Title:
SHOWER PAN
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of forming a pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit in which tile is installed at a manufacturing facility before shipment to the location where the shower is to be built. A backing sheet of fiberglass is bonded to the back of a sheet of granite or marble which is turned over and the face of the sheet of stone is scored or cut to form a panel with rows and columns of tiles secured together by the backing. A drain opening is formed in the panel, the panel is secured by adhesive to the floor of the shower pan, a drain pipe is installed and grooves in the panel are grouted.



Inventors:
Gann, Mark (Suwanee, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/738298
Publication Date:
11/22/2007
Filing Date:
04/20/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAESTRI, PATRICK J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOOTH ALBANESI SCHROEDER PLLC (DALLAS, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan, comprising: a pan floor, said pan floor having a drain opening formed therein and a plurality of edges; an inner vertical curb wall having an upper edge and lower edge, wherein said lower edge joins at least one of said plurality of edges; a sheet of rigid cladding material; and a sheet of deformable backing material secured between said pan floor and said sheet of rigid cladding material forming pre-clad shower pan.

2. A pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan, according to claim 1 with the addition of: a lifting strap secured between the pan floor and the cladding material.

3. A pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan, according to claim 1, said sheet of rigid cladding material comprising stone or granite or marble or fiberglass or acrylic or solid surface or cast stone or cultured marble.

4. A pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan, according to claim 1 with the addition of: a lifting strap secured between the pan floor and the cladding material, said lifting strap being positioned to facilitate lowering the pan floor to position the drain opening and the plurality of edges relative to a drain at a construction site.

5. A pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan, according to claim 1, said sheet of rigid cladding material comprising: tiles of stone, said tiles of stone being bonded with epoxy adhesive to said sheet of deformable backing material.

6. A pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan, according to claim 5, said tiles of stone being formed by cutting grooves part way through a sheet of stone bonded to said sheet of deformable backing material for forming a unitary floor panel having the appearance of a plurality of tiles bonded to said backing material.

7. A pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan, according to claim 6, said grooves cut in the sheet of stone being filled with epoxy caulk.

8. A pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan, according to claim 1, said sheet of rigid cladding material comprising stone or granite or marble or fiberglass or acrylic or solid surface or cast stone or cultured marble, said sheet of rigid cladding material having a pitched upper surface inclined toward an opening positioned over said drain opening formed in said pan floor.

9. A method of forming a pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan, said method comprising the steps of: (a) spreading an adhesive material on a sheet of solid surface material about ⅜″ thick; (b) placing a sheet of flexible backing material on the sheet of solid surface material to bond the backing to the sheet of solid surface material; (c) forming grooves 3/16″ deep through the solid surface stone to form prefabricated decorative tile panels of solid surface material stone tiles bonded to the backing material; (d) applying a coat of resin to the shower pan floor; (e) positioning a lifting strap in the resin on the floor of the shower pan; (f) placing the panel of solid surface material stone tiles bonded to the backing material in contact with said resin; (g) positioning sand bags on the panel of solid surface material stone tiles to flex the flexible backing to the slope of the floor of the shower pan until the resin cures; and (h) filling the grooves between tiles with grout.

10. A pre-fabricated shower floor configured for use in replacing a bath tub with a shower comprising: a unitary lightweight panel of natural stone having upper and lower surfaces bounded by edges forming a periphery encircling said upper surface, said panel having a length which is substantially equal to the length of the bath tub and a width which is substantially equal to the width of the bath tub, said panel having a drain opening formed therein positioned to correspond to the position of a bath tub drain, said panel further having sufficient flexural strength to permit a central portion of the panel to flex relative to said periphery such that said upper surface slopes for drainage when urged into engagement with a shower base; and a backing bonded to said panel, said backing being configured to allow the stone to flex to the base and to prevent any water penetration through said panel into the shower base.

