Pre-Made Shower Bases

The best bases are made of Acrylic. The Vikrel, ABS plastic and Polystyrene bases are certainly cheaper, but cannot be repaired if cracked.

All premade bases should be set in a little mortar or sand mix and leveled, especially in loder homes where the floors are usually not level. It is a rather simple process, but many contractors don't take the time.

Mix one 50" bag of mortar (or less) to a fairly stiff consistnancy and place about four to six piles (depending on the size of the base) where the base will sit. Gently place the base over the piles and with a good level in hand, tap the base down until it is as level as you can get it. After the mortar sets up, you can screw the tile flange to the wall. If you predrill 1/4" holes in the flange, sheet rock screws will counter sink themselves.

This process gives a rock hard feel to the base when you step in it and prevents any movement which loosens drains and cracks bases. Many manufacturer's warrantees will not cover their product if it is not set in mortar or thinset. Sheetrock joint compound is not acceptable (it won't dry for months) and neither is spray foam.


We recommend MTI acrylic bases because they are very well made and heavier than anyone elses and they have a very extensive line up.


MTI center drain baseCenter drain base



Mti has a multitude of center drain bases with a single threshold in the front.






MTI double threshold baseMTI two sided base


They also make double sided (two threshold) bases. The pciture on the right is an Mti Two sided base.





MTI Neo AngleMTI acrylic neo angle base

MTI makes Neo Angle Bases in various sizes. The shower at right is a very large 51" x 51" MTI base.






MTI bases with end drainsMTI end drain baseMTI makes many bases with an end drain (both left and right). The shower at right has an MTI base with an end drain.






MTI Multiple threshaldMTI multiple threshold

Mti makes many bases which have multiple thresholds which are only three inches high. They will apply a tile flange to one, two or three sides. The base at right has a tile flange on three sides.






MTI seated shower base.Camden MTI seated base with Corian walls.

This is a seated base from MTI. It is five foot long and is perfect for replacing a tub. It comes in other sizes as well.

The shower at right has a sixty inch MTI seated base and walls of corian.





A description of shower Base Materials

Acrylic: There are many shower bases and walls on the market today. The best are made out of Acrylic, backed with fiberglass. An Acrylic sheet is heated and vacuumed into a mold, taken out of the mold and the back is sprayed with resin and fiberglass.

Acrylic is a very smooth, shiny material that is non-porous and cleans very easily. You can write on it with a permanent magic marker and remove these supposedly permanent stains easily with a spritz of alcohol or many other cleaners. Try that with the other premade units. Acrylic bases and walls are repairable if damaged during construction. Although they are the most expensive of all the pre-made units, a good acrylic unit should last the life of your house.

Gelcoat over Fiberglass: Gelcoat is a fairly hard chemical that is sprayed onto a mold. When dry, fiberglass and resin is sprayed over that and when that is dry, the whole piece is taken off the mold. Boats are sprayed with gelcoat so it is a pretty tough substance. Showers and shower bases have made of this material for a long time. These bases are less expensive than Acrylic but do not clean as easily and fails the permanent magic marker test. It can be repaired if it is damaged during construction.

Vikrell: Vikrell is a polyester and fiberglass resin that is stamp molded with heat and pressure into a shower base (or tubs or shower walls). Sterling (a Kohler Company) makes these. They clean fairly well, and are very inexpensive. Unfortunately these walls and bases look inexpensive too. They are very light weight, and definitely need to be set in mortar. A fiberglass and acrylic repairman, who works for a Maine distributor of Kohler and Sterling, said he can repair small nicks and dings in Vikrell, but wouldn't recommend trying to repair cracks. He said it should be replaced if it is cracked. Replacing a base that has been tiled in is very expensive and who would want to replace it with the same type base, even if you could get a free replacement base under warranty!

Veritek: The Swan corporation makes this product and it is another polyester and fiberglass heat and pressure molded product like Vikrell.

Swanstone: This is the Swan Corporations premier line of polyester and fiberglass molded line of products. It comes in many "granite" colors and seems to be the best of its type of product. Swan makes vanity tops and kitchen sinks this way too.

Cultured Marble: Cultured marble is an engineered marble made of ground up marble or limestone and resins. The surface is then coated with a clear gelcoat. The bases are very thick and heavy. It is good looking, comes in many colors, cleans really well and you can get vanity tops to match.

Corian and other Solid Surfaces: There are many solid surfaces on the market today. Most are made with a mixture of Acrylic polymers and other chemicals including polyester. Corian is the best known of the solid surfaces, and comes with the best warrantee. Corian sells some standard size 1/4" thick kits in limited colors for shower walls, but no bases. If you want a certain color for your shower walls not available in a kit, a professional installer can do that for you but it will be expensive. Corian cleans well and you can get vanity tops in the same color.

Styrene and Polystyrene: The use of this material for bases and wall is relatively new and most of these products are made by a American Shower & Bath Corp (a division of Aqua Glass). It is sold by LOWE'S and other big box stores and aimed at the "do-it-youself" market. Most of the bases made of this have foam on the back to support the surface. The surface is very thin and if cracked or chipped, cannot be repaired. I confirmed this by calling customer survice at American Shower and Bath and they told me in no uncertain terms that it could not be repaired, however I could get a replacement under warranty. Also, you must clean this material with soap and water only, and do not use any chemicals as they can ruin the finish.

ABS: ABS plastic is another product of American Shower & Bath Corp for use in shower bases and tubs and some of their wall systems.The bases made of this are supported by foam. It has been around for many years and first showed up in the mobile home industry who was looking for a cheaper alternative to the more traditional and expenseve fiberglass units. As the owner of a bath showroom, I have talked to many mobile home owners over the years who were looking for replacement tubs and showers because theirs had cracked and couldn't be repaired. It does not clean very well and if cracked or chipped, cannot be repaired. Clean with soap and water only and do not use any chemicals as they can ruin the finish.

Our Advice: A bathroom remodel or the addition of a bathroom is one of the most satisfactory and valuable improvements you can make to your home. Everyone loves a beautiful, functional bathroom. Other than your kitchen, it is the most expensive room to remodel in your house. It takes careful planning, attention to detail, and a lot of hard work for someone: maybe a contractor, maybe you.

The tub and or shower you choose is sheetrocked or tiled in and very difficult and expensive to replace if it fails, or the finish starts to look bad. We highly recommend Acrylic units for tubs and showers and shower bases. Although the most expensive of the modular units mentioned above, it has proven to be the longest lasting and most durable.