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Curbless Shower

The Curious Case Of The Curbless Shower

By November 29th, 2023No Comments
curbless shower

What Is A Curbless Shower?

The curb of your shower is the small wall that you step over to enter the shower. This could be the edge of your tub or a small tiled wall built to contain water in a shower only square. Many pre-fab shower only inserts will have a small ledge that you will need to step over. The purpose of these ledges or small walls is to contain the spread of the water. Like in a tube they are built to keep water in. 

A curbless shower is a shower that has no obstacle between the transition from bathroom to shower. There is no curb, no ledge, no wall, or any obstruction to the natural floor. Depending on the tile or material choice there could be a transition from one material to a shower safe tile. Further, there can still be a door or glass wall that protrudes for you to walk around. 

Do Curbless Showers Get The Bathroom Wet?

Properly built curbless showers support you getting wet, but not your towels or bathroom mates. Think of a gym that has an open showering area. There are no curbs. You can just walk into a large room. This is basically the same thing except with less naked people. At the point of transition from “bathroom” to “shower” the slope of the tiled floor starts to slant uniformly towards a central drain. 

Most likely your current tub or shower slants slightly as well. However, here the slant is more pronounced so that no water exits under a glass door (if it has one) and into the rest of the bathroom. So, due to the slant there is no need for a curb. If you would prefer an enclosed space you can still glass off the shower or place a glass divider next to the showering area to protect the sink or electronics or towels from any splashes.

Does The Heat Escape A Curbless Shower?

If there are no walls to the shower then the heat from the steam will extend to the next biggest area, the bathroom as a whole. The lack of a curb doesn’t inhibit or alter the heat in the shower. This is more of a consideration of the geometry of the enclosure, i.e. if you decide to enclose or only partially enclose. If heat loss is a major concern, a heating element under the tile is a popular and common technique to warm the sole (or soul, whichever you are concerned about).

What Are The Advantages Of A Curbless Shower?

Your Bathroom Gets A Larger Appearance

Depending on how you integrate a curbless shower into your space, your bathroom will take on a much more open feeling and give you the sense that you have more space to work with. Particularly when you choose a door-less option, the shower space becomes usable for more than just showering. It because a natural extension to the vanity. This can be primarily useful when more than one person is using the bathroom. No more elbows in the gut or face.

There Is Improved Accessibility

Think ADA compliance. Are you considering using a bathroom for someone in a wheel chair? Or is your home for sale in an area that is popular with retirees? ADA compliance is not only a selling point it is easier to add value to the utility of your home. Who knows what will happen in the future. Curbless now means one less thing to modify in the future. See the US DOJ guidelines for more information on this topic.

Curbless Showers Are Easier To Clean 

Tubs can be difficult to clean. Even curbs, due to their size, are either ignored or slaved over with different sized tools. However, a curbless shower requires no more tools or equipment than you would already be using to clean the rest of your bathroom and shower. So, for example, if you are mopping with a squeegee or flat wet rag you can transition from the bathroom to the shower without ever having to pick up the mop. This may sound like an infomercial but the benefits are real. Would you rather mop and sweep one large room or two small rooms with different pieces of equipment? 

Are There Any Tile Considerations For A Curbless Shower?

Tile Size And Drain Placement Is Important

Yes, the tile size and drain placement do matter to the organization of the curbless shower. The difference is between a centralized drain and a linear drain. A centralized drain requires smaller tiles to account for the circular sloping pattern of the shower floor. Larger tiles can’t accommodate such curves and smaller tiles will be required. 

A linear drain is a ledge at one end of the shower footprint that runs the length of the side. It allows all of the water to drain to it from a single slope pattern. Think of rain gutters on your roof. This is the same principle behind a linear drain. Linear drains give a cleaner appearance and are more modern.

Waterproof With Schluter Ditra – Underlayment For Tile Installation

The other consideration you need to know is what your sub-floor is made of. This isn’t specifically for curbless showers but applies to any remodel that includes weighted objects on your floor. As your home ages and shifts with time your floor will respond. Contracting and expanding based on the natural of the settling will negatively result in sprains, strains, and cracks throughout the floor. 

This is particularly a problem in the bathroom. Porcelain and movement don’t go well together. Cracking is imminent. Gaps and crevices also lead to water infiltration. Water infiltration leads to dry rot, which leads to more money down the proverbial and very real drain. You need a under tile membrane that moves with the floor and is completely waterproof to protect the jousts and any other wood material prone to dry rot. Schluter DITRA Matting is a protective lining that keeps your floors safe and secure. Few companies are certified. Tile With A Smile is a fully certified schluter systems installer. You can rest safe knowing that your water will stay in the drain.

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