What Is the Best Type of Shower Stall to Buy?

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Home stores feature dozens of different types of shower stalls. Choosing the best one depends on your personal preferences and home. Issues such as accessibility, ease of installation, customization and location can help you to decide in the store, before you bring it home. Asking yourself what you want out of a shower helps you pinpoint the best shower stall for your lifestyle.

Accessibility

  • For those with mobility issues, getting in and out of a bathtub becomes difficult. A built-in seat along the entire length of the shower adds safety and comfort for those who cannot stand for the duration of a shower. Look for at least two grab bars in showers with a seat. Roll-in showers allow wheelchair access for those who cannot stand.

Ease of Installation

  • All-in-one showers are the easiest to install. Made entirely of a single piece of fiberglass, these showers do not require piecing together of the walls and pan. Because they lack joints, all-in-one shower stalls are less likely to leak than other types. For homes under construction, installation of these stalls is also ideal before the walls are completed. This enables the shower to more comfortably fit through doorways and down halls in the house. If buying a single-piece shower stall for a home with finished walls, select a model narrow enough to fit through all doors and halls and into the bathroom. Removing the old shower entirely leaves you plenty of room for the new installation. This also exposes the plumbing to show where to place and attach the showerhead, control knobs and drain.

Customization

  • If you want to design the shower of your dreams, consider building a stall from the ground up. This option requires you to purchase a shower pan, also known as a shower base, around which to construct the customized shower. Grouting in customized tile showers can leak. Prevent damage from water leaks by using a waterproof backerboard behind your shower stall. Sectional shower-stall units consist of a kit for an entire shower, including the shower pan and walls. Because they are shipped in pieces, they are easier to get down narrow hallways to a bathroom, but in custom-built showers, the joints are prone to leaking.

Location Flexibility

  • To install a shower without building a special nook, opt for a freestanding unit. These shower stalls fit in any available spot with access to water. Turn a closet into a shower without sacrificing bathroom space. You will likely need to purchase the fixtures separately from the shower, and piece together the shower parts on-site. Construction on some freestanding models is flimsy, so look for the heaviest material you can find and the largest size you can fit into the designated spot. The smallest of these showers -- 32 inches squared -- is likely to feel cramped to average adults.

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References

  • Plumbing; Carson Dunlop
  • Plumbing: Tips, Data, and Rules of Thumb; R. Dodge Woodson
  • Ortho's Home Improvement Encyclopedia: Problem Solving A to Z; Charles G. Wing
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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