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How High Should Shower Drain Be? (Quick Answers)

Nowadays, homes have tiled showers, so installing shower drains is more challenging. However, there is nothing to worry about since following the correct instructions and noting the appropriate information will allow anyone to install a shower drain correctly. We will discuss the suitable height of a shower drain, so follow along to know more.

Shower drain height

The shower drain height should be such that the drain and tile meeting point is flush. Combining the thickness of the tiles and the mortar underneath will help decide the drain height from the concrete slab. Also, add 1/4 inch for the paper and wire substrate and 1/8 inch for the mortar beneath.

Nowadays, different types of shower drains are available in the market. The shower drain height, therefore, depends on which one you have chosen to use for your shower. Moreover, two measurements to consider are the shower drain height from the floor and the shower drain height above the subfloor.

Regardless of which shower drain you choose, it must be flush at the meeting point of the tile and the drain. If the shower drain protrudes from the shower floor, water will accumulate near it instead of draining. To avoid this problem, ensure that the meeting point is level so, that water does not face any obstacles while draining.

The most important part of a shower is the shower drain because it is responsible for draining all the shower water. Incorrect installation or installation following wrong procedures or measurements will make the shower drain stick out of the shower floor or stay below the level of the shower floor tiles. Hence, it will ruin the overall look of the shower.

Moreover, you may have noticed that the shower tiles slope towards the drain. Sloping tiles is an effective procedure done by builders to ensure all the water goes towards the drain and no water is left standing. Standing water is problematic for shower floors as it promotes mold and will make the shower floor slippery.

In a stall shower, the floors will be sloped following some measurements. According to local plumbing codes, the floor has to be sloped ¼ of an inch per foot to allow the water to move towards the drain. This sloping procedure is termed the sloped fill and is also known as the pre-slope.

Shower drain height for the floor:

The shower drain has to be flush at the meeting point of the tile with the drain. If the drain is higher than the tile, water will not be able to drain. As a result, you will see water accumulating near it instead of going down the drain. Moreover, the shower floor will have a little slope towards the drain to allow water draining. Therefore, ensure that the shower drain height has room to allow sloping towards it. Completely straight tiles in the shower will prevent all the water from draining, and you will end up with standing water on the floor.

Shower drain height above the subfloor:

Under the shower area, you may have a wooden subfloor or a concrete slab through which the drain pipe will run. Measuring from either of these is the same. Consider the combined thickness of the shower tiles and the mortar where it meets the drain. With that, add ¼ inch for the paper and wire substrate for the mortar bed and 1/8 inch for the thin-set mortar at the meeting point. The final height will be the shower drain height above the subfloor or concrete slab.

Please keep in mind that the type of shower drain you have decided to use will affect the measurements needed.

Should the shower drain be higher, lower, or flush with the tile floor?

The shower drain should be flush with the tile floor. It should be flush at the point where the tile and the drain meet. Otherwise, it will be ineffective in draining the water from the shower.

The shower drain should be at the same level as the tile. The drain should be the lowest point in a shower. Being the lowest point in the shower, all the water on the shower floor will roll down and it will be highly effective in draining all the water.

But if the shower drain is not smooth at the point where the tile meets the drain, water will accumulate near the drain instead of going down it. So, it will be ineffective in draining the shower water and cause water to remain on the shower floor. The remaining water will make the shower floor slippery and may cause someone to slip.

Moreover, experts say there should be a slope towards the shower drain. This slope will be effective in forcing the water to drain quickly. Therefore, you will not end up with water standing still on the shower floor and your shower floor will not grow mold.

How to determine shower drain height?

If you want to determine the appropriate shower drain height for your shower, keep these points in mind. The factors will help you choose accordingly.

Tile thickness:

You will have to record the thickness of the shower floor tiles. Recording this measurement will help you understand the amount of height of the shower drain from the subfloor. The thickness will vary on the type of tiles you are using for your shower floor. Generally, ceramic tiles are ¼ inch thick while marble, sandstone, or paver tiles are ½ inch thick. You can make up for the small deviations in the thickness of tiles by using mortar.

Mortar thickness at the meeting point:

Besides the thickness of the tiles, you will also have to record the thickness of the mortar at the point the tile meets the drain. Then, you can add the tile thickness and the mortar thickness to better realize the length of the shower drain that has to be above the subfloor. It is noteworthy that you should measure the mortar thickness close to the drain as the outer sides of the shower will have a thicker layer of mortar to create a slope.

Additional measurements:

Along with the mortar thickness and the tile thickness, you have to add ¼ inch for the wiring substrate and paper of the mortar bed and 1/8 inch for thin-set mortar. The final result you will obtain will be the height of the shower drain from the wooden subfloor or concrete slab to the shower floor.

These are all the points you have to consider to correctly determine the shower drain height. If you are having any sort of difficulty, you can call for the professional help from a local plumber.

Why is a proper shower drain height important?

The most important part of installing a new shower is the shower drain. Although it requires some planning beforehand and you may need to draw additional permissions, you can do most of the job yourself. The shower drain height is important too because of effective water draining.

The main purpose of shower drains is to drain the shower water and keep the shower floor free of wetness. If the shower drain height is incorrect or unsuitable, you will see water gathering around the shower drain. The water will not drain, and you will end up with water on the shower floor.

So, installing a shower drain higher than the shower floor tiles will cause water to stay on the shower floor. The standing water will encourage mold on the shower floor. Moreover, you will have a slippery shower floor which may cause someone to slip and hurt themselves.

On the other hand, if your shower drain height is lower than the shower floor tiles, it will ruin the aesthetic of your shower. It will appear out of place, and should you want to improve its position might have to rip the whole thing off and start all over again. It will cost you double the labor and time.

In addition to ruining the aesthetic, your shower drain may also get clogged. Clogging of the shower drain will prevent water from draining, and you will have to call for a plumber to help unclog the shower drain. Therefore, if you do not want to give unnecessary additional effort, ruin your shower aesthetic and spend extra money unclog the shower drain, record correct measurements and follow proper procedures to install a shower drain.

Final Thoughts

Installing the shower drain in a shower is probably the most challenging and crucial part. But with some simple knowledge about shower drains and the amount of height it has to have, you can install the shower drain yourself. Also, make sure to follow the local plumbing codes.