What Is A Shower Tray Upstand? (And Do You Need One?)

Were you talking with your contractor regarding your bathroom renovation, and they asked if you want a shower tray with an upstand? Maybe they said today they will install the tray upstand. What does that mean?

An upstand is a hidden yet important part of your walk-in shower enclosure. It can be the difference between a bathroom with that persistent mouldy smell and one that lasts until it is time for a new renovation.

In this post, I’ll explain what a shower tray upstand is and its advantages as well as answer some common questions about the topic.

Let me explain more.

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What Is A Shower Tray Upstand?

An upstand can be an integrated part of your shower tray or sold as a separate piece. An upstand is a vertical lip that runs from the edge of a shower tray up the wall by about 20-30mm. It provides a seamless transition between the shower enclosure and the tile designed to prevent water from getting behind the tile and the shower tray.

Typically the upstand and shower tray are attached to studs when the wallboard is cut away or directly to the cement board. The tiles are then installed over the upstand. A silicon seal at the bottom provides a final waterproof seal for the shower enclosure.

Shower trays can be sold with an upstand included on all four sides, three sides, or just two sides. Some trays that come with four upstands are used so that a framed door sits within the top of the tray to prevent any leaks.

If your chosen shower tray has no upstand, you can add one using a flexible upstand kit. If your tray comes with an upstand on all four sides, it may create an installation challenge when adding a shower door. Always check installation guidelines for hardware before buying your shower tray.

Tiling down over shower tray upstand
Tiling down over shower tray upstand

Do I Need A Shower Tray Upstand?

While the upstand is not a required part of a shower tray, it is a smart upgrade for almost any shower installation.

If you installed a tray without an upstand and tiled right down to the edge and apply a good seal, you will have a watertight seal until that seal fails, which can be sooner than you think. According to Classi, 90% of water leaks happen at the ledge between the shower tray and the wall.

Even a small crack can allow water to get behind and under the shower, causing water damage to the wallboard, wood structure, and even your floor. Installing an upstand can withstand a small amount of water getting through a damaged seal and prevents it from causing any further hidden damage to your home.

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Advantages Of A Shower Tray Upstand?

A shower tray upstand is good for:

  • Preventing hidden water damage in your bathroom
  • Prevents hidden mould growth in your walls
  • Creating a better watertight seal behind the base of your tiling and the wall

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Parts Of A Shower Tray

Shower trays can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes. Your basic shower tray features the shallow tub where you stand, an integrated floor drain, and a raised lip around the edge designed to redirect water back into the tray and down the drain.

Your shower tray may also have an upstand. It could also have a riser kit where the shower tray is lifted off the floor with legs to allow for drain pipes to be hidden when installing a shower on a concrete floor.

Types Of Shower Trays

The most common shower tray is one moulded out of acrylic or resin. They are lightweight, easy to install, and incredibly durable. They are also the most budget-friendly.

You can also find shower trays made out of solid manmade materials designed to look like natural stone. However, these will not discolour over time. You can also install a custom shower crafted out of natural stone. But expect to spend some serious bucks on the tray, plumbing, and installation.

Many types of shower trays are available with or without an upstand. The price for a shower tray with an integrated upstand is comparable to one without when you also buy a separate upstand kit. 

What Is A Flexible Shower Tray Upstand?

A flexible shower tray upstand refers to products like Aquastrap or Classi Seal that provide an affordable and easy option to add an upstand to any shower tray. It uses a roll of multi-layer adhesive strip to create a watertight bond between the shower tray and the wall surface.

You don’t need any extra tools to install a flexible upstand, just a pair of scissors and your hands. Once you have your shower tray and flexible upstand attached to the drain and the wall, you are ready to tile as usual. A flexible shower tray upstand kit will cost around £40.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it. Everything you need to know about shower tray upstands. A small and simple little piece of kit but one that can save you a lot of hassle down the line.

So the next time you’re out bathroom shopping you’ll know what to look for. Or when your builder/plumber is talking about them on-site you’ll actually know what they’re on about.


Michael R

Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.