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Bathroom Remodeling

Thinking of a Curbless Shower? Then Read This.

By March 16, 2023March 28th, 2023No Comments

There’s more to curbless showers than meets the eye. Sure, they can give a luxurious feel to a bathroom with a sleek, modern vibe, but they also have great utility from a universal design perspective. But, there are pros and cons to a curbless shower and we’re here to help you figure out if it’s the right design choice for you.

Firstly, if you don’t know what a curbless shower is, it’s a shower that has no tiled ‘bumper’ or threshold around the shower pan. Instead, the shower floor looks level with the rest of the bathroom, separated by a glass panel with or without a shower door. The floor must be sloped to run to the drain properly, but the optical illusion of a curbless shower makes it look like the floor is seamless giving the bathroom an open, airy feel that can also create the illusion of a bigger space.

Many of our clients decided to go tub-free as part of their bathroom remodel and install a large shower enclosure instead, with many opting for the curbless shower look. Matched with a gorgeous linear drain at one end or a center drain in the middle, they give a spa-like feel that is hard to beat. From a design perspective, they are definitely high on the list when it comes to contemporary style. 

Missed our blog on going tub-free? You can read it here.

It’s not only the modern look that is a benefit. The other advantage of a curbless shower is that from a universal design perspective, it is perfect for aging-in-place or for wheelchair users from an accessibility perspective. As they don’t have a lip or edge, there is no trip hazard and they offer easier entry/exit access. If you have enough room, you can easily add a shower seat or bench, too. 

Pro tip: if you are future-proofing your bathroom, make sure you leave room for the addition of grab bars in the future.  Also, add a handheld shower to your bathroom design. If you are a wheelchair user or have limited mobility, a handheld shower will be much more useful to you than a rain head shower or a fixed shower head – or add all three!

In terms of maintenance, curbless showers have less crevices and places for mold and mildew to hide and grow. As the owner of the curbless shower, however, I will tell you ongoing care and upkeep is the same as other showers – wiping down with a squeegee and using a daily shower cleaner is essential to stop water staining on the grout and to stop mildew in the corners of the shower over time. 

So, what are the downsides of a curbless shower? Well, for one, the floor has to be sloped at a certain angle towards the drain to avoid pooling of water. If the slope isn’t steep enough, then water will pool and run outside the shower if you have no door or under the shower door into the main bathroom unless the shower door is fitted perfectly. This will likely cause water damage and mold underneath the rest of the bathroom floor. 

Pro Tip! If you are thinking of this style of shower, discuss the design with your home remodeler or general contractor and decide if water proofing is continued throughout the bathroom under the tile and not just in the shower pan (as is normally the case). This may be a must-have if you have a glass panel only with no shower door, depending on the size of the shower, the position of the shower heads and considerations like water pressure and drainage.

Although it may be easier to install a curbless shower in a new build, it’s not impossible to redesign your existing bathroom to create a large, curbless shower. However, there are some limitations depending on how much room your home remodeler has to work with under the floor when it comes to how the shower will drain. In the example below, our clients were ready to get rid of their little-used platform tub and create this gorgeous curbless glass shower enclosure instead.

The other factor is – of all things – the bath mat! By code, shower doors must open outwards. If you have a curbless shower door that only opens outwards, there is not enough clearance to open it onto a bath mat. Either you need to get used to the bathmat sitting to one side of the shower door (if you have one), or install a shower door that opens both inwards and outwards.

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