Best Shower Drain Location

Asked By: Janice on Monday, May 9, 2011
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Answer This bathroom remodeled, shower separate tub. The shower size is 38" by 48". The rear and right side wall tiled to ceiling. The shower,hand spray located on right wall. The left wall tiled halfway then glass. The front opening will be glass. My question is about the drain placement on shower floor ( tiled). At present they have located drain halfway from front to back but it is not centered between right and left walls. It stands at 28" from right wall and 20" from left wall. I have been trying to find out best site for drain placement, center, off side ? I realize this may be due to joists below which I can't see right now. I read you don't want to stand on top of drain because it can block, also not too near one side because of steepness of floor. Any ideas, suggestions? Thanks Janice

Thanks for your question Janice. The reason that most shower drains are located in the center is because the shower base is supposed to slope from all four sided towards the drain. As long as the base has a solid installation, there should be problem with standing on it. The water will still run into the drain as you are moving around. Obviously if you tried to stand on as to block it, some water would build up, but most people don't do that.

In your case however, there had to be a reason why the drain was offset and I would suppose it has to do with the floor joist, as you suggested. The only way to get the drain centered then would be to take out the tile floor and shower base and do some modifications to the joist, if you want the drain to be centered.

I guess I am assuming that since you are talking about possibly moving the drain, you are planning on replacing the tiled shower floor.  So, if you are planning on putting the drain in the center here is what you would need to do to alter the floor joist.

First of all, you would have to pull out the tile, old shower base, also called a shower pan, and any flooring, to allow you access to the joist. Once that is done, you will need to put some temporary support in the room below the shower, which will allow you to alter the joist and yet maintain support as you work.

If the ceiling below is drywall, it may require some patching and paint after the job is done. That can only be determined after you finish the work on the floor joist. If you decide this is what you want to do, I can include some drawings in a follow up question. Since I am not sure if that is your choice at this time, I will wait on the drawings.

The other options is if you are replacing the tile floor as part of the remodeling job, and decide to keep the current drain location, make sure when the new one is installed that everything is sloped to the drain. When we would construct a shower base to fit a drain that is offset because of the location of the floor joists, this is how we would do it.  The slope would longer one side and shorter on the other. It really helps to have a pro look at it to make sure it is done correctly.

To sum up, most shower drains are located in the center, but it does not matter if you have it located in another location as long as the slop of the shower base or pan is allowing for the correct drainage towards the drain. Plus, it is imperative that the shower base be very solid especially at the drain location. If you are using a tile floor then the mortar that is used to build the shower pan will be as solid as you can get. So, in your case, this should not be a concern.

One more thing, if your current shower base already has the proper slope to the drain, even though it is offset, you can chip the tile off and use the current location and you should have not problems with drainage.

If you decide you want me to draw up a joist modification, please ask me that in a new question, but I will need you to try and figure out which direction the joist are going and some photos of the area as well. You can email any photos to 

I hope this helps. Rick

Rick Maselli is Founder and Editor of and Ask Rick

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