11. A pre-fabricated shower floor configured for use in replacing a bath tub with a shower, according to claim 10, said panel having grooves cut ⅛″ deep into said upper surface to create a tile design, said groves being filled with epoxy grout to reduce the tendency for said panel of natural stone to spring upwardly from a shower pan shell to reduce problems with any delamination from the shell.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of Provisional Application No. 60/793,390 filed Apr. 20, 2006, entitled SHOWER PAN, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety for all purposes. This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. U.S. 60/793,390 filed Apr. 20, 2006, the benefit of the filing date of which is hereby claimed under 35 U.S.C. Section 119(e).

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable

REFERENCE TO MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to prefabricated shower pans, and, particularly, to a pre-molded waterproof shower pan that is pre-clad with solid surface panels for replacement of a bath tub with a shower stall.

2. Description of the Background Art

The construction of a shower stall requires that a waterproof structure be placed along the floor of the shower stall. The waterproof structure is usually a one-piece, continuous surface except for a drain pipe that penetrates the structure through a waterproof joint. This waterproof structure must cover the entire bottom of the stall floor as well as a vertical portion of the lower wall from the floor up to a suitable height from the floor to ensure that water standing in the stall is contained with the structure. The waterproof structure is generally referred to as a shower “pan” and various designs have been used.

The conventional practice is to place a single, usually pre-fabricated, unit in the floor of the shower to form the waterproof structure. The shower floor “pan” may be constructed of any waterproof material including metal, polymeric materials or fiberglass. The pre-fabricated shower floor pans are usually constructed in a light weight, thin and relatively structurally weak manner so as to minimize the cost of the shower floor pan. These lightweight and thin units are therefore susceptible to damage during shipping.

A typical shower stall is often completely enclosed by solid walls with the exception of a doorway used for ingress and egress. The doorway typically has a “curb” in its lower portion, which is a short wall (usually 4 to 10 inches high) that is used to contain water standing on the floor of the shower. The curb comprises an interior curb wall, which is a short vertical wall portion, that terminates at a horizontal portion that forms the threshold for the shower door. Since the curb is required to hold water standing on the floor of the shower, the interior curb wall, and usually the horizontal portion or threshold, is part of the shower floor pan structure. The curb may also extend along the stall perimeter past the area of the doorway, to allow other shower stall wall components to be mounted thereon (e.g. a glass wall portion).

Common shower stall construction usually begins with framing of the walls and floor with wood beams or other building material. The wood or other framing may include structures for soap dishes, must provide a level surface on which to place the shower pan, and the framing must also provide physical support for the curb under the shower stall doorway. Since the curb is at least partially comprised of a portion of the shower floor pan, the framing should provide a solid and tightly fitting support for the curb portion of the pan. Deformation of the shower floor pan, including the curb portion of the pan, that is caused by foot traffic if the supporting frame for the shower floor pan is not in tight contact with the shower floor pan, may result in breakage of the shower floor pan and resultant leaks out of the floor of the shower. The construction of the framing for a shower stall is a time consuming task that requires skill and care, as well as a correspondingly large expense. Errors in the framing may also not be detected until the shower stall is almost completed, at which time repairs are more costly and time consuming. The preparation of the waterproof joint around the drain pipe is also a critical task that may require repair once the shower stall is finished and require excessive time and effort to repair.

Once a shower stall frame is constructed, a suitable wall material is usually placed over the framing that is above the pan to form the shower stall walls. A tile or other suitable surface is then placed over the wall material to form a waterproof surface above the shower floor pan. The similar or different tile or other surface is often also applied over the shower pan to form a finished floor for the shower. The tile or other material forming the finished floor must be formed so as to create an incline with the drain opening at the bottom to ensure that the water in the floor of the shower will flow to the drain.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,913,777 to Gerber and assigned to Tile Redi, Ltd. of Coral Springs, Fla., dated Jun. 22, 1999, entitled “Pre-fabricated shower module and method of shower construction” discloses a waterproof shower module comprising a pre-fabricated, integrally molded unit which forms a unitary base having side walls and a pitched floor defining an opening within which is incorporated a vertically adjustable drain. Each side wall includes an upper lip forming a horizontal surface upon which wall board may be supported and flushly aligned with the side walls of the module such that a substantially continuous and uniform surface is formed which provides a suitable mounting surface for receiving shower tiles. The module floor includes a top surface and a bottom surface and defines a plurality of molded feet depending from the bottom surface, which feet function to support the module floor on the underlying sub-floor. The module floor is uniformly pitched from each side wall to the drain opening. One of the side walls further defines a curb and includes inner and outer curb surfaces and a horizontal and curb surface. Tile is installed later on the module's surfaces and on the surrounding wall board. A method of installing a tiled shower using a pre-fabricated shower module.

