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Shower Makeovers: Simple Tips from the NKBA

Shower Makeovers: Simple Tips from the NKBA

If the shower in your bathroom renders an anemic dribble while you stare at mildewing grout, it’s high time for a shower makeover. Today’s shower options replace the old drizzle with new sizzle. Products now on the market enable you to immerse yourself under a waterfall, melt away stress with multiple massaging sprays, or wrap up in a relaxing blanket of steam.

A plumber will be required to determine the adequacy of your home’s water pressure and if it’s sufficient to accommodate the water features you desire.

Custom-made enclosures with your choice of materials or prefabricated units are two options for shower construction. Another option that’s increasingly popular in high-end baths is to enclose showers with walls and doors made of laminated safety glass.

Prefabricated shower kits come with a base, walls, and door, and are available in a wide range of sizes, styles, colors, and shapes—including rectangular, angled, round, and square. Generally fabricated of molded plastics such as acrylic or fiberglass, prefab units are also available in solid-surface material, which provides a durable and nearly maintenance-free shower stall.

Solid doors start at about $100 for an aluminum-framed Plexiglas unit. Prices range up to more than $4,000 for a door made of hand-etched safety glass with a brass or stainless-steel frame.

Creating Shower Stalls

Creating a shower in your new bathroom can be as simple as adding doors to the bathtub. The most common style is the bypass door, which are two doors that slide in a frame mounted to the tub’s end-walls. The other side, namely trackless doors, has no top or bottom tracks; the doors retract and pivot to allow full access to the tub area. With either type you will have a choice of glass styles and hardware finishes.

Shapes for stand-alone shower stalls include square, rectangular, corner, angled, and curved. In addition to the shape and size of the base, you will need to decide on the threshold. The threshold is the number of sides that will be enclosed by the glass sides and door. A single threshold is designed to fit in an alcove with walls on three sides, a double threshold tucks into a corner with glass on the other two sides, and a triple-threshold base has a wall on one side only, with glass sides and a door on the other three sides.

Shower Facts

  • A shower can be as small as 32×32 inches, but a 3 6×3 6-inch shower is considered the minimum for comfort and safety; anything smaller limits elbow room and the ability to step out of the stream if water temperature suddenly changes.
  • To make shaving in the shower easier, include a fog-free mirror and a niche or a self-draining shelf for shaving accessories.
  • For safety, all shelves should be recessed into alcoves. Eliminate as many protrusions as possible in and around showers and tubs to avoid injuries.

Shower Faucets

Shower faucets should be accessible from outside and inside the shower enclosure so the water flow and temperature can be adjusted from either place. Shower faucets should be offset toward the shower door rather than centered below the showerhead. This makes it easier to control the water flow without getting wet when turning the shower on.

Standard shower faucets are available with separate hot and cold controls or with a single-handle control. Spending more for high-quality shower controls will probably pay off in longer, more trouble-free service. High-quality custom showers can be framed with stud walls and finished with a variety of materials, such as tile, glass block, solid-surface material, and marble.

Reduce Shower Water Usage

All homeowners and renters need to be aware of water conservation in the bath. With a few tools, water can be used more efficiently. One such solution is a low flow aerator.

Aerators are considered the single most important water conservation device your faucet or shower head can have. They make efficient use of the water that flows through them, usually by mixing air into the water stream.

They can save as much as 50 percent of your water usage and also reduce the amount of energy used to heat the water, also by as much as 50 percent.

If an aerator is already installed on the end of your faucet, you should be able to read its rated flow imprinted on the side. The rating should be no more than 2.5 g.p.m. (gallons per minute). If your aerator is rated at more than 2.5 g.p.m., it should be replaced.

Faucet aerators generally cost between five and ten dollars.

Shower Heads

Shower heads may or may not have their flow rate stamped on the side. They, too, should be rated at no more than 2.5 g.p.m. for low flow.

If you cannot see a rating on your shower head, you can test it. Place a 2-quart saucepan on the shower floor.

Turn the shower on full and record how many seconds it takes to fill the pan. If it takes 12 seconds or less, a low-flow shower head is recommended as a conservation effort.

Most low-flow shower heads are the aerating type. The air mixed into the water stream by an aerating head helps maintain steady pressure, so the flow from the shower is full and even. But mixed with air, the water can cool as it nears the shower floor.

For a strong spray, there are also non-aerating shower heads, and these do not mix air with water. This gives the flow a strong spray with even temperatures, but the shower water also tends to pulse, as a massaging shower head might.

One installation as simple as a new shower head can provide savings in both water and money.


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The Bath & Kitchen Showplace
Bath & Kitchen Showplace offers everything you need for your bathroom and kitchen remodeling projects. We offer more than 50 years of experience to help our customers in the Austin, Dallas and Arlington areas find the best plumbing and fixture products for every budget. Please browse our site and let us know how we can help you.