This Is How To Install A Shower Tray Like A Real Pro

Upgrading and renovating your bathroom could be about painting the whole room or maybe the tiles. Sometimes, it’s more than that. You can do many things to upgrade your bathroom, even if it’s a small one. Plenty of ideas can help you make your small bathroom look bigger and one of them is to improve it by replacing your tub and install a shower tray

A shower cabin with a deep acrylic tray

Installing a new shower tray may seem like a difficult task requiring plumber skills. And you may be right. It isn’t as easy a job as repairing a cracked shower tray. However, things aren’t always as they look and sound. Installing a shower tray is a DIY task, even if you want to fit one in a mobile home. You just need the proper guideline. And we’re about to tell you how to install a shower tray like a real pro!

Planning the project

The first and most important step in all DIY projects is to come up with a plan. It will save you time and money! Planning your DIY shower tray installation project is the key to a well-built structure, no matter the type of tray. So, let’s get started!

  1. The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether you want a low-profile or a raised tray. However, before answering this question, you have to check the type of bathroom floor, where the existing waste is and whether there’s enough space for the tray waste.
  2. The next step is to measure the area you’re about to install the new shower tray. If you’re replacing an existing one, then things are easy. You just need to measure the old one and order the new one. But if you want to replace a tub with a shower tray, you need to determine where to install the new one and then measure it. 

Types of a shower tray

There’s a great variety of shower trays that come in different materials, sizes, shapes and colours. The 4 main types of tray are; low-profile tray, raised tray, wet room tray and walk-in tray, which can all be square, rectangular, quadrant shower trays and offset ones. Here’s a shower tray buying guide to help you decide the best one for you:

1. Low-profile trays

Low-profile trays have a lip up to 40mm. They’re available in a great variety of shapes, sizes and materials and can fit any type of shower panels and doors.

2. Raised Shower tray

This type of tray, also known as a step in trays, has a lip starting from 60mm up to 120mm in height.   

3. Wet room tray

The tray is, in fact, the bathroom floor and the water flows directly into a waste hole in the floor. Usually, it doesn’t have shower screens, but you can arrange that if you wish. It provides easy access to the tray.

4. Walk-in trays

Walk-in trays are similar to the wet room type. Their main differences lie in the fact that walk-in trays have a low profile shower tray and can have one or two shower screens. They also provide easy access to the tray. 

The different shapes and materials of shower trays

Let’s say that you decided on a certain type and now you want to make a plan to fit it in your bathroom. What shape is the best one and which one will serve your needs best? Take a look here:

1. Square trays

These are perhaps the best choice as they’re suitable for almost all types of rooms. As a plus, you can fit several different shower doors, including folding doors, which is an excellent option for small bathrooms. You can install them in a corner or if you purchase the entire shower enclosure at any place in the room. 

2. Rectangular trays

Rectangular trays are most common in large bathrooms. They have a spacious interior to install all the helpful features like grab rails. You can have sliding doors with two long sides, efficient enough to save space in the room. 

3. Quadrant trays

This type has a curved front and a right angle. It’s the ideal option to have at any corner of the bathroom. Due to the curved front, you can fit a hinged or sliding door to gain extra space in the room. But, if you aren’t satisfied with that option, quadrant shower trays can provide you with an ultra-spacious option, an offset quadrant tray that has a shorter and longer edge.

Shower tray with siphon

There are many options for shapes, like P and D shaped or pentagonal trays that are, more or less, similar to quadrant ones. You should keep in mind that shower screens need to match perfectly. It would be better to opt for a package (tray and shower screens) to have the whole shower enclosure with just a purchase.

In addition to shapes, you need to also decide on the tray material. The options you have are:

  1. Acrylic capped stone resin: The most popular and durable material. It consists of shards of a stone polished into a smooth finish. As a plus, it can maintain the room’s temperature.
  2. Ceramic/fireclay: It’s a high-quality material but too heavy.
  3. Acrylic: It’s a lightweight material reinforced with wood. These trays aren’t as durable as ceramic or stone resin ones. 

Preparation before you start installing your shower tray

The most challenging part of the project is preparing the area where you want to install the shower tray. You’ll probably need to cut out the floorboard or space to fit the new shower tray, the waste outlet and the drain pipe. You need to do this before using mortar to level the surface. 

