Compared to impressive glass doors or walls, the pan may seem like a small portion of your shower. Its role, however, might be more significant than you think.
The pan is the receptacle at the bottom of your shower, which gathers and leads the water to the drain. The best shower pans should fit your shower’s configuration and avoid leaks and water damage in the long run.
The quality of the materials determines the pan’s durability and resistance. Its shape, however, dictates how it should be installed in your bathroom.
Shower Pan or Tiles?
If the bathroom is already tiled, many homeowners may be tempted to install the shower directly over the tiles. While it may be the most convenient setup, it isn’t the most durable option.
Tiles will age and crack over time, letting water through and potentially creating mold and mildew. The surrounding grouting can be a weakness. Even the best waterproof grouts will eventually wear off and fail. You’ll then need to fix or replace the grout, a process that can be both costly and time-consuming.
Adding a pan over your tiles, however, makes your shower more durable. They’re sturdier, can resist shock and sometimes heat. Maintenance is very minimal, and when it comes to installation or replacement, it’s also much simpler than applying tiles.
Different Shapes of Shower Pans
Pans come in various shapes to accommodate all types of shower and bathroom designs.
There are five main base designs, made for various needs:
- Quadrant base: The V-shaped pan is tucked in a corner and features round, enclosed doors. They’re a great option when space is limited.
- Neo-angle base: These pans display a prism shape. They’re suitable for middle size bathrooms and are also installed in a corner. The unique design allows a little more room than quadrant types.
- D-shaped base: When a corner shower isn’t an option, yet you’re still looking for a compact product, these pans can be an excellent alternative. They come with a round enclosure and can be set up on any flat wall.
- Square base: Perhaps one of the most common types, square pans are easy to install and can fit both corners and flat walls.
- Rectangular base: For large bathrooms, these spacious pans allow a lot more room to move. Some can even be tiled over the base to give a luxurious look.
Number of Thresholds
The number of thresholds in a base refers to the number of sides that won’t be attached to a wall. For instance, a single-threshold base will be installed in an alcove and surrounded by three walls. A three-threshold pan, however, is designed only to have one side affixed to a wall panel.
Bases are made with edges of various heights — also called thresholds. Deep pans can better contain excess water and avoid overflow. On the other hand, products made with a low front threshold will allow easier access.
When shopping for a base, you’ll find the following types of thresholds:
- Beveled: This type features a slight slope to accommodate wheelchairs. These products are typically ADA compliant (1).
- Barrier-free: These pans allow you to walk into the shower without running the risk of falling or tripping over the edge.
- Curbed: The frontal edge on curbed pans usually measures from a ½-inch to 6 inches high.
- Temporary: This versatile threshold is removable to accommodate all needs within a family.
Shower Pan Materials
The material used to make a base will have a direct impact on its quality, durability, and price.
From our research, acrylic is the most popular material used in shower pans. It’s lightweight, making it easier to install.
Acrylic pans are also very durable and often reinforced with other high-quality materials, such as fiberglass (2). Finally, they’re cost-efficient, and ideal if you have a limited budget.
This material is usually less costly than acrylic. It’s made of a combination of polyester resin and woven glass fiber. Although they’re lighter, they’re not as durable; the topcoat may wear off over time, making room for water to sneak in.
Composite pans are extremely durable, and also one of the lightest materials. One should last you for at least a decade. However, they come at a significantly higher price-point, which may not fit all budgets.
Porcelain is another sturdy material to consider for a shower base. It’ll resist the heaviest weights, and can remain stable and in good condition for many years.
On the downside, they’re more expensive than other types, heavier, and more challenging to install. This type might not be the best for a DIY beginner.
These bases are designed to affix tiles inside the pan. They provide a unique, luxurious and sleek look, yet come with a few drawbacks.
Tiles aren’t as durable as other materials. The grout surrounding them will also need to be regularly maintained. They also come with additional costs in the form of labor and the initial outlay for purchasing the tiles.
Other Features to Look For
Besides the shape, threshold, and material used, consider these points for your shopping checklist:
- Stain resistance: This feature makes cleaning quicker and easier.
- Scratch resistance: Shower pans are highly prone to scratches. From dropping shampoo bottles to using an abrasive cleaning tool, a scratch-free material should ensure your pan stays looking new.
- Cleaning agent: Some materials — such as acrylic — can be damaged by harsh chemicals. Natural solutions are preferable here, for example vinegar.
- Drain location: Ensure that the hole at the bottom of the pan will fit above your drain pipe. Typically, drains are placed either towards the center, corner or sides of a base.
