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How to Install a Shower Grate

Shower grates (also known as linear floor grates, or shower channels, or floor drains) are now so popular they are the norm in most new contemporary bathrooms - but do not get the installation wrong.  When installed properly, their simplistic straight lines and minimalist design makes them popular.

Renovator Store customers have sent in numerous photos of their finished bathrooms to show off their shower grate - and they look great! (no pun intended).

What is even better though, is that a linear shower channel can be a much simpler installation than your traditional centre floor waste.

Why is that?  Well a centre floor waste requires fall from all four sides and this can be tricky and time consuming for the tiler who has to slope the tiles and do numerous cuts to feed surface water from all directions towards the centre floor waste.

Shower grates, on the other hand, are long and straight - and if positioned smartly, will only require a linear slope from one direction to the straight edge of the grate.  Ask a tiler how many hours they will save by having a simple linear slope in the shower rather than floor slopes to a centre waste.  Chances are the time saving will pay for the shower channel itself if you have shopped wisely.

Why do you think you see linear floor drains around pools - because it would be a nightmare to slope the coping towards centre drains.

 

styles of shower grates

How to Install a Shower Grate - Properly

So how do the bathroom floor drains get installed?  The new way that is described in the latest Australian Standard governing this is to first have the bathroom fully waterproofed by an approved water-proofing contractor and then install your grate tray on top of the membrane over your plumbed drain.  Bedding is then built up around the grate tray and the tiled surface is installed right up to the tray edge.

Installing shower grates on timber floor

Installing shower grates on concrete floor

What many homeowners do not appreciate is that water actually travels under tiles through grout and screed - like a slow seepage.  It therefore needs to be able escape over the membrane and into the plumbed drain.  The diagram above highlights that the shower grate outlet and tray should leave sufficient space between the plumbed drain and the tray outlet so this sub-surface water can escape.

 

Common Errors on Installing Shower Channels

What some installers do incorrectly is seal or tightly fit the tray outlet into the plumbed drain.  In this scenario the sub-surface water cannot escape as the membrane is water tight and the drain is sealed - and over the years your bathroom will smell damp and eventually your tiles will pop.  Some other installers attempt to put the tray under the membrane and make the stainless steel tray be the exit point of all water in the bathroom - firstly, as steel contracts and expands at different rates to the surrounding materials the membrane has a good chance of eventually splitting where it meets the steel, and secondly, the sub-surface water still cannot escape.

Therefore we recommend that only shower grates designed to sit above the water proofing are safe.  They effectively act as a surface channel to guide surface water to the drain outlet and they should not be allowed to interrupt the passage of any sub-tile moisture to the drainage system.  Follow these simple guidelines in the diagrams and you will have a perfectly performing shower grate, and a fantastic looking shower (and no tiles popping up in 5 years time!). 

 Where can my Shower Grate be placed?

The great thing about shower grates is they can be installed against a wall, in the middle of a shower, at the entrance to a shower, or wherever suits your situation.  For more information and inspiration visit Renovator Store's website

tile insert shower grateWhat to look for when selecting a shower grate

Here are a few things to look for when shopping for a shower grate:

  • Is it all stainless steel?  Some shower grate products use plastic trays and components and we hear the issues they encounter
  • Is the steel thick and strong?  If you plan the grate to be where it has to bear weight, check that it is designed to do this
  • What is the quality of the steel?  Is it guaranteed not to rust?
  • Is it Watermark approved?  Drainage products are governed by Australian Standards and the product should display a Watermark symbol to highlight it is approved to Australian standards.  The standards are mostly to do with the material, construction and the slope of the fall so water drains properly
  • Can it be custom made?  No two bathrooms are the same and often you need an outlet off centre, or a very specific length to suit your situation
  • Is it easy to clean?  Can the top grill be easily removed to provide access for cleaning, and is the steel polished so cleaning is simple?
  • You should also carefully consider the depth of tray you need, the appropriate width, and select an outlet size that fits loosely inside your plumbed drainage for the reasons above.
  • And lastly, pick a style that will last and suit your taste and decor!

