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Home > Buying Guides > Plumbing > How to Upgrade a Shower
  

How to Upgrade a Shower

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DreamLine 2 piece Frameless NEO Tray Shower Enclosure

An essential part of the bathroom remodel or building of a new house would be finding the perfect shower. While showers are greatly dependent upon available space and plumbing, there are still certain things to be aware of when it comes time to go shopping for the pieces and parts of a shower.

This buyer’s guide will specifically look at shower bases, walls and doors. Showers are available in two common types, one where the base is a bathtub, and one that is strictly a shower – this buyer’s guide will focus on shower only.

Some shower bases and wall come together as a package but often times the pieces can be selected separately based on style and material preferences.

What’s in the Construction?

A basic shower base will be made most likely from acrylic while higher end bases are acrylic reinforced with fiber glass for a longer lasting product. Another option would be cast iron shower bases which are known for fighting bacteria but will require an appropriate cleaner and cannot be scrubbed with wire or steel wool sponges or brushes.

Alternatively, for a leak proof base shower base liners are available to create the base for a concrete shower base which can be decorated with tiles or rock for amore aesthetic look. Rubber bases are also used for people concerned with safety hazards of a slipper shower base.

As for shower walls, the most common material would be glass with either aluminum or brass accents. Glass is available in clear or frosted. Frosted glass doesn’t look dirty as quickly as clear and provide an additional layer of privacy for someone showering but clear glass adds the look of luxury and precision to the bathroom.

How to Size Things Up

It is important to find the best size shower for the bathroom to ensure the maximum amount of room for showering without overbearing the rest of the bathroom making it uncomfortable to navigate in and out.

To determine the best size shower for a bathroom, determine where the shower will be installed (keeping in mind it will need a drain and a place to install water faucets) and measuring the available space. Keep in mind that there are shower bases available for corners as well as flat walls which allow for the most efficient use of space.

When shopping for doors simply ensure that their size corresponds with the size of the shower base.

Shower Doors

Shower doors typically come as part of the shower wall set. Shower doors can be hinge open and close or sliding, which to purchase usually depends on personal preference. Investing in quality shower walls and doors will ensure a longer lasting product that is less likely to do things like fall out of its slider or fall off its hinges.

DreamLine Deluxe ENIGMA Frameless Sliding Shower Enclosure

One Big Pretty Package

If you do not want to purchase the walls and base separately there are shower enclosures available for sale which come as a complete package. Shower enclosures are made from the same materials and the same considerations should be taken when shopping for an enclosure as opposed to walls and a base.

Putting It All Together

Showers are usually installed when a house is being built or doing a remodel. Installing a shower by yourself can be a difficult task and if DIY projects are not something you do regularly it might be best to hire a professional to install the shower for you. Things you will need to install a shower include: hammer, screw drivers, measuring tape, a level, cement board, drywall screws, tile, lumber for blocking, leveling materials and all the parts of a drain.

When shopping for a shower base and walls consider things like which direction the door will open (or if the shower door is able to be installed to open either direction is ideal), how heavy the package will be when arrives and how you will get the pieces up to the bathroom where it will be installed.

Premier Faucet Sunflower Shower Head

Besides a base and walls, the most important parts of what makes a shower a shower would be the showerhead, valves and the drain.

Head and Handle Sets

After choosing the correct size of walls and bases it is time to choose a handle and head set. If you have a shower only shower you can browse through the multi-handle and single-handle shower sets for a style and finish that fits your bathroom best. Multi-handle sets feature a head and two handles for adjusting the temperature (a hot and cold) while single handle set feature a head and one handle which adjust from cold to hot. There are no advantages to one over the other and instead the purchasing decision should be made on personal preference. Although double handle does mean there is one more handle to clean.

If you have a shower/bath you will need to shop through the multi-handle set for shower and tubs or single handle sets for shower and tubs. These come as complete packages with a shower head, bath faucet, and handles.

Shower head and handles are the perfect way to incorporate bathroom style into the shower. Available in contemporary, traditional, functional and transitional styles you will be sure to find the perfect style and finish to top off the look of your bathroom.

A Bit of an Upgrade

If you are looking for an upgrade from the traditional shower head which is installed in the wall, hand held showerheads are often cited as a luxury item. Hand held showerheads are available in any finish to match your bathroom including chrome, nickel, bronze and copper and are also available with massage options and more.

Alternatively, if you don’t mind having a shower head that does not have the ability to be moved but it is at an angle you are unhappy with there are shower arms available to achieve the perfect positioning.

Shower Valves and Drains

Kohler Hotel Hand Kit Hand Held Shower

The shower valve and drain are the behind the scenes products which help your shower accomplish what it is supposed to; namely providing clean water and disposing of used water.

The valve is installed behind the wall of the shower and be accessed during home building or if you are remodeling you will need to cut a hole in the wall (from behind, not through the shower tiles) to access and replace the old shower valve.

The shower valve must be purchased to match the shower or bath handle sets. For example, a valve for a bath will be shorter than that for a shower because the shower head hangs up much higher than that for the bath.

Shower drains will be attached to plumbing, typically PVC piping and will be screwed or secured to the shower base. It is important to look for a drain that will fit your plumbing as well as the shower base.

Other things to look for when shopping for valves and drains include finish and features. Some valves are EnergyStar or WaterSense rated meaning they will save you water and therefore costs. Finishes available include chrome, brass, nickel, bronze and copper.

Shop All Shower Heads Valves and Drains
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