Beauty of a Curb-less Shower

Many years ago, when we did a remodeling project for our client, we were planning to create a curb-less shower for the client thanks to her love and passion for the sleek modern design. We used large-format tiles for their bathrooms from the floors to the walls. And we wanted to continue that seamless large-format tile into the shower floor by building a curb-less shower. Back then, because of the situation of the client original shower, local codes and limit of available products , we had to changed that plan. Nowadays, with more innovative products available in the market, more trained skilled labors, thriving of universal design, and manufacturers’ willing to work with local municipalities for any code issues,a curb-less shower looks like much easier to achieve than ever before.

Don’t you love the airy and open feel of these curb-less showers?

There are 5 benefits to install a curb-less shower:

  1. Creates a continues flow of the bathroom floor to have a much more open feel in the bathroom, specially when you have a small one, this can be a great solution.
  2. Able to use all sizes of tiles, particularly the application of large-format tiles. In a standard shower the floor tile is usually required to be smaller to be able to contour to a floor that pitches in multiple directions toward a central drain. With a linear drain the floor need only pitch in one direction, this allows for a larger format tile to be installed on the shower floor if desired.
  3. The using of large-format tiles means less grout lines and the shower will be much easier to clean. The seamless design also means less places for mildew and grime to gather.
  4. No need to install a shower door if you choose not to, which can save some remodeling cost.
  5. Easier access for everyone. This is where Universal Design comes from. Universal design is the design of buildings, products or environments to make them accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors. A 4” tall shower curb which is a cinch for a teenager to step over can be a mountaintop for their grandmother. Eliminating a curb makes the shower an “equal opportunity” space. The wheel chair can be easily rolled in and a tripping hazard can be eliminated.

Several Factors to Consider When Installing a Curb-less Shower:

Slope the Floor

The curb-less shower is designed for water to stay where it belongs. The workhorse of a barrier-free shower is the drain, which ensures that water doesn’t run all over the room. To allow for proper drainage, the floor needs to be slightly sloped toward the drain. Sloping the shower floor slightly in the direction of the drain is both helpful and necessary to guide the water toward the drain. The slope should not exceed 1/8th -1/4th inch per foot. More than this will make it difficult for someone using a wheeled mobility device to sit level (not continually roll in the direction of the slope) while performing the shower.

Linear Drain

Trench drains have a long, linear-shaped grate on top that rests flush with the shower floor and a trough-like channel present underneath to collect the water. A trough drain is usually installed at the opening of the shower stall or along the floor at the back of the shower. As we mentioned before, with a linear drain the floor need only pitch in one direction, this allows for a larger format tile to be installed on the shower floor if desired. Linear drains with a shallow channel or modern waterproofing techniques can help decrease overall floor height to achieve an easy, barrier-free installation.

To choose right linear drain, we need to consider the following two factors:

  1. Which waterproofing technique will be used

Different waterproofing techniques require different channel fabrications, so a decision must be made on which type of waterproofing will be done in the shower enclosure.

  • Traditional—Traditional waterproofing techniques are the most popular options in the United States. They utilize a clamping flange to connect to the waste line. The PVC shower pan liner or rubber liner is most common, followed by other more regional-specific techniques that include hot mop (which is only used in California), and lead or copper shower pans (which are found in the Northeast). Make sure the linear drains you choose can work with these traditional waterproof methods.
  • Modern—There are two options to this technique: one uses a liquid membrane that dries into a hard surface, and the other uses a pliable fabric sheet. Modern waterproofing requires a linear drain channel with a flanged edge. This provides a surface for the liquid membrane (or fabric sheet waterproofing) to bond to the channel. The waterproofing then continues over the shower floor and up the walls. Flanged channel linear drains are available with either a vertical outlet or horizontal side outlet.

2. What is the total flow rate of the fixtures?

Flow rates of the specified shower fixtures need to be calculated early in the planning phase. The linear drain must be able to handle the combined flow rate of the fixtures installed in the shower. For example, a shower may include a rain head, hand-held, and a traditional shower head, each with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute. Standard linear drains can handle up to 9 gallons of water per minute and connect to a 2″ waste line. High flow versions that connect to a 3″ waste line will accommodate a flow rate of 21 gallons of water per minute.

You can click here to learn more about linear drain installation guide.

Shower Position

Shower head position is important, as is aiming the water in a direction that causes the least backsplash.

You can click here to learn more about how to achieve a curb-less shower success.

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