What Mortar To Use For A Shower Pan? (Find Out Now)

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by Upgraded Home Team

Shower pans are necessary because they provide an even base for your shower. This can improve drainage and make the shower floor level, and homeowners generally install shower pans with mortar. It can be difficult to choose which mortar to use for a shower pan given the wide variety.

Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix is the best mortar to use for a shower pan because it contains Portland cement and sand. Sakrete Sand Mix and Quikrete Floor Mud are also great options, and you can easily apply either with a trowel. You can also make mortar if you mix Portland cement, sand, and water.

It is always important to read the directions to find out how much water you need for a mortar mixture. Follow along as we help you determine what mortar to use for a shower pan.

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What Mortar Should I Use For a Shower Pan?

It is ideal to use mortar that contains both Portland cement and sand for a shower. This mixture strikes the perfect balance between adhesive and durable. However, that is not the only option and mortar mixes often vary between their contents and ideal use.

1. Sakrete Sand Mix

Sakrete Sand Mix is easy to mix, apply, and find at a local store. As the name suggests, Sakrete Sand Mix consists of sand that you can easily apply with a trowel. It is perfect for DIYers because it comes preblended and you can apply it between bricks without trouble.

However, Sakrete Sand Mix is also useful for a shower pan because it is easy to apply cleanly. The consistency of Sakrete Sand Mix makes it easy to smooth out to get an even base, and it takes 6 hours to set. This is essential when it comes to a shower pan so that you can improve drainage.

2. Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix

Many homeowners use the Quikrete Sand/Topping mortar mix to install a shower pan. The mixture contains sand and Portland cement which makes it durable and easy to work with. You can save money and create a mixture of Portland cement and sand to achieve the same effect.

Follow the instructions and never add more water than the bag says to. The water requirement changes between batches sometimes because the materials that Quikrete sources sometimes change. One mixture may require 8 pints of water whereas that may be way too much for another batch.

Any homeowner can easily mix Quikrete/Sand Topping mix in a bucket. The consistency comes from how well you stir it and if you use the correct amount of water. Luckily, Quikrete Sand/Topping mix is readily available and comes in bags between 10 and 80 pounds.

3. Quikrete Floor Mud

Quikrete also produces Floor Mud which is an easy-to-use concrete mix that is perfect for shower pans. It is much easier to use Floor Mud than Quikrete Sand/Topping mix because it comes ready in the bag. That makes it the perfect option for DIYers with less experience or if you simply are in a rush to finish the job.

Floor Mud is made of Portland cement and is just as useful for traditional flooring as it is for a shower pan. Quikrete sells Floor Mud in 80-pound bags that you can use for several projects. Portland cement is water-resistant and Quikrete Floor Mud is perfect to use as a shower pan.

Make sure to install your Quikrete Floor Mud between 2” and 3” thick at the thickest and thinnest points of the shower pan. This will ensure that your shower pan is strong at potentially vulnerable spots. It isn’t as easy to find Floor Mud as other Quikrete products, but it is among the best cement mixes for a shower pan.

Mortar Vs. Cement

Mortar and cement are both popular in construction and DIY projects, but they are different. Although mortar contains cement, it is a mixture whereas cement is simply a binding powder. Mortar is unique because it contains both sand and cement.

You can commonly find mortar between bricks, and that is because of how it reacts with water. Water reacts with the cement in the mix and mortar thickens. Mortar has adhesive qualities that make it unique and it is durable like standard cement or concrete.

You can buy mortar mixes by the bag which makes it more accessible than something like concrete. It is ideal to use mortar for brickwork or under a shower pan. Save cement and concrete for bigger projects that require a sturdier, thicker material.

Do You Have to Use Mortar Under a Shower Pan?

You generally have to use mortar under a shower pan if the base is not level. Mortar can create an even surface for your shower pan to sit on that can improve drainage and stability. It is also possible to install slide shims under your shower pan if the base is not level, but many homeowners and professionals use mortar instead.

You can also add another layer of subfloor, but it would be cheaper and easier to install mortar. It is easy to level out mortar even if you haven’t worked with it before, and it costs $15 per square foot.

Types of Shower Pan Materials

Now that you know which mortar to use on your shower pan, it’s now time to learn about the shower pan material. Here’s a countdown of the materials you can use on your shower pan.


You can’t deny the popularity of acrylic shower pans, which are usually made from plastic. The good thing about shower pans made from acrylic is that they save you the burden of grout maintenance costs. Additionally, the pans feel warm under the feet, and you don’t need to pump money into heated floors.


Tile is the most attractive of these shower pan materials. But it requires exceptional skills to install it. Plus, you need regular maintenance to ensure that the tiles stay in great shape.


Fiberglass shower pans are made from polymers that are strengthened with closely woven glass fibers. The honor of the cheapest shower pans goes to fiberglass-made pans. The downside of using fiberglass on the shower pan is that it stains and scratches easily.

Composite Materials

This is a combination of two or more of the above materials. A good example is when you combine fiberglass and acrylic to make a stronger material.

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Wrap Up

Mortar helps support the weight of shower users and is waterproof to prevent the underlying material from water damage. If you’re using a pre-formed shower pan, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to determine how thick or thin the mortar bed should be. But if you’re installing a tile, make sure that the bed is 2-3 inches thick and becomes thinner toward the drain.

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