Pan Replacement in Denver, CO

Shower Pan Replacement Without Replacing ALL the Tile

That's maybe the correct question to ask. As demonstrated in this example tile will be disturbed and removed to replace your shower pan.

As mentioned sometimes you can work carefully and try to salvage the tile removed so you do not have to replace the tile.

However, even if you are successful in salvaging the tile, you still need to buy tile for the shower curb as pictured and along the bottom where the tile meets the shower pan.

The reason for this is the new shower pan is at a lower elevation than the previous acrylic shower pan that has raised edges and extended lips and no tile on the curb. Therefore tile will need to be replaced and added to this new cement-poured shower pan.

This example featured a pan replacement with a tiled shower pan. The Replacement process for a new acrylic shower pan will be the same. Hopefully, you will be able to replace the shower pan without replacing the tile. With patience and depending on the tile that needs to be removed you may be able to succeed. However, another challenge that you will encounter is getting the new acrylic shower pan to fit in place.

What's the shower pan replacement problem now?

I know what you're thinking. "I just want a new-looking pan without replacing all the tiles!" I agree, but that's not reality. Think about our reverse engineering process for a shower pan installation. When all of the obstructions for replacement were removed, we still had to cut the acrylic pan in half to get it out. Why? Because the dimensions for the shower pan are an exact match to the shower framework. But because the wallboard and tile are still in place, that adds 1 inch on both sides of the shower, and no matter how many angles you try to lift the old pan out or install the new pan in, the new pan will not fit into place.

The only other option is to remove another roll of tile or 2 including the wallboard to give you the angle you need to install the new pre-made pan. Like my grandfather always said. "Sometimes you can't win for losing."

Shower Pan Replacement Service for Residential Bathrooms

Shower pan replacement is our busines and we are experts installing cement-poured shower pans that can be tiled by us or you can do the tiling. this is a porcelain tile shower replacement in denver, CO
Shower Pan Replacement Company Denver, CO

Action Shower Pan & Steam Shower Company is a tile contractor that specializes in custom steam shower installation, shower pan replacement, installation, and repair. We install the best materials for all of the projects we work on.

We have over 40 years of tile installation experience. We draw on our installation experience when working as a bathroom remodeler. This allows us to be able to work on remodeling projects that involve more than being a tile installer.

Specialist in shower installation bathtub to walk-in shower conversion with a curbless entry. Our work as a kitchen remodeler is focused mainly on demo work, drywall, flooring prep, and of course kitchen tile installation.

As flooring contractors, we are not limited to kitchen and bathroom flooring projects. We offer under-tile heated floor systems for your floor tile installation from top-name brands such as Schluter Floor Warming.

If you're looking for help with your shower pan replacement project contact us

Action Shower Pan & Steam Shower Company



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