Your bathroom shower — whether it is modest or luxurious — has one integral component – the shower drain. Now, this element, although inconspicuous, plays an important role. To understand this, let’s first check out its definition.

What Is a Shower Drain?

A shower drain connects your bathroom to the sewer so that water can be released outside via the drain. It also prevents backflow of sewage water or gases into your bathroom. However, its cover should be watertight to ensure that the floor beneath doesn’t rot by moisture seepage.

How Does a Shower Drain Work?

bathroom shower drain


Shower drains feature a PVC, ABS, or brass pipe — fixed to steel, fiberglass, or plastic base. The shower drain pipe features a trap which can be either P- or S-shaped. Water, hair, soap debris, and other waste flow via this trap and collect at the bottom. This water reservoir below also prevents sewage gases from leaking inside your bathroom. The base is usually made with a sloping curve so that it doesn’t hold any soapy water, which might cause slipping. Again, the strainer is sealed firmly to the sides of the base to prevent water seepage into the floor underneath.

Now that you know the basic principle behind the operation of a shower drain, you shall find it easier to understand the various factors which you should consider while getting one. Since this basic element plays such an important role, you cannot simply fix a cheap, substandard shower drain on your bathroom surface. Apart from this, if it looks appealing, the entire look of the shower area can undergo a drastic change. So today, let us understand how to choose the perfect shower drain during your next bathroom remodel.

Installation Process

The installation process of a shower drain depends on the type of unit you choose.

Compression Type Shower Drains

This category of shower drains can be attached to the pipes via compression washers and nuts. They are made from PVC, ABS, or brass and are pretty easy to install. Compression types can be fixed over steel, fiberglass, or plastic bases.

Glue-On Shower Drain

Glue-on shower drains are made from ABS and PVC plastic. You can fix them over steel, fiberglass, and plastic bases. However, here, since you will be gluing the pieces together, remember to take each measurement correctly before ordering the set.

Tile Shower Drain

When you have a customized tiled base, you need to position all the drain fittings beforehand. These types are made with ABS, PVC, and cast iron.

Before going for either of the above alternatives, understand the architecture of your bathroom. Usually, the best installations are done with the conventional wrench and screw method.

Shower Drain Types

You should also check out the types of shower drains in order to shortlist the best ones that shall go with your bathroom layout.

Square and Round Shower Drains

These are the most common types we see in most bathrooms. Round and square shower drains are inexpensive, though manufacturers have come up with costlier versions as well, which look sophisticated and elegant.

Linear Shower Drains

Linear shower drains — also referred to as trench or channel drains — come in a long, rectangular shape. Featuring solid covers or gratings, they look cohesive when they are installed over the bathroom floor. You can fix them along one wall or even near the shower entrance, to give a sleek appearance. Also, here, the floor can be sloped only in one direction to prevent soapy film deposits near the shower base.

Tile Top Linear Shower Drains

Tile-top linear shower drains resemble their linear counterparts, with the exception that they feature a removable tile pan above the strainer. The pan is tiled beforehand to blend with the flooring and hide the drain from plain view.

Shower Flooring Type

shower drain buying guide


Your shower drain will also depend on your shower flooring material. Let’s see how:

Single-piece Showers or Showers with a Pre-molded Base

For this category of shower stalls, you can go for a multi-piece shower drain. It features a strainer, brass locking ring, rubber compression gasket, and flange — which are installed above the floor. The other parts — a threaded drain body, rubber gasket or washer, and tightening nut — sit below shower and are installed before fixing the base.

Tiled Showers with Wooden Subfloor

The best bet for tiled showers is a three-piece shower drain. It protects the wooden floorboards underneath from moisture-related damage. It comprises a top part which screws to the center of the drain, which is again screwed to the shower pan and the pipe socket — that form the lower segment of the drain.

Tiled Showers with Concrete Subfloor

For this kind of shower floors, you can go for the simple single-piece drain. Since concrete doesn’t get damaged by water, it’s a safe bet. One-piece drains comprise a strainer screwed into a pipe socket. You can fit the pipe into the socket and attach the strainer at the top with the help of screws.


This is yet another important consideration. Note that shower drains are available in different sizes. Therefore, you must measure the dimensions of your bathroom and also approximately estimate the amount of water flow on a daily basis. Based on these two figures, pick a model with the adequate length — so that it offers efficient performance and poses minimal problems during installation.

Read more: Small bathroom layouts from architect

Flow Rate

The flow rate for shower drains with maximum efficiency varies between 8 and 10 gallons per minute. Therefore, be careful when selecting the flow rate specifications. Consider the water pressure in your bathroom and also the number of sprays in your showerhead. A higher figure is either case means a drain with a higher flow rate.

Sloping Angle

Consider the sloping angle of your bathroom floor. A shower drain needs to be installed at the lowest point of the bathroom so that there is no stagnant water near the base. Hence, you need to choose a design that can be easily fixed over the existing layout. If you are placing it at the center, then the floor has to slope in from all directions. Again, if you are fixing it at the corner, then the entire floor has to slope toward that direction.


Shower drains may require frequent maintenance as they are prone to clogging by hair and other debris. Hence, choose a system which can be easily maintained, cleaned, and repaired.

So, for your next bathroom renovation, choose a shower drain which not only serves its function effectively but also blends with the design of your space. The final selection should lend the best functionality and style combo to your showering chamber.

Shower Drain Buying Guide: Pick The Best For Your Bathroom was last modified: May 20th, 2022 by Anisha Dutta
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