The Tile Redi brand second embodiment of the shower pan; waterproof module is a pre-formed one piece shower pan that can reduce the time and labor involved with the old mortar bed methods. Tile or stone can be applied to the unit after it has been installed.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,643,863 to Gerber, issued Nov. 11, 2003, entitled “Prefabricated shower pan with integrally molded curb reinforcements” discloses a shower stall pan that includes an integrally molded threshold “curb” with reinforcing ribs to provide sufficient strength for direct installation into the shower structure. The reinforcing ribs are integrally molded into the shower pan structure, which includes the threshold curb. The use of reinforcing ribs under the curb obviates the requirement to use additional framing under the curb portion of the shower pan, and decreases the time, effort and skill required to install the shower pan and thereby decrease the time and effort in constructing a shower stall.

Once a shower stall frame is constructed, a suitable wall material is usually placed over the framing that is above the pan in order to form the shower stall walls. A tile or other suitable surface is then placed over the wall material to form a waterproof surface above the shower floor pan. The similar or different tile or other surface is often also applied over the shower pan to form a finished floor for the shower. The tile or other material forming the finished floor must be formed so as to create an incline with the drain opening at the bottom to ensure that the water in the floor of the shower will drain.

Along felt need exists for a pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit which forms a unitary pre-formed, pre-clad, shower floor pan that eliminates the need for time and labor required to install the floor tile or marble in the shower pan at the construction site after the pan has been installed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan unit disclosed herein forms a unitary pre-formed, shower floor pan that has a pan floor with a drain opening formed therein and clad with any of several materials, such as stone, granite, marble, fiberglass, acrylic, solid surface, cast stone or cultured marble that have been installed heretofore. The stone cladding and drain are installed at the factory to eliminate tile and plumbing work at the installation site.

The ready to install granite or marble clad bases are assembled on an assembly line at a factory. One of two different types of shower pan shell is employed, one which has a pre-sloped floor to receive thin flexed stone panels and the other which has a flat floor to receive a rigid stone panel having a sloped upper surface. Slots are formed in the shower pan to receive lifting straps attached to facilitate installation of the pre-clad shower pan at the jab site.

Two embodiments of the pre-clad natural stone shower are disclosed, one having a single piece of stone forming the floor which is grout free and the other having a single piece of stone that has grooves cut part way through the stone to create the appearance of a tile floor.

The one piece grout free base is a solid panel of thin stone granite or marble, adhered to the shower pan in one sheet. All one piece pans require an application chemical or mechanical treatment to form a surface that is slip resistant.

The designer tile base is a solid panel of thin stone granite or marble, scored on the upper surface to create the look of custom tile without cutting completely through the stone. These specially cut grooves are then filled with an epoxy grout to give traction and luxury without the traditional problems with common grout.

Thin panels 3 mm to 6 mm thick of natural stone are joined to a 1 mm thick fiberglass backing or to a 2 mm thick layer of reinforced aluminum bottom laminate with a 1 mm thick reinforced plastic ply laminate between them it and the stone panel.

A primary object of the present invention is to provide a pre-formed shower floor pan which is pre-clad with tile, granite, marble or other solid surface material at a production facility prior to shipment to the construction site.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a low cost shower floor pan which has tile and drain connections installed that can be easily installed in a shower stall.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a shower floor pan that is configured to replace a bath tub in hotels and other facilities being remodeled.

The present invention achieves these and further objectives by providing a molded, one piece shower floor pan which has prefabricated decorative tile panels applied at a production facility, along with an integrally molded shower drain.

