Apr 132012

The term “tension shower caddy” refers to the design that has a long pole that stretches from ceiling to the edge of the tub, or the floor, depending on your shower. Then, the baskets that hold your shower items hang from the pole. Normally, there are 3 or 4 baskets fixed to the tension pole. Some models may come with more baskets and with additional hooks for a washcloth or shower sponge.

As implied by the name, this type of shower caddy uses a tension rod – the pole has a spring built inside it that pushes against the ceiling and floor/tub. The ends of the pole usually have a non skid piece for additional help holding it in place.

You may wonder why a tension shower caddy is preferable to the wall mounted or hanging designs. Below are the advantages:

  • The tension is very strong and and if installed carefully, these caddies can be the strongest models of all the shower caddy models.
  • Multiple baskets provide lots of space for all your shower items.
  • The baskets can be adjusted on the pole to accommodate toiletries of different shapes and sizes.
  • Many include additional hooks to hold a washcloth or shower sponge.
  • The baskets are usually made of wire, or plastic, with large drainage holes. Therefore, water is drained immediately which ensures durability of the material as well helping to prevent mold.

Zenith Products Pole Caddy, Chrome, 4-Shelf

  • Since most designs fit into the corner of the shower, it is one of the most space saving options. Although even larger designs that include two poles are shallow to take up minimal space.
  • A tension pole caddy can be assembled in just few minutes and needs no tools.
  • Leaves no permanent marks so they are great for renters or those who just want minimal hassle.
  • Most designs include an extra pole so that they can be used over a bathtub, or in a walk in shower
  • Several finishes, including white, gold, and stainless steel, to match any decor

As you can see, adding a corner shower caddy to your shower has many benefits. If you are interested in adding one to your bathroom, it pays to take a look around. Many have a very reasonable price, less than $25; however, some fancier models will be much more expensive. The price is based mainly on the size and material, not the basic design.

Apr 122012

You know how you go looking for one thing on the web and you totally end up somewhere else? That’s what happened to me. I found this cool video on Youtube of an LED faucet. Pretty neat, really.

And, then I saw this LED showerhead. Also pretty cool…

And…then, I think we go too far…although at least you won’t have to worry about whether the toilet seat is up in the middle of the night or not….

So, there you have it: the LED bathroom.

Apr 122012

Not only does a walk in shower in your bathroom make the bathroom look beautiful, but it can also add a definite note of relaxation. With a spa tub as well as a walk in shower you have the ultimate relaxation experience. However, a walk in shower by itself also adds to relaxation.

Many people want to remodel their bathrooms because they are tired of looking at them. They are plain and drab and they want something modern. If you are considering it then what you have doesn’t feel very good. Perhaps your bathroom is cramped or you are tired of it not being as useful as needed. Maybe the current layout doesn’t have room for a walk in shower, or there isn’t enough storage.

If you do remodel, imagine how good you will feel in your new space. You will feel relaxed and refreshed overall. With a new spa tub and a beautiful walk in shower you’ll be able to feel the muscle tension fade away after a stressful day at work or even just working around the yard.

Take a moment to imagine having a big bathroom with a large walk in shower. You may think that you don’t have the room, but what if you took out a walk in closet or an unused second bedroom? By knocking down a wall or two, you can transform your bathroom into the large, relaxing space you dream it can be.

A walk in shower can help you find a bit of inner peace. From including soothing colors to zen like teak benches in the shower, there are little touches you can add to increase your inner peace. If you like to meditate, creating a spa themed bathroom with an open design walk in shower will provide a wonderful place to relax and meditate.

A bench can be included in a steam room shower as place to rest while the steam opens your pores and helps relax your muscles. Some bathroom designs even incorporate a proper sauna as an extension of the walk in shower, or as part of an overall renovation.

Within the walk in shower, you have the opportunity to add multiple shower heads. Not just a fixed shower head and hand held one either. You can add a rain shower head that makes you feel like you are in a spring rain. You could also go with one of the higher end showers that include multiple jets from different sides. Many of these shower models include programmable functions from water temperature to direction of the jets and how many are going at one time.

