Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of these new shower features

If you’ve been researching bathroom renovations, you know slot drains and curbless showers are at the top of the trend list this year. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to these popular features.

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SLOT DRAINS: A slot drain replaces the traditional center round drain.

Advantages:

Safety:
The evenly sloped floor can be helpful for seniors with compromised balance abilities. The drain is off to the side, as opposed to underfoot during showering, eliminating the discomfort that is sometimes experienced when stepping on drain grids with bare feet.

Creative design:
Many styles are available allowing for unique, creative design options that can set a shower environment apart from the standard. Design options are virtually limitless.

Disadvantages:

Potential costs:
Slot or linear drains have a taller drain profile. Careful consideration must be taken when planning and designing the floor structure system to accommodate this limitation. A last-minute decision to convert to a linear drain system can be prohibitively expensive. Depending on which linear drain system is selected, and the changes required to the floor system, choosing a linear drain system can significantly increase costs.

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CURBLESS SHOWERS: Becoming increasingly popular, curbless showers have no traditional shower pan.

Advantages:

Safety:
Second only to staircases, the bathroom is where most household injuries occur. Contributing factors to this household hazard include getting in and out of bathing areas with slippery floors, bare feet, and often without the aid of glasses for those that need them for clear vision. A curbless shower can significantly reduce that danger. It also puts an end to the days of stubbing your toe getting out of the shower.

Seamless design:
The look and feel of a bathroom with a curbless shower is amazing. Building the shower floor area into the same, continuous floor design results in a spacious, integrated feel that doesn’t exist with a traditional shower pan. Combining a curbless design with a linear drain can result in some stunning effects that can also turn an everyday shower into an invigorating experience.

Aging-in-place:
Curbless showers can be a “must have” for those who want to stay in their home as long as possible. For those with limited mobility, the ability to gain access to bathing areas can be the difference between staying and moving.

Disadvantages:

Codes:
Current building codes are out of touch with the requirements of curbless showers. It’s crucial to work closely with a designer and the local building department to come up with design details that will pass local inspection. Each building department, and even individual inspectors treat these new designs differently. Upfront communication and design details on approved plans are critical.

Expense:
Depending on the particular situation, large-scale waterproofing systems may be required. Because there isn’t a curb to keep water flow controlled, the waterproofing system of the entire design requires careful consideration.

Framing:
The drain in a curbless shower system will be the low point in the entire bathroom. This means floor framing and structural details need to be taken into account early on in the design process in order to minimize undesirable cost and schedule impacts.

As with any remodeling project, there is no universal right answer for which shower features to incorporate into your design. Work with your designer to develop a plan that is right for your lifestyle and needs.