Black Lab Remodeling

Can I get a shower installed in a day?

Have you ever seen those ads for a new shower installed in one day being advertised on social media? How do they do it? What do they have to skip over to get a new shower installed in a day? Unfortunately, I don’t have those answers, but what I can answer is what goes into properly installing a quality shower that will last a lifetime. The first thing to know is that this project will require a permit (at least in the area we serve, Davis and Woodland, CA).

For the remainder of this blog, we’ll be writing from the standpoint that all the designs and applications have been completed and permits have been issued. This by itself can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks from the time you commit to the contractor you hire.


For a shower, demolition can take up to three hours to complete, including clean-up. Proper demolition is more than just swinging a sledgehammer. Although that is part of it. Demolition includes making sure all adhesives are cleaned away, nails, screws, and tacks are removed. The point of the demolition phase is not only to remove the old but to prepare the space for the new. In particular, demolition is preparing the space for the rough-in phase. Depending on any modifications we are making or not making, this could be where our first permit inspection is scheduled. If no modifications are being made, then we can call for a rough-in inspection. Inspections can only be called 24 hours ahead of time, and unfortunately, at the time of this writing, they are not scheduled in either Davis or Woodland. The building departments do offer to call 10 minutes before the inspector will arrive, but that is all the notice that is given. If we are making modifications we will move on to the rough-in phase.


Depending on what the existing plumbing is and its condition will determine how extensive the rough-in phase will be and how long. Items that would need to be on the rough-in list for a shower are the shower drain, the shower valve, the shower diverter pipe, the shower head assembly, the waste outlet pipe, and the water supply pipe, anything that needs to be brought up to the current code. Once these are done we will call for the first inspection as above. Plan on 1/2 to one full day for the Rough-in time.

Shower pan and waterproofing

Once the rough-in is completed, we can install the shower pan, or if doing a tile floor this is when a hot mop or other water-proofing application will be done. The walls will also be waterproofed. For tiled walls, the preferred method is for a backer board (such as Hardiebacker) to be fixed to the wall studs, the seams are taped and then a waterproofing adhesive or membrane is applied. This application including dry time between coats can take up to one full day. Once the final coat is applied, a waterproofing inspection can be called for.

Tile and grout

Once the waterproofing inspection has been signed off, it is time to put the tile on. This can be a very labor-intensive job and depending on the size of the tiles and the complexity of the cuts the tiler is working with this can take one to two days. The tiles must sit for up to 24 hours before the grout can be applied so the tile and the thin-set in which the tile is embedded can cure. Once the grout is put in, and the initial cleaning is done, the tiler will return the next day to wipe away the haze that is a natural part of the grouting process. Once the tile and grout are done, the finishing touches can be done.

Finishing up

This is when the new shower door, the shower head, the drain cover, the shower handle, and any grab bars get installed. This process can take the better part of a day, at the end of which the final inspection can be called.

Final Inspection

The final inspection is where the local building department inspector signs off on the project and that all the building materials and applications have met the standards and building code requirements. Once the final inspection is completed, the contractor hands the shower over to the homeowner to enjoy.

Total days for the project:

On the high end of this scenario, this project would take 11 days. It could be possible to save a couple of days bringing it down to 9 days by using other types of materials. Such as a preformed surround shower. However, the rough-in and waterproofing will still need to take place along with the inspections.

There is a lot that goes into these projects that sometimes gets glossed over by ad agencies and companies that offer a quick fix. We get it, no one wants to have a bunch of construction crews in the home for a long time. There is a lot of inconvenience that can happen when deciding to do a project like this. The project used to illustrate this sequence of events, used a cast iron shower pan, large 24×48 inch polished porcelain tile, brushed nickel corner shelves, Hardie Backer, and Redguard for waterproofing. The total investment for this shower including the permitting process, inspections, labor and materials was $38,600.00

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