Building a Shower Curb: [DIY Guide]

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Installing a shower curb is a necessity if you are like us and hate walking into the bathroom hours after a shower to find the water is still pooling around your shower pans.

If you've found yourself in that situation and the shower floor is flooded, a simple shower curb that is installed properly is probably your answer.

The biggest issue with installing your shower curb as part of a bathroom renovation is that the mortar doesn't always stick to the tile wall. Ensuring that you get the measurements right is also crucial. This means that your new curb will fit snugly against the wall of your tub or shower.

By following this easy DIY guide and tips, you will end up with a custom and pre-formed shower curb in no time.

Not only will it look great, but it will help prevent water from leaking out onto your floor and build a safer environment for everyone in your family.

1. Tools and Materials Needed

Building a shower curb means using cement mortars to have a solid foundation for the cement blocks.

You'll need to use some tools to build a shower curb. These include a level, a flat trowel, a hammer, and nails to give the curb some stability on your tile floor.

You'll also need mortar for sticking tiles onto your new curb, as well as grout if you choose to use it. Ensuring you use the right cement mortar is crucial for this job.

Finally, make sure that you have enough tiles so that they will cover the length of one side of your tub or shower floors with at least an inch leftover for overlapping joints between two rows of tiles.

The materials needed are pretty straightforward: grouting material (even though we're not going into detail about using grouts in this post), screws for securing things together like pipes and drain covers, wall anchors depending on what type of wall surface is being used such as drywall or plasterboard (or sheetrock ), tiling materials like tile spacers and grout, and mortar for sticking tiles onto your new curb.

2. Planning the Shower Curb

The first step is to measure the dimensions of your shower and determine how much material you'll need. The length of one side of your tub or shower with at least an inch leftover for overlapping joints between two rows of tiles.

You will also want to take into consideration that some tile materials are not flexible so make sure there's a little wiggle room on both sides for cuts around pipes, drains, etc.

If it's easier try using graph paper to sketch out where you're going to place all this before cutting any tiles.

If you have less than 30 square feet in bathroom floor space then purchase more than what you think will be needed because there may end up being extra waste from too small piece counts (due to tiles not being flexible)

Think about Budget

Savvy people may want to look into buying a pre-cut sheet of laminate tile, as these are often inexpensive and come in different shapes.

They can also be easily cut down with a hand saw or tile nipper.

The drawback is that you will have little flexibility when it comes to choosing your colors if this is all the material you're using for your project.

Tile adhesive should always go on top of mortar (invisible grout) before laying any tiles onto the surface – so make sure you've got a layer evenly spread out across where ever there's going to be an edge slope. This ensures that they'll stay put without sliding off.

Once you've calculated the number of materials, purchase them from a hardware store. You'll want to make sure you have the right amount of tools for cutting and sawing,

3. Installing the Shower Curb

Assemble all of the materials needed, which include cement mortar mix (approximately 90 pounds), concrete blocks (40 cement blocks), and sand mixed with water according to package instructions. The more dry parts you add to the wet mixture, such as gravel or salt, will make it stronger when drying over time.

1) Carefully cut the curb strip with tin snips.

Make sure that the cuts are straight by using a level as a guide.

The length of the curb should be 1/4 inch less than the width of the tile or stone surface it will be placed on.

2) Starting at one end of the installation area & use construction adhesive

This is used to apply two rows of silicone sealant all along one side edge of each row to glue them together for added stability.

Then place three more rows (one at each end and one in between) to continue.

3) Mark your layout lines on the bathroom floor

To install an inside corner piece, you'll want to carefully mark your layout lines before cutting out any pieces so they fit snugly and perfectly into their spot without gaps from the side.

The project should be started with an inside corner piece that's cut to fit perfectly in the area where it is placed.

Then, place a row of adhesive on each side edge and apply one or two rows along the top for additional stability.

