If you're remodeling your bathroom, you've probably been presented with a nearly overwhelming number of finish options -- granite, quartz, or laminate counters; tile or composite backsplash; hardwood, tile, or slate flooring. Your fixture options are also nearly infinite -- whether designing a combined or separate tub and shower, you're no longer limited to the traditional framed shower doors and one-piece tubs. Read on to learn more about the different types of shower enclosures, and the advantages and disadvantages to each.
There are a number of different models and varieties of bath and shower enclosures available. These can generally be divided into two categories -- separate and combined.
Separate bath and shower
These take up slightly more space than a combined bath and shower, but can be useful if you have multiple family members sharing a single bathroom, or choose a jacuzzi or soaking tub in place of a standard bathtub.
- Garden tub
A garden tub has a similar "footprint" to a standard bathtub, but the sides of the tub are wider and generally curved out into an oval shape. These tubs are often used in remodeling projects, as they take up very little additional space and require no additional plumbing, but can provide a dramatically-improved bathing experience. If your original bathroom had a separate standard tub, you should be able to easily retrofit a garden tub into the same space.
- Whirlpool tub
A whirlpool tub is usually the same size as (or larger than) a garden tub, and contains high-powered jets that froth the water. These tubs are a bit more expensive than standard or garden tubs, but can be greatly beneficial to homeowners who suffer from chronic muscle or joint pain or an autoimmune illness such as fibromyalgia or lupus.
If you install a whirlpool tub, be aware of the importance of adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule. Like a hot tub, whirlpool tubs require periodic cleaning and treatment to prevent mold and mildew from building up in the jets.
- Frameless shower
Frameless showers have recently gained popularity among homeowners, because of their durability and aesthetic appeal. In contrast to framed shower doors, which gain their strength from an exterior metal frame, frameless showers are entirely glass. These showers can be designed in a traditional square or rectangular shower shape, or can be made into a larger pentagon or hexagon.
Frameless showers are created from thicker glass than that used in traditional framed showers -- unlike the glass in framed showers, this glass is tempered and safety-treated, similar to automotive window glass, so that there is no risk of injury if it cracks or shatters. It's recommended that installers use glass that is at least 1/2" thick.
Combined bath and shower
If size or financial constraints are steering you toward a combined bath and shower, there are still a variety of options available -- some incorporating the types of tubs and showers listed above.
- One-piece tub and shower
A one-piece tub and shower is generally the least expensive option -- made from acrylic or fiberglass, this tub can be installed quickly and inexpensively. Usually, one side of the tub is open, while the other three sides extend up above the showerhead to protect the walls from water damage. Because there is no outer shower wall, you'll need to purchase a shower curtain to prevent water from leaking onto your floor.
- Frameless shower and tub
A frameless shower and tub combo can be a great option if you have size constraints but would still like the appearance of a designer bathroom. If you choose this option, you can purchase a stand-alone tub (including a garden or whirlpool tub) and then install frameless shower doors on all four sides of the tub, or simply install a frameless door on the "open" side and tile the interior walls.
Whichever style you decide, contact a company like Clifton Mirror & Glass to make sure the glass of your shower doors is installed professionally.