Choosing the right shower stall isn’t as easy as you might be imagining it to be, as the options are too many. It’s just like walking into car dealer shop, there’s a bit of everything and you wouldn’t mind owning several cars there, not just one! But, life isn’t so easy and we have to make choices.
There are few things you can do here. First, you could get rid of your old system totally or you may be able to carry on with the existing structure and thus bring down the cost of the project. You may have some specific requirements to be incorporated in its design. You have to find out which base and wall combination will best work for you. Then, you have to decide if it’s gong to have a door or not. The choices and requirements are too many.
Here are seven simple steps to help you select the most suitable unit.
Step 1 – At the outset you have to assess the status of your present shower stall. Find out how sound is its base and the walls. Check the area around the base to find if there have been leakages or if the pan is getting rusted. That’s not difficult because rust is a tell-tale sign, meaning if you find any rust in the said area, the most likely cause is leakage. Next, check the walls minutely to see if tile grout joints are flaking out or if there is any spongy area on the walls. That’s a sure indication that the walls have absorbed water and some part of the structure at their back needs repairs.
If the walls and base are in good condition you may consider using acrylic walls or solid surface surrounds over the existing tile walls.
Step 2 – Assess if you require any special accessories, keeping in mind the short term and long term functioning of the bathtub. Consider the worthiness of having a barrier free access for accommodating wheelchair in the near future. Explore the possibility of including a shower seat, grab bar, corner caddy or shampoo niche for improved functioning of shower stall. While designing, keep the future in mind.
Step 3 – Choose a tub base – The base or pan is the foundation of your project. You get bases in standard or custom sizes. Naturally, standard sizes are more economical. Common sizes are available for most of the different base materials like acrylic, fiberglass, and expanded polystyrene. Popular sizes are 60 x 32, 60 x 30, 48 x 48 and 36 x 36.
Fiberglass bases are the least expensive but their downside is they tend to turn yellowish or develop cracks in the long run. For a more customized look opt for solid surface products like cultured marble, Corian, or Swanstone or consider using an expanded polystyrene base that can easily be finished with tile. The solid surface bases are undoubtedly the most expensive but they have no seams, making them last longer. The expanded polystyrene bases are getting popularity as they prove to be cost-effective and are 100% waterproof at the same time.
Step 4 – Decide on the best wall surrounds for the plumbing and shampoo niche walls. Factors that you need to keep in mind include price, style and durability. Here are some of the popular options:
Acrylic walls – They work out to be quite affordable for a remodeling project provided the existing tile walls are structurally sound. Using them over the present walls makes a very viable proposition and you can have them with the looks of stone or tile.
Fiberglass walls – Fiberglass walls are the most economical and available in standard sizes. Moreover, their installation makes an easy DIY project, bur they are not as long lasting as their counterparts in different materials.
Tile walls placed over a masonry backer board or waterproof extruded polystyrene system – There have been lots of developments of this product over the years with improved technologies for grouting, which you would certainly find much enhanced than what they were a couple of years ago. Tiles are available in a very wide variety of designs and prices too. The only limitation is their installation that needs a lot of time. However, if you can do it on your own, it becomes a very economical proposition.
Solid surface shower walls – These are very durable walls that remain free of mold or mildew and there are no grout joints to cause worry. You can simply glue them or even install them over existing surfaces with butyl tape. These are available in many decorative designs and textures.
Step 5 – Settle on the shape of the walls you would like have inside the bathroom. If it happens you have some space in a corner of the room it would be worth considering having an angled or rectangular designed wall(s). A curved wall design facilitates cleaning if you decide to do away with the door. A wall slightly bowed or angled to the inside helps serve to prevent water from going outside the enclosure.
Step 6 – Make out the type of wall you would like to have. Once again consider the three factors comprising of price, function and style while deciding on the inside walls. Here are a few more popular options:
Straight Framed glass walls – Usually made from thinner variety of glass, these are framed using different metals. The main benefit is that their initial cost is very low but these are flimsier and it’s cumbersome to clean them around the frames.
Straight Unframed glass walls – Thicker glass is used in their case and there is no frame either, like you would have noticed in better hotel rooms. You get them in many designs and patterns. They surely have better looks but are quite expensive.
Rounded or Straight Tiled Walls – These walls work out to be more expensive than framed glass variety but give a more uniform indoors appearance. The main drawback is that they don’t allow the light to pass thru the showering area, thus giving the stall a darker look.
Rounded or Straight Glass Block Wall – For rounded designs glass blocks offer a strong installation with a cost effective design. These days the blocks are available in colored, etched and obscure designs and patterns. The limitation with them is that they give a very fashionable appearance that may not go too well for certain interior designs.
Rounded tempered and bent glass – These walls give a very fresh look and are typically made from a thicker glass to achieve stability but are the most expensive style of interior glass wall.
Step 7 – You need to decide whether to have a door or do away with it. The present trend is certainly for the door-less design, but you have to find out if there is enough space to go without the door. Generally, it’s more difficult to go without doors in case of square or angled corner showers. You can have walk-in cubicle in as small an area as 60 x 34 with a very interesting single rounded wall glass block shower design that can really transform a tub area into a comfortable, enjoyable place.
These seven steps could help you deciding an appropriate shower stall or enclosure, should you decide to undertake a renovation project. But, if you don’t get encouraged or aren’t too sure of undertaking the planning of this project, it’s best to get in touch with a professional for guidance.