Apr 022012

Traditional show stalls have ledges at the base. While this is quite logical for water containment, many homeowners prefer the visual appeal of shower enclosures that are more or less flush with the rest of the bathroom floor, giving the bathroom a more spacious look. A ledge can also be more than just unsightly; it can be a trip hazard. For elderly and disabled users, the otherwise simple act of lifting legs over a one-foot or two-foot obstruction can be arduous, dangerous, or simply impossible.

For practical and aesthetic reasons, the walk in shower enclosures which were already popular in the U.K. are rapidly gaining acceptance with U.S. homeowners. Basically, any two or three walls enveloping and shower head and lacking a ledge (or at least much of a ledge) is considered a walk in shower enclosure. When many homeowners think of walk in shower designs, they immediately think of luxury models.

Dreamline SHEN-12343410-01 Tetra Frameless Glass Shower Enclosure, Chrome
Indeed, many of the enclosures with shower screens of tempered glass and hinges made of brushed chrome can run upwards of $1800. However, some homeowners are primarily concerned providing a senior or handicapped family member convenient access to the stall will often opt for enclosures made of fiberglass or acrylic. Walk in shower enclosures made of fiberglass start at around $300.

Most walk in shower enclosures are 36″ wide or more to provide comfortable and safe movement. A normal square corner unit ideal for smaller bathrooms is typically 36″ x 36″”. Widths of rectangular units can run from 32″ to 60″. Enclosures can be square, round, rectangular, or “neo-angle”. Neo-angle enclosures are similar to curved shower screens, but with three long, vertically oriented flat panels joined at 45 degree angles. The base resembles one quadrant of a hexagon.

Since the ledge is essentially being eliminated, the homeowner with a tiled shower floor should consider replacing it with a shower pan–also known as a shower base. Shower pans are like very shallow basins for better water containment and drainage, with different textures available to provide traction. A shower enclosure installation project is an ideal time to replace any other fixtures, tiles, or hardware in the space.

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