Measuring the size of bathroom tiles

4) Install the other pieces on your shower floor

Next, you'll need to install three more pieces (one at either end and one between) by using construction adhesive to glue them together before applying silicone sealant all over their edges.

Once these seams are set in place, they will form a perfect 90-degree angle.

Once all pieces have been glued together, apply sealant around the outside edge as well as at any joint seams inside where gaps may have occurred during installation.

Finally, fill up cracks with caulk or tile mortar for waterproofing purposes and double-check every seam is fully sealed before applying an additional layer of silicone sealant over everything just to be safe.

4. Most important points to consider when building shower curbs

Mixing your mortar before using it will help to avoid these issues – just make sure you mix thoroughly.

The most important tip is to make sure that your mortar is mixed well before using it in the process. If it is not mixed well, then the mortar may have inconsistencies in color and texture.

Sealing properly

Make sure that all joints between tiles or bricks are sealed properly with caulk or tile mortar for waterproofing purposes.

You should also use a flat trowel when applying silicone sealant onto brick surfaces to prevent air bubbles from forming beneath the surface of the sealant layer.

Don't use too much water on your concrete floor

Also, be sure not to use too much water when mixing so that it doesn't become too wet or dry, otherwise, the portland cement will not set up correctly.

A good rule of thumb is to mix with two parts water and one part cement powder, then slowly adding more water until the mixture becomes a runny consistency like cream.

Mixing in about an eighth cup of white Portland Cement will make it stronger but also increase its thickness slightly – this can be useful if you have a less porous surface such as concrete that needs reinforcement or want thicker mortar joints for waterproofing purposes.

To get your final product out of the bag faster, use scissors to cut off just enough material so both ends are still attached by approximately six inches.

This way it should come out easily from the top opening without having to un-fill everything else first.

Ensure your hands are wet when building a concrete floor

Be sure to wet your hands before touching the mixture, as it is a very sticky material and can get messy.

The general rule of thumb for mortar joints is that they should be about one inch in width but not too much less than this – otherwise, you will need to add more sand or cement powder into the mix.

Don't forget to create an edge around the shower curbs you build so water doesn't leak out onto the bathroom floors if something happens to break off from it – some people go with garden edging which works well but others choose bricks or even wire mesh wrapped with a plastic barrier.

Your shower curb and shower area needs time to dry

Remember concrete needs time to dry completely, usually 24 hours depending on moisture levels present in the air at any given moment (either way, don’t walk on it before the mortar has cured) so ensure your shower area has the time needed to rest.

If you want to add any kind of edging, for instance, if using bricks then use a hose or wet rag and go around the edge of your curb with water.

This will help keep the cement from sticking to anything else in the room so that when you remove this barrier later on there is less risk of damaging newly laid tiles.

When installing shower walls make sure they're as level as possible – not only because it looks nicer but also because these can be expensive pieces and something that's out of alignment could lead to them breaking more easily than would otherwise happen.

For example, one way people find ways around this issue is by putting up temporary studs at each corner which are removed after the cement has been set.

This is a temporary solution and something that's not particularly cost-effective but it might be worth considering if you're on a tight budget or in an emergency where time is of the essence.

If however, you have your heart set on installing these for good then it's important to know that there are two types of walls available: framed (with studs) or frameless (without).

The latter can also come with preinstalled shelves which will greatly simplify things when it comes to adding storage space.

Framed walls

Installing a shower curb

Framed walls do require more expertise than their frameless counterparts; they need someone who knows how best to operate sheetrock tools as well as plastic drywall mud and joint compound – but the result is often worth it.

It's important to understand that framed walls offer a lot of versatility.

They can be built-in, or out and they are also really easy on your budget as you will not have to buy waterproofing materials separately – an expense that usually costs around $500 for 100 square feet (or about $0.50 per sq ft).

Frameless walls make for a great addition if you don't mind adding shelves but bear in mind they may lead to water damage due to lack of encapsulation; this means that all materials used need to be completely water-tight so that leakage doesn't happen through the drywall joints.