Check out the range of Aguzzo Stainless Steel shower grates, shower channels, and centre floor wastes at Renovator Store.  They are renowned for their workmanship, durability, design, lifetime warranty, and having the fastest delivery time available in Australia.

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32 thoughts on “How to Install a Shower Grate”
  • Sean

    Hi,

    Good article on installation of shower grates. I have a couple of questions that I hope you might be able help me out with.

    1. Which Australian Standard covers the installation of channel grates? you mentioned this in the article;

    2. We have a shower 1,870 long, with two shower heads. The drain is at one end. Should the drain be central? What fall should the channel have from one end to the other?

    3. Is there any literature/standards/code that will assist in choosing the correct shower grate and ensuring correct installation?

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Sean
      Thanks for your queries on shower grate installation - there is quite a bit of confusion out there. The relevant Australian Standard is AS3740-2010. We cannot provide any extract or copies of this as there are strict rules and copyrights on Australian Standards. There are also standards relating to drainage, waterproof membraning and terminating the membrane at the plumbed drain, and tiling - so it is complex. However, we sell Aguzzo pre-fabricated grates and channels. The standard discusses two types of trays - one that is integrated with the waterproof membrane and one that sits above it. Aguzzo shower grates and trays are the latter as there is a lot of issues with incorporating stainless steel as part of your waterproofing as stainless steel expands and contracts differently to surrounding building materials which can result in a split in your membrane.

      We offer Aguzzo stainless steel shower grates in CUSTOM lengths, widths, outlet position and size. Also in 6 styles. Simply input what you want and the position of the drain and they are made to watermark and Australian standards with the correct fall for drainage. Please go to http://www.renovatorstore.com.au/bathroom/shower-grates.html to fill out your sizes and get a live quote. Simply pick your preferred style and then the custom grate option.

      If we can help you with anything else please let us know

      Kind regards, Scott

      Reply
  • Lisa

    Hi,
    We are currently renovating our bathroom, and would love to use a large floor tile (60cm x 30cm). However, we have installed a 100mm circular waste hole in the shower that does not seem compatible with a large floor tile, as the tiles will have too be cut to much.
    We were wondering if there is anyway to convert our drain into linear shower grate in order to solve this problem.

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Yes, whilst large floor tiles look fantastic we often see what has to be done to them to have four slopes down to a centre waste. The amount of triangles that have to be cut out of the tiles can materially detract from the the minimalist look you were after from the large format. Here a few ideas:

      1) Maybe your plumber can cap the existing drain and move it to an area where a linear shower drain would suit.
      2) Or maybe the plumber can tee off the drain you have and put an additional waste closer to the wall - you can then install a centre floor waste in the centre that matches the linear floor drain. All our Aguzzo shower grates have matching centre floor wastes. The tile insert one is perfect for large format tiles.
      3) If it would look fine to put a shower grate across the shower with the outlet over your current centre pipe then that is a good option too. The tile insert design will blend in well with your large format tiles, and you will just need 2 linear falls to the shower grate and will not need to cut your tiles into triangles! Your plumber should be able to install a puddle flange on the existing waste to accommodate this.

      Reply
  • Darren

    Great article thanks. Does it matter if the mortar/screed is quite thin under the drain ? Say 10-12mm. I'm imagining to get required gradient the mortar must be very thin at the drain end of the slope... Will it crack under load?

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Darren - this is really a question for your tiler as it might depend on the screed he uses, but I would be very surprised if it mattered at all. I have seen drain trays installed almost touching the waterproof membrane, so the mortar at that point is very thin. However, it is surrounded by the mortar/screed so the tray should not move.

      Reply
  • Darren

    Thanks. One last question - can the screed be laid directly on top of the waterproofing membrane or is a pan liner required? I'm worried about the bond. I've also seen wire mesh used to hold it down. Thanks for all your tips.

