an acrylic shower pan being installed

Shower Pan

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 2/18/2021

The idea of installing a new shower during a bathroom renovation may seem intriguing. But be sure you’re aware of all the possible hidden costs, such as having to replace your shower pan, before you get started.


The term shower pan typically refers to a waterproof insert, commonly made from metal, vinyl, or a composite material, that is used in the construction of a shower floor. Shower pans are commonly square or rectangular in shape, but corner and custom models are also available. Preformed shower pans, made from vinyl, acrylic, or a similar material, are typically designed to cover a cement shower base and act as the floor of the shower. Metal or composite shower pans are often installed over a cement shower base, and act as a secondary barrier for a tiled or vinyl shower floor. Shower pans are designed to catch and drain any water that may seep through a tiled or vinyl floor.

How To Build A Shower Pan

If you’re looking at installing a new shower pan, there are numerous options available in a range of designs and prices. But before you get started, you may want to consider a couple of common concerns:

  • The terms shower pan and shower base are sometimes used interchangeably. The shower base is a substructure under the shower floor, typically made from a cement mortar mixture. The shower pan either acts as the shower floor or as a secondary barrier between the base and a tile or acrylic surface. 
  • The cost of installing a shower pan is another common concern. Shower pans range in price from inexpensive DIY solutions to expensive designer options. Additionally, installation costs for a shower pan will involve materials, tools, and time.