3 Design Options for Today’s Walk-in Showers
If you’re planning to remodel a bathroom in the near future, consider installing a walk-in shower. Whirlpool tubs seem to have lost their appeal over the past decade but walk-in showers or “wet rooms” are in demand.
Walk-in showers are safer than tubs because you don’t have to step over the side of a tub, which is typically 16 inches high or more. They can be installed in virtually any existing bathroom and they don’t take up space like built-in spa tubs do.
The design of your shower will depend on the space of your bathroom. There are three options to consider:
Prefabricated shower stalls.
Prefabricated shower stalls are made of fiberglass finished with acrylic or polyester gel coat. They come in a variety of shapes and colors. Most are square or rectangular with an open side for a door or curtain. There are also corner units.
You can find prefabricated units with low or no threshold, which is important for individuals who are wheelchair bound or have impaired mobility. Other features you can purchase include a shower bench, soap dishes and storage shelves, grab bars and offset controls placed away from the water stream to minimize the risk of scalding.
Prefab shower stalls come in several modes of assembly. One-piece units are large and sometimes difficult to get into a room. There are two or three piece units that make the logistics of moving the unit easier.
Some units may contain a shower pan while others may require a separate pan. You will need to purchase doors separately.
Prefabricated shower pans fitted with a separate surround.
Prefabricated shower pans are available in a range of materials from stone to acrylic. Prefab pans can be combined with prefabricated shower stalls, solid surface material or tiled stalls. Some homeowners are using acrylic prefab shower pans with materials like tile because of the durability of acrylic, and it is seamless and will not crack like tile.
Prefabricated shower stalls and pans come in standard sizes, which may or may not be the best fit for your bathroom. Custom stalls offer more design options and you can find a wider range of materials such as tempered glass, marble, solid surface, custom tiles and granite.
You can design your bathroom to minimize maintenance. Some custom walk-in showers have no glass doors to clean. If you presently have a shower with a glass door, particularly one with sliding doors, you will appreciate this feature. Soap scum builds up on glass doors and settles into the metal frames, especially along the base, and is difficult to clean. Mildew also occurs in an enclosed shower so frequent cleaning is essential. This is one job most homeowners despise. Walk-in showers without doors solve this problem but require custom design.
If you’re considering a custom bathroom, you will want to talk with a remodeling professional and a certified kitchen and bath designer to discuss your ideas. They will give you the best advice about installing your shower and other fixtures and bring your plans to life.
Do you prefer a shower stall or bathtub? Why?
"Kitchens & Bath 1-2-3 Your Blueprint for a Perfect Kitchen or Bath," Meredith Books. Available at The Home Depot.
Better Homes and Garden Decorating Gallery “Bathrooms”