Selecting Bathroom Fixtures Showers and Bathtubs Homeowner Guide Bathroom Remodeling in Lincoln,

Selecting Bathroom Fixtures Showers and Bathtubs Homeowner Guide Bathroom Remodeling in Lincoln,

The Bathroom Shower as Spa and Therapy Center

If you would like to go a bit beyond an ordinary shower, today’s showering choices give you a lot of options.

Among the options available to consumers are showers that deliver hydro-massage, as well as showers that mimic the experience of a steam room at a health club or spa. In fact, that’s the whole idea — to transform a standard shower into one of life’s indulgences, a retreat that offers physical and emotional wholeness and balance.

While in the past, most home showers wouldn’t have been able to drive more than one showerhead, new technology can deliver and distribute water for a custom shower or home spa.

New shower designs address the fact that not everyone is the same size by making their components adjustable. Some products feature showerheads with telescoping arms that can be effortlessly adjusted up and down, and radially as well. The adjustability can help in other ways, too: If you don’t want your hair to get wet, just move the arm down.

To complete the home spa experience, consider adding steam to your shower. Steam has a way of slowing you down, and it promotes breathing and relaxation.

From practical to pampered, new shower innovations make it easier than ever to relax and unwind in the privacy of your own bathroom

Power Showers

Multiple head showers are becoming more frequent upgrades to existing bathrooms. Many add-on units do not even require revising the existing plumbing. They attach to the shower wall and merely supplement the existing showerhead.

For those who feel that ordinary house water pressure may not be enough for the true therapeutic experience, manufacturers are beginning to offer power showers.

These multiple showerhead cabinets are fitted with pumps just like whirlpools that feed high-pressure jets in the unit. Adjustable from merely misty to blow-you-out-the-door, these units are the ultimate extension of the pioneering Water-Pik messaging showerhead of 30 years ago.

Steam Showers

As anyone who has ever been to a steam room can attest, steam may be the ultimate environment for complete relaxation. New products make the option of a steam bath right in the shower easy. At about the same price as a hot tub, steam showers are an affordable luxury for many homeowners.

There are two basic approaches to steam showers. The first is to purchase a self-contained unit. This are almost always an acrylic unit carefully sealed to keep the steam in, a good idea unless you want to turn the whole house into a steam room and deal with a lot of moisture-related problems. They also usually contain the steam generating unit which otherwise has to be hidden in a wall or under a cabinet.

Limited choices in styles and colors, however, do not fit every bathroom style. The other option, a custom steam shower, can match any decor. The key is to ensure that the shower door fits tightly enough to keep the steam contained. This almost always means a custom-fabricated door.

Then there is probably going to be some plumbing to run pipes from the steam generator to the steam cabin, and some electrical work to connect the controls. All in all, a custom-built steam shower will run about double the cost of the same sized self-contained unit. T here are three basic types of showers: showers built over separate tubs, integrated one-piece tub-shower units and stand-alone showers. All these types are prefabricated by a number of manufacturers, and all can be custom-built by a qualified local craftsman.

Integrated Tub/Shower Unit

These units, typically made of acrylic or fiberglass, consist of a tub and surround as either a one-piece unit for new construction or a three- or four-piece system for remodeling. Openings are provided in for the showerhead, faucet and drain. These may include integrated doors, an integrated curtain rod, or just a slot into which a rod may be inserted. Many now include cast-in seats and shelves that provide a place for shampoo and body wash, as well as backing for grab bars. An increasing number incorporate a fungicide in their composition that retards mold and mildew. Both materials are easy to clean and maintain, but prone to scratching. So, some care is required in both their use and their maintenance. But with just a little care, these fixtures will provide good service for many years.

In most cases, an integrated tub/shower unit is the least expensive shower option. But, do yourself the favor of laying out a few extra dollars and getting a good one. Generally if you buy through your plumber, you will get good quality. If you buy through your local lumber store, you may not. And, there is no easy way to tell good from bad quality in these units except by knowing what to look for and conducting a close examination. But, generally, the thicker and heavier it is, the better it’s quality.

Shower Over Tub

If the look of fiberglass or acrylic does not appeal to you, and the limited color selections give you pause, then you re a good candidate for the most widely installed shower/tub option, the shower over tub.

