Selecting The Right Shower
Posted: November 2019
Where to start
There are few more refreshing things in this world than a shower, whether you’re busy getting ready in the morning or have time at the end of the day for a relaxing cleanse. To get the best out of your shower, you need to think about your daily needs and maybe the needs of other family members too – along with the space you have in your bathroom to harmonise everyone’s routines.
There are a number of components to a shower: the glass enclosure and type of door, the shower tray, shower head and the shower control itself. You may also want to consider a separate riser rail with a handheld shower which is particularly useful if you want to avoid your hair getting wet every day!, while body jets are a good addition if you like angled water sprays. Choosing a new shower is a careful balance between the practicalities and aesthetics of all these elements – and whether you want a shower, a bath or even both!
Shower Enclosures Options
Square or rectangle showers slot into the corner of the bathroom.
Pros: They are the most versatile enclosures as they come framed or frameless with the most options in length and width. They’re compatible with all door types: quad, sliding, pivot or bifold.
Cons: Very few – a curved or angled shape might be better suited to a different bathroom aesthetic
A walk-in shower is as it sounds: you don’t need to pull or slide a door, you literally walk right into the shower in the space between the wall and the glass screen. Make sure you choose a shower tray wide enough for your own comfort. Also check there’s enough length in both the screen and height in the tray so the water doesn’t spray out onto the bathroom floor.
Pros: Very modern, minimalist and clean-looking because there’s no enclosure just a single sheet of glass. The water won’t run down the shower door and drip onto the floor when you open it. A flat surface means there’s nowhere for water to collect. Compatible with the largest rectangular shower trays.
Cons: Needs to be used with a rectangular shower tray otherwise water will splash onto the floor.
As there is no door on these type of enclosures, the heat disperses very quickly and therefore can feel cold straight after a shower particularly in the winter months.
A quad enclosure is square with a curved door at the front and an offset quad is rectangular with a curved door at the end. Both types of enclosures are great for smaller bathrooms as they can fit snuggly into a corner.
Pros: Lots of choice – available in framed or frameless with hinged or sliding doors in a range of sizes.
The enclosures are more compact and therefore take a smaller footprint of your bathroom, however the curved doors are designed in such a way to give you some ‘elbow room’ so you are able to wash properly without feeling claustrophobic.
Not quite as much room as a square or rectangle enclosure.
A shower bath is like a conventional bath but widens out at one end into a P- or L-shape to maximise the shower area inside. A shower head is mounted to the wall or ceiling.
Pros: The best of both worlds, particularly where space is limited. A standard length 1700mm bath has enough space to lie down in and the 850mm or 900mm shower end makes showering a breeze. Convenient with right or left-handed shower ends to suit your needs. Our P- and L-shaped shower baths come with an integral shower screen that folds inwards and outwards. Suits a variety of bathroom sizes as baths can be 1500mm-1800mm long.
Cons: The extra wide shower end may be an issue in a small bathroom.
Framed or Frameless?
Shower enclosures can be framed or frameless. Framed enclosures have a visible frame with a brushed or polished chrome finish for a classic feel. Frameless enclosures are made with large panes of glass with minimal fuss and discreet hinges and handles – or in the case of a walk-in shower, a single sheet of glass. They work well in a contemporary setting and the transparency allows a smaller bathroom to feel bigger.
When it comes to cleaning, a framed enclosure probably has more places for water to become trapped compared to a frameless enclosure, increasing the chances of mould. A glass screen in a walk-in shower won’t trap the water at all.
Glass shower enclosures come with sliding, pivot, bifold and quad doors.
A quad door is curved in shape with curved sliding doors at the front.
Pros: It’s a popular enclosure door shape due to its space saving design that makes it perfect for use in smaller or oddly-shaped bathrooms, but a generous showering space within.
Cons: This type of shower door does not come in a frameless option.
A sliding door slides behind a fixed piece of glass or two glass doors slide apart.
Pros: Great for restrictive spaces as the door doesn’t physically open into the room. Smooth roller mechanisms allow the door to open easily. Quick release double rollers make it easy to install and clean. Can be used with a square, rectangle or quadrant enclosure
Cons: The size of the enclosure isn’t reflective of the size of door opening. For example, a 1600mm wide enclosure uses a 600mm sliding door. You also have to allow for the door handle so the opening may be reduced to around 500mm.
A pivot door is hinged part-way along the frame and swings around creating a smaller opening than the actual door width. As the door rotates, one section goes back inside the enclosure while the other section comes forward into the bathroom. Can be used with square or rectangle enclosures.