The present invention achieves these and further objectives by providing a molded, one piece shower floor pan which has a preformed curb containing reinforcing ribs to provide required strength and structure for the shower pan curb. The shower pan of the present invention also utilizes an integrally molded shower drain.

Other objects, features and advantages of the invention will become more readily apparent upon reference to the following description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Drawings of preferred embodiments of the invention are attached hereto, so that the invention may be better and more fully understood, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a shower stall;

FIG. 2 is a view of the front of shower pan;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the bottom of the shower pan of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of the shower pan;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the shower pan;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of the second embodiment of the shower pan;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an ultra thin natural stone panel of granite with a fiberglass backing;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an ultra thin natural stone panel of marble with a poly-aluminum backing;

FIGS. 9, 10, 11 and 12 are diagramic views showing the position and weight of sand bags for flexing stone panels;

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of an ADA complaint shower pan;

FIG. 14 is a diagramic view showing the process for making pre-clad shower pans; and

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the first embodiment of the pre-clad shower pan.

Numeral references are employed to designate like parts throughout the various figures of the drawing. Terms such as “left,” “right,” “clockwise,” “counter-clockwise,” “horizontal,” “vertical,” “up” and “down” when used in reference to the drawings, generally refer to orientation of the parts in the illustrated embodiment and not necessarily during use. The terms used herein are meant only to refer to the relative positions and/or orientations, for convenience, and are not meant to be understood to be in any manner otherwise limiting. Further, dimensions specified herein are intended to provide examples and should not be considered limiting.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

A shower stall 20, illustrated in to FIG. 1, is formed by a back wall 22, side walls 24 and 26 and a shower base 30. Two embodiments of the shower base 30 are disclosed herein. Each shower base 30 includes a pre-fabricated, integrally molded shower pan 40 which forms a unitary base having a back wall 42, side walls 44 and 46, a floor 45 having an opening 45a within which is incorporated a vertically adjustable drain base 47, locknut 48 and strainer 49. Each side wall 42 and 44 and back wall 42 includes an upper lip 43 forming a horizontal surface upon which wall board may be supported and aligned with the back wall 42 and side walls 44 and 46 of the pan 40 such that a substantially continuous and uniform surface is formed which provides a suitable mounting surface for receiving shower tiles or wall panels.

The pan floor includes a top surface and a bottom surface. The pan floor in the first embodiment is preferably flat and has a substantially uniform thickness of about ⅜ inch at the center and all the way across the length and width of the floor. The bottom surface of the pan floor in the second embodiment is preferably substantially flat and the floor has a thickness of about ⅜ inch at the center. The upper surface is preferably sloped such that the thickness of the outer periphery of the floor has different thicknesses depending on the size of the shower pan to provide a ¼ inch slope per foot of the upper surface of the floor downwardly toward the drain such that the floor is uniformly pitched from each side wall to the drain opening.

A curb 50 extends across the front of pan 40 and includes inner and outer curb surfaces 50a and 50b and a horizontal upper curb threshold surface 50c. The threshold has a ⅛ inch pitch back to the shower pan so that when a 2 cm curb cap is installed there is a slope so that any standing water ends up back into the pan and not on the floor.

The curb 50 may be eliminated or shortened for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant roll-in handicap shower models having minimum inside dimensions of 60″×30″ for roll-in showers.

First Embodiment

As illustrated in FIG. 4, the upper surface of a solid piece of stone 65 that is, for example ⅞ inch to about 1 inch thick, is carved by a machine, such as a radial arm grinder/polisher, to form an upper 66 surface sloping to the drain 68 with a pitch of about ¼ inch per foot. The one piece grout free base is a solid panel of thin stone granite, adhered to the shower pan in one sheet. These shower bases may be available in at least four popular sizes: 36″×36″ (center drain); 34″×48″ (center drain); 34″×60″ (center drain); and 32″×60″ (left or right drain).

A sheet of interwoven bidirectional fiberglass backing about 1 mm thick is bonded to the lower surface of the stone base 65. The backing has high elasticity with high resistance to mechanical and chemical applications.

