Shower pan/wall design dilemma

enigmaquandryDecember 4, 2012

This bathroom is beating me!

Basically, due to cost alone, we will have to go with an acrylic cheapy shower pan. However the shower is 5' wide and I don't want that wide expanse of shower to have to be covered with glass doors (not to mention the cost!). What I would really like would be to build a wall or half wall over half of the front opening. However the pans I've found only have tile flanges on three sides at the most and then the threshold on the front. Is there any way to build on those thresholds or retrofit flashing etc. so I could build a wall half way across?

Is there any other option? I've seen the hard plastic pans that you can tile over but they are expensive and have the same issue with the threshold, is my only option a poured concrete pan? That's certainly out of the budget.

I have been working on the design of this bathroom for over a year and I still cannot figure it out! Thank you for any input :)

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I had the same dilemma. I used a 48 " shower pan from swanstone, solid surface, not flimsy at all. I build the side wall up to it and used that space inside the shower to build a seat and a nice niche.. the opening was fitted with a standard shower door, the shower feels large but the floor is only 48" with that great seat. Hope this helps. We love it and it was very inexpensive to do.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 7:37AM
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here is the niche, I made the wall deep enough to make a usable niche. I highly recommend the swanstone pan. Make sure it is the solid surface.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 7:43AM
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Marleycat24, thank you for the pictures! How did you make sure the seam between the wall and the pan is waterproof? And were you able to build the wall right on top of the threshold itself? Are you able to nail or screw into it?

Thank you so much :)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 10:29PM
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Not exactly sure what you are asking. The shower pan itself has a lip on 3 sides, u build the walls down to that lip and the wall overhangs the pan so the water flows down not behind. The front of the pan has the threshold, you don't have to nail anything to that. A bead of caulk around the whole base keeps it waterproof. (BTW...I am a 60+ woman, and did it myself. Can't be too hard!) I believe they tell you NOT to nail into the pan itself. Go on Swanstone website and pull up the specs. It might be easier to see the flange and threshold there. The threshold sits up at least 4 inches so the water stays in. I ordered it from They had the Best price! Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 8:39AM
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We did ours similar to marleycat, only we did a half wall by the seat, and used a shower curtain.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 7:29AM
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marleycat25 - how did you build the bench outside of the shower base? Was it framed with lumber? How did you waterproof the bench. We are also using a SwanStone base and are not sure how or what steps to take to go about building the bench and waterproofing it.

enigmaquandry - did you figure out a design for your bathroom? How did it turn out?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:11PM
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Hi mkzmom and enigmaquandry,

If either of you have product or installation questions about the Swan shower pans, we'd love to help you out! Feel free to email us at Our support guys really know their stuff. I'm sure they can help you out if you need it!

Hope this helps.

Chelsie Hellige, Swan Social Media Coordinator

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 12:25PM
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Enigmaquandry, are you asking about building on top of the threshold itself, to reduce the opening size? That's how I interpreted your question, and I was wondering the same thing. I'm going to have the same basic configuration as Marleycat, but I wanted to extend the wall by the seat further onto the threshold. I wanted the door to be only 36" wide. The toilet will be next to it, and I want to be able to mount a tp holder on that wall. I would appreciate any advice from others about whether or not it's possible to retrofit the threshold to accommodate a tiled wall. We're planning to use a cast iron pan, but the issue is the same, I think.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:10AM
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I'm wrestling with this exact problem! I thought I had the answer when I found this page from Houzz:

If you read the questions and answers, they say that this is a shower pan with 4 flanges, ie you can build a wall or curb on each side. Great, I thought - problem solved!

HOWEVER, I have since read on the internet that terrazzo shower pans are hard to keep clean and that is why they are no longer popular. Also writersblock mentioned, here on GWeb, that they are slippery.

So I'm still trying to figure it out. Current plan is to have a Kohler cast iron pan, but then I'll need to have a glass panel and a glass door on the opening side. I really want to build a half wall over half of the front opening, so that I can have the vanity next to the shower with no gap between them. But I can't figure out a way to make that happen if I use a cast iron or a Swanstone pan.

Any ideas, anyone? Or is a 10-inch gap between the shower and the vanity OK and not weird-looking?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 8:07PM
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