The tools you need to be prepared for the installation are:

  • Pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Dust sheet
  • Hacksaw/jigsaw
  • Building sand
  • Cement
  • Mortar trowel

A man using a spirit level to make sure the tray is 100% level

To successfully prepare the area, follow the below steps:

Step 1

The first thing to do is to take out flooring to fit the size of the tray and the supporting accessories. Plus, you need to make sure that the floor can withstand the tray’s volume. If the floor can’t do so, you need to replace it. You should use 20mm thick marine plywood to create a solid plinth. Use the spirit level to check the plinth’s level. 

Step 2

Next, you need access to the pipework. Cut an access hatch into the floor next to the area you’ll fit the tray. Mark the lines with a pencil and your jigsaw. While cutting the access hatch, cover the shower tray body with a dust sheet to protect it from any damages. 

Step 3

You need to determine the location of the shower tray waste and the bathroom waste pipe and cut an opening around them. Mark with your pencil where you want to cut and use the jigsaw to do so. Then, you can assemble the waste and place it. Make sure you also mark the trap below the waste hole

Step 4

Now it’s time to create the mortar. Mix 5 parts building sand and one part cement together. Lay a thin layer of mortar with a trowel, ensuring that it’s levelled and with no bumps. Use the spirit level to be sure that the mortar is 100% level. 

Important: Don’t install the shower wall panels and avoid tiling the bathroom walls before installing the tray. First, install it, and then you can proceed to the rest. Otherwise, you won’t have a waterproof seal around the shower tray edges. 

Step-by-step guide: How to install a shower tray

Depending on the type of shower tray you get, you will need different tools and installation methodσ. We’re going to show you how to install a low profile shower tray as well as a height-adjustable shower tray

Interior of a modern bathroom

Installing a low profile shower tray 

It might be the most tricky tray to install, but don’t worry. We’re here to help you! You’re going to need:

  • A pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Jug/kettle
  • Silicone sealant
  • Sealant gun

Now, follow these steps:

  1. Apply the shower tray on the mortar and press it gently. 
  2. Using the spirit level, check that the tray is level. If it isn’t, lift the tray to reset. 
  3. Let it dry for at least 24 hours.
  4. The following day, you’ll have to connect the waste and waste outlet pipe. Use the access hatch cut to do so. 
  5. Pour some water with a jug or kettle into the waste to check if there’s any leakage or not. 
  6. If there’s no leakage, you can start connecting.
  7. After connections, it’s sealant time. Use your sealant gun to seal around the edge of the shower tray. Ensure to leave a 3mm gap between the gaps at the edge of the tiles and the shower tray
  8. Let the sealant dry for 24 hours.
  9. Apply silicone sealant again for an extra secure watertight seal to prevent leakages. 

Your shower tray is ready! Pat yourself on the back and hop in to enjoy a relaxing shower. 

Extra tip: Low profile trays may leave you without the necessary space to install plumbing. Thus, if you can’t install piping beneath the floor, you can adjust a shower tray riser kit to raise the tray’s height.

Installing a height-adjustable shower tray

Installing a height-adjustable shower tray differs slightly from installing a low profile tray. Their main difference lies in the fact that it’s much easier to access the pipes in a height-adjustable shower tray. To install the height-adjustable tray, you need:

  • A screwdriver
  • A spirit level
  • A jag/kettle
  • Silicone sealant

Then:

  1. Place the tray on the area you want to install it and check if the fitments are OK. 
  2. If everything is OK, use a screwdriver to screw the legs into the correct position and adjust the desired height.
  3. Next, fit the tray waste and line up everything.
  4. Then, attach the waste to the tray and connect it to the waste trap.
  5. Check the tray’s floor level using the spirit level. You need to be sure that is level to prevent any future issues. 
  6. Once it is level, you can attach the underside of the waste to the waste outlet pipe. Secure it firmly. Use a kettle filled with water and pour it into the waste. If there’s no leakage, then move on to the next step. 
  7. It’s time to attach the shower tray side panels. We don’t have much to say about this. Just read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  8. The final step: Seal around the edges of the tray with silicone sealant

That’s all! So simple!

A minimalistic bathroom interior design in white color with a bathtub and shower cabin

Installing a new tray will be a piece of cake from now on. Make some plans first, prepare the space where you want to install the new shower tray afterwards, and finally follow our step-by-step guide on installing it. You don’t need to call an expert. You can do it yourself!

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