Your bathroom is a place you go and use every day. It can also be a place where you go to relax. A walk in shower can go a long way to helping you get peace and relaxation in your bathroom.

For more tips check out: Designing Your Zen Bathroom by HGTV.com and Turning Bathroom Blahs into Luxury Spas from HGTVpro.com.

Master bathroom 1
Creative Commons License photo credit: by Lorena
Apr 112012

There are many reasons to remodel your bathroom. Adding luxury and raising the value of your home are certainly reasons. As is the need to customize your bathroom to fit your needs. From a practical standpoint, adding a walk in shower to your bathroom renovation presents lots of opportunities, since a walk in shower can be truly customized for a particular space or need.

When you are remodeling to add a walk in shower, you have the opportunity to redesign your whole bathroom in a way that flows better. If your bathroom is small and closed in, you can switch out the cabinets or the sink to open it up and provide more space to move around.

A walk in shower can be a simple cube to step into to clean off or an alternative to a full bathtub in a small bathroom. If you do have a cramped bathroom, you can open it up by installing the shower without a door. This makes it feel like a continuation of the rest of the bathroom and makes the whole space feel open. A vanity with a harsh corner can be traded out for a rounded sink that makes matches the freedom of the walk in shower by helping to make the bathroom look bigger.

Bath Design Guide (Better Homes & Gardens)
Walk in shower designs run the gamut from a simple stall with a glass door to a frame-less “wet room.” Glass blocks or stone walls provide a semi-framed solution while full panes of glass provide a fully framed solution.

The shower can be tucked into a corner of the bathroom or it can become a main focal point. But, just because you have a fully enclosed walk in shower with standard glass panels doesn’t mean that you have to go with a traditional shape. Even traditional construction can have a unique style. For example, sheets of glass can provide a reflective surface to bounce light around an interior bathroom without any natural light.

A great way to give the illusion of a larger bathroom is by including a full glass enclosed walk in shower with clean lines that contribute to a contemporary, minimalist feel. If it’s is designed to minimize the appearance of the seams and brackets, then faucets and other fixtures can stand out as show pieces on their own – making the shower look less like an enclosure and more like an open space.

Some designs, as mentioned above, are more a “wet room” than a shower. With this design, a portion of the room becomes the shower, the sides made of glass or glass block without a separate door, just an opening. A wet room can also describe a design where the end of the room is open to the rest of the bathroom without any divider. This may appeal to you if you like contemporary design or have a need for true openness in your bathroom.

Bathrooms have come a long way since the invention of indoor plumbing. At one time it was unusual to find a shower in a bathroom at all. Now it is pretty much standard to have a bath and shower combination. While a separate walk in shower may seem like a trendy new innovation, they not only evolve the bathroom, they also provide the option for a shower where you don’t also have room for a tub.

A walk in shower is a feature limited only by your imagination. While they offer a contemporary design and way to update an old bathroom, they also offers many benefits that can’t be ignored.

Apr 112012

Just about everyone knows what a walk in shower is, right? Walk in means not having to step up, or step over. A shower is water coming down upon you, instead of you being immersed in water (like in a bath). So a walk in shower is a shower where you don’t have to step up or step over. The typical shower/tub combo doesn’t count. Small glass cubes with plastic floors do count. They aren’t very stylish, certainly, but they still fit the definition.

But the term “walk in shower” can apply to so many designs, you might not even think they are a shower at first glance. Many of these designs are often referred to as a walk behind shower, because you “walk behind” to enter the shower. Whether behind a solid wall, a wall of glass block, or even through an arch – a walk behind walk in shower is one without a door. For example:

modern walk in shower 1. A design that consists of a single glass pane opposite the wall with the shower head and fixtures. The shower is far enough from other parts of the bathroom to avoid splashing water, yet close enough to make the shower feel like a part of the room, instead of a mini room off of the main bathroom.
modern walk in shower 2. A separate room. Imagine three walls of stone or granite tile, with a glass door at only one end. I even saw one picture of a walk in shower where the “door” was a stone arch. No glass to be seen.
modern walk in shower 3. The end of a bathroom where the only distinction between the walk in shower and the rest of the bathroom is a wall made of glass block. 
Bathroom with walk behind shower
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jesse Wagstaff
4. Picture this – you walk into a bathroom and you have a very normal set of dual sinks facing the door. Off to the side is a toilet and in the corner is a spa tub. Just as you start to wonder where the shower is, you realize that there is something behind the wall with the sinks. Walking closer and peering around the corner, you see a shower head on the back of the wall and tile on the floor.


