All you need to know to have the perfect walk-in shower 

All you need to know to have the perfect walk-in shower 

The sky’s the limit if you are looking to redecorate or remodel your home. If you think you have seen the best, new creative ideas can still emerge.

These newer and better ideas have more value for anyone who has a constraint of space and budgets. There was a time when smaller homes and smaller budgets meant boring or stereotyped décor. Those days are long gone. Innovative ideas, new affordable material, and space and money-saving designs have transformed smaller places into “wow” spaces.

Optimizing space in a bathroom is a science and an art

If you love to have a shower and a bathtub is not your thing, it does not matter if you own a small space or a large mansion; you can create a bathroom that is modern, classy, and perfectly functional. It is in the design, you see.

The most innovative designs can make confined spaces look spacious and make you think, “Is that my small room I just saw?” One such tool that can add functionality, elegance, and modernity to a bathroom is a walk-in shower.

What are walk-in showers?

Walk-in showers, to put it simply, are open shower enclosures without tubs, doors, curb, or curtains. They are designed to create the concept of optimum space in the bathrooms. The most popular walk-in showers are pre-fabricated with kits that contain three walls and a base shower pan. The shower area is enclosed on three sides, either by glass, fiberglass, or tiles. They separate the shower area from the rest of the bathroom. Not all prefer a bathtub, and they have it removed to create some leg space in the bathrooms. If someone wants to retain their tub but wants the bathroom to remain dry, they can choose to separate the shower and tub areas using a walk-in shower. You can choose to use a glass door or cover the unit with curtains so that water does not splash over to the dry areas.

Points to consider when you install doorless walk-in showers

You can install a doorless walk-in shower in the corner of the bathroom after removing the bathtub. Because there are no doors, the floors have to be designed in a way that water does not splash or flow to the other areas of the bathroom. That is why it is important to perfectly design and install a doorless walk-in shower. A botched installation can result in water flowing to other areas. Choose the base pan carefully.

In a doorless walk-in shower, the shower base pan has to be sloped so that the water drains into the main drainage system. If you are building a customized walk-in shower or installing a prefabricated kit, it is recommended to use solid material like tiles with a sloped base.

Walls should be ceiling-high, or if you are planning half walls, it should be at least to the height of the showerhead so that water does not spray above the walls and form a puddle outside of the walk-in shower.

Many prefer doorless walk-in showers, as they are easy to maintain. There is certainly no risk of falling or tripping as there is no threshold to cross over to enter the bathroom.

Walk-in showers with doors

Doorless showers, though, create an aura of space; not everyone is comfortable with the perception of lack of privacy despite the bathroom doors being locked. Doorless walk-in showers occupy more space and might not be ideal for very small spaces.

Doors for a walk-in shower

If you decide to have a door for your walk-in shower, ensure you choose the right one. They have to be watertight so that water does not splash out of the enclosure. The more commonly used types of doors that are ideally suited for a walk-in shower are:

  • Bypass shower doors
    These are typical sliding doors that operate with the help of rollers that are fixed to panels on the floor. They are ideal and popular for small walk-in showers, as one is not cramped for space when opening or closing the door.
  • Hinged doors
    This is like a regular door that opens in only one direction. The hinges are attached to the glass panel or the walk-in shower walls.
  • Pivot doors
    These too have hinges, but the doors can be opened and closed in both directions. These are ideal for walk-in showers that are slightly larger and have enough space for the door to swing both ways. Pivot hinges are also used in rounded and curved walk-in shower doors.

Advantages of a walk-in shower

One of the biggest advantages of a walk-in shower is it is easily accessible to everyone, without having to climb and risk falling into a tub. Walk-in showers dry quickly, eliminating the risk of falls and slips. You need not mop or wipe the water away after you bathe. Stagnant water can result in slips and falls if you step into it without noticing. Kids, too, can fall if they step on a puddle of water in the bathroom.

Walk-in showers are barrier-free and ideal for seniors and people with mobility issues. You can have grab handles fixed for additional safety. Since the doors are wide or can be customized, walk-in showers are ideal for those who use wheelchairs, and it can be fitted with accessible shower nozzles that they can reach easily. Because the design is simple and there is more glass, it is easier to maintain as compared to a bathroom with tiled walls on all four sides.

Disadvantages of a walk-in shower

Installing a doorless shower is expensive as compared to a bathtub. Installing a bathtub could cost between $1,200 to $3,000. Installation of walk-in showers can cost anything above $5,000. The walk-in shower needs approval from the local authorities, and they have the right to inspect it periodically. You cannot, therefore, make improvements or remodeling without prior permissions.

Walk-in showers and home value

Families with young children prefer a bathroom with tubs while seniors would prefer a walk-in shower. If you have one house and that has a walk-in shower, that could lower the value of your home during the appraisal. Whereas you have multiple bathrooms and you have walk-in showers in a couple only, it will not make a difference to the appraisal value.

