A shower base is simply the floor of a shower. There are two basic types, prefabricated and hand tiled. Prefabricated shower bases are also called shower pans, shower trays or shower receptors, and they are a popular choice for a bathroom installation.
Prefabricated shower units are sold in hardware stores and plumbing supply stores around the world. They are generally made of a hard acrylic polymer that is long-lasting and practical for home and industrial uses. An acrylic shower base can be molded into any shape desired, from a space-saving corner pan to an entire, self-contained shower unit. The surface can be textured or smooth, and colors are plentiful. Choices depend on the bathroom design, as well as the water source and the overall size of the shower enclosure.
Manufactured bases are considered the simplest and most economical method for a shower stall installation. Acrylic shower pans come complete with drain holes positioned to meet any plumbing configuration. Options include drains in the center, in the corner, or on the side of the shower base. Manufactured bases are often textured across the floor pan to prevent slips. The floor is also usually tilted very slightly toward the drain hole to allow for easy water drainage.
The choices in acrylic shower bases include functional designs for practically every consumer demand imaginable. One style has a convenient seat molded into the side. At the entry point, the shower base is nearly flush with the floor, but the surrounding shower walls rise above knee level. One wall has a curved ledge for sitting down, or propping up a soapy leg to shave in the shower.
A hand constructed shower base is generally made of mortar or grout lined with tile for waterproofing. A drain must be inserted in the tile, usually in the center, and the tiled area can continue up the shower walls to any height desired. A custom, tiled shower provides unlimited choices for any bathroom decorating scheme. Inexpensive tile is widely available, as well as marble, stone, and other more extravagant construction materials.
Cultured marble also makes an attractive shower base material. Made of 75% marble dust mixed with a polyester resin, cultured marble has the look of fine marble with a few added advantages. Cultured marble can be formed in large sheets to allow for fewer seams and grout lines. It is also mildew resistant, will not stain, and costs a lot less than real marble.