5. An bathroom with an simplistic feel – dark wood, white sinks, minimalist. Of to the side is a beautiful, dark wood wall. You realize as you get closer, this is in fact a walk in shower.

Walk in showers with glass, whether a pane or glass blocks are to be expected. Tile and stone are even normal for bathrooms. But walk in showers these days are getting more and more creative. Wood, arches, different shapes, hidden behind walls, out in the open – even in the middle of a bathroom – a shower is no longer just a way to avoid taking a bath. A walk in shower can be the centerpiece of a bathroom remodel, a piece of art in the middle of an otherwise functional room. Who knew that with a walk in shower getting clean could be so stylish?

Apr 102012

There is nothing worse than stepping out of a nice warm shower in winter or cold weather. As soon as your body hits the cold air you’ll wish you were back under the warm water, and stepping onto a cold floor will have you hopping back in the tub in an instant. There are a few simple ways to ease the winter chill and keep your bathroom nice and warm and lessen the shock on a cold day.

The first simple step to take is to identify any drafts and block them up. You can get bathroom specific silicone that you can simply apply over any drafts you find and should stick to wood, plastic and metal. This should block out any cold air drifting in while making sure no mold grows or the seal isn’t weakened by the moisture in the bathroom.

If your windows are cold when you touch them it might be worth installing double glazing which will keep heat in, and cold air out. As a cheaper fix you can buy plastic see through film that you can put over the window that will have a similar effect.

Microfiber Absorbing Bathmat
Another simple step you can take if you have wooden floors or cold tiles and no underfloor heating is to use a bathroom mat or a buy a few cheap rugs to put on the main areas you walk on and by the side of the bath. Just make sure to wash them regularly and on a hot wash, as they can get dirty very quickly especially if your bathroom lacks ventilation.

If you have a little more in your budget and time, you can install underfloor heating. Underfloor heating has come a long way in the last few years and can be installed very easily and quickly, and doesn’t cause a massive rise in floor height and works with almost all types of tiles. You can even install “zones” which are controlled by a panel on the wall and can work on a timer to start warming the tiles before you even start walking into the bathroom.

Again if you have a bit more money in your budget you can get a Wall mounted radiator towel rack. These will heat your room up as well as let you hang up towels and keep everything nice and warm for when you get out of the shower. They can be fitted to existing pipes or you can buy plug in electrical ones. They are very in fashion at the moment and make your bathroom look nice and modern as well as heating it up.

To take advantage of the residual heat from showering you should leave the bathroom door open after you shower to warm up the rest of the house with the warm air.

Apr 102012

Shower valves and shower faucets are dependent upon each other to function. Whereas the faucet mostly refers to the part that you see, the valve is the piece just behind the faucet that makes the shower work.

When turning on the water for your shower, you want to balance the hot water with the cold water. Yet, they don’t flow through at the same rate. You will want more of one than the other. It is the valve that allows both hot and cold to flow through the faucet, as well as regulate how much of each type you want. Without a shower valve, you wouldn’t be able to control the temperature of your shower.

Types of Valves

There are two main types of shower valves:

  1. Pressure Balance Valve
  2. Thermostatic Valve

Pressure Balance Valve

Grohe 35015000 Grohsafe Universal Pressure Balance Rough-In Valve, Chrome
Generally, a pressure balancing valve is found on the types of shower faucet that has a single knob that controls the temperature depending on which way you turn the dial.

A pressure balance valve keeps the water at an even temperature, despite pressure changes in the supply lines. That’s a fancy way of saying that the temperature remains the same even if someone flushes the toilet, or runs hot water in the kitchen sink while you are in the shower.

When the toilet is flushed, it refills with cold water. That pulls cold water away from the shower, which can lead to the water getting hotter quickly. While this may still happen, the valve will prevent the water from getting scalding hot just because the cold is being pulled elsewhere in the plumbing.