In the alternative, a backing formed by a 2 mm thick layer of reinforced aluminum bottom laminate, with a 1 mm reinforced plastic ply laminate between the lower surface of the stone and the aluminum may be employed in stead of the fiberglass backing.

A special drill press is used to drill thru the stone to match up with the drain in the floor of the fiberglass shell. A pin that is inserted into the bottom of the drain of the shell holds the base in place while the hole in the stone is being formed. A special diamond bit was designed to drill the hole in the stone to match the drain that is molded into the pan and beveling the edge of the stone and polishing it at the same time. For a typical installation the hole is preferably about 2 inches in diameter in the center and has a counter sink area about 4 inches in diameter around the outer circumference which is recessed about 3/16 inch to receive a rubber gasket and a drain cover. It should be apparent that some installations may use different sized drains.

This piece of stone has a special fiberglass backing to not only make it water proof but to have the bottom of the fiberglass on the stone have a chemical bond with the fiberglass pan with the special epoxies that are used, thus creating a solid one piece unit with no voids between the stone and the pan.

The floor 45 of the fiberglass shell on the inside of this embodiment is flat and a pre-pitched stone piece 65 having a slopped upper surface 66 is used to create the slope.

The one piece, no grout unit, illustrated in FIG. 4, utilizes a solid slab of stone having an upper surface that is carved with special machines to provide a ¼ inch per foot slope. The thickness of the stone at outer edges varies depending on the size of the base as they all must end up with a thickness at the drain of about ⅜ inch so ¼ inch per foot must be added to the outside edges. For example a 36 inch by 36 inch base will use a stone piece ¾ inch thick as it will slope from ¾ inch to ⅜ inch over the distance of 18 inches to drain at the center of the base. As noted above, fiberglass backing is bonded to the lower surface of the slab to prevent any water penetration thru the stone into the shell.

A lip extends around the perimeter of the stone base prior to the sloped portion of the upper surface to allow the wall panels to set flush to the base with no gaps.

The floor of the fiberglass shell is covered with an epoxy resin that will create a chemical bond between the floor of the fiberglass shell and the backing that is adhered to the bottom of the stone panel. The drain is taped off and then cut out when the epoxy cures.

Tape is then placed around the perimeter of the base leaving a 1/16″ gap between the stone and fiberglass shell. Epoxy grout is then applied to the gap eliminating any spots for water penetration. The one piece slab is then placed inside the fiberglass shell.

After protection sheet has been placed onto the stone, sand bags are positioned to urge the stone panel downwardly for about 2 hours until the epoxy has cured. The hole is drilled for the drain, as herein before described and the unit is then tested to make sure the drain cap sets flush with the upper surface of the stone.

Each one piece unit is also tested to make sure that the proper pitch was achieved when the stone was shaped with the radial arm grinder/polisher. Then the pan is filled with water to again assure that it drains properly.

The inside riser is then glued into place on the inner surface 50a of the curb 50 and clamped for 2 hours until the epoxy cures. Then slots are cut in the rear wall of the pan and installation straps 55 are attached.

A high density Styrofoam block is then inserted into the bottom side of the curb on the fiberglass for additional support. A plastic sheet is then sealed to the stone to keep any debris from the polished surface during shipment and after installation. It can simply be pulled off when the shower is complete and construction finished.

The base is loaded into the crate along with the outside riser and the curb cap. A matching 4″×4″ of stone sample is also attached to the outside of the packing crate to facilitate matching the base to a shower wall kit.

The base is then covered with a protective cloth before the top of the crate is attached.

Second Embodiment

As illustrated in FIGS. 5 and FIG. 6, the tiled unit utilizes a piece of stone 70 or 80 with a thickness of for example 8 mm. One inch equals 25.4 millimeters, abbreviated 25.4 mm per inch. This piece of stone has grooves 90 cut into it about 4 mm deep to look like separate tiles but remaining as one unitary piece. This piece of stone is flexed into the pitched pan (¼″ per ft.) and then the grout lines 90 are filled with a epoxy grout 95 such as LATICRETE® SpectraLOCK™ Grout, manufactured by LATICRETE International, Inc., 1 LATICRETE Park North, Bethany, Conn. 06524-3423 USA to provide additional strength. All substrates must have a minimum slope of at least ⅛ inch per 12 inches to promote positive drainage. However, many building codes call for a minimum slope of ¼ inch per 12 inches.

