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The Importance of Proper Drainage and Waterproofing During a Condo Shower Conversion

Changing lifestyles, advancing ages, and mobility issues are the top reasons condo owners are turning to tub-to-shower conversion projects.

A tub-to-shower conversion is one of the most common condo renovation requests due to the simplicity of the project, safety measures, easy maintenance, and space-saving features. While most condo owners tend to focus on the aesthetics of a tub-to-shower conversion, it’s important not to overlook an important plumbing aspect: drainage and waterproofing.

Below, we discuss the importance of proper drainage and waterproofing during a condo shower conversion.


The Risks of Improper Drainage and Waterproofing

Improper drainage and waterproofing during a tub-to-shower conversion can lead to severe structural damage, costly repairs, and even serious health conditions.

Installing a shower requires specialized planning and materials to prevent water damage from improper drainage. The water needs to be directed into the drain to protect the walls and flooring from rot and collapse. This is especially important in a condo building where other tenants may be affected.

Proper waterproofing and drainage also prevent the buildup of mould and mildew. Breathing in these airborne spores can lead to respiratory issues and other serious health implications. If mould or mildew develops, it can be costly to repair or replace the affected materials in the bathroom.

Things to Consider with Condo Shower Drainage

A condo building tends to have a more complex plumbing system compared to a freestanding house. Some of the plumbing is maintained by the condominium board or property owner and some of the plumbing is the responsibility of the tenant. That being said, the plumbing within the walls of a unit can be shared by neighbouring units. This is why a condo’s shower drainage system must be in tip-top shape to prevent leaks that can affect other tenants.

Choosing the Drain Location and Slope

The placement of the shower drain is limited in some condo buildings due to the restrictions of existing pipes. The shower floor must be sloped with a gradient ranging from 2% to 4% for effective drainage. With a tub-to-shower conversion, the goal is to have the water naturally flow towards the drain to prevent pooling and overflow.

Installing the Right Drain Type

Shower drains range in size and shape, both to improve the function and aesthetics of a bathroom. A linear drain is rectangular with a sleek modern look. Thanks to its design, the drain tends to clog more often than other shaped drains. A square drain offers a seamless fitting with a tile floor while round drains are designed for preconstructed shower units.

Mastering Shower Drain Installation

Fitting a shower drain requires the expertise and knowledge of a professional. On top of that, installers must follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure workplace safety and compliance with condo regulations, and to prevent costly damages such as leaks. Following the recommended installation instructions can ensure the p-trap is operating effectively to prevent dangerous gasses from entering the room while allowing the output of water and waste.

Read More: 6 Common Tub-to-Shower Conversions Mistakes to Avoid

Things to Consider with Condo Shower Waterproofing

The Ontario Building Code states that the floor of a shower must be constructed and installed in such a way as to prevent water from leaking through to the walls and floor. There are many waterproof and leakproof materials recommended by The National Plumbing Code of Canada.

Selecting the Waterproofing Membrane

A shower membrane is essential to control the flow of water into the drain and prevent it from seeping through the shower floor and walls. Whether you select a liquid or sheet waterproof membrane, it must meet all industry standards for a shower conversion. Most condos require the waterproof membrane to be lightweight and vapour permeable due to the limited ventilation opportunities.

Installing a Waterproofing Membrane

The installation of the waterproof membrane requires precision to prevent water from seeping through and causing significant damage to the supportive structure of the shower. Allowing gaps or cracks in the corners and curves of the shower can make the construction materials behind and beneath susceptible to mould, mildew, and rot. When installing the membrane, it must meet the edges of all walls within the shower base.

Considering a Shower Pan

A prefabricated shower pan sits under the floor of the shower as a waterproof barrier. It is constructed to catch any water that escapes through the tile and grout and direct the water to the drain. The pan should be fitted into the corners of the shower to complement the waterproofing system chosen.

Additional Tips for Condo Shower Conversions

Work with a Licensed Contractor

One of the greatest challenges for a tub-to-shower conversion is hiring a licensed contractor with experience and knowledge in this type of renovation project. A reputable professional will have the tools and expertise to complete the project within the estimated timeline and budget. Keep in mind that some shower conversions can uncover structural and plumbing issues that need to be addressed prior to completion.

Obtain the Proper Permits

Cities and towns across the GTA require permits for certain plumbing projects. It is important to seek advice from the local council and obtain permission to avoid legal and financial penalties. Without the proper permit, an existing or completed renovation project can be halted or reversed with no monetary compensation for the expense.

Communicate with Your Condo Management

As every condominium building has policies and stringent procedures on renovations and construction, speak to your condo board before planning any project. Aside from adhering to specific noise and building rules, there may be particular plumbing procedures you need to follow for a tub-to-shower conversion.

Lampert Has the Expertise for Your Condo Tub-to-Shower Conversion

With 100 years in the plumbing business, Lampert Renovations has become a trusted renovation contractor across the GTA. We have the experience, expertise, and insight for your condo tub-to-shower conversion.

We offer a limited two-year warranty on repairs or replacement due to defective materials and a one-year warranty on all grout and silicone work.

Call (416) 787-4925 or send an email to [email protected] to book a free in-home or showroom consultation!

About Lawrence Lampert

Lawrence Lampert is the third generation running Lampert Renovations with over 45 years’ experience in the family business. He first started working for his father at the age of 15.  In 1980, Lawrence began running the retail end of the business, gaining experience in selling products and designing showrooms. Lawrence began running Lampert Renovations in 1995 and started up Lampert Bath Liners Plus in 2004, providing customers with acrylic bath liner systems as a grout-free and budget-friendly solution.

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