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Darren - I am not an expert in this and understand that waterproofing has to be inspected and certified - so when you enquire about that service ask them to send you the requirements. A waterproof liner over a water-proof membrane makes no sense as the membrane is meant to direct water to the lowest point in the room

      Reply
  • Darren

    one more question - what about pre slope? if water seeps through the screed and onto the membrane, wont it just sit there unless there is a pre slope?

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Darren - I missed your query sorry. I am not sure what you mean by "pre-slope" but any water-proofing membrane on the floor should have slope to the lowest point in the room (the drain). It is just like a pool. Water will then always seep with gravity to the drain point.

      Reply
  • Paul

    Hi Mate.

    Great guide. A client wants one of these grates placed in front of a raised step (for a clawfoot) in the bathroom itself, not the shower. I'm struggling to get my head around seating it without a mortar. They have yellow tongue, then underlay, membrane, adhesive and tiles. I'm thinking of cutting the underlay the size of the whole grate and the yellowtongue just the size of the drainage hole to get it to sit low enough. Then my membrane will have to dip down onto the yellowtongue directly under the grate.

    It's the only solution I can think of. Any help would be great. A plumber friend hates these grates and says I should get a 20mm flashing welded all the way around the top of it flush and sink the whole thing through the yellow tongue (cut a big rectangle into the yellow). Then to make up for the hight of the tiles weld little feet onto the grate itself so it sits up flush with tiles. I think this would lose the look of the grate as you would only see the insert and not the border of the base.

    If you could shoot me a solution (preferably one that doesn't involve mortaring the whole bathroom) then I would forever be grateful.

    Paul

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Paul - I think I can picture the setup you describe. Obviously the grate and tray top has to be flush with the tiles. It sounds like you will be penetrating the membrane to create a hole for the tray to achieve this? If this is the case then your issue is really with the membrane and keeping that intact and directing any sub-tile water to the drain at the lowest point. I really think a water-proofing exert might be best - not only to advise on the best product to seal over yellow tongue and multiple building materials, but also to ensure it will pass an inspection. There are some installers that still like the trays with flashing. All the large manufacturers do not make these as the Australian standard has changed. Our view is the same: if you are planning to integrate your steel tray with the membrane (i.e.. over the flashing) then you are taking the risk that the membrane will split where it meets the steel, as steel and other building materials expand and contract at different rates. This has happened in our house as it was installed like this about 7 years ago (exactly in the manner you explain with the lower tray and extra feet). The result is water escaping from upstairs bathroom into the lower storey when the shower pools.

      Reply
  • Mary-Anne

    We have been looking at the channel shower grate for our bathroom renovations and a builder we are considering using prefers the normal central drain because the sloping of the floor to the drain will cause a weak point where it meets the normal floor height near the shower screen. He also said the slope would expose a large area of mortar which is unsightly. What are your thoughts on this and what would be the Australian Standard for the sloping of the floor?

    Thank you for providing such a great service!

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Mary-Anne. Usually builder prefer the linear drains as then there is only 1 simple slope! However, it is difficult to understand your situation. Firstly, please ensure you read the installation notes and watch video on any of our Aguzzo shower grate product pages - they might answer your question. Secondly, Aguzzo shower grate tray depths are the lowest in the market at 22mm. This can sit as low as the water-proof membrane (as long as sub-tile moisture can escape down drain). If you cannot slope to a height that is 22mm above your plumbed drain and membrane then maybe a linear drain is not possible. Have you looked at putting the linear drain on another wall of the shower, or even off the wall? It should only be there to direct surface water down to the drain and many showers that have a hob barrier can build up the base level of their shower. I am not aware of what the required slope is by state, but your builder or tiler would know - it is something like 2 degrees.

