This morning, when I was on my knees scrubbing my small, framed, fiberglass shower stall, I thought to myself, “What would I do to make this shower better? How would I design the perfect shower?” One that would be a pleasure to use everyday and one that would be easy to clean and maintain. In this weeks episode, I’ll share with you some of the things I came up with. We’ll go over some quick tips for designing the perfect shower.
Now, obviously, what a perfect shower is for me, might be the perfect shower for you. But I think you should be able to get several good ideas from this week’s perfect shower quick tips.
1. Make the shower large, but not expansive.
What I’ve found in my research and in my personal experience of stepping into dozens of model home showers, is that a single person shower should at least 36 by 48 inches large. My current shower is 32 by 30 inches and that’s way too small. A 3 by 4 foot shower provides a nice amount of space for one person. For a 2 person shower, the most popular sizes are 3 by 5 feet or 4 by 6 feet. What size you choose is a matter of personal preference, your budget and the square footage you have available.
Be cautious of going too big, though. A shower that’s too large feels cavernous and cold, literally cold. Excessively large showers can be drafty and uncomfortably chilly. You especially don’t want too large a shower if you want a steam shower because it’ll take longer for the space to fill with steam and you’ll have to invest in a larger, more expensive steam generator. To figure what size shower feels just right, step into some showers in different model homes or showrooms.
2. Add a bench or a ledge.
A bench is nice if you want to sit down to shave your legs or just sit down to enjoy the hot water and steam. The most comfortable shower seat is 17 to 19 inches high and 15 inches deep. If your bathroom only has room for a small shower, request a bench on hinges that can be tilted up and out of the way when not in use. If you don’t have the room or the desire for a bench, at least plan for a small corner ledge that you can prop your foot on for easier shaving.
3. Include up to 2 shower niches.
Shower niches are great for storing shampoo, conditioner, body wash and other toiletries. Just make sure the niche you plan for is tall enough for those items. Measure the tallest of their favorite bath products and make the niche 1 to 2 inches taller.
It’s nice to have one niche for you and one for your spouse. And don’t for get to include a smaller space at the bottom of the niche for your bars of soap.
To avoid creating stagnant pools of water in your niches, angle the shelves so that they tip toward the shower floor and drain.
4. Go frameless.
When I trying to clean my shower, that metal shower frame gives me the blues. There are so many angles and crevices that can accumulate gunk. With a frameless shower, you don’t have all those corners and surfaces to scrub.
Granted you might have to pay twice as much initially for a frameless shower, but the ease of cleaning and sleek look of a frameless shower are worth the extra money to me. If I had to, I’d gladly choose less expensive bathroom fixtures and tile in order to fit a frameless shower into my budget.
5. Choose curbless.
With a curbless shower, there’s nothing to step over when you walk into and out of the shower. Curbless showers are also called zero entry showers. Most showers have a 4 to 6-inch step or curb at the entrance to keep water from spilling out. A curbless shower eliminates that 4 to 6 inch step. The flooring in the bathroom continues right into the shower stall.
A curbless shower can make your bathroom look and feel bigger and less cluttered. These showers are super popular in Europe and Asia where space is limited.
Ease of cleaning is another reason to choose a curbless shower. There are fewer nooks, surfaces and corners to scrub. With a totally flat floor surface in the shower, the shower floor can be cleaned in few passes of a mop.
A curbless shower is also easier to get into and out of. If you’re young and spry, you may not consider a 4 inch step a significant obstacle, but as you get older and less agile, a 4 inch step can become a trip hazard. So going curblessis a nice aging in place feature. That flat, level entry decreases the risk of falling and will allow you to enter the shower with wheelchair or walker, if you ever need one.
You’ll have to decide early in the planning stages if you want a curbless shower in your home. That’s because the drain needs to be a bit lower than the floor level, and the shower floor surface needs to slope toward the drain.
If your region’s building code doesn’t allow for curbless showers, you can use a collapsible rubber threshold, also known as a water dam. It can be placed on the floor, along the front edge of the shower stall. The thin rubber threshold collapses down when the wheels of a walker or wheelchair roll over it. Then it immediately pops back up to help prevent the water from escaping.
6. Make the shower entrance at least 36 inches wide.
This is another aging in place feature. Wheelchairs can pass through a 36 inch door. A 42 inch entry is even better for a person in a wheel chair, but 36 inches will suffice.
7. Choose easy to clean shower wall materials.
Larger scale tiles require fewer grout lines, which means the shower walls will be easier to clean. Or, you can opt for smaller tiles with epoxy grout, which never has to be scrubbed or sealed. To learn more about epoxy grout, take a listen to episode 61, called “Never scrub your grout again!”
Other easy to clean shower wall materials include solid surface products, like quartz or Corian. They give shower walls a sleek, seamless look and they’re resistant to stains, bacteria and mold and mildew.
Whether you choose tile, quartz or Corian, have that material extend from the floor all the way up to the ceiling of your shower wall. It’s just a few extra dollars and it looks more luxurious than having that material stop short of the ceiling. Plus, tile and those solid surfaces will protect your walls better than just painted drywall.
8. Easy to reach towels.
Place towel hooks or a towel warming bar close enough to your shower so you can easily reach out and grab your towel before stepping completely out of the shower. That cuts down on excessive water dripping all over the bathroom floor and it also let’s you wrap up before leaving the warm shower area.
9. Ditch the door.
Unless you’re planning on a steam shower, think about ditching your shower door. The reason a doorless shower is a part of perfect shower design is because it leaves you with one less surface to clean. Most shower doors are clear glass, so they’re prone to water spots and soap scum. If you plan for a shower without a door, you don’t have to worry about that. For a more private doorless shower, you can design an L shaped shower that lets you enter one way and shower around the corner, out of sight of passers by.
10. Position controls near the shower entrance.
How many times have you been blasted with cold water when turning the shower on because you had to get into the shower to reach the controls?
Easy reach to controls help to make for a more enjoyable shower experience. Set the water controls in a location that's just outside the shower area or at least out of the direct line of the shower head. It’s pretty simple for your plumber to do and it’s well worth the few feet of extra piping. Take a look at the show notes for some photos of perfectly placed shower controls.
11. Get beefed up shower wall framing in case you want to add grab bars in the future.
Grab bars are yet another aging in place feature. But you don’t have to add them now, if you don’t need them. Instead, just tell your framer that you want reinforced shower walls to anchor grab bars that you might potentially add in the future.
12. Place a powerful but quiet, exhaust fan with a humidity sensor near your shower.
It’ll cut down on mold and mildew that can develop in the damp bathroom environment. That means easier cleaning, better air quality and decreased risk of moisture damage to your bathroom’s framing, drywall and cabinetry. You can learn more about choosing a good bathroom exhaust fan in episode 62 called “You should be a big fan of this bathroom accessory.”
13. Just a regular shower head and a hand held sprayer please.
I’m not a body spray or rain shower head kinda girl. I thought I would be, then I tried them a couple times when I stayed in a nice hotel in Vegas. Yeah, not for me. It’s almost too much water. But you might love those fancy sprays. My advice is to try them out before you invest in them, because they can be pretty expensive.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete, it’s subject to change and it may not apply to your project. In addition, Building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
Well, those are my perfect shower quick tips. We might not agree on everything, but take the ideas that work best for you and your preferences. And come on back next week for another episode of BYHYU.