Today I want to talk a little bit about shower walls, or, more specifically, the underloved, unappreciated shower stall. Now, I’ll admit that I understand the relative absence of shower stall style shower walls on design shows or what have you. If you have a big budget, you’re probably going to have the shower tiled, and if you don’t have a lot of space, you’d probably opt for a bathtub shower combo. But simple shower stalls do have their place, too, and not just as a last resort for a small budget in a big bathroom.
Very Small Bathroom
First and foremost, small, corner-style shower stalls offer the absolute most compact bathing option you can get. Even regular small square-shaped shower walls take up more space than a corner-oriented shower stall. That means that some shower stalls give you the ability to turn a half bath into a 3/4 bath without taking up much space and on a relatively small budget. This is a fantastic solution for a growing home, if you simply need more places for people to bathe but adding another full bathroom isn’t an option. And because it’s a project that’s much easier to install than a fully tiled shower, it can be done quickly as well as inexpensively. Heck, with something like this Neo-Angle Shower Kit, you could potentially even do it yourself.
The Just Big Enough Bathroom
Having a separate shower and bathtub is typically considered very desirable, if only because it offers you more flexibility in selecting and designing both. In a master bath, it also adds usability if both fixtures ever need to be used at once. But installing a full sized tub and a full sized shower takes a lot more space than most people have. So it might be worth, again, considering very compact shower stalls like this Intrigue New-Angle to get the functionality of a shower without taking up too much floor space. Especially if you want to get a large tub – like a big soaking tub or whirlpool tub – opting for a smaller, more utilitarian shower walls can give you the space you need to do it.
Budget Conscious Big Bathroom
Or, if it’s your budget, not your space, that’s limiting you, choosing larger shower stalls like this High Gloss Shower is a good way to help stretch your dollar during a major remodel, especially if you can do some of the installation yourself. Of course, you’ll have to decide what’s most important to you. Before you begin, you’ll want to prioritize which luxury items you want the most and which ones you’ll be the most likely to use. But if heated floors or a jacuzzi tub comes up higher on your list than a mosaic tile shower, full sized shower stalls can give you all the functionality you need while saving you on the extensive construction, the cost of tile, the hassle of installation, and the effort of trying to make all the tile in your bathroom mesh.
In fact, you can even get shower walls like this Ensemble Shower that are designed to look tiled, with built in grooves and colored, glazed tile faces, but without the hassle of actually doing any tile work, and without any grout to clean. This can create the appearance of a more finished, traditional tile shower stalls without nearly the same impact on the bottom line of your bathroom budget.
Cost Effective Custom Shower
In the same vein, if you’ve allotted a certain amount of money towards building a custom shower, you might want to consider how exactly you want to spend it. Again, a very personal choice. Perhaps travertine walls is the most important, but if you want to add other little luxuries, like a multitude of shower heads (which involves not only buying the fixtures, but also often rerouting your plumbing, or even buying a bigger water heater), or a steam bath system, you might want to consider less expensive base shower walls to save money for your other add-ons. Simple, inexpensive shower walls like this Ensemble Shower will do the trick, and leave you with enough money left over to get your favorite rainfall shower head and then some.
In addition to the stylized tile shower walls, you can also find shower stalls – especially those from Swanstone – that are made of a colored, bonded resin to resemble stone. Admittedly it’s not the same as having a marble shower enclosure, but if you want something that isn’t white, almond, or biscuit, it’s a good way to get a more varied look. Something like this Veritek Shower will add a little color and a little texture to your bathroom, while still keeping your budget open enough to add the kind of customization you’ll really get a lot of use out of – the type, number, and placement of shower heads you want.
Managing Limited Mobility
Where shower stalls and shower walls really stand out the most, though, is for people with limited mobility. The ability to tend to your own hygiene is supremely important for independent living, but your average bathtub can be difficult to get in and out of. But shower stalls and full sized shower walls can be equipped with a variety of easily accessible and mobility-enabling features. Depending on your model, some can be installed level with your floor, eliminating the need to step up into the shower. And Sterling offers a whole line of ADA approved and aging-friendly shower stalls like this Accord Age In Place Shower Wall that come with seats that lock in place when you need them but that can be removed when you don’t, and built in backing so you can install grab bars either upon installation or very easily as your mobility lessens.
Shower stalls and shower walls might not be the big stars of major bathroom remodels, but in certain situations they can be exactly the solution you need, whether your problem is limited mobility, limited space, or a limited budget. What has you considering a bathroom shower wall or shower stall?