RedGard Shower Pan, a Practical Option: Yes or No?

Building a shower is one of the most intricate parts of remodeling a bathroom. As a result, there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders when it comes to, most specifically, the shower pan. Grading and waterproofing, or the lack of it, will determine a long-term serene environment or if it will become a moldy nightmare.

So, you’ve likely looked around the web. You already know that there are a ton of contradictions when it comes to the RedGard shower pan option. Keep reading to find out if RedGard shower pan options are practical. Is there a better strategy for shower pans altogether?

So, can you use RedGard as a shower pan option? In short, yes. But the real question is, should you? 

Shower Floors Need Waterproofing, Too

RedGard by Custom Building Products is a waterproof membrane. It waterproofs materials like stone, concrete, tile, plywood, and brick. Some also use it on metal and PVC. Coating surfaces with a waterproof membrane in a high-moisture environment, like your shower, can protect against mold and mildew issues. But can RedGard work under a tiled shower floor?

Shower floors need to be waterproof. And it’s a delusion that tile and grout are fully waterproof. Grout is porous and susceptible to cracking. 

So, using a waterproof membrane like RedGard is an excellent way to prevent mold from growing under the tile. 

For example, if you are tiling a bathroom, you should apply a membrane like RedGard to dry mortar or boards as an extra layer of protection. Once the RedGard is completely dry then, you can use the grout and tile directly over the top. But is RedGard durable enough for the consistent use of water hitting the floor of a shower pan?

The Importance of a Shower Pan

Before knowing if RedGard is practical on a shower pan, let’s look at what makes a shower pan so important.

The shower pan is the most crucial part of a working shower, besides the clean, hot water from the faucet. If you build a shower pan without the proper grade, all the water won’t make it to the drain. Needless to say, the drain is the only place you want the water to go.

Some contractors will build the pan using plywood and then mortar. Once the mortar is dry, it’s time to waterproof the area so that the water goes to the drain and not the path of least resistance. Next, professionals might use a membrane along with a fiberglass cloth to create a liner or install a high-quality shower pan liner.

An easy-to-use shower pan liner made of a thin PVC material can be found in a roll. Measuring the size of the shower will determine what size shower pan liner you will need. Cutting a size around five inches larger than your shower size is imperative when creating a healthy shower environment.

Without a pan or properly installed pan liner, the shower area can develop leaks, resulting in severe mold and mildew problems.

Can You Use RedGard with a Shower Pan?

Technically, yes. You can use RedGard on a shower pan, but there’s no doubt there is a lot of contradiction and confusion on if RedGard works as a durable shower pan liner. So, let’s try to clear up all misconceptions when it comes to using the pinkish-red membrane within a shower setting.

Is RedGard Really Waterproof?

Yes. RedGard is an excellent waterproof membrane that prevents mold issues. Yet, it’s a thin coat of rubbery membrane that is known to have only a short shelf life when hit with direct water. So, using RedGard on the shower pan and around the shower drain might not be the best option when sealing the pan.

It all comes down to several common issues when using RedGard as a shower pan liner.

  • User Error. It won’t work if the coating isn’t thick enough. Also, it won’t work out well if you don’t use fiberglass cloths along with applying RedGard.
  • Didn’t Let Mortar Dry. In some cases, the user didn’t let the mortar dry well enough before using RedGard. The most common belief is that mortar should dry for 28 days. But some studies suggest 21 days is a better number.
  • Didn’t Let RedGard Dry. Another failure factor is that people didn’t let RedGard dry well enough between coats.
  • Didn’t Use Support Boots in Corners. Not using extra support with fiber cloth on the shower pan will result in a crumbling membrane. Additional reinforcement is needed in the corners, seams, and curb to give extra protection in waterproofing.

Can RedGard Go Over Top of Shower Pan Liner?

Yes, but it’s thought to be overkill. Using a high-quality shower pan liner is like working with rubbery wrapping paper. It is imperative to its waterproofing quality to measure the liner correctly so it can be reinforced in corners and on the curb. Using PVC sealant glue to strengthen the corners is the perfect way to get a proper seal without eating at the PVC material.

Once the PVC liner is in place, you could spread two coats of RedGard over the PVC. However, it is overkill on the waterproofing method. Plus, there isn’t enough research on if the RedGard could affect the integrity of the PVC liner.

Where Does RedGard Work Best in the Shower?

RedGard has a definite purpose when waterproofing the shower, but it’s best when used on the walls from the top at the ceiling to the bottom, just at the shower pan and curb. Applying the RedGard to walls is best before installing the PVC pan liner. Not only is it a cleaner application, but it provides a second layer of waterproofing at the base of the wall.

In some cases, contractors have used two coats of RedGard on the mortar. They let it dry completely before laying down a PVC pan liner. It’s an extra layer of protection for the PVC liner.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a lot of questions when it comes to installing a shower pan. It is a highly stressful project because, if done improperly, it is well understood that it can cause significant destruction and health hazards. Let’s look at some other shower installation questions that need clarification to eliminate the DIY stress.

How much RedGard is needed for application?

RedGard is a waterproof membrane, so it should be used lovingly. One gallon should cover 20-25 square feet.

What are shower curbs made of?

Shower curbs are usually made of pressure-treated wood, using two or three 2x4s. Wood is stacked and covered in concrete, PVC liner, or a waterproof membrane, like RedGard.

Why use RedGard under the floor and wall tile in a bathroom?

The bathroom carries high humidity and lots of moisture. Using RedGard on walls and floor before tiling will add a barrier of waterproof protection. Grout is a porous material that can crack over time. The membrane will protect the subfloor and drywall under the tile from water damage.

Final Thoughts

If you are set on using RedGard in the shower pan, the best option appears to be using it between the mortar and PVC shower pan liner. Unfortunately, it seems the membrane breaks down with direct water. Yet, it has an excellent purpose for blocking the mist of water when it comes to humidity.

It’s no surprise people are so confused when it comes to using RedGard, especially when rumor has it; even the company recommends using it everywhere in the bathroom except for the shower floor. But hopefully, this clears up many misconceptions on where and how to use RedGard in the bathroom.

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