By Nina Patel Allan Browne of Extended Home Living Services, Wheeling, Ill., has two solutions he likes to use for drainage in an open shower. On some jobs, he creates a 5-foot-square or 6-by-5-foot tiled shower. "We make those with a mud pan system," Browne says.
As an alternative to the time-consuming mud pan process, Browne and Bill Wasch of William Wasch Associates in Middletown, Conn., have found that using a pre-made shower pan works just as well. The pans come with a pre-installed drain and do not have a threshold. Once the pan is set, the installer seals the perimeter and caulks around the drain. On top of this shower pan, Wasch usually installs tile, though lately he's turned to a slip-resistant linoleum-type material called AltroSafety, made by Dynamite Noble. The structure is shaped so that water flows toward the drain.
Wasch says the pan is easier than mud, because with concrete or mud, it's hard to keep a level threshold.
When Barry Sugerman, Barry Sugerman Architect, Miami, uses the mud pan system, he sometimes installs a slotted drain on the edge of the shower to catch any overflow.
Though most pre-made pans Wasch uses are contoured to keep water flowing toward the drain, on one installation he had an overflow problem. Wasch installed a low aluminum strip that works as a dam to prevent water from flowing into the rest of the bathroom.