“Ultra Thin Stone Slabs and Tiles,” 70 and 80, best illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8, commercially available from Wanlong Stone Company, 4-S (A), Quingmeng Hi Tech Industrial Area, Quanzhou, Fujian 362000, CHINA, are used to form a natural stone floor that is flexed and bonded to the tapered floor 45 of a shower pan 40. Stone veneer on the panels have a thickness of between 2 millimeter and 5 millimeter.

The thin lightweight stone panels are preferably about 8 mm thick and are used for the tiled design look because of their flexural strength and ability to flex to the ¼″ per foot slope due to various backings applied. For the Granite veneer 70, a double woven fiberglass backing 74 is used and applied to the back side of the stone using a proprietary system. This backing allows the stone to flex to the base and to prevent any water penetration into the fiberglass base. For marble veneer 80 a poly-aluminum backing 84 is used that is 3 mm thick and joined with a 5 mm stone panel to create a lightweight yet strong 8 mm marble panel.

Construction of the natural stone shower bases-tile design starts with a pre-pitched fiberglass shell with an integrated drain installed. The 2″ drain is connected to the pipe on the job site by the installer.

The thin lightweight stone panels are covered with a plastic material and then grooves are cut ⅛″ deep into the upper surface to allow additional flex and to create a tile design and for the application of an epoxy grout for additional strength and slip resistance. By cutting grooves through only a portion of the thickness of the stone panel keeps the stone panel from allowing any water penetration into the fiberglass shell.

The plastic material protects the polished surface of the panel while cutting the grooves and applying the grout. The pieces are then peeled off after the grout has cured in a future process. A starter hole is also drilled into the center for the drain hole to be cut after the epoxy is set.

Epoxy resin is then applied to the floor of the shower pan shell to create a chemical bond between the fiberglass floor of the shower pan and either the double woven fiberglass backing on granite panels or the poly-aluminum backing on marble panels. The drain is taped off and then cut out when the epoxy cures.

The panel is then placed into the epoxy bed leaving a 1/16″ gap around the perimeter. A plastic sheet is then placed over the polished stone surface to protect the material from any scratching. Sand bags are then strategically placed in the critical areas to press the panel into the epoxy bed of the pre pitched fiberglass shell.

Each sandbag is preferably filled with about 30 pounds of sand or other suitable material and are spaced over the upper surface of the thin stone panel. The positioning of the sand bags is very important on each size as there are more bags placed onto the critical areas that need more of a pitch and others that are there just to hold the materials for the epoxy bonding the backing of the stone to the fiberglass shell creating a chemical bond. The area around the drain is where most of the bags are stacked to create the additional flex to meet the ¼ inch per foot pitch requirement.

The position and weight of sand bags used to flex various sizes of stone panels 70 and 80 are shown in FIGS. 9, 10, 11 and 12.

One pound is equal to 2.5 kg. As illustrated in FIG. 9, six bags 9a-9f, each weighing about 66 pounds, are positioned to flex a 60 inch by 34 inch panel having a center drain.

As illustrated in FIG. 10, three 44 pound sand bags 10a, 10b, and 10c, one 55 pound bag 10d, and four 66 pound bags 10e, 10f, 10g, and 10h are positioned over the surface of panel 70 that measures 60″ long and 32″ wide with a drain 45a at one end.

After a 12 hour curing period the sand bags are then removed along with the plastic protection sheet and the panel is now chemically bonded together with the fiberglass shell with a pitch of ¼″ per foot to the center of the drain.

The grooves in the panel are then filled with an epoxy grout that provides additional support in locking the panel to the required pitch as well as providing traction for slip resistance when the base is wet while showering. The 1/16″ gap around the edges is first filled half way with epoxy resin and then the epoxy grout is applied around the perimeter to match the stone color. Laticrete International has color matched the Spectra Lock grout to match several colors.

