There are so many shower enclosure shapes and sizes the choice can be bewildering. But which is best?
There is no easy answer to this question as there are lots and lots of variables to take into consideration.
Available space, the shape of the space, the plumbing, the budget, the “look”, the room size. All of these factors will play a part in determining which design is best for you.
So let us start by looking at the main shower enclosure designs.
These are the most common design and are available in a whole host of size combinations. The smallest size commonly available is 700mm x 700mm. This will be a very restrictive space to use in practice. We would recommend that you stand inside one of these cubicles before making your choice. Larger users will struggle to move around enough in such a tight space.
There are rectangular designs available that can keep one side at 700mm and then use a larger dimension for the other wall.
The 700 size is sometimes critical. It is the same width as a standard bath so this can often be the maximum size allowed in one particular direction if replacing a bath with a shower.
A standard bath is 1700 x 700mm so there are showers available that fit directly into this floor space. If you are thinking of swapping a bath for a shower read our guide here to make sure you are making the right decision.
The example shown in this photo is by Merlyn Showering
Although less common, there are still many houses that have showers built into a three-sided opening to create an alcove effect. This could be a consequence of the shape of the room. There may be a ready made alcove or it could be a conscious design choice.
The three walls will need to be tiled or fitted with shower wall panels. A glass door or curtain or shower curtain is used to keep the shower spray inside the shower. The shower tray needs to fit snugly against the walls with no gaps. If there is a gap it is best to bring the wall out rather than creating a horizontal tiled area to cover the gap. These tend to always cause problems long term.
Alcove showers are a great idea where there is plenty of space to play with. But in smaller bathrooms the extra wall can take up valuable space. And it can make the overall space available inside the cubicle less than it would be with a corner unit.
Most alcove showers will allow for a bit more freedom when it comes to design. So niches can be built into the walls, glass blocks employed to provide visual interest, pipework can be buried. Make sure you take lighting into consideration. They can be quite dark areas if there is no light directly overhead. Remember there are different regulations for lights above showers.
Quadrant shower used to be the sole preserve of the up-market brands but they are now available in all sectors. They are an eye catching design by default. So it is no wonder they have taken off the way that thy have and are now an extremely popular choice.
They have always been the go-to option for bathroom designers who like the fact that the lines curve away from your line of sight. This is perfect when working in smaller rooms. The lack of a hard corner also enhances this effect. Although there is a small reduction in showering area compared to a square or rectangular model this is pretty minimal.
Frame-less designs are now available that really help enhance the feeling of openness. With no hard edges you can see right through to the physical corner of the room enhancing the feeling of spaciousness – as can be seen another model from Merlyn Showering.
Most showers of this type use a sliding system for the door opening but there are some hinged models. Take this into consideration if you have items installed near to the cubicle (such as a wash hand basin) that could hamper the door opening fully.
As has been mentioned previously some shower enclosure shapes and sizes work better than others in small rooms. Quadrant are ideal in more restricted spaces.
Frame-less designs will always give a greater impression of space than a framed cubicle. Lowering the shower tray or making it flush with the rest of the floor will also enhance the feeling of space but this is not always possible and will depend your floor structure and drainage options.
The majority of bathrooms (especially in the UK) are simply not big enough for both a shower or a bath. So if you are thinking of doing away with your bath then go for the biggest cubicle you think the room will take. You will never complain that an enclosure is too big but you will certainly regret installing a shower that is too small.
If you do end up fitting a large cubicle remember to take other bathroom fitting into account when finalising your design – and make a careful note of how and where the shower doors open.
The most common material used for shower walls is tiles but there are now more modern materials that out-perform them.
Shower wall panels have reduced in price dramatically over the last few years. There are designs available now that work out as cheap as some tiles. And when you consider that there is virtually no preparation required they can even prove to be cheaper than tiles.
But it is their easy-to-live-with qualities that make them such a winner. They use no grout and so there is nothing to turn mouldy – just a smooth, wipe-over surface.