This type won't require any special expertise from builders because frameless shower walls are usually designed with the installation process in mind.

If you want to install frameless walls, they must have a waterproof lining or coating such as paint and cement-based tile grouts.

While there's no need for an insulation board like fiberglass on framed wall showers because of their drywall frame, framing out showers will require one so keep this in consideration when budgeting for materials.

Framed options also make things much simpler if you plan to add shelves – just be mindful of maintenance requirements from these additions. It may not seem obvious at first but adding shelving (or towel racks) can cause leaks due to how water flows off them into adjacent surfaces; any coatings/liners used here (like paint) can wear down and become ineffective, causing leaks.

If you are looking to install a shower curb, the existing bathroom floor must be capable of holding weight – always make sure before beginning.

This will ensure your new installation doesn't warp or buckle under added pressure; without reinforcement, this could cause some serious problems (including water leaking).

But with a little prep work from you, all should be well for years to come.

The most basic way is by using pre-fabricated materials like drywall screws which hold up better than nails in these types of environments.

Top of the mud curb

The top of the curb should be level with the top of your mud wall.

The bottom of the mud curb should be about a foot and a half from ground level, but you'll want to measure this distance based on how high up off the ground your mud is coming out in order to create an even slope for water runoff.

You can nail your top of the curb to the mud wall, but they are more likely to come loose or shift out of place over time.

If you want a mud curb that is removable so it can be easily lifted up and off when mudding your shower wall, we suggest using bendable PVC piping for this task.

Create one bend on each end of your mud curb, then attach it to the mud wall or mud flooring by inserting it into the mud trench.

Bend the two sides out slightly so that it's easy for you to push the top of the curb away from underneath.


The top of the curb is important to consider when it's time to fine-tune. You want the top to be straight enough so that water doesn't go past it and onto your flooring or carpet!

The top of the curb should have a small gap between an inch and two inches, depending on how high you need for drainage purposes.

Fine-tune by having someone else help you hold up one end while you adjust with screws what's going wrong below the top edge. A good rule of thumb is if there are no screw holes insight, then use them as guides to drill new ones where needed!

Powdered lime

This can be used to build mudbricks.

Mix the mud with water until it feels like modeling clay, then use a wooden spoon and your hands to mix in the powdered lime. The lime added can help with the mold or form of your choosing.

Put the mud in the form, then use a trowel to tamp down.

Add more mud until it is about one to two inches high. When it's almost two inches high, use the trowel to shape mud into a rounded edge.

Final thoughts when building a cement mortar shower curbs

Installing a curb in your showers can be messy and aggravating. But it is possible. All you need is the right tools for the job (a flat trowel or cement mortar spatula) and some patience when following these tips.

Wear gloves when using a flat trowel with mortar or cement, and never mix them with any other material. When you wear gloves, you are protecting yourself during the process.

Mix the mortar or cement on a flat surface in batches of two bags per batch when building out your shower curb along with the shower pan; this will ensure that there's enough to finish what you started without wasting product. Speaking of the shower pan, the materials used here are also important to consider. This also applies to the shower door.

Let it rest and dry according to package directions before installing wall panels around your wooden curb formwork. Once finished, use sandpaper or a brush for final smoothing touches.

Measure from where the wall panel meets the top edge of your curb down four inches along its side onto the pavement below.

Follow these easy tips from our guide on how to install shower curbs, and your new custom-made curb will look great in no time without additional worry from your side.

Plus with that added safety measure of stopping water from leaking out onto your floor, everyone in your family will thank you when they get home after work and step out of a high-pressure shower – we know we would.

Mark Weber

Mark Weber

Mark started out as an electrical engineer before he became a licensed bathroom remodeling contractor. He loves writing about bathrooms and remodeling in his spare time, as it relaxes him to think of something besides work.

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