      Reply
  • Glenn

    Hi Scott, i am presently ripping my old bathroom out and would love to put in a channel grate for the drainage . The cement floor base in the bathroom is only 30mm below the hallway entrance level to the bathroom leaving me 30mm to fit the drain and tiles so that I can have a matching level between the bathroom and hall. Do you think 30mm is enough height to fit a Agusso channel drain into place
    Thanks for your advice.

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      It is good you are carefully considering your linear shower grate depth. It is of course not easy to advise without seeing. However, the drain should be the lowest point in the room and it sounds like you just have enough depth. Watch the video on our product pages - it would be important to rebate the puddle flange into the concrete and then you should have enough space to level your drain with a bit of mortar. Remember you still need fall on the tile surface to the top of the drain. Aguzzo shower drains are some of the lowest depth at 22mm. Choose a thinner floor tile so the high points and at the door it is not raised.

      Reply
  • Anthony

    Hi. We have just bought an apartment and both bathrooms have grates which appear not to be fitted correctly. The grates move and the water drains mainly between the tile and the grate. Can the gap be siliconed up or have the original builders used the wrong size grate and we should just replace?

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      It sounds like you might have very poorly installed grate trays if the water drains through a gap between the tile and the tray. We cannot advise without seeing it of course (send a photo to service@renovatorstore.com.au). Installing a new grate tray would be a big job if that is what is required.

      Reply
  • Cal

    Hi Scott. I am building a new house with timber floor. I would like to use a linear grate positioned near the shower wall, rather than a central drainage point.
    In a timber floor installation, can we simply cut a piece of yellow tongue flooring to the correct base size, and use timber underneath to create correct slope down to the grate?
    All the instructions I've seen talk about using mortar/screed, but I think using a piece of yellow tongue flooring as the base would be much easier, and would be solidly supported by the joists underneath.
    Is there any reason we can't install this way?

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Cal - I do not see why you cannot install it that way. However, I am assuming you are still tiling the floor? Normally the floor is level and the tiles are sloped with the mortar bed- it sounds like you wish to make the floor itself sloped? The real question is are you breaching any water-proofing rules for a wet area? I would seek advice from a local builder or water-proofer to be sure

      Reply
  • Doug

    Hi Scott,
    We are considering the purchase of an apartment in a high rise in the Sydney CBD. We have scoped out some renovations that includes the addition of a new bathroom. There is already a bathroom in the adjoining room (back to back showers I hope) that will also be renovated and I need to know if I can use a shallow grate in each of the bathrooms and both grates hooked up to the existing penetration in the original bathroom. I have a similar issue with a new toilet in the new bathroom. Can the new toilet in the new bathroom and the renovated old toilet in the old bathroom be hooked up to the same floor penetration. Regards
    Doug

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Doug - If I am understanding you correctly I think your idea is great. You would need to check there are not any apartment fitout /plumbing specific rules that would breach. Essentially you are wanting to connect two floor traps to one primary drain (but they are in different rooms). Drains can be connected like that but there are rules so consult a plumber. Remember a shower grate is just a conduit to direct above floor water to the actual plumbed drain - they are not the drain itself. As for the toilet, I do not know but smart houses are usually designed so that drainage items are proximate as they share the same line to sewerage - so it just depends if there are rules about how they connect to this line (which presumably is in the floor for an apartment). Sorry I cannot be definitive in my answers, but where specialist advice is required we cannot replace that requirement. Cheers, Scott

      Reply
  • Daniel

    Hi Scott ,

    I am planning on installing grate hard up against tiled back wall and sidewall. The other side wall is going to be glass screen. I am going to have flange of grate extend up both stud walls and then tile over the top. My issue is the side where the grate meets the glass screen . It's on concrete slab that I've lowered so I can slope screed. The lowest point being the grate there will be 40mm step below the shower screen. Do I get the grate flanged on this side torun up the step or just finish it hard up and silicone between end of grate and glass screen.

