Get a Shower With Curbless Appeal
If you are getting ready for a bathroom renovation, think about incorporating a curbless shower into your plans. Curbless showers are designed just as the name implies. You simply walk in. There is no need to step over the edge of a bathtub or shower threshold. Curbless showers are also known as zero-entry, damless, and other names. If it is ADA compliant, it can be called “barrier free.” In this article, you will discover why people choose this type of shower installation. We will also explore special design considerations.
Why Choose a Curbless Shower?
People who love wide open spaces and have great design tastes love curbless shower installations. Others choose them for more practical reasons. Here are the details.
1. Wide Open Space
Psychological studies show that efficiently organized, open spaces help people. They reduce anxiety and promote positive feelings.
2. Showcase Your Style
Do you prefer modern, minimalist bathroom designs? Curbless showers are trending. If minimalism isn’t your thing, no worries. A wide variety of ceramic tile colors, textures, and shapes are available on the market these days. Your shower can showcase your unique creative style. You just need to select the material you love. An experienced installer with great design and layout skills can bring your dream into reality.
3. Unveiled Focal Point
Walls and shower curtains are visual barriers. When these barriers are removed, your curbless shower becomes a focal point in your bathroom. NOTE: Your installer must waterproof an area much larger than the shower pan. This requires adequate space.
4. Visual Continuity
Curbless showers are ideal for creating a sense of continuity in the appearance of your bathroom. Plus, if you choose to extend your shower floor design throughout the rest of the bathroom, it will make the room appear larger.
5. Increase Home Value
A curbless shower is an investment that can add value to your home. Consider replacing a tub you rarely use with a this type of shower.
6. Ease of Entry and Safety
People enjoy the ease of entry that curbless showers provide. This is especially true of people with physical disabilities or limitations. Safety features like bench seats and railings can easily be added.
7. Simplified Cleaning
Mold and mildew love moist, humid environments. With certain curbless shower configurations, there is better air flow. This aids in evaporation. With less humidity, the risk of mold and mildew buildup is reduced. (You will still want to run your exhaust fan or open a window.)
Soap scum and other organic substances tend to build up in certain areas. For example, tub sides and shower thresholds usually get grungy before other areas. With curbless showers, there are fewer corners to clean.
QUICK CLEANING TIPS: We recommend using a squeegee after showering. Some of our clients even towel dry their showers after use. Clean your shower regularly. Use a pH-neutral cleaner. Check the product label to make sure it is specifically formulated for stone, tile, and grout.
Special Design Considerations
The goal of a reputable installer is to provide a curbless shower you will love. This will require some discussion about your needs. The installer should explain how they intend to find solutions to any potential problems. They should unpack these ideas with you before bidding on the project and creating your tile layout. Let’s explore these special design considerations.
No Need to Go Overboard
If you are renovating in hopes of selling your home, there is something you should keep in mind before you get rid of all the tubs. A family with small children may want to buy your home but change their minds when they learn there is no bathtub. For homes with only one full bathroom, keeping shower/tub combo may be best. Of course, you could always add a second bathroom.
If you have multiple bathrooms with bathtubs, you may opt to replace the tub in a guest bathroom with a shower-only unit. Keep in mind that some people feel master bathroom tubs are important for resale purposes.
If you have a very large bathroom or want to create a large bathroom using square footage from an adjacent room, your curbless shower can be sizable. When significant structural changes are necessary, it might be best to consult with an architect and a general contractor.
For an extra small bathroom, a small walk-in shower to replace the tub may be the right choice because it can provide a few additional square feet of space. This may not seem like much, but it can make a difference in a small bathroom.
Accessibility Requirements / ADA Compliance
In new construction, you can plan in advance, so curbless showers should not present any challenges. Remodeling projects are another story, especially when it comes to installing an ADA-compliant curbless shower. Barriers may need to be eliminated so a wheelchair can easily move from the doorway to the shower. Structural changes may be necessary. Again, your installer may want to use space from an adjacent room with the help of an architect and a general contractor.
As you have probably noticed, shower curtain liners tend to get funky. They collect water and soap scum that encourage the growth of mildew and mold. Glass shower doors are a better option. With proper cleaning the glass will not become clouded by mineral deposits and contaminants. If adequate space is available, a curbless shower can get rid of these barriers.
Adam Copher, owner of Copher Tile & Stone, explains,
While in some cases we can omit the glass partition, most of the time it is a good idea to have one. Not having a glass partition would depend on many factors. How big of an area slopes towards the drain? How close are vanities or cabinets to the shower? How close are floor penetrations from toilets or freestanding tubs? How close is the bathroom door to the shower? This list goes on.
Most of the time a partition of either glass or a tiled wall should be utilized to control the water that splashes around while using the shower. People also need to consider that they will not be able to use a bath mat in front of a swinging glass door.
Here are a few things that can help keep water where it belongs:
- Slope the shower floor away from the entrance.
- Use a rain showerhead fixture.
- Curved shower walls can help guide the water to the drain.
- Add or relocate drain(s) to control water flow.
- Relocate fixtures.
- Reduce the number of shower heads if there is more than one.
- Make structural changes.
Ideally, there will be enough space in the bathroom to waterproof an area much larger than the shower pan. If so, a shower curtain or a door may not be needed. However, if there is not enough space one or more of the above-mentioned steps will be necessary to eliminate the need for a partition.
A Little Pampering Never Hurts
If money is no object and luxury is your goal, we have a suggestion that will knock your socks off. Literally. Radiant heat can be installed under a bathroom floor. Who doesn’t love going barefoot in the middle of winter? You can even go as far as adding radiant heat in the shower – both bench and flooring. This feature costs more, but the comfort level, energy savings, and your home’s higher resale value will be worth it in the long run. There are two options for radiant heating in bathrooms – electric and hydronic. Go on. Live a little.
What to Expect with a Copher Tile & Stone Curbless Shower Installation
We always apply a layer of water-tight material or apply a paint-on waterproof membrane to the surface directly below the tile. We use high quality materials made by the most trusted brands in the tile installation industry, such as Schluter®-KERDI, HYDRO BAN® by LATICRETE®, and other products from time-tested brands. We also use shower drains that are specifically designed to work with these waterproof membranes. These products, properly installed by our highly-trained technicians, keep moisture and vapor from causing problems and prevent leaks.
Do you have old-style plumbing? We can still create a waterproof barrier. There are a series of processes and parts we can use (called the divot method) that work like a charm.
NOTE: Beware of tile installers in San Luis Obispo County who build curbless showers with a PVC or Chloroloy shower pan liner. These are not approved materials and methods. Your shower may cost less, but in the long run it could end up costing a lot more if/when it leaks and the entire installation has to be demolished and reinstalled.
Copher Tile & Stone proudly stays up to date on shower installation technologies with ongoing education with Mapei Technical Institute, Ardex Academy, the National Tile Contractors Association, Laticrete, and Schluter. Copher is a Certified Tile Installer (#1644).
Revised by Alice Dean.