Pros: You don’t need to allow for a wide door swing – less of the door protrudes into the room compared to a hinged shower enclosure. Can be bought as a single door for a recessed shower
Cons: The opening is less than the width of the door itself. The door pushing into the shower enclosure could be intrusive.
A bifold door pushes inwards so it bi-folds into the enclosure on the hinge. Compatible with square and rectangle enclosures.
Pros: Good if you don’t have space for a hinged door and you want a wider opening than a sliding or pivot door. Easy to push open. Can be bought as a single door for a recessed shower.
Cons: The size of the enclosure isn’t reflective of the size of door opening.
A compatible shower tray with the shower enclosure is a must so double-check the shape and size match. Most square and rectangular trays do but if you’re buying a quadrant or pentagonal shape, check the details like the radius of the curve on the quadrant enclosure and tray, for example. Also make sure you’ve bought the correct shape as trays are often –right- or left-handed and will depend on which corner your shower tray is being installed.
Where ever possible you should install your shower tray and then tile the walls so the tile sits on the tray itself as this will guarantee the best seal. Most of our trays can be retro-fitted so if your walls are already tiled then you can install the tray easily and not have to worry about the enclosure being compatible.
Some shower trays come with a shower waste and others are sold separately. Check the waste is the right size for the tray and a fast flow rate if you want the water to drain away quickly.
Don’t forget to ask your plumber to check the floor and shower tray can hold the weight of the glass enclosure and the individuals using it.
An entry level shower tray is usually acrylic with a scratch-resistant gel-coating or acrylic cap.
Pros: Great entry level-price, lightweight
Cons: Can’t always be used with a riser kit. Not always such a wide selection of sizes
A stone resin tray is crushed stone combined with a resin glue and an acrylic cap.
Pros: Very solid, long-lasting and strong and eliminates ‘bounce effect’ when standing on them Our widest selection of sizes and can be used with all shapes of shower enclosures
Cons: As the trays are heavy they can be difficult to handle during the installation process.
A wet room tray has an ultra-low profile of around 25mm. The tray sits flush to the floor tiles and with a single glass screen creates a walk-in wet room look without having to waterproof your entire floor which can be expensive and complex.
Pros: Very discreet for a modern, streamlined aesthetic. Some trays are suitable for wheelchair users. Easy to clean.
Cons: Might not be suitable for your subfloor
Shower heads can be attached to an exposed shower unit or fixed onto a straight or angled arm and mounted to the ceiling or wall. There are aesthetic reasons for choosing one over the other but consider the practicalities too. If you want two shower water flow functions the shower head needs to have this built-into the design. The pipework in an exposed shower unit will be easier to access than a concealed design. They are available in a wide variety of curved or square shapes in small or large sizes. Look for features like more than one water flow pattern; a water-saving function and a tilting head to adjust the water direction.
Pros: Loads of choice and flexibility to suit how you shower. They can be bought individually and mixed and matched with other components in a shower set
Cons: A fixed head on a straight arm has a limited water direction. A wall-mounted shower head on a long arm in a small enclosure can throw water too near the door.
Shower heads for handsets are small and screw onto the end of a shower hose.
Pros: Easy to change. Less surface area to cover so the water comes through quickly and feels more intense. Handy for rinsing a shower down, for flexible washing or washing your hair without getting into the bath!!
Cons: Only compatible with a small shower head
A Mixer Shower or shower valve draws hot and cold water into the shower and controls the temperature. One valve operates the hot and cold but you’ll need another one for the shower handset (or use a diverter control). One of the most important things to remember is you need a shower mixer tap with an outlet for each shower function. So a separate valve is needed for a shower head with different water flow functions (like rainfall and blade) and if you decide to have body jets. Look for a mixer tap with one, two, three or four outlets to control each of the shower functions you require.
The speed of a shower’s water flow will be dependent on your home’s water pressure – governed by the mains supply unless you install a power shower or a shower pump. Check the shower mixer tap is compatible (usually measured in bars) and can be adjusted by your plumber to work with your home’s water pressure.
An exposed bar mixer has one end that turns the water on and off and the end for controlling the temperature. They tend to only have one outlet so you can’t switch between water flow patterns or have body jets. Exposed mixer taps have more than one outlet and visible controls and pipework. They tend to suit a traditional style bathroom. A concealed mixer taps looks modern because pipework is embedded into the wall behind a smooth faceplate. Both come in designs with one, two or three outlets.
