Screed Base vs Preformed Shower Trays

Uses of screed in Traditional Tiled Showers

When installing a tiled shower in a ‘traditional’ way, a shower screeding technique is used to correct unlevelled floor, which otherwise would cause water runoff to pool into the unlevelled areas, instead of running to its drainage point. 

Shower screeding is composed of cement, water, and sand and once dry, a waterproof membrane system is bonded to a leak control flange, therefore creating, a waterproofed or also known as a ‘tanked’ area.

Once this is done, tiles are laid over this waterproofed membrane following its appropriate falls (which have also been created through screeding) towards the shower drain. If you are opting for a traditional tiled shower installation, then we highly recommend having professional screeding done to your bathroom. 

Traditional waterproofing membranes are fine, provided that they are installed correctly. However, all it takes is a tiny flaw for leak to occur. With this in mind, shower manufacturers started to create what we now called preformed shower bases.

Pre-formed Shower Trays

Pre-formed shower bases are a shower tray that once waterproofed can be tiled over. There are several types of preformed shower trays available in the market such as our ProFinish ™ Tile Tray System, DryFit Tile Shower System, Stainless Steel Tile Over Trays, as well as other types that are usually made of materials like polystyrene and cement.

Over the years, there has been an increasing demand for these types of shower trays, as they offer the efficiency and peace of mind that an acrylic shower trays does but it also delivers on the look and design, as it can be tiled over it.

Advantages of Pre-formed Shower Trays

High Precision

Pre-formed shower trays are manufactured through a machining process, that ensures that the tray’s falls are even and consistent.

Less likely to leak

Traditional waterproofing membranes are fine, provided they are installed correctly. If not, it only needs a tiny flaw to leak, which will not be substantial until water damage occurs.  In addition to that, old fashioned screed has the potential to crack due to movement or shrinkage.

Faster and easier installation process

The time for the installation of pre-formed shower trays is shorter than screeding. For example, if you use our ProFinish Tile Tray then you can waterproof it within 24 hours. Meanwhile, screed usually takes up to 7 days in cooler temperatures to dry and become stable.  

Safer for your health

The time for the installation of pre-formed shower trays is shorter than screeding. For example, if you use our ProFinish Tile Tray then you can waterproof it within 24 hours. Meanwhile, screed usually takes up to 7 days in cooler temperatures to dry and become stable.  

Lengthy Warranty

Pre-formed shower trays usually offer a longer warranty in comparison to acrylic shower trays. In saying that, remember to always check with your preferred manufacturer. As for our DryFit tile shower solution offers a 30 Year Warranty.

Disadvantages of Pre-Formed Shower Trays

Unsuitable for mosaic tiles

Mosaic tiles work better when laid on concrete rather than pre-formed shower trays.

Susceptible to damage

The preformed shower tray is more susceptible to damage in comparison to screeding. This is because you can literally “re-do” the screed onsite, while the tray is a static product, which can be damaged through the handling, or shipping process.


Advantages of Screeding


Screeding can be a faster process in a sense that you are able to shape the falls on site. On the other hand, if you are ordering a customised pre-formed tray then you would have to wait for manufacturing lead times, which can take a couple of weeks depending on the supplier.

Disadvantages of Screeding

Longer installation process

Your screeding must be completely dry, and this may take several days, therefore turning into a longer process when compared to installing a preformed shower base. You must allow your screeding to dry properly and completely, as otherwise the high moisture levels in it will prevent the adhesive to bond with the tiles. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the application and drying time of your screeding for a successful application. 

Inadequate application of screed

There are several types of screeding in the market, so make sure to use the adequate type for your shower screeding. A poor material will likely lead to a crumbling screed. In addition to that, because screeding is applied by hand it is more likely to have imperfection when compared to the preformed tray, which is fabricated through a machined process.

Not as resistant to movement

Structural movement of your building or house is a natural process that is caused by wind, earthquakes, road traffic, and materials’ contracting and expanding due to temperature changes, to name a few. Preformed shower trays like DryFit allow the tray and wall to move independently for up to 20mm, while screeding does not allow for building movement.

Overall, it will depend on your preference, but here at Newline Showers we recommend you go for a pre-formed shower base such as ProFinish this is because it gives you the safety and durability of an acrylic shower tray, but the look and desired design of a tiled shower.

If you are interested in learning more about the different types of preformed shower trays, then read our article What Are the Types of Tiled Over Trays? 

Give our friendly team a call on on 0508 639 5463 or email us at [email protected] to see the best type of preformed shower tray for you. 

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