- Colors: A matching base can really make your bathroom’s style. Pans typically come in either black, white or beige shades.
- Attached seat: Typically found on rectangular bases, a bench is great for those less stable on their feet, or simply as a place for toiletries.
- Quality certifications: Selecting a product that is certified by a recognized organization ensures quality standards — look for CSA, UPC, UL, or ANSI certifications.
The Best Shower Pans of 2020
Shower pan options are endless, and identifying the best ones can quickly become overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve done all the legwork so you don’t have to. We’ve looked at all choices, inspecting reviews, materials, durability, and even extra handy features.
1. Bestbath Shower Base with Center Drain
This square base is tiny enough to fit most bathroom spaces, and should even be suitable for small condos or recreational vehicles. The opening is located at the center of the base, and the drain plate is included in the package.
The threshold is higher — 6 inches — than most other pans, preventing water overflow. The base is built with materials meant to last, and reviewers are thrilled with the quality and durability of the product.
This base is made with a sturdy composite substance and coated with a 5-layer fiberglass gel coat. In addition to the watertight seals providing waterproof ability, it’s also scratch- and stain-resistant. You shouldn’t have to replace it anytime soon!
We appreciate the fact that the manufacturer added a slip-resistant layer to prevent accidents. Besides, being composed of light materials, this base should be easy to carry. It also comes ready to install and can be set up within a day.
- Quality materials.
- High threshold.
- Slip-resistant texture.
- Easy installation.
- High threshold can be difficult for seniors to use.
|Size||30 x 30 x 7 inches|
|Material(s)||Composite and fiberglass gel coat|
|Unique Feature(s)||High threshold|
2. Tile Redi USA Barrier-Free Shower Pan
Are you looking for a shower pan without a frontal threshold? One that can allow a wheelchair to roll inside? This high-quality base might be the pan you’re looking for.
Rectangular in shape, it doesn’t come with any obstacles in the front, making it ideal for walk-in showers. The base is also designed to be tiled, and epoxy is included to affix them to the base. The outcome should be both impressive and stylish.
It comes with a round drain plate made of stainless steel material for better durability. Flashing metallic bars are also included to prevent leaks and increase waterproof ability. They’re meant to be fixed along the edges, with the wall tiles installed over the flashing bar.
This product meets both UL and ANSI standards while offering a 3-year limited warranty (3). Reviewers have been impressed with how light the base is, and how quickly it can be installed.
- Easy installation.
- Includes drain and flashings.
- Base for a walk-in shower.
- Can be used without the tiles.
- Without a threshold, water might easily flow out of the shower.
|Size||35 x 57 x 7 inches|
|Unique Feature(s)||Walk-in base|
3. DreamLine Neo-Angle Shower Base
This neo-angle shower pan has been built to fit any corner. While its size is slightly smaller than the squared bases, the prism shape allows a little extra room.
This type of product is typically installed with glass doors. The Dreamline prism design allows a door opening of 34 inches, which should be ample space for most.
The base is made of sturdy acrylic material reinforced with fiberglass fibers to provide a long-lasting product. The anti-slip surface should help avoid injuries when entering and leaving the shower.
Dreamline products are also cUPC-certified. They have gone through thorough testing to ensure high-quality standards. Bear in mind that the drain itself isn’t included, yet the opening would fit standard 2-inch drains.
- Compact but ample size.
- Made of sturdy acrylic material.
- Anti-slip surface.
- Doesn’t come with a drain plate.
|Size||36 x 36 x 2 ¾ inches|
|Color(s)||Biscuit, black and white.|
|Material(s)||Acrylic reinforced with fiberglass|
|Unique Feature(s)||Neo-angle shape|
4. DreamLine Single Threshold Shower Base
This base is designed to fit a three-wall alcove shower and features a single frontal threshold. It comes with either a right, left or central opening to install a 2-inch drain.
To perfectly fit your bathroom’s design and shower tiles, the pan comes in three colors: biscuit, black or white. The base is made with non-porous and high-gloss acrylic material for better durability and easy maintenance. It’s even reinforced with fiberglass and covered with a SlipGrip layer to prevent falls.
The low threshold — 2 ¾ inches — allows easy entry and exit for seniors and makes the base discrete and stylish. On top of that, users mentioned that they were able to successfully and easily install it without professional help.
- Lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
- Available in various colors.
- Low threshold.