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Daniel - Renovator Store sells Aguzzo grates which specifically do not include flanges as they can be a big cause of problems. Flanges have been disregarded by most of the main manufacturers for a while now as they are regarded as unnecessary and introduce complexity and risks. The main risk that causes future issues that we often hear about is that when the installer wishes the water proofing membrane to go over the flange. This means you have a membrane between stainless steel and other building products, which tend to expand and contract at different rates. In time the membrane may split at this join and the big problems begin. Under floor dampness, leaking, and lifting tiles. It also means that the shower grate product becomes part of your water proofing solution (rather than sitting above it) and that means your certifier has to sign off on the shower grate tray as part of the water-proofing. If you look at the installation process we describe, there is no requirement for a flange as the shower grate tray is above the waterproof membrane and only acts to direct surface water to the plumbed drain - what exactly do you believe the flanges will do for your installation? I think there is only one manufacturer still offering flanges on shower grates. If you need more assistance please call us on 1800 RENOSTORE

      Reply
  • Nicole

    Just wondering if it is possible to install grate drains once a floor has already been tiled onto a wooden floor base?

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      Hi Nicole - sorry for the delayed response. The answer is "yes". However the challenge is usually access for completing the plumbing, and ensuring you have enough depth to ensure your waterproofing is integrated into the plumbing. As the shower grate tray sits above your water-proofing layer you need to check if you have the depth for it is sit above the waterproofing and still be flush with your tiles. Call us on 1800 RENOSTORE if you wish to discuss

      Reply
  • Annie

    Hi Scott
    I've just had a new bathroom fitted with a rectangular free standing bath. I have noticed that when water gets on the floor by the bath it pools and doesn't fall towards the central drain. The water also gets underneath the bath and is hard to dry as it kind of gets sucked under the bath. I have 3 kids and water is always likely to spill in the floor. I have spoken to the builder and tiler about this. There appears to be literally no fall from the bath to drain. The first option they gave me was to seal around the bath, but this rather defeats the object of a free stander. Secondly the timer offered to create a fall around the centre drain by cutting the tiles and re fixing them. I'm not sure that this will help if the water doesn't fall that way to begin with and from what i have googled it doesn't look great. Thirdly he has offered me $900 off his fee. I'm not sure what to do, can you advise? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Scott Pendlebury

      It is an understandable problem - and of course most baths require a flat floor to be installed properly which would mean the issue would always be present. I cannot see the design of your bath but there are a couple of points I would make - (1) if the water can dry then bathrooms are designed to be wet areas and temporary pooled water is not such a problem (2) can you talk to the bath supplier/ manufacturer and see if you can prop it up on feet - maybe 15mm props underneath would provide enough airflow so that water can escape and/or dry. Cutting large tiles looks bad in my opinion - and it is why linear shower grates are so popular as the fall can be linear and not noticeable

      Reply
  • AD

    Hi Scott,
    one question please re your Timber Joist Floor Installation image: if installing the membrane above the screed, does that mean you screed up to a certain distance from the drain, let the screed dry, apply the membrane and then set the drain with further screed?
    Thanks, A.

    Reply
    • Lisa Pendlebury
      Lisa Pendlebury May 24, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      Yes, I believe that is the case, but you would be best confirming with an expert screeder or waterproofer. I believe they leave a "basin" to fit the shower grate in, then membrane as you describe.

      Reply
  • Janet

    Hi
    I've just moved into a unit that has two rectangular tile covers on the shower drains. I want to clean them but cannot work out how they come out, a bit scared to use any force in case I break the tiles. Is there a trick to getting them out to clean underneath?

    Reply
    • Lisa Pendlebury
      Lisa Pendlebury May 24, 2016 at 10:27 pm

      The tile insert style linear shower drains can have heavy inserts as they include the tile. Normally there is a finger hole at one end to allow easy lifting. If not, some brands include a lifting tool with is a simple lever. If you do not have this a small right angle made from a coat hanger would do the trick

      Reply
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