Almost all tubs installed today include a shower built over the tub. Except in a period bath, you will rarely see a tub by itself. In effect, the tub is used as the waterproof shower base. A curtain or shower door closes off the tub when the shower is in use. The shower doors are actually called shower enclosures a term that refers to doors that take the place of a shower curtain. The doors may slide or one door open outward. The other three sides of the shower — called the tub surround — are usually ceramic tile.

But, there are some new materials for surrounds on the market that are worth a look-see if you are planning a new shower. Solid surfacing materials such as Corian and Onyx have found a place in bathrooms as shower surrounds along with the older standby, Swanstone. So have the true stones such as granite and marble, although the skills required to cut, shape and install solid stone panels are still not commonly found, and these are high-maintenance materials. Even wood and metal, particularly stainless steel and copper have been used as shower surrounds. These are, however, rare and expensive, and require almost daily maintenance.

But even with all the new materials, ceramic tile is still the gold standard of shower construction. Tile is the most designer-friendly material with virtually unlimited colors and patterns to suit any decor.

Still, many people don’t like tile showers because they remember the crumbling, stained tile shower in their parents’ bath. Things have definitely changed, however. Technology has eliminated virtually all of the problems that used to plague tile showers. Water-resistant and even water-proof backer surfaces have replaced the old «water resistant» dry wall backing, and eliminated leaking entirely. The new urethane and epoxy grouts are very stain resistant, making the chore of scrubbing grout a thing of the past. Of course, not every ceramic tile is suitable for a wet environment like a bathroom. To find out more about which tile to use, see Porcelain vs. Ceramic, What is the Difference?. Many of today’s tiles, designed especially for bathrooms, incorporate a fungicide, like Microban, that kills mold and mildew on the tile, but is entirely harmless to people and pets, although it’s probably still not a good idea to eat it.

Stand Alone Showers

A shower that does not include a tub is a stand-alone shower. These can be prefabricated, usually of acrylic, fiberglass, stainless steel or enameled steel, or built on site. Custom built units are typically faced with ceramic, porcelain or stone tile, but may use any of the alternate surround materials discussed above.

Custom tile showers used to be very expensive. Building one involved forming a sloped shower base out of concrete a task not for the timid then covering the walls with concrete board and finally with tile.

Today’s technologies have made the process much simpler, faster and less expensive. Pre-cast shower floors made of a super dense foam (so strong, it is also used for truck ramps) can be trimmed to fit almost any size and shape of shower. They are not only faster to install, but cannot crack, and, therefore, have fewer leaking problems over time. The old technology, concrete backer boards, which can absorb water, have been replaced by engineered water-proof membranes that cannot. Introduced over 20 years ago, the new materials were slow to catch on, but are now in fairly wide use as their durability has proven itself.

Which is not to say that custom showers are now cheap. They’re not. Expect to fork out between $2k-3k for a custom tile shower, but that’s quite a bit less than the $4k and up that they cost just 10 years ago.

What to Look For

Here is what to look for when planning for and purchasing a shower.

Door Swing

If you are considering a unit with a hinged door that opens out, make sure there is enough space in the room for doors to swing. Doors should swing freely without interfering with a task area where another bathroom user may be standing. There are few things more annoying than being assaulted by a shower door while brushing one’s teeth.

A hinged shower door should incorporate some mechanism to prevent water from dripping from the inside of the door onto the bathroom floor. Often this is a gutter built into the door frame that channels the water back into the shower. All hinged shower doors must swing out. Doors that swing in are prohibited in most localities by plumbing codes. (For more information, see the Illustrated Rules of Bathroom Design ).


Selecting Bathroom Fixtures Showers and Bathtubs Homeowner Guide Bathroom Remodeling in Lincoln,

Prefabricated shower units come in more-or-less standard sizes starting at 32 x 32. Custom-built showers may, of course, be of any size and shape that conforms to the minimum design standards for showers (see the Illustrated Rules of Bathroom Design for more information and recommended minimum sizes).

