Leak-free shower cubicles can be achieved in several ways.
Leaks can cause serious damage to a property. If left for a period of time it can lead to rot and a whole lot of expense. So it’s best to jump on the problem as soon as you become aware of it. See our guide on finding and fixing leaks in showers here. Tell tale signs will include water on the floor of the bathroom or stained ceilings in rooms below the shower.
But it is obviously better to never have leaks in the first place. So how do you achieve a leak-free shower? There are 3 approaches:
- Install a standard cubicle correctly
- Select a cubicle that incorporates additional protection against leaks
- Fit a leak-free shower pod
We will look at each it turn to see which is the best option.
Installing A Standard Shower Correctly
Most fitters already do this. But not all. And fitting upstairs on a wooden floor is always a challenge.
A standard shower will consist of a shower tray, a shower enclosure and a tiled wall.
The tray needs to be installed first. This is the most vital part of the installation. If you fit the tiles first you will be installing the tray against a decorative surface not a structural surface. The grout line is a possible source of water seeming down behind the tray so never fit this way.
Shower trays need to be absolutely rock solid once in place. There can be no movement at all even when someone is standing on it. Movement of the shower tray is the number one cause of leaks.
The next task would usually be installing the tiles. They can be installed after the enclosure but this is mot the best option.
Make sure the tiles are attached to the correct surface. Do not fit to wooden surfaces such as plywood. Wood and tiles expand at different rates. The tiles will work lose and the grout will crack. Use tile backer boards or waterproof plasterboard (sheetrock) .
Once the tiles are fitted they need to be grouted. Choose your grout carefully because there are many grouts that are not even waterproof. Try to source a flexible grout as this well be less likely to develop cracks. Follow the instructions carefully. It might well recommend that you use a grout sealer for extra waterproofing protection.
Badly specified or badly applied grout is the second most common cause of leaks in showers. And even if it doesn’t leak, poor quality grout will turn black with mould.
Fit The Enclosure
This is straightforward enough.
But pay particular attention to the directions for applying silicone sealant. Some designs need drainage channels left open. Water can build up inside the frame if these are sealed over. You can end up with leaks in very unexpected places if this happens. These are usually located on the bottom of frames on the horizontal section. If this is the case you can seal the outside of the frame but not the inside.
Products That Help Prevent Leaks
As mentioned previously, the two main causes of leaks are movement of the tray and poor grouting.
When a tray moves it can pull away the seal between itself and the wall/tiles. Most leaks occur at this position when the tray joins the wall.
Shower Trays With Upstands
There are shower trays on the market that are made with upstands. These are thin fillets of shower material that protrude upward from the back of the tray. The fillets are thin enough to go up behind the tiles. This means that if the tray drops slightly in use, and a small gap appears between the tray surface and the tiles, water cannot get past the fillet. This is a very effective design that prevents a lot of problems.
Shower Wall Panels
Even if your tray has upstands small amounts of movement can still damage the tiles or grout. So one extra precaution you can take is to fit shower wall panels. These are fitted instead of tiles.
Shower wall panel are 100% waterproof and will not crack. They are available in a wide variety of designs including many that look just like tiles. See our tile effect panel page for more details.
Combining these two products should effectively remove the two most common causes of leaking showers.
Leak-Free Shower Pods
Leak-free shower pods take waterproofing to the next level.
They are a moulded unit that can be made as one large piece or be made from several sectional components. The walls and tray are all part of the pod so there is no need for separate tiles or panels.
Single moulded shower pods have to be quite small because they need to be moved through the home to get them into place.
Sectional shower pods will made up of several component parts. The tray and lower part of the wall are made as one piece. This eliminates the main cause of leaks completely.
Shower pods cost more than a standard shower cubicle but they are quick to install. By eliminating any plastering and tiling they could even work out cheaper.
Leak-Free Shower Cubicles – Perfect For Commercial Use
Landlords and house builders are slowly coming around to the realisation that installing a standard shower cubicle is a liability in the long run.
Far too high a proportion of tiled cubicles result in leaks. The combination of shower cubicle and tiles has its limitations when installed in a modern house with wooden joists and floorboards. Trying to eliminate movement of the tray is very hard in these situations.
So leak-free shower cubicles are rapidly growing in popularity in this sector as they are a “fit and forget solution”.
The initial cost may seem a lot higher than a standard shower cubicle. But, as we have previously mentioned, by the time you add in separate visits for plastering, tiling, grouting and polishing, and the fact that there will be no call-backs, they start to look very attractive.