A digital shower has a control panel that allows you to manage the exact temperature and flow of your shower at a touch of a button. Features like a clock, eco setting, timer, and wireless connectivity to around 10m are available with some models.
Pros: Efficient showering with the latest technology
Cons: More expensive than a typical shower. The entire shower set needs to be digitally-compatible
An electric shower is a shower head connected to a hose linked to a box on the wall. Cold water comes in from the mains and is heated by an electrical element inside the box.
Pros: Only heats water when it’s needed so it’s energy efficient. The hot water won’t disappear if someone turns a tap on elsewhere in the house. You don’t have to wait for the water to heat up in the tank. Easy to fit. Multiple spray patterns.
Cons: Water pressure is reduced through the heating unit. Not suitable if the home’s water pressure is low. Electric showers also need a separate RCD and can make installation more complex if there isn’t a suitable cable already installed.
A power shower improves low mains water pressure for electric and mixer showers by using an electric pump to increase the water flow.
Pros: An ideal solution when water pressure is low
Cons: Not very eco-efficient as uses more water than a typical shower. Not suitable for all boiler systems
The most striking aspect to a shower in the bathroom is probably the shower enclosure. You might like the clean lines of a rectangular walk-in shower or prefer curves to echo the curve in the bath, basin or toilet. Take a closer look, do you want the enclosure to be framed or frameless? A frameless enclosure looks discreet in a small bathroom because it’s virtually all glass. The ultimate frameless shower is the walk-in design with a single glass panel. A framed design has a chunky, robust feel so consider the finish on the frame too, whether it be brushed or polished chrome.
Shower heads come in a wide range of curved and square designs in many sizes. This, along with a concealed or exposed shower mixer tap, draws a distinctive look to the shower. For a traditional look, try the chunky style of the exposed mixer with a lever handle. Couple this with a smaller, round apron shower head with a swan-neck arm on an exposed unit or mounted to the wall.
A contemporary shower looks good with an oversized square or circular head to make a statement with a discreet concealed mixer tap with square or round handles to match. A spa bathroom would benefit from a stylish rectangular shower head mounted to the wall with the option to shower under a gentle rainfall water pattern or a more intense ‘blade’. Again, go for a discreet concealed mixer tap and if you have enough outlets top off with body jets.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match products. Just check they’re compatible before you do.
How much to spend?
There are showers for all budgets, starting at entry level prices and rising up to premium products. It’s important to look for a shower enclosure made of sturdy materials with good quality hinges and rollers and the guarantee will give you peace of mind.
Don’t forget to include the installation costs. Day rates for plumbers vary around the country. Budget around £150-£200 a day, but seek out three or four quotes before you decide so you can be sure you’re paying the going rate.
Good to know
Check the measurements of your shower space. If you don’t come to a round number that matches the exact shower enclosure size then don’t worry, most have an adjustment range for a good fit. Be sure to check the small print carefully before you select one with enough tolerance for your space.
The construction of the subfloor will determine where you lay the waste pipes and consequently, the height of the shower tray. Timber floorboards are the most flexible because the pipes can go underneath or over the top – just make sure there are no joists or beams in the way. A slimline shower tray (around 25-40mm high) works with timber floorboards because pipework has to go beneath the floor because there isn’t space under the tray.
It’s difficult and expensive to fit plumbing underneath concrete floors so you need a riser kit to raise the height of the shower tray up on legs for the waste to go below. A matching plinth hides the pipework. Remember the riser kit creates a bigger step-up.
- Measure your shower space
- Check your subfloor construction
- Small apron shower heads suit a traditional look
- Oversized shower heads are contemporary
- Choose a mixer tap with the right number of outlets
- Look for a compatible enclosure and tray
- Easy Clean Glass repels water
- Digital showers use the latest technology
- Steam showers offer a steam function for relaxing
- Electric showers save energy
- Power showers improve water pressure
- Square or rectangle showers offer the most choice
- Walk-in showers look modern
- Pentagonal showers save space
- Quadrant showers add curves to a bathroom
- Shower baths offer the best of both worlds
- Hinged doors maximise the shower opening
- Sliding doors work well in restrictive spaces
- Pivoting and in-fold doors don’t need a wide door swing
- Corner showers have easy access
- Stone resin trays are strong and solid
- Wet room showers look discreet
Feeling inspired? Browse our ranges online or visit your local Showroom.