...so I drilled a pilot hole where our desired drain location would be and Chris crawled under the house to make sure that location worked
It worked, so Chris came back up and drilled a hole for the drain in the shower pan subfloor and also from underneath the house
Once the drain holes were drilled it was time to prep the pan. This meant a layer of paper went down first as a slip sheet so that the plywood subfloor underneath can expand and contract under the mud bed without cracking the tile
And then metal lathe got put down as well
Once all the lathe was down Chris cut out a hole for the drain and made sure that it fit properly through the hole in the subfloor we already drilled
It was really snug and not fitting just right (and was a little high), so we modified the drain hole that was already drilled
Once the hole was modified the drain component fit nicely. The next step was mixing up the mud. The mix we used was 4 parts sand to 1 part concrete (some say 5:1).
We opted to mix the mud inside. It was a little messy, but it was also better than having to carry everything inside once it was all done only to carry it back out to mix the next batch (and we were slightly nervous about rain). And really, if you just clean up as you go it's not too bad.
Mix it dry first to make sure that the sand and concrete are blended well before you add the water. Once the dry mix is complete, it's time to add water little by little
Unfortunately I don't have a pic of Chris holding the mud in his hand after it was properly mixed together. Mud for a mud job in a shower is pretty dry. Chris used this resource a lot when we were doing the project, and this site says that you only want to use enough water "to cause the cement particles to cling together when compressed in your hand. You will see no water when this occurs. The mix will merely be damp - just enough water to activate the cement and cause the hydration process to begin."
Once the mud was mixed, Chris went outside to get the necessary tools for the job while I filled up buckets with mud, brought them through the hole in the wall where the eventual cubby will be and dumped them in the shower pan
When Chris returned he had some grout floats, a couple levels and those pieces of wood in his hand in the above pic. He used the pieces of wood against the walls in the shower pan to give him a guide for the correct pitch of the pan once the mud went in. I believe the correct pitch is 1/4 inch over the course of 1 foot
As Chris worked on packing down the mud (each layer that got poured in got packed down to make sure it was dense and tight and then pitched to make sure the level and pitch was correct) I continued to fill buckets and bring them into the bathroom
Once we went through the first batch of mud I dry mixed another. By this time, from the heavy lifting (thank you 60lb sand and concrete bags), I was getting pretty tired and sore (thank you 5 month pregnant belly) and so I had to have Chris help me mix the water in. Once the mud was mixed correct it was back to filling and buckets for Meryl and shower pan fun for Chris
Once things were close to being done Chris started going around everywhere very carefully with the level to make sure that everything was pitched properly
And within about 2 hours from the starting point, we had a beautiful shower
Of course the rest of the drain has to be installed, the mud job over the curb needs to be completed and we have to put kerdi over the whole area...but we're getting there! And for our first mud job (well mud job in a shower because Chris did one on our porch for the bricks and he's helped a tile contractor on a couple), I think we did a pretty damn good job, pregnant belly and all.