Walk In Shower Enclosures

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Walk in shower enclosures are essentially two or more walls surrounding a shower head and little or no ledge at the base. Having to reach one’s legs over a leg to begin showering might seem like a minor impediment, but it’s still an irritation that should be avoided in luxury bathrooms. Moreover, walk in shower enclosures are more than a mere luxury to the infirm or disabled. A relatively high ledge represents a serious accessibility issue and a major trip hazard. Aesthetically, a walk in shower enclosure is also better suited for displaying any custom tiles or fixtures that accentuate the look of the bathroom.

For comfort and safety, walk in shower designs should be at least 36″ in one side. A conventional enclosure square enclosure for corner mounting in tight spaces is 36″ x 36″, while a rectangular enclosure will probably run 30″ x 46″. Other common widths are 32″, 48″ and 60″, while common heights are 59″ and 72″, though some go as high as 96″.

These spaces can be enclosed with framed or increasingly popular frameless shower doors, which are available in rectangular, curved and square configurations. Some have a “neo-angle” outline, which is basically means that the base is a quarter cross-section of a hexagon, and the enclosure will consist of three vertical panels assembled at 45-degree angles.

The most coveted material for walk in shower enclosures is tempered glass—clear glass being more popular than frosted. Frosted glass provides additional privacy for bathrooms with more than one user at a time. Fiberglass and acrylic models are the cheapest, but they tend to be the least elegant—particularly fiberglass units. However, if the homeowner’s priority is accessibility rather than aesthetics, fiberglass is quite acceptable. Prices on the low end are between $300 and $600, but depending on options (e.g. the materials used for fixtures, the amount of finishing needed for custom installations), luxury walk in enclosures can range between $1200 and $1800.

Single-piece enclosures may not be practical for installations in existing bathroom constructions, as maneuverability may be limited. Multi-piece walls for more conducive to transporting up staircases and through existing bathroom spaces, and they’re easier to assemble in place. You may wish to consider replacing the shower base along with the rest of the enclosure to optimize drainage.

Many homeowners who love tile on their walls regret using tile for the shower floor due to its higher maintenance and hard texture. Shower bases (also known as shower pans) are a much more low-maintenance option, better contoured for drainage and free or porous materials that get waterlogged. Adding a walk in shower enclosure is the best time to reexamine all of the wall materials, floor materials and fixtures for possible upgrading.

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