A special drill press is used to drill thru the stone to match up with the drain in the fiberglass shell. A pin inserted into the bottom of the drain formed in the shower pan shell holds the base in place while the hole in the stone is being formed. A special diamond bit was designed to drill the hole in the stone to match the drain that is molded into the pan and beveling the edge of the stone and polishing it at the same time. The hole is 2″ in the center and 4″ around the sides. It is recessed just deep enough for the rubber gasket and the drain cover.

The tape is then pulled and the gasket and drain cap are tested to make sure of a tight fit to the base. At this point the riser piece on the inside of the curb is glued and clamped into place for 2 hours.

Slots are cut into the fiberglass shell higher than the curb cap and straps are attached so that the installer can lower it into place at the jobsite. The straps will be cut after the base is thin set to the floor at the job site and the slots will be covered by the wall panels.

Each unit is then water tested to make sure the base has the proper pitch and that water will run off to the drain. A high density Styrofoam block is then inserted into the bottom side of the fiberglass shells curb for additional support.

A plastic sheet is then sealed to the stone to keep any debris from the polished surface during shipment and after installation. It can simply be pulled off when the shower is complete and construction finished.

Special designed crates are used to pack the shower base as there is an area cutout for the drain so that the base sets flat.

The base is then loaded into the crate and then the curb front riser and the curb cap are packed tightly inside as the installer may have to customize these 2 pieces on the jobsite and will adhere them to the base himself. Another layer of protection is added with a thick white foam insulation piece prior to closing the crate.

The top of the crate is applied and metal straps are also used. A 4″×4″ sample from the material being used for this particular shower base is applied to the outside of the crate so that it can be matched up with the shower wall kits.

A product assembly line is diagrammatical illustrated in FIG. 14 where pre-clad shower pans can be efficiently manufactured and assembled to significantly reduce the labor required at a job site for new construction or remodeling.

Wooden transport tables (not shown) are provided to hold each base up because of the drain on the bottom. Enough tables for the number of bases for (3) days of production are provided for units in production, others having the glue drying and others that will be grouted the next day.

Fiberglass shower pan shells 40 and stone bases 65, 70 and 80 are positioned in a staging area S1 adjacent the end of a conveyor. The empty bases will be staged for this day's production and the appropriate number and sizes of bases will be set up here for that day.

At Station 2 a Quality Control operator inspects fiberglass shell and stone base. The worker will put the base on the table and inspect it along with possible having to sand out any glue or resin in the corners or on the walls, a vacuum will also be necessary at this station for any debris due to his sanding.

At Station 3 resin is uniformly applied to the floor 45 of the bas 40. Straps are then applied to the base and into the resin, stone bases are set in and sand bags are selected and positioned on the stone base.

A movetable oven room is provided for thin panels only. The pre-slotted panels 70 and 80 will be staged here for the orders that will be completed that day, they will be set up in order so that all colors are stacked together so that one color can be done at a time so that only one worker is needed for moving them to the drying tables when completed. The Tiled panel 70 or 80 is then place into the resin bed inside the base 40. Sand Bags are then placed onto the piece 70 or 80 to flex it down to the slope in pan floor 45. Typical exact placements, the number and weight of bags for each size are shown in FIGS. 9, 10, 11 and 12.

At Station 4, drying racks are provided along with facilities for operator inspection.

At Station 5, Remove sand bags, and cut drain opening and polish drain holes.

At Station 6, QC operator inspections, cleans and dries the bases.

At Station 7, the coordinating inside curb riser 50a that goes with each base 40 will be set up in the same order as the bases are set up, the riser 50a is pulled and then glued to the inside of the base and spring clamps are then attached.

Drying racks are provided at Station 8.

At Station 9, Install drain covers and rubber washer.

A Movetable oven room for thin panels only is available.

Station 10 is a storage area for 2 cm stone curbs 50c and outside risers 50b. A quality control operator inspects the pans.

Station 11 Styrofoam is put in underneath of shell curb 50.

At Station 12, a quality control operator performs a final inspection, the pans are created and a 4″×4″ stone sample is attached to the crate.