From the category archives:

Bathroom Accessories

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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Frameless shower doors and shower screens have been popular in Europe for many years, but they’re only beginning to catch on in the United States. Traditionally, showers have been enclosed by curtains, swinging doors and sliding doors, but a modern shower screen that’s essentially a large plate of glass that only partially spans the length of the bathtub or shower stall is often much more appealing, both aesthetically and functionally. Let’s look at some of the options available.

Since the main purpose of any shower enclosure is to contain water spray, a frameless shower door uses the least amount of hardware necessary to do the job. These doors and screens come in frameless and semi-frameless versions. A frameless shower screen, which typically weighs between 55 and 80 lbs., is entirely supported by a pair of wall mounted hinged screwed into the wall though some use continuous hinges or other types of fixtures.

Ideally, there should be a stud behind the tiled wall for optimum support. With or without stud reinforcement, drilling into tile without cracking it is precision work. For the sake of the wall and the glass, you should seriously consider hiring a contractor to install glass shower door hardware for you unless you’re already a home improvement enthusiast.

In addition to wall hinges, semi-frameless shower screen has support from a continuous hinge that runs along the ledge of the tub. Instead of using hinges, some shower screens are affixed with aquarium corners sealed with clear water silicone. Shower screens and wet room screens are also easier to clean. There are no tracks to rust or collect water, soap scum or mold.

Frameless shower doors and screens are made of tempered glass (heat treated for shatter resistance) and range from 50″ to 72″ high, 28″ to 32″ wide and 3/8″ to 5/8″ thick in many models. Frosted, tinted and etched variations are available, but most showerscreens are clear by design making them virtually invisible. With their clear screens and lack of pronounced metal outlines, frameless glass shower enclosures give the entire bathroom a more spacious ambiance.

These screens and doors are ideal for showcasing the tile on the other side, and from the inside, the person showers gets additional light that reduces or eliminates the need for an overhead light. Hinges and doorknobs are usually made of chrome or brushed aluminum, but other popular options are brass and pewter—you can almost always find frameless shower door hardware to your existing bathroom fixtures.

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