Your Shower: Waterproofing Systems

Have you already thought of transforming your bathtub into a beautiful shower? This is a popular choice nowadays. When planning a shower project, waterproofing has to be your highest priority. It will determine the useful life of your shower. Even if most tiles are water resistant, they do not form a watertight barrier, even with epoxy-based joints.

Just like building a house, a shower must have a solid foundation for maximum performance. Knowing that we use from 50 to80L of water per shower, the waterproofing system is definitely a priority. As can be expected, shower construction norms have changed with the times. Before, tiles were installed directly on the drywall, which is no longer done. To build the foundation, several options are available: 

  • Multipurpose building panels for waterproofing walls
  • Adding a membrane to moisture-resistant drywall or cement wall panels
  • Prefabricated shower base for tiling
  • Customer shower base with a sand coat for tiling

For walls 

Waterproof construction panels 

Multipurpose building panels are ideal for DIY. They replace traditional substrates (moisture-resistant drywall and cement panels), which require an additional membrane. Composed of extruded polystyrene foam covered with reinforced material, these panels are 100% watertight, easy to manipulate and very light. Installation is simple; you only have to secure the panels directly on to the structure, hide the screws and joints using joint tape and you are ready to install your tiles. This is the fastest and certainly most reliable method. Despite the slightly higher cost of this product as compared to other systems, the savings in time can be significant, especially if you are hiring a contractor.

Waterproof membrane

Waterproof membranes offer a barrier against water and humidity. Made of modified polyethylene, these flexible membranes are easy to install with a trowel over moisture-resistant drywall or cement panels.Once the membrane is glued, tiles can be installed directly on top within 12hours. 


Waterproofing offers a barrier against water.Usually in the form of a liquid membrane, it is installed using a roller (like paint) on top of moisture-resistant drywall or cement panels. This method is not the fastest, because it requires several layers with variable drying times in between. It is the most economical option in terms of product price, but takes longer to install.

Shower base for tiles

 A shower base requires a slope of 1/4’’ per foot so that water can flow efficiently so it doesn’t stagnate. There are two ways to obtain a durable, solid base.

Prefabricated shower base for tiles 

The most common method today is to use a prefabricated base made of the same material as the waterproof multipurpose construction panels. This method avoids errors because the slope is already in the material; you only have to secure the base to the ground, waterproof the joints and install your tiles without having to wait for anything to dry. With this method, you have a large choice of base sizes that you can tailor by cutting them according to your needs. Quick and efficient, you can save a lot of time with this method.

Sand coat shower base for tiles 

The second method is to create a slope using sanded cement, covered with a waterproof membrane, an older method, but effective nonetheless when carefully installed. However, this method is certainly not the quickest. Typically, the base takes a day to dry before you can install the membrane and the tiles. Even if the cost of the material is slightly less that prefabricated shower bases, installation time is three times longer. 

 Note that using plywood as a base on walls is not recommended. In addition to being very unstable when installed vertically, any organic-based substrate, such as wood, cannot be used in a humid environment. These materials absorb water, which results in mold.

 *Substrate: support for other materials