- Mortar base is needed before installation.
|Size||36 x 60 x 2 ¾ inches|
|Color(s)||White, back or biscuit|
|Material(s)||Acrylic reinforced with fiberglass|
|Unique Feature(s)||Low threshold|
5. Woodbridge Tileable Shower Base
This shower base comes as a single piece and in a kit ready to install. It’s designed to apply tiles over the bottom of the pan for the most fashionable and luxurious style.
The manufacturer has ensured that you have all the equipment necessary to install the tiles on your own. For this reason, the kit includes three aluminum metal bars and 12 pounds of tile epoxy adhesive. This should be enough to tile the entire base surface.
Although different sizes are available, the square drain is always found at the center of the base. The product includes a 2-inch PVC drain and a stainless steel drain plate with a nickel finish.
This shower pan has also been designed to be resistant to wear and tear. It’s impact and scratch-resistant, and all materials can repel water. On top of that, the product is UPC and CSA certified to ensure quality.
- UPC and CSA certified.
- Kit is ready to use.
- High-quality drain plate.
- 3-year limited warranty.
- Base material not specified.
|Size||60 x 36 x 6 inches|
|Unique Feature(s)||Tileable base, ready-to-use kit|
6. Proflo Shower Pan with Strainer
Are you looking for a simple and cost-efficient shower pan? A product that’ll protect your flooring from water but without the high price-tag and fancy features? If so, this budget-friendly base might meet your requirements.
This pan has been molded into one single piece for easy installation. Most users were able to set up the base alone without the assistance of a qualified professional.
One might think that an economical option wouldn’t last very long. In fact, this base is made of high-quality composite material with additional reinforcement. The non-porous substance is even able to resist stains, shocks, and heat, which should come in handy is you enjoy super hot showers.
It even comes with a non-slip top layer to avoid nasty falls. This product seemed to exceed most reviewers’ expectations. If any issue occurs, the manufacturer backs up its product with a 1-year limited warranty.
- Made of composite material.
- Easy installation.
- Shock and heat-resistant.
- Short warranty.
- Only comes in white.
|Size||32 x 32 x 6 inches|
|Unique Feature(s)||Shock and thermal resistant|
7. Kohler Tresham Shower Receptor
If you enjoy versatile products, this base might be for you. To start, it includes a rectangular base offering ample room to shower, but the pan also comes with an attached side bench. Whether to help a senior stay balanced, to place toiletries on, or to serve as a footrest while shaving, the uses are endless.
The seat is located towards the left, while the drain is placed on the right-hand side.
Sturdy and 18 inches high, it can withstand heavier occupants. In addition, the low threshold — 5 ⅛ inches — should make for easy entry and exit.
This unique base is made of a durable acrylic substance. It’s designed to be installed in an alcove surrounded by three walls. If quality is a concern, the manufacturer offers a 1-year warranty.
- Attached bench.
- Made of sturdy acrylic material.
- Low threshold.
- 1-year warranty.
- Reviewers mention it can be heavy to carry.
|Size||60 x 32 x 5 ⅛ inches|
|Unique Feature(s)||Includes a bench|
Detailed Comparison Chart
|Bestbath Shower Base||Deepest Shower Pan||Square||30 x 30 x 7″||White||Composite and fiberglass gel coat|
|Tile Redi USA Shower Pan||Walk-In Shower||Rectangular||35 x 57 x 7″||Polished chrome||Polyurethane|
|DreamLine Neo-Angle Shower Pan||Mid-Sized Bathrooms||Neo-angle||36 x 36 x 2 ¾”||Biscuit, black & white||Acrylic reinforced with fiberglass|
|DreamLine Shower Base||Popular Choice||Rectangular||36 x 60 x 2 ¾”||White, back or biscuit||Acrylic reinforced with fiberglass|
|Woodbridge Tileable Shower Base||Luxurious Choice||Rectangular||60 x 36 x 6″||Black||Not specified|
|Proflo Shower Pan||Economical Pick||Square||32 x 32 x 6″||White||Composite material|
|Kohler Tresham Shower Receptor||Multi-Functional||Rectangular||60 x 32 x 5 ⅛”||White||Acrylic|
Focus on the Features
Before purchasing a shower pan, it’s critical to consider your bathroom’s design and available space. If the room is limited, a compact square or neo-angle base might be a good choice. On the other hand, if your bathroom is spacious, you’ll be able to set up a rectangular one, or even a model including a bench.
Also, take into account your shower’s ideal emplacement. If you’re planning on installing it against a wall, you’ll need a three-wall threshold. Single thresholds are best when placed in an alcove, while prisms and V-shape units will fit within a corner. After determining your bathroom’s requirements, decide whether you’d prefer a tiled floor, a walk-in concept or a simple, square pan.