How To Install Shower Pan Over An Existing Tile? (SAFEST Way)

Installing a shower pan directly over an existing tile is certainly possible. A tiled floor can often be too smooth and uneven for laying a shower pan on directly. This can be fixed by scarifying the surface with a grinding wheel.  

This method, however, is not ideal. There is an alternate way to do it that’s going to be durable and efficient. And that’s what I’ll be covering in this article. But before that, let’s do a quick refresher on what actually is a shower pan and how it’s made.

Naturally, a shower pan is constructed of waterproof materials such as fiberglass or PVC. It is often confused with a shower base. A shower pan is an actual floor you’re standing on whilst a shower base is a structure underneath the pan.

In this article, we’re going to look at how to install a shower pan and the costs involved in it. 

Materials Required To Install Shower Pan Over An Existing Tile

  1. Shower pan – Depending on your budget and style, you have the option to choose from materials such as PVC, composites, and fiberglass.
  2. Tar paper – This will be used as a protective layer between the pan and the surface underneath it.
  3. Shims – Shims are used to even out any minor leveling issues.
  4. Plumber’s putty – Putty is used to seal gaps around the drain to make it waterproof.

Other tools and materials you need are a drain flange, gasket, mortar, glue, nails, and a hammer. 

A Step-By-Step Guide To Installing A Shower Pan

shower pan

Installing a shower pan directly over tiling is not the ideal way to do it for a couple of reasons. It’s not the most even or grippy surface to lay the pan on and secondly, the gaps can lead to a build-up of mold.

To fix this, a pan is generally laid on a shower base or an untiled floor. However, you can still install a pan on existing tiling by scarifying your tiling surface using a grinding wheel to make sure the surface has a better bond.

Once the surface on which you’re laying down the pan is set, follow these steps.

1. Getting The Base Ready

If you’re using a tiled surface as a base, make sure you scarify it. If it’s an untiled surface, you’re good to go, as is. 

Getting The Base Ready

Pour mortar directly onto the scarified tiles and spread it evenly. For an untiled surface, place tar paper to prevent any seepage, and then apply the layer of mortar. 

tar paper
pouring mortar

2. Installing The Drain Flange

Apply the plumber’s putty around the upper part of the drain flange and install it through the hole in the shower pan. 

Applying putty

Press the drain flange down firmly and remove the excess putty around it. Secure the drain with a gasket on the bottom part of the shower pan. 

Applying putty
Applying putty

3. Installing And Securing The Shower Pan And Its Plumbing 

Before placing and securing the shower pan for good, ensure the leveling is perfect. If not, use shims between the base and the pan to level it out. 


Place the pan onto the mortar surface and secure it to the studs on all sides using shims and nails as mortar can expand while drying out. Make sure there is no mortar seeping into the drainage hole. 

shower pan
shower pan

Install the plumbing underneath the pan, secure and waterproof it using PVC pipes and glue. 

pvc pipes
pvc pipes

Can You Replace The Shower Pan Without Removing The Tiles?

Replacing a shower pan if it’s been tiled over is not possible as it’s naturally going to require the tiles to be removed.

If a pan has been installed directly over a tiled surface, there’s a possibility that you can salvage the tiles underneath. 

This, however, requires the tiled surface underneath to be not scarified when the shower pan was being installed.

Secondly, it’s ideal if tar paper was sandwiched between the shower pan and the surface underneath. This will help protect the tiles from wear and tear borne by water seepage.

The Average Cost To Install A Shower Pan

The average cost to install a shower pan can run anywhere between $1000 to $2400, depending on the materials, labor, and quality of the pan itself. 

$1600 is the average cost for a shower installation panel job but it can go as high as $4500, depending on your desired end result. If you choose to hire a professional, labor costs can run between $50 to $100 per hour. 

The main cost is obviously the shower pan itself and based on the build quality and materials used, it can cost anywhere between $500 and $2000. 

Let’s look at some of the options you have while picking a shower pan. 

As a rule of thumb –

  1. Fiberglass pans are the most affordable but don’t last as long. Also, scratches are more visible here compared to other types. 
  2. Stone and metal pans are the most durable but also the most expensive. It may require more maintenance.
  3. A compromise would be acyclic shower pans that aren’t as expensive as metal or stone ones but do last longer than their fiberglass equivalents. The aesthetics, however, can be pretty plain.
  4. Another thing to consider is how the pans are made. A pre-made shower pan is going to cost a lot less than a customized one. 

The Price Range For Shower Pans 

Acrylic$200 to $600 dollars. 
Fiberglass$150 to $450 dollars. 
Cast iron$700 to $1200 dollars. 
Marble or stone$200 to $950 dollars. 

Final Remarks

In this article, the question in focus was how to install a shower pan on an existing tile. Whilst being possible and doable, it is certainly not the most ideal.

An average shower pan installation job can run you between $1000 to $2400 and about 2-3 hours of your time. This can vary greatly based on your expertise and whether you hire a professional. 

In a nutshell, a tiled surface is generally too smooth for proper mortar bonding. That can, however, be fixed by scarifying the surface using a grinding wheel.