One of the most popular features homeowners ask about when planning a bathroom remodeling project is a walk-in shower without a door. This type of shower uses less space in a bathroom since there are no door swings or a frame to account for and can be adapted to your lifestyle and décor preferences.
A doorless walk-in shower has many advantages over traditional shower stalls. Two of the main advantages are:
- Easy maintenance. Cleaning a shower with glass doors can be a chore, especially if it has sliding doors. A doorless shower is easy to wipe down and requires minimal care of surfaces.
- Accessibility and safety. Thresholds can be an inconvenience and cause tripping particularly for family members with compromised mobility who may have difficulty using a confined shower. Glass slider doors can be also present obstacles when they stick or run off their glides. Walk-in showers without doors can alleviate these concerns and can be installed with low or level thresholds.
Here are six facts to know about walk-in showers without doors:
1. Doorless showers are almost always custom designed.
Walk-in showers without doors can be installed in a corner or can replace a bathtub and/or existing shower. Because there is an opening to the rest of the bathroom, the walls and flooring need to be designed to contain water. The design often involves custom tile work and partitions depending on a homeowner’s needs and preferences. Tiled or waterproof walls can be floor-to-ceiling or, at a minimum, higher than the showerhead. If you plan to apply some of the principles of “universal design” in your shower project, the stall should be at least 36-by-36 inches or optimally a minimum of 42-by-60 inches.
2. When selecting a base for a walk-in shower without doors consider the options.
While there are many pre-fabricated showers and shower pans available, most will not work well for a walk-in shower without a door. Water should drain easily and not puddle on the floor.
There are three primary decisions to make about walk-in shower bases in planning your project:
- Standard or custom base
- Threshold height, which can range from zero to four inches
- Surface materials
A custom fabricated shower base made from a solid material such as Onyx, or a custom tiled shower base is the best choice for a shower without doors. To eliminate a threshold a sloped floor is required in the shower area, which both of these types of bases allow.
3. Placement of showerheads is important.
Water should be directed away from other fixtures and lighting in the room. The spray radius of the showerhead should be considered when choosing fixtures. Using an overhead ceiling mounted showerhead may help contain water flow. An adjustable handheld shower also works well. However, consider the fact that when you’re using a handheld shower there is a tendency to spray water all around.
4. Special ventilation and lighting are not required.
Walk-in showers without doors do not require any special bathroom ventilation and lighting. If the walk-in shower is large enough, ventilation and lighting can be installed within the space. Products we recommend include Broan-Nutone, LunAura and Panasonic “Whisperlite” fans. You may wish to consider using a bathroom fan with a humidity sensor.
5. Placement of accessories can be configured for the users.
In planning the shower consider the height and location of wall niches for soaps and shampoos, a shower seat and grab bars. Each of these accessories can be tailored to the height of primary users, their reach and any special needs they may have.
6. Cleaning and maintenance are easier than showers with doors.
The openness of a doorless walk-in shower makes it easier to clean. Many walk-in showers have tiled walls, floors or ceilings. There was a time when cleaning tile and grout in showers was tedious. New grout products simplify maintenance. Grout can be stain-proof and mildew-resistant if formulated with antimicrobial Microban. Tile showers can be cleaned by wiping the surface with a sponge or microfiber cloth.
Installing a doorless shower is not a do-it-yourself project. You’ll want to talk to a professional about the best design for your bathroom. Layout, plumbing, and structural issues will need to be addressed. However, the beauty, enjoyment, ease of use, and functionality of these showers make them worth considering.