In the same way, if someone is running hot water to rinse dishes in the kitchen sink, they are pulling hot water away from the shower. This could cause the shower water to suddenly turn freezing, making you shiver unexpectedly. However, the valve prevents this from happening, again, balancing the pressure coming through the plumbing feeding the shower, compensating for the pressure changes as the hot water is being pulled elsewhere in the home.

The valve balances this pressure by dropping the pressure in the other supply line. In some instances, this will result in a noticeable drop in water pressure in the shower, but you won’t have the drastic temperature changes. In the end, it’s better to drop water pressure, than to have the temperature change suddenly and possibly cause burning.

Pressure balancing valves are definitely important in preventing scalding or sudden cold water changes. However, they aren’t as precise as they could be. There are times when the pressure, and temperature, changes too rapidly for the valve to keep up. This can easily lead to scalding or falling as you jump out from under the suddenly hot or cold water.

Thermostatic Valve

Honeywell R-AM-101C-US-1 Thermostatic Mixing Valve
On the other hand, a thermostatic valve works differently, and can do a much better job at regulating the temperature in your shower.

The water temperature can vary at different faucets in the home, even if you turn the hot or the cold water on completely. Distance to the hot water heater, or from the cold water supply causes this.

A thermostatic valve, also called a thermostatic mixing valve, works by adjusting the temperature of the water at the faucet, based on temperature, not pressure.

There is a thermostat in the valve itself that senses the temperature of the water. This is based on paraffin, or wax, that expands and contracts as the temperature changes. As the temperature changes, the valve automatically adjusts the amount of hot and cold water entering the valve. It then allows the water to flow out of the faucet, assuring that the water is the right temperature before it even exits the valve. The wax mechanism allows for either the hot or cold supplies to be opened wider or closed, or a combination, to maintain a steady temperature.

A thermostatic valve also has a built in fail safe setting that will prevent the water from going to one extreme or another in the case of one supply being shut off. These valves have a mechanical adjustment that allows for the precise setting of temperature, within the range the valve allows.

This type of valve is of course more expensive, which is why they are often seen in high end, luxury, bathrooms. A thermostatic valve is needed for the programmable showers that set the temperature to a specific temperature at the touch of a button.

Another advantage of a thermostatic mixing valve relates to bacteria in the water supply. In my city, as I’m sure in other cities, a plumber cannot set a hot water heater to a temperature above 120 degrees F. This is because above this temperature, it is very easy to get burned.

However, hot water heaters do have higher settings, which are appropriate for sanitation uses. For instance, in commercial kitchens, the dishwashers are set much higher to intensely clean and sanitize dishes.

With a thermostatic mixing valves, you can have it both ways in your own home. You can set your hot water heater to a higher temperature, therefore killing any bacteria in the water. Then, at the faucet itself, the thermostatic valve will lower the temperature of the water, preventing the water that actually reaches your skin from exceeding 120 degrees. The best of both worlds.

The valve behind your shower faucet is important in regulating the temperature of the water coming from that faucet. From the user perspective, you turn the handle. But, behind the scenes, there are two types of shower valves doing an important job making sure that you don’t get burned, or frozen out during your shower.

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.

Apr 092012

Teak is naturally resistant to humidity and mold. This means it won’t warp or crack over years of use. This is one of the reasons why teak shower benches are very popular. Since they can easily withstand water beating directly on them, you’ll see teak benches in many applications, including ones for outside.

When looking for a teak seat for your shower, don’t just look at shower or bath retailers. Since the teak is naturally resistant to moisture and mold, a garden bench made of teak could work just as well in your shower as on your patio. These may be larger than those designed for indoors, but it certainly pays to give a look when shopping for the perfect bench.

Teak benches are luxurious and elegant; they can be used as easily outside the shower itself as inside. In a larger bathroom, they make an elegant seat at a vanity, or as a spot to rest towels or a robe while bathing.

Teak is naturally a rich brown color. Shower benches are often hand sanded and then protected with an oil finish. Yet even those benches that do not have an oil finish will take on a beautiful patina over the years.

