Whether you call them walk-in showers, barrier-free showers, or curbless showers, zero-threshold showers are all the rage lately, and rightfully so!
What exactly is a zero-threshold shower and how does it work?
A zero-threshold shower lacks a surrounding edge or curb so it’s lined up precisely even with your bathroom floor. These showers boast a more open design, generous space, and can increase the visual perception of having more room in the bathroom. In addition, a zero threshold shower provides easy access to those with mobility issues.
If you want to learn all about zero-threshold showers, you’ve come to the right place.
This guide will explore the benefits of a zero-threshold shower area, explain how these showers work, and discuss the pricing.
What Is A Threshold In A Shower?
Many shower designs, perhaps even most