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A shower enclosure (or panel or screen) is needed to contain the shower spray, allow it to drain away effectively, and to protect other fittings and furnishings in the bathroom from getting a daily soaking. Most bathrooms have two available walls at a 90 degree angle which can provide the corner base for a shower enclosure. For a different approach, especially in a big bathroom, large-scale walk-in showers can have a single glass panel parallel to the wall to create a walk-through design
TYPES OF SHOWER ENCLOSURE
Walk-In Shower Enclosures
A walk-in shower enclosure doesn’t have an opening-closing door, it will usually consist of fixed floor panel and a staggered second panel, providing a drying-off space within the showering area. This are a good choice for a family bathroom, allowing parents to help little ones in and out of the shower without cramming into a closed enclosure!
Quadrant Shower Enclosures
A quadrant enclosure is an efficient way to allocate bathroom floor space; two walls at 90 deg and a symmetrical layout, the outer curved section can have two fixed panels and central doors, or for maximum entry and exit space, two doors that open outwards.
Offset & Rectangular Shower Enclosures
These enclosures can make good use of floor space if you don’t mind a non-symmetrical layout – in that the enclosure can have a short side and a long side, with the shower head/valve mounted wherever is convenient
Square Shower Enclosures
A square enclosure is a good solution if you want it to sit in a corner, but if the doors will need to open into the room, check there is adequate floor space – not just for the doors but for the bather to move around easily. If floor space is limited, you may need bi-fold or pivot doors.
TYPES OF DOORS
Hinged Shower Enclosure Doors
Hinged doors open outwards and provide the widest opening ratio to the door size. Check that other items in the room (sanitary ware, furniture) won’t get knocked when the door opens to its fullest extent.
Sliding Shower Enclosure Doors
Sliding doors can work for most enclosures, and are a good space-saving choice. It’s really worth visiting showrooms to gauge the smoothness and ease-of-use of sliding, pivot and bi-fold doors.
Pivot Shower Enclosure Doors
Pivot doors have a top and bottom pivot point, set a few centimetres in from the frame, so the opening isn’t quite as wide as a hinged door would provide. A stylish and sturdy choice.
Bi-Fold Shower Enclosure Doors
Bi-fold doors slide and fold inwards, and are economical, space-wise.
Frameless glass panels are static, and usually seen in a walk-in shower setting. Frameless glass panels visually expand the perceived space within the bathroom – there are no harsh frame lines to distract the eye.
A great choice if you want to have a wonderfully luxurious shower and steam experience in your bathroom. A cabin is a fully enclosed showering area, with a roof, so all the internal surfaces are enclosed. It will have an integral tray, steam generator, usually a seat/stool, body jets and some have special lighting effects too. A cabin is larger than a standard enclosure, and of course will need appropriate installation regarding the steam generator and electrics.
Shapes & Sizes
Lots of choices of shapes and sizes, the retailer supplying the enclosure will offer a matching or co-ordinating tray – it’s important that enclosure and tray are compatible. Rigidity is vital, once the tray is installed it needs to be completely stable – any ‘give’ or movement will jeopardise the seals and seams between the bottom of the screen/enclosure and the tray, allowing water to leak.
Raised or Flush Fitting
If you haven’t chosen a shower tray recently, you may still be thinking of designs that need a step ‘up and over’ to enter the enclosure. Fear not, today’s models are generally designed to have a very discreet ‘step’ if one is necessary, and there are lots of designs that are virtually flush to the floor.
Materials & Colours
Acrylic and moulded resin/stone composite materials are stable, tough, scratch-resistant and hardwearing. Enamelled steel designs are also extremely stable, and are available in beautiful colours. Look for non-slip properties and accessible drain covers. There are also different finishes available, from smooth high-gloss to matt, velvety ‘soft touch’ shower trays.
SHOWER ENCLOSURES: Other Considerations
Thickness of glass
When viewing enclosures, consider the thickness of the glass – which will be toughened safety glass. 6mm glass is fairly standard, looks good and doors will swish and close with a satisfying, efficient and quiet ‘thunk’. Glass can go up to 10mm thick at the premium end of the scale. Look at the sliding and hinge mechanisms too – check for ease of cleaning and if the door can be adjusted or lifted away from the track or runner for cleaning purposes.
Ease of access
It’s hard to judge access just from looking at a brochure or catalogue. Take the trouble to check out different styles and sizes of enclosure, how the doors open and close can make a difference. Make a paper template of the anticipated enclosure and place it on the floor to assess ‘moving around’ space more accurately, especially if anyone in the family has limited mobility.
Tiles & Panels
The interior of the enclosure must, of course, be waterproof. Tiles are the most popular option, with a vast choice of sizes, shapes and patterns available, from tiny mosaics to large-scale sheets of marble. If you want something different, consider laminate or acrylic shower panels, which can look like marble, stone, or even high-gloss glass.