Bathrooms are listed as full, half, and three quarters. A walk-in shower is listed as a three-quarter bath in any appraisal, slightly less than a full bathroom, which has a tub and a shower. If your walk-in shower has been built to ADA specifications and the material used is of good quality, it will add value at the time of sale.

Most popular walk-in shower design ideas

Glass-enclosed
This has a very modern look and gives the feeling that one is in a spa or an upmarket salon. Glass makes the bathroom look bright. Matching it with light color paint and the right décor enhances the ambiance of the bathroom. Glass-enclosed walk-in showers are more popular than other designs. Glass showers are ideal for small as well as large and spacious bathrooms. In large bathrooms, it marks boundaries between the shower and the rest of the bathroom. It gives a very modern look to the bathroom.

If you provide proper lighting in the bathroom with bright lights in the shower enclosure, it just transforms the bathroom into a beautiful and bright space.

  • Shower and steam walk-in enclosure
    If you have additional space and are planning to build or renovate your bathroom, add a bench inside the walk-in shower and have a steam shower unit installed too. It can have a window for cool air circulation and create a spa within your home unit.
  • Small walk-in showers
    Ideal for small spaces, walk-in showers with glass doors and a simple design will give a less cramped finish to the bathroom. You can use the rest of the bathroom space for storage and bathroom essentials.
  • Corner showers
    Ideal for small spaces, these make use of the unused corners, leaving the rest of the bathroom for storage, etc. You can have a corner walk-in shower with three tiled walls and one-glass doors.
  • Curved walk-in showers
    These are expensive and ideally suited for those who are planning on a big house.
  • Round walk-in showers
    They ooze luxury, especially if you have a larger bathroom. Round glass shower enclosures are not ideal for smaller bathrooms.

Using the styles and materials, bathroom designers have created multiple designs that can suit your tastes and budgets. Most brands customize to your preference, keeping in mind the minutest detail. Unless you are qualified technically and know the nuances of plumbing and tile lying, it is better not to engage in DIY projects for walk-in showers.

Materials suited for shower walls

Glass tiles can be translucent and add brightness, but they are expensive and at high risk of damage. Stone tiles give a very earthy look to the bathroom, but it takes time to install, can stain easily with constant exposure to water, and is expensive too. Ceramic is inexpensive, comes in larger squares, and is easy to maintain. Acrylic too is easy to install, and the material is cut into large pieces and has a glossy finish. It is resistant to mold and comes in various colors and options. Ceramic and acrylic are right now, the more popular options for shower walls.

Maintenance of walk-in shower

  • Turn on the exhaust fan before the bath to remove humidity.
  • Frequently clean the walls and flowers to remove soap and shampoo residue. If left unwashed, they can form dark and heavy stains on the walls and doors. It can also cause discoloration of your tiles and glass.
  • Provide for shower caddy in your bathroom supplies clean and dry. Wet bottles and tubes can aid the growth of mold and mildew in the bathroom.
  • Clean the shower enclosure once a week with mild chemicals, a stiff-bristled brush to remove tile and grout lines. Rinse off the chemical by cleaning once again with water.
  • Even if you are in a real hurry, always wipe the glass right after a bath. Keep some spare soft cloth handy in a storage cabinet so that the glass is clean.
  • Clean the grout lines twice a year or take the help of a professional who can seal the grout lines.

Top points to note for building a walk-in shower

The size of your bathroom will be the most important criteria that help you decide on the type of walk-in shower you can build. While it is important to have a professional build, the installation has many complex processes. It doesn’t really matter if you are ordering a prefabricated kit or renovating your old bathroom. Do not attempt anything on your own. You can work with professionals and choose the color scheme for the bathroom. Decide on how many sides you want glass panels fixed.

Depending on the size of the room, you can go in for any shape of enclosure – rectangle, square, or even a hexagon walk-in shower enclosure. If you have the luxury of space, you can opt for round or curved enclosures. There must be at least two ½ feet distance of space between the bathroom fixtures. Design the shower enclosure so that you have that much walking space between the enclosure and your commode.

Size of a walk-in shower

Three feet by three feet dimension is a decent size for a walk-in shower. This will also cater to the guidelines recommended by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the shower has to be wide enough for a roll-in shower chair, the dimensions have to be three feet by five feet in dimensions.

Cost of a walk-in shower

The two most important components of a walk-in shower are the size of the unit. The bigger the size, the higher the cost of waterproofing and tiling. The cost of the glass and finishing (marble or ceramic) is the second component adding to high costs.

Prefabricated walk-in shower units are available from $800 onwards. The cost will go up to $2,500 as the size increases. Installations cost will be between $750 to $2,500. If you are remodeling your old bathroom and building a new customized walk-in shower, the cost will be considerably higher than a prefabricated kit. Whereas a prefabricated kit will have a shower pan base and walls, you have to build your shower pan from concrete if you are customizing it. Plumbing, wall construction, sidewalls, cost of glass, etc., are quite high, and a customized walk-in shower could cost you anything between $6,500 to $15,000.

Accessories like showerheads, soap trays, and towel racks could increase the cost further.

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