How to install a shower drain in a concrete floor: 4 Easy Steps

A lot of people want walk-in showers and this can require installing the drain on a concrete floor. This can be a difficult process if you don’t have the right tools. When trying to do this yourself, there are many ways to make the installation go more smoothly. 

A few tips that can help include using a great saw or drill with careful depth control to avoid damage. Getting the best PVC glue is also important. Let’s check this in more detail.


What tools and materials do I need

Tools and materials that you’ll need for this installation include a hammer, screwdriver, waterproofing sealant, grout saw, waterproofing membrane sealant, cutting tool or saws for removing the old tile or grout, wire brush, drill with bits for concrete or tile (1/4-inch and 5/8-inch), measuring tape, hole saws of various sizes (1/2-inch to 2 1/2-inch), jackhammer or drill with depth control as well as a bucket. You will need a leveler and PVC glue as well. Check the size of the pipe and drain before you start so that they fit together.

You can also get kits with all the waterproofing materials:

What are the steps to installing a drain in concrete?

Installing a drain in concrete takes several steps, from creating the hole to gluing the pieces together. Let’s go over each of these steps.

Dig a hole in the floor and install the drainpipe

The first step is to create a hole in the floor. It’s best to use a saw to do this, but you can also a jackhammer to get through the concrete. When using a hole saw, it’s important to make sure that it is strong enough and has enough cooling to go through concrete. 

After drilling or cutting through the concrete, place your drainpipe into the opening and set it up with supports as needed. This is also discussed in the following video:

 In most instances, the general contractor will have installed this for you and you just have to cut the pipe open. Check if the p-trap is still holding water to confirm that there is no damage. 

Cut the drainpipe to size

The next step is to measure how deep the pipe on the drain goes. This will give you an indication of how deep you have to cut the drainpipe so that the drain fits on it and is level with the floor after installation. 

You can slide the drain over the drainpipe once this is done. Make sure that it is level with the floor.

Using PVC glue to install the drain

You can use PVC glue to fit the pieces together. We have discussed how to glue PVC before here. Use your leveler again. Be sure to read the instructions as PVC glue is affected by the temperature. It has to dry longer in winter than in summer. Check if the installation happened properly before proceeding.

Fill up the hole and install the sealant

You can use cement to fill the hole up. Close the drain while you do this so that no dirt or dust gets in it. 

 Once you have placed your drain, the sealant should be used around all outside joints and on both ends of the pipe so water cannot enter at these points. If pooling water is anticipated during installation, a waterproof sealant should be applied before proceeding with this project. Lastly, clean away any dust or debris from your walls and floor with a damp cloth before continuing on to the next step.

The following steps include installing the waterproofing membrane

What can go wrong with this process?

One of the most common problems is not using waterproofing sealant before proceeding with your shower drain installation. This can be potentially disastrous because water pooling in this area may cause mold or mildew to grow. If you don’t want to experience these potential problems, it’s always best to use some waterproofing sealant before installing your shower drain.

Another common problem is underestimating how hard it can be to drill a hole in the concrete. If you don’t have the right tools, it will be very challenging to get it done.

Make sure that you get the right diameter of drain and drainpipes. This can save you a trip to the hardware store.

Installing a shower base is easier than working with a waterproofing membrane. 

How to clean up once the job is done

Once your shower drain installation is complete, you will need to clean up the area. If you used cement sealant before installing your drain, it can be removed with a bit of soap and a sponge or cloth. After removing the sealant, you can use a degreaser or detergent to clean up any residual grime. Make sure to wash down any of the surrounding concrete walls and floors too because there’s no telling where that sealant has been!

Let the shower dry for a few days before using it.

Types of pipe for shower drain

Shower drainpipes can be made from a variety of materials, including PVC, PP, and PE. PVC is often used in residential projects as it is cheap, durable, and easy to install. Make sure that you use a pipe that is wide enough so that the shower drains well. A typical shower drain has a 2-inch drainpipe, make sure that your pipes are wide enough so that it drains well. It also has to fit with the size of your drains.  Don’t use flexible drains as these break more easily. They might be cheap and easy to install but don’t last that long.

Rain showers are really popular right now. Make sure that you use appropriately sized pipes so that you get enough water pressure.

 The drains should also be vented properly. In some instances, it can be connected with the drains of the washbins in the bathroom but this depends on local code. In most situations, it won’t be connected with the drain of the toilet as this is sewage waste. 

The slope of the shower pipe should be approximately 4-6 degrees. Any less than 4 degrees and water will pool at the bottom of the drain; any more than 6 degrees and water can easily flow out of the pipe. Check your local code to see if it deviates from the above.

Alternatives to drilling in concrete

If you don’t want to drill in concrete, you can use a higher shower pan for the shower. This allows you to run the drain under this. It can make it possible to get the drain through the wall instead of the floor. This can make it easier to install. You have to measure everything so that the pipes will fit together. This can be harder to do when you renovate the house as you might have to reuse the existing drains. 

To conclude, we can say that installing a shower drain in concrete is quite straightforward if you have the right tools. Make sure that you use the right-sized drain and seal the hole. All of these details are important as it can lead to leaks later on.