Recently, walk-in showers and shower enclosures have gained popularity as sought-after elements in bathroom design. These wet rooms not only enhance the spaciousness and luxury of bathrooms but also significantly increase the value of a home.
Whether renovating your existing bathroom or constructing a new house, you would likely desire a walk-in shower or shower enclosure as part of your design. However, to decide between the two, it is essential to understand each option better.
This article will closely examine and compare walk-in showers and shower enclosures. By the end of this read, you will hopefully grasp the distinction between these two types of wet rooms, enabling you to make a more knowledgeable selection for your bathroom design.
What are Shower Enclosures?
Shower enclosures are self-contained structures installed in bathrooms to create an enclosed space for showering. They are designed to keep the water contained within the shower area, preventing it from splashing onto the rest of the bathroom floor. Shower enclosures typically consist of several components:
- Walls: The walls of a shower enclosure provide the structure and support for the enclosure. They are usually made of glass, acrylic, or tile. Glass enclosures are popular because they offer a sleek and modern look while allowing light to pass through, making the bathroom feel more spacious.
- Door: The shower enclosure has a door that allows access to the shower area. The door can be hinged, sliding, or folded depending on the design and available space. It is usually made of glass or a combination of glass and metal frames.
- Base or Tray: The base, also known as a shower tray or pan, is the floor of the shower enclosure. It is designed to catch and drain the water that falls during showering. Shower bases can be made of acrylic, fibreglass, or tile.
- Fixtures and Fittings: Shower enclosures include various fixtures and fittings such as showerheads, faucets, handles, and drainage systems. These components are essential for controlling the water flow, temperature, and drainage within the enclosure.
Shower enclosures come in various sizes, styles, and configurations to suit different bathroom layouts and personal preferences. They can be custom-built or purchased as pre-fabricated units. Shower enclosures offer several benefits, including enhanced privacy, water containment, and a more organized and aesthetically pleasing bathroom space.
What are Walk-in Showers?
A walk-in shower is a type of shower that does not have a traditional door or enclosure, allowing you to walk directly into the showering area without any barriers. It is designed to provide easy access, particularly for individuals with mobility issues or who prefer a more open and spacious showering experience.
Here are some key features of walk-in showers:
- Accessibility: Walk-in showers are designed to be easily accessible, with no steps or raised barriers to navigate when entering or exiting the shower. This makes them a popular choice for individuals with limited mobility or using mobility aids such as wheelchairs or walkers.
- Open Design: Walk-in showers typically have an open design without a door or curtain. This creates a seamless transition between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom, giving the bathroom a spacious and contemporary look.
- Shower Base: Walk-in showers usually have a low-profile shower base, also known as a shower tray or pan, which is level with the bathroom floor or slightly raised to ensure proper drainage. The absence of a high step or curb makes it easier to enter and exit the shower safely.
- Safety Features: Many walk-in showers incorporate safety features to prevent slips and falls. These can include non-slip flooring materials, grab bars, built-in seating, and handheld showerheads that can be easily adjusted or lowered for convenient use.
- Customization: Walk-in showers offer various sizes, shapes, and materials customization options. They can be tailored to fit the available space in your bathroom and can be designed to suit your personal style preferences.
Walk-in showers are widespread due to their accessibility, functionality, and modern aesthetic. They provide a comfortable and convenient showering experience while accommodating individuals with varying needs and abilities.
Walk-In Showers Vs Enclosures: Materials
Let’s compare the materials commonly used for both shower enclosures and walk-in showers:
- Shower Enclosures: Glass is a popular choice for shower enclosures due to its sleek and modern look. It allows light to pass through, creating a sense of openness. Glass enclosures can be clear, frosted, or textured for privacy.
- Walk-in Showers: Glass is often used in walk-in showers to create an open and spacious feel. It can be used as panels or walls to enclose the shower area while maintaining a visually appealing and airy ambiance.
- Shower Enclosures: A tile is a versatile option for shower enclosures. It offers endless design possibilities with various colours, patterns, and textures. Tiles can be ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone, providing a waterproof and visually appealing finish.
- Walk-in Showers: Tile is commonly used for walk-in showers, allowing for customization and various design options. It is durable, waterproof, and can create a cohesive look for walls and flooring.
- Shower Enclosures: Acrylic is a lightweight and cost-effective material used for shower enclosures. It is available in various colours and can mimic the look of glass. Acrylic shower enclosures are easy to clean and maintain but may scratch more easily.
