How to Select the Drain for Your Shower

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At the core of every fantastic shower is a superb shower drain. But which drain is the right one for your shower?

It is simple: the very best drain for your shower is the one that you love the look of which meets the requirements of the job. Every nation, every town or every state may have any special code that makes the decision more difficult, but for the most part the sky is the limit. It all depends on what is right for you.

For many of the showers built in North America, the customer is not even asked what kind of drain they’d like. However, things are changing. Today’s customer is much more educated and looking for more than a cheap fix. And they should! Drains do more than look pretty — the great ones can deliver to both function and style.

Here are a few of my favorite styles.

Quick Drain USA

Linear Drains

This shower is one of my favorites and comes with a linear drain from Quick Drain USA. This drain is one of my best picks and recommendations on most occupations. The narrow profile and the fact that it is also a primary shower drain create it one of the best choices out there.

Hint: When working with regular 3/8-inch-thick tile, I plan on a 1 1/4-inch finished wall mounted build-out (off the stud framing) to factor in a combination of this 1/2-inch backer board, waterproofing, tile thinset and tile depth.

Organize your build-out before installing the drain so that you are able to put the drain tight to the wall, as shown here. In case you have not chosen your tile nonetheless, hold off on installing the drain till you have.

Ceramiques Hugo Sanchez Inc

A tile-top linear drain is one of the hottest looks now and one of my customers’ preferred options. This shower, place by Ceramiques Hugo Sanchez, showcases the polished look that is possible with contemporary drains.

An opening of at least 2.48 square inches or 1,600 square millimeters is suggested. Smaller openings can work or perhaps look nicer, but they will impact the flow rates of these drains.

Hint: Clean these tile-top drains regularly to keep the flow rates at optimum levels. Hair buildup around the drain’s waste pipe can choke the air needed to keep the shower drain flowing correctly.

Ceramiques Hugo Sanchez Inc

Be sure that you take into consideration how the remaining floor is going to be prepared when you’re choosing your shower drain also. This bathroom was built and waterproofed with all the Schluter Kerdi and Ditra system, allowing for a smooth transition from the dry area to the wet one.

Hint: Utilize a temporary dam to flooding test these installments. You will have to dam the shower two inches above the entry point.

Sroka Design, Inc..

Traditional Point Drains

A routine or classic drain goes by several names. I’ve heard it called a stage drain, a clamping ring drain, a leaky drains, a regular drains and on and on.

Many building and plumbing codes require specific drain line sizes, and at times even the amount of shower drains in one or gang shower. When in doubt, it is always better to get a bigger drain instead of one hardly able to keep up with the bathtub’s leak speed.

Hint: in case you’ve got just two thermostatic control valves, as in this shower, then plan to use a higher-flow-rate drain. You can work out actual leak rates by calculating the power of this fixture with all the strain and size of the water lines. Do not leave this to chance — it is well worth it to do the math!


If your shower or local code requires a 3-inch drain and waste line, consider a bigger traditional drain such as that one shown here. These higher-flow-rate drains can manage much more water leak and do not sacrifice on style in any way.

If you would like a more custom-looking grill, Designer Drains makes replacements for many of the standard drain grills out there.

Hint: Back in Canada, shower drains and grates should be chrome plated, to obey the principles of the Canadian Standards Association.

When employing a classic three-piece clamping drain (or linear drain), it is important to get a pitch of 1/4 inch per foot to the drain below the waterproofing material. This allows any water getting under the grout and tile to drain toward the bathtub’s weep holes (drain holes).

Skipping this slope creates a shower that can hold gallons of water that is nasty below the tile, leading to mould and a wet-looking tile floor.

Hint: To check for the right slope, place a 2-foot level with a 1/2-inch shim below the drain side. It should examine level if the suitable 1/4-inch-per-foot slope is installed.

Modern – CAD 3

Most stage drains (clamping drains) do not offer the fine adjustment other drains provide. Make sure your plumber sets them flat. A fantastic trick is to place the drain with a little level set up and then spin the strainer. The grill must stay flat in almost any position.

Notice the extra weep (or draining) holes on the perimeter of this drain — these assist the shower dry out faster between uses. This drain is sold by Noble Company, and it is one of the best drains out there.

Hint: Utilize pea gravel around the weep holes before the last shower mortar is installed to prevent the mortar from blocking or plugging the holes.

Adeeni Design Group

Ready-Made Fiberglass or Cultured Marble Shower Bases

Because of budget or time constraints, some projects do not have the luxury of owning a custom made shower pan, so a ready-made unit can simplify the procedure. Some strangely shaped bathrooms can produce a custom shower pan quite pricey, and ready-made choices may do the job as well.

These types of shower bases also can significantly decrease the time necessary to prepare and tile a shower, making for quicker turnaround times.

Hint: As with almost any other pan, flooding test your ready-made pan to inspect the connection of the drain to your home’s waste system.

If you prefer more powerful cleaning agents or you’re concerned about the impact of your local water onto your shower floor, a ready-made shower foundation may be a better option, since it will not stain as easily as tile.

Hint: Not many shower foundations are created equal. Many are somewhat flexible and can benefit from using a concrete bed beneath. Double-check with the maker this is OK before buying, and ensure this is done through installation. Often, this flexibility will lead to a leak in the drain connection, so extra care is needed to cautiously support the drain in the drain connection area.

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