If considering a single-piece pre-fabricated shower unit, measure halls and doorways so you know the unit will fit through. Generally a three- or four-piece model designed for remodeling needs will be more suitable. If you are careful, you can probably install one of these yourself. Always read the installation instructions, and have square and plumb framing to attach it to. But for the few dollars it costs, the peace of mind might be worth having a plumber do it for you and guarantee it against leaks.

Wondering How to Get Rid of Water Spots on Your Glass Shower Enclosures? Well, Here’s How.

    Apply undiluted red wine vinegar directly to the glass with a soft cloth. Don’t ask why red wine vinegar works better than other vinegar, we don’t know. If that doesn’t work, spray on a 50/50 combination of denatured alcohol and water. Denatured alcohol is not required. Any old bottle of scotch will work as well. But, denatured alcohol from the drug store is usually a lot cheaper. If some spotting still remains, wipe lacquer thinner on with a soft cloth. Use rubber gloves and make sure the window is open and vent fan on. Don’t try this on an acrylic shower door you might melt it.

It’s far better to prevent spotting and staining in the first place. Here’s how.

    There are many daily shower sprays like Shower Shine on the market that force water to bead up and flow away taking scum and stains down the drain. If you don’t like the greasy after-effect of these chemical sprays, try Method’s organic Ylang-Ylang daily shower spray. You can also wipe away excess water with a squeegee after every shower. For long term protection treat your shower enclosure with a surface protectorant such as Simply Brilliant, available from most shower-glass providers. The chemical coating will cause water to bead up on glass like it does on a waterproof jacket. If it wears off over time, you can reapply a reactivator yourself, eliminating spotting once and for all.

Water Flow

We typicaly think of showers with a single shower nozzle mounted on an arm slightly above head high. Many shower heads are marvels of engineering that allow every kind of water flow from a slight mist to needles that will almost cut rock, and everything in between. The multi-flow showerhead, however, has been upstaged by the multi-nozzle shower head which has all these same features, but with two or more nozzles in one head. What all shower heads have in common is that the water flow from the head cannot exceed 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), as required by the Federal Energy Act. Here multiple heads have the advantage because they can each produce 2.5 gpm, a large gap in the Energy Act that needs to be plugged when Congress gets over acting like children and gets back to work.

Designers have done wonders with mixing air into the shower flow so that the shower feels lke you are getting more water but you never get more than 2.5 gpm. To legally get more water flow, you have to add more shower heads. Many showers now feature both a fixed shower head and a handshower. Showers heads can be installed in the ceiling and walls, and shower towers contain up to a dozen differnt shower heads for that complete showering experience. Many towers are designed to be retrofitted to existing showers. One of the good effects of the federal restriction on shower water flow is that a modern shower uses less water than an average bath. For more on water saving, see Saving Household Water.


Acrylic or tempered glass is required by building and safety codes for use in shower doors of any kind. Tempered glass is better. It is more scratch resistant and easier to keep clean. A shower should have a slip-resistant floor. Look for slip-resistance in any prefabricated unit, and if building a custom shower, use only rated slip-resistant tile. Also make certain any prefabricated unit includes grab bars, and install at least two grab bars in any custom unit four is better.


Bathtubs are the probably the most durable household fixture. Many stay in use for over 50 years some are now well over 100 years old. Nearly every home has at least one, most more than one. The tub may be supplemented by a stand-alone shower or whirlpool, but at least one basic bathtub is virtually required in every American home.

No longer just a place to wash, tubs are becoming one of the luxury spots of the average home a place to relax and soak away the cares of the world in deep comfort.

Bathtub Materials

Tubs not only come in a multitude of sizes, colors and styles, but in a variety of materials as well. The choice and combination depends upon individual needs and tastes, as well as architectural limitations. Bathtubs are made from porcelain on steel, acrylic, fiberglass, cast iron, and cultured marble, and some more exotic materials such as stone, copper, aluminum, stainless steel and wood (which we will not get into here).

Porcelain on Steel

Porcelain on steel is the most common type of tub sold. It consists of one-piece thin stamped steel shell coated with a heat-fused porcelain enamel. Porcelain enamel is a vitreous coating bonded to metal by fusion at a very high temperature. This process forms a smooth attractive finish that is resistant to acid, corrosion, or abrasion, is flameproof, colorfast, and sanitary. It also makes these units reasonably priced and relatively lightweight.

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