Apr 092012

The term “shower insert” can refer to two different things. The first being a kit to construct a complete shower. The second refers to panels or parts that can cover or replace sections of your existing shower. These types of shower inserts are also referred to as shower surrounds.

For information on full walk in shower kits, please see: Walk In Shower Kits. However, if you are looking for additional information on panels or shower parts, then read on.

Why choose a shower insert?

There are companies that specialize in redoing your bath area by providing a one piece cover. However, you can also do this yourself to save some money. Inserts typically cost a few hundred dollars, compared to a few thousand dollars needed for a gut and redo.

Second, shower inserts are much easier to install than other shower options. Since they are generally in one piece, they don’t require fitting edges and parts together. They can usually be installed in one day, a significant time savings as well. This ease of installation means they can be installed by a do-it-yourself-er. Or, if installed by a professional along with other bathroom upgrades, they save a lot labor, resulting in a better bottom line.

Third, shower inserts can be a great alternative to completely removing an existing shower and installing new. As long as your existing shower is sound – no mold, mildew or leaks, a shower insert can be a great option to improve the look of your shower.

Fourth, a shower insert is to save money when replacing only part of your shower. For instance, if you discover that one wall of your shower has a leak, you can remove that side wall, rebuild it and then install a shower insert to cover the whole shower at one. The caveat to this application is that you have to be sure the other walls, and floor of your shower are sound and the leak is confined to one area.

Finally, a good use for a shower insert is to create a new shower in an old space. If you are remodeling your bathroom and you have open space, and want to build a walk in shower you have a few options. You could build a shower from scratch, with glass blocks, plate glass, or other designs. Another option to add a shower is to install a full walk in shower kit.

shower inserts
On the other hand, if you already have a basic layout and structure to your bathroom that you like, but the look needs updating, a shower insert could be the way to go. In this case, instead of installing a one piece cover for the existing shower, you could replace just the walls or the floor. Or, if you are removing tile, or an old insert, instead of rebuilding with tile, you could put in a new insert. This can be especially helpful when you have a corner shower, as corner shower inserts give a crisp edge in the corner, without the hassle of lining up tile, or cutting tiles to fit the space.

Disadvantages of shower inserts?

The main disadvantage of shower inserts is that, generally, they don’t look as fancy as tiled showers. Of course, the more money you spend, the better they will look. Fiberglass shower inserts are the most common type available. Many people think these solid surface shower surrounds look cheap. However, they certainly don’t have to. The trick is in the installation and the surrounding bathroom. I saw a home improvement show where they installed one and the resulting bathroom was very nice; the homeowners said that bathroom was now better looking than the other bathrooms in their house.

Another way to prettify your shower insert is to add tile to the walls. Some companies sell them with tile already installed, such as a premade onyx shower surround. For others you can add your own tile.

Another disadvantage to an insert can be if the shower or walls in back of the insert aren’t sound. If there is a leak, or mold, an insert can cover this up and even worsen the problem by preventing ventilation behind the insert. Again, this disadvantage can also be overcome by careful examination of the existing shower. It might even be worth it to call in a professional to take a look and assure you that the existing tile work is waterproof.

Finally, a disadvantage of a shower insert can be their size and weight. The larger the insert, the heavier it will be. While it shouldn’t be a problem for a do-it-yourself-er to install, it’s not a one person job. You will need help maneuvering the insert and fixing it into place.

But, who wants to slave away on a renovation by themselves anyway? Just keep in mind that it will take someone, or several someones, with some strength to help you get the insert into the bathroom, even though you may only need one additional person for the wall attachment portion.

If you now think that a shower insert is the right choice for you, you’ll want to go shopping. Your local home improvement store should have several options. And, maybe even more importantly, they should have knowledgeable staff who can answer your questions about installation and particulars on your bathroom renovation.

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