- Walk-in Showers: Acrylic is also used for walk-in showers, providing a lightweight and budget-friendly option. It can be moulded to create a seamless and waterproof enclosure and is relatively easy to clean and maintain.
- Shower Enclosures: Natural stone, such as marble, granite, or slate, can create luxurious shower enclosures. Stone enclosures offer a unique high-end aesthetic but require proper sealing and maintenance.
- Walk-in Showers: Natural stone can be used in walk-in showers to create a sophisticated and visually stunning shower space. However, it requires proper sealing and maintenance to prevent staining and water damage.
- Shower Enclosures: Metal frames or trims are often used in shower enclosures to provide structural support and stability. Typical metals include aluminum, stainless steel, and brass. Metal frames can be anodized, painted, or finished in various styles.
- Walk-in Showers: Metal fixtures such as showerheads, faucets, and grab bars can be used in walk-in showers. Stainless steel, in particular, is known for its durability, corrosion resistance, and contemporary look.
Overall, the materials used for both shower enclosures and walk-in showers are quite similar. Glass, tile, acrylic, and stone are commonly used in both cases, while metal is primarily used for fixtures and frames. The choice of material depends on desired aesthetics, durability, maintenance requirements, and budget. It’s essential to consider each project’s specific needs and preferences to make an informed decision about the most suitable material.
Walk-in Showers Cost Vs Shower Enclosures Cost
The cost and price of shower enclosures and walk-in showers can vary depending on several factors, including the materials used, the size of the shower area, customization options, and installation requirements. Here’s a general comparison of the cost and price aspects:
Cost of Materials:
- Shower Enclosures: The cost of materials for shower enclosures can vary widely based on the chosen materials. Glass enclosures tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum, especially if high-quality tempered or safety glass is used. Tile enclosures can have varying costs depending on the type and quality of the tiles selected. Acrylic and fibreglass enclosures are generally more affordable options.
- Walk-in Showers: The cost of materials for walk-in showers follows a similar pattern to shower enclosures. Glass panels, tile, acrylic, and natural stone can all have different prices based on the quality and desired aesthetics.
Customization and Complexity:
- Shower Enclosures: Customized or complex shower enclosure designs, such as intricate tile patterns, large glass panels, or unique shapes, can significantly impact costs. The complexity of the installation process, including any modifications required, may also affect the overall price.
- Walk-in Showers: Similarly, the customization and complexity of walk-in showers can influence the cost. Specialized tile work, multiple glass panels, or unique features like built-in seating or niches can increase the price.
- Shower Enclosures: Shower enclosures typically involve the cost of materials and labour. Glass enclosures may require professional installation due to their weight and precise measurements, which can add to the overall cost.
- Walk-in Showers: Walk-in showers generally have similar installation requirements to shower enclosures. The complexity of the design, the need for plumbing modifications, and any additional features or fixtures will impact the installation cost.
- Shower Enclosures: The price range for shower enclosures can vary widely. Basic pre-fabricated units or simple tile installations can start from a few hundred dollars, while high-end, custom-designed glass enclosures can range into thousands of dollars.
- Walk-in Showers: The price range for walk-in showers is comparable to shower enclosures. The cost will depend on the materials used, size, customization, and complexity of the design, with basic installations starting from a few hundred dollars and more elaborate designs costing several thousand dollars.
Which One is Worth The Investment?
Both shower enclosures and walk-in showers can contribute to the value and appeal of a home. Still, when it comes to increasing home value, shower enclosures are generally considered a better investment. Here’s why:
- Broad Appeal: Shower enclosures have a wider appeal and are more commonly found in homes, making them the standard feature buyers expect. They provide a sense of privacy, contain water effectively, and are often viewed as a more traditional and functional option.
- Aesthetics: Shower enclosures offer various design options and can be customized to suit different bathroom styles and preferences. They can enhance the overall look and feel of the bathroom, contributing to its visual appeal and potentially attracting buyers.
- Versatility: Shower enclosures can be made from various materials, including glass, tile, and acrylic. This versatility allows homeowners to choose a style that fits their needs and preferences, as well as the overall design of the bathroom. The ability to select different materials and finishes offers more options for customization.
- Perceived Value: Buyers often perceive shower enclosures as a higher-end feature that adds value to a home. The presence of a well-designed and functional shower enclosure can leave a positive impression and potentially justify a higher asking price.
While walk-in showers have advantages, such as accessibility and a spacious feel, they may be more specialized and cater to specific needs. Walk-in showers may not have the same broad appeal as shower enclosures, as they may be perceived as more niche or suited for individuals with mobility concerns.