Important Considerations Before Purchasing Your New Shower

Written by bprescottFebruary 6, 2012
A shower with multiple settings

Standing Room Only: Selecting a Shower Unit

Today's showers range from basic shower enclosures to custom-designed systems that stand alone as the centerpiece of a bathroom. You can see examples of some of these not-so-ordinary showers in the color insert. The custom units are best installed by a bathroom design firm and their fabricators, because they’re familiar with installing those systems. 

The two things that determine the size and shape of a shower unit are the floor space where it will be installed and the features you want it to perform. In a large master bathroom suite, you may have plenty of room for a separate shower and bathtub, but in a small guest bathroom, a corner unit, called a neo-angle unit, may be the only thing that will fit. 

Most manufacturers have the size and specifications for their shower units on their Web sites, so the Internet is a good starting point. But to test-drive a shower unit, go to a bathroom design showroom or home center where you can walk in, move around in, and actually see how you fit in the space. Another option is to check out the showers when you spend the night with friends or relatives. If they have a shower you like, step inside to see if it feels right and then measure its size to see whether it will fit in your new bathroom. The more opportunities you have to test-fit a shower, the more likely you'll choose a style and size you'll enjoy for years to come. Try them on for size, but no singing in the shower.

Shower surrounds and enclosures

The most typical units are made of fiberglass and acrylic and come in one, three, or four pieces made up of wall surrounds, some of which include a receptor or floor pan that you stand on. The multipiece designs let one person bring the unit into a house in sections, so it's handy for a do-it-yourselfer to maneuver through the rooms. These units are installed in place, and then the joints are sealed with caulk. Some shower units have wall components with a tongue-and-groove interlocking system that eliminates the need for caulk.

The advantage of a one-piece unit is there are no joints- translated: no caulking required- so there are no openings where mold can grow. However, getting a large one-piecer inside a house requires a wide access or an open wall or window, so it isn’t the unit of choice to transport into a tight space or up a narrow stairway.

You can use one of these enclosures as a stand-alone shower in a wall recess or as a free-standing unit. When a tub and shower are both included in a bathroom design, the shower and bathtub often are back to back to take advantage of running the plumbing lines next to each other.

Glass block systems

For years, glass block has been used in bathroom windows to provide privacy because it distorts light shining through it. Today, glass block and acrylic block provide a stylish and symmetrical appearance as shower walls, creating a new high-tech look and appeal. The transparent quality of glass block makes it a good choice for transforming a dark bathroom into one with lightness and visual interest. You can use glass block as part of a custom shower wall treatment framed in wood or choose a block system designed for do-it-yourselfers to create walk-in, rounded wall, and classic style showers.

Acrylic block looks just like the original glass block, but it’s much lighter. In some cases, this may be an important factor to consider if you’re planning a bath-remodeling project for the second floor. In any case, both glass and acrylic block are available in kits and prefabricated modules to fit just about any project.

 

From ‘Bathroom Remodeling For Dummies’
Copyright © 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

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