In addition to the other features, the chicken wire gets formed around the plumbing fixtures too. Once the mortar is floated, it will be a superior water barrier to anything that could be done with concrete backer board. There's not point in trying to save money on these things because the lifetime of your shower stall will be much shorter.

Even if you're just remodeling to update the home for sale, don't skimp in this area - it's not a nice thing to do to the buyers, and you'll have nothing to complain about when someone does it to you.

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Chicken wire plumbing