Blog by Beebe Cline

<< back to article list

7 Reasons Why Your Shower Floor Squeaks

There's little that makes me crazier than a squeaking shower floor. Because there are so many reasons your floor could be squeaking, it can be tricky to see how to fix it — or if it's fixable. Your best bet is to prevent squeaks in your fiberglass or acrylic shower base from ever getting started. Here's what to watch out for.
1. Subfloor flexing. Most of the time, a noisy shower pan is actually due to a plywood or shiplap subfloor flexing on a nail or screw. When you step into the shower, the floor flexes and the wood rubs against the screw or nail, making a squeaking noise.

If you're doing a full remodel and can see the bathroom floor framing from the room below, you can usually see where the floor moves and squeaks when someone walks on it. A few well-placed screws can eliminate the squeak. Gluing plywood to the sides of squeaky floor joists can lessen subfloor flex, too.
2. Gaps between the pan and floor. Sometimes, squeaks are caused where the floor tile meets the shower pan. Normally, there should be a slight gap between the shower pan and the floor tile. This gap is filled with silicone, so the grout doesn't touch the shower pan itself. Without the proper amount of silicone, the pan will squeak.

If you notice a squeak after the floor installation, you can remove extra grout and thinset carefully with a grout removal tool so there's no grout or thinset connecting the floor to the shower base.
3. Poor thinset. Look for a shower pan that allows you to use a mortar, or thinset, underneath it. Not all manufacturers allow this, but it can make for a sturdier shower pan. Adding mortar or thinset under the pan adds a little more weight to the installation (which helps weigh the floor down) and fills the voids under the pan to keep it from rocking. No movement means no squeaking.
4. Pans screwed into wall studs. Shower pans can also squeak when they're screwed into wall studs. I see this happen all too frequently, and rarely is this procedure recommended by shower pan manufacturers. Instead of screwing through the shower pan's side, suggest that your installer use no-drill clip attachments.
5. Wet wooden floors. Make sure to waterproof the area outside of your shower. When wood floors get too wet, the wood swells and expands, which can cause movement under your shower pan.

Not all of the building codes in North America require waterproofing around the shower (although they do in Australia), so you'll want to talk to your installer about this specifically.
6. Heat expansion. Darker tile absorbs more heat than lighter tile. If you've chosen a dark-colored tile for your bathroom renovation, make sure you ask for a thinset that has a little flexibility for heat expansion. You might find that your shower and bathroom squeaks come and go due to weather and humidity levels.
7. Subfloor damage. Watch out for the quality of your bathroom's original or renovated subfloor. Often, a tub is removed to make way for a new shower. When the plumbing and drain lines are moved, the subfloor has to undergo repairs that may affect its structure positively or negatively. Make sure your subfloor is inspected for squeaks and that the area around the drain is fully supported before any installation.

Archives