Industry Ed with Richard: Shower Design Trends, Part 1

This is the first in my two-part Shower Design Trends series. In this post, I’m going to talk about designing showers. In my second post, I’m going to talk about hardware and accessories that are popular in shower design. 

Showers are dominating the bathroom. Changing lifestyles have a lot to do with this – people are more busy, moving from one thing to thing another, and want to spend less time cleaning. Some are also swayed by the supposed eco-friendly and green benefits of using showers over tubs. Whatever their reasons, showers are a must in bathroom renovation projects.

Shower construction has not changed drastically in the past few years. Most of the showers I design still consist of the following:

  1. a conventional tiled wall or surround 

  2. a tiled floor 

  3. a drain

  4. a glass door in front 

  5. a shower head

Today’s trends mostly come in the form of tweaks on this traditional  format. 

Right now, the most desirable trait of a shower is size. Most people want larger, nicer showers. These are just some of the traits that I have received from clients in regards to size: 

  1. at least a 42” x 42” footprint 

  2. can accommodate two people

  3. large enough for a bench 

  4. large enough for an in-shower tub 

The extra space makes cleaning easier and opens the door for accessibility in the future. 

I’ve noticed many of my clients are transitioning to curbless shower entries. If you aren’t familiar with these showers, there is no step up from the bathroom into the shower. I like them a lot. It gives the shower a clean, modern look and makes the shower accessible for people using wheelchairs. These showers are easy to add to plans in a new build. If you’re working on a renovation, you might have to sink the rough floor down a few inches. You can

  1. saw into the slab and repour at a lower level 

  2. cut into beams of a pier-and-beam structure, to add extra room for the rough floor 

Doing this will give you the angle needed to drain water properly. 

If your client wants a curbless shower, you might also consider installing a trough drain. These drains line one wall of the shower. The floor of the shower can be flat, as opposed to sloped, making maneuverability much easier. Trough drains also allow for a larger tile, which opens up a range of decorating possibilities. Two-inch by two-inch tiles are really the largest you can use with a central drain, but you can easily work with large tiles or even a solid piece of stone or marble for a trough drain system. 

A fairly new trend, which might get more attention in the future, is the doorless shower. These showers are just what they claim to be. Removing the door cuts down on maintenance of glass and hardware. The most difficult thing to address with this shower style is size. The shower head needs to be far enough away from the door opening to ensure that it doesn’t splash water into the bathroom. I recommend a footprint of at least 3 1/2′ wide by 7′ long.

The last thing I want to talk about day is the niche. Shampoo niches are extremely popular at the moment. They give clients extra storage space, as well as add a decorative element to the shower design. Using a contrasting tile color or size in the niche draws the eye. Foot niches are a great addition as well. These niches are lower on the shower wall and make shaving easy, especially if the shower doesn’t have a bench. 

In my next blog post, I’ll go into the hardware and additions that are popular in showers. Benches, niches, shower heads and thermally-controlled valves will all be addressed. 

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