Updating your shower: walk-in or enclosed? back to Tips & Advice

Updating your shower: walk-in or enclosed?

Walk-in showers are a popular choice for contemporary bathrooms. If you're considering this option for your bathroom reno, here’s what you need to know before going ahead.

Keeping your bathroom dry

A true walk-in shower is designed not to need a door or curtain to keep the bathroom dry. Typically, the showerhead is isolated around a corner or behind a wall, with a sloped shower floor directing water away from the opening into a central drain grate and/or shower channels.
A door-less walk-in shower is a great way to visually enlarge your bathroom. However, even with a correctly placed showerhead, sloped floor and perfectly designed drainage, there will still be some splashing. This open type of shower best suits a larger bathroom to ensure water doesn't end up where you don't want it.

Choosing the right showerhead

Consider the spray radius of the showerhead, as water needs to be directed away from fixtures and lights. An overhead rainwater shower directs the stream downwards and can help to contain water flow.
If you go for an adjustable handheld showerhead or handset, you may need a glass door or screen to keep water in the shower area. Glass can work well in a small bathroom as it maintains the visual effect that everything is open while keeping your bathroom dry.

Keeping the room warm

Adding underfloor heating to your design will make your bathroom warmer and more comfortable while also helping keep the area free from damp.

Ventilation and lighting

If your bathroom is properly ventilated you won’t need to install any special venting, but you may want to consider additional lighting.

Accessibility benefits

A walk-in shower without a glass barrier or curb makes the bathroom safer and more accessible for people of all ages and with all levels of mobility. Entrances can be wide enough for wheelchair access.
Easy accessibility is a great marketing point when you come to sell your property.

Cost considerations

Walk-in showers can be far more expensive than traditional enclosed showers because they are custom-designed and often involve complex hidden drainage systems and high-quality bespoke fittings.

Waterproofing

A waterproofing membrane needs to be installed in the shower area to direct water away from the drywall or subfloor and towards the drain.
Any tiles or other finishes to the floor and walls are applied on top of this barrier, at least to above showerhead height if not full floor-to-ceiling coverage.
Poor waterproofing can result in tiling failures, leaks and costly repairs, so it’s important to get it right.

Drainage channels and grates

Central grates require the shower floor to slope towards a central point.
For a smooth floor finish, consider installing a shower channel along one wall so the entire floor surface slopes in one direction only.
Installing a channel at the entrance of the shower (as a threshold) also contains surface water and directs it to the drain.
Our photo shows the Vision shower channel, a Master Plumbers Recommends product from Allproof Industries. It has
a tile insert that you can customise to match your floor. See the full range of finishes here.

Other options

If you decide a walk-in shower is not for you, the more traditional enclosed shower comes in a wide range of sizes and designs to suit bathrooms of any size.
Think about how you will access the shower, as this will dictate the number of panels and type of door (hinged, sliding or bi-fold). Also consider how easy the unit is to clean and maintain – inside and out.
Modern shower enclosures can add contemporary style to your bathroom without breaking the bank.
The enclosed space also keeps in the warmth, so you may use less hot water than in a walk-in shower, resulting in energy bill savings!

Seek advice before you start

Your local Master Plumber can provide valuable insights into which option could best suit your home and quote for any work that needs doing. They can also advise if a consent will be needed.
Find your nearest Master Plumber here.