Pollenex Folding Teak Shower Seat, Brown
Since wood is a natural material, teak shower benches look great in bathroom designs that incorporate other natural materials. A zen or spa themed bathroom design is a perfect fit for a teak shower bench. Even if you aren’t doing an overall natural theme for your bathroom, a teak bench adds an elegant natural touch.

Teak is a solid material that is sturdy and safe. Many have a slightly curved design to the seat to make them very comfortable to sit on. The curved seat also has the side benefit of making the bench look less manufactured and more natural. It is little touches like this that may not be noticeable at first, but add to an overall beauty and flow to a bathroom.

Teak benches are more expensive than plastic, and you may think the cost is too high. However, unlike plastic, these benches will last for years, ultimately making the bench very cost effective.

Teak shower benches come in many different styles. Some attach to the wall and fold down for use, then up out of the way for more space. If space is very limited and you don’t want to mount the seat inside the shower, there are models that fold flat. These can then be tucked out of the way when the shower is over, or easily moved to other areas as needed.

Others are built to sit in a corner. These may have powder coated steel legs that are often adjustable. The seats with adjustable steel legs are sometimes sold as medical supplies. They are definitely a step up from the industrial looking plastic shower seats, but they may not be as elegant as other styles.

Some styles of bench made specifically for the shower have a small basket built in to hold bath supplies.

New Grade A Teak Shower / Bath Room / Pool Bench with Shelf (FULLY ASSEMBLED)
Then, there are larger styles that have a shelf underneath. These styles especially looks great outside the shower as well as inside, since the shelf can be used to store rolled towels. Other bath items in designer bottles, such as bath salts or candles, can be stored on the shelf as well.

If you are looking for a teak bench for the bathroom, but one that doesn’t need to get wet, you may want to consider a bench with a padded seat. A bench like this will be much longer and will fit along a wall of the bathroom, or could even be used at the base of the bed. This could be a way to tie the elegant style of the bathroom into the master bedroom  as well.

All teak benches that will be used in the shower should have some space between the boards to allow water to flow through and take away bath gels and soap. The teak will not be damaged by these items, but for ease of cleaning, the vents should be in place. Other teak benches used outside the shower may have solid seats since they don’t need the water to pass through.

Since teak is a natural material, you may be concerned about sustainable and environmental practices. In that case, you will want to look for teak benches made of sustainable wood, using fair trade practices.

So if you are considering adding a teak bench to your bathroom, you have many styles to choose from. You also have many options for using a bench outside of the shower as well. The natural beauty and timelessness of a teak shower bench will add beauty and luxury to your bathroom for years to come.

Apr 082012

Bathroom lighting generally falls into 3 main categories: task lighting, ambient lighting, and accent lighting. Having a solid understanding of the functions of each can help aide you in the process selecting the lighting for your bathroom.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is probably the most important of all three as it mostly focuses on aiding the visitor in his tasks, thus task lighting. Daily functions such as shaving or applying non comedogenic makeup need proper lighting in order to be done efficiently. Lighting around the mirror needs to cast an even light on the face to avoid shadows which can make grooming difficult. The most basic layout is having light above the mirror and two scones on each side to reduce any possible shadows.

2 Light Rubbed Oil Bronze Bath Sconce
Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting may be needed if task lighting is unable to light up the whole bathroom. As bathrooms in the United States can be quite large, most will need ambient lighting. There are many bathroom light fixtures that can provide this type of bathroom lighting such as recessed lights, hanging light, and wall washers to name a few. Ambient lighting will largely depend on the size of your bathroom, so be sure to make the decision accordingly. When in doubt, keep in mind that too bright is usually better than too dark.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is the least practical of the three and is used to showcase certain parts of the bathroom such as an art piece. However, when done correctly, accent lighting can be quite influential on the overall design of your bathroom. As lighting is often the first thing that visitors notice, it can be a worthwhile investment to ensure you leave a good impression.

After planning the types of lighting functions needed in your bathroom, the next step will be to choose the style for your bathroom lighting. Following through on these two steps will ensure you create both a practical and stylish bathroom. If you want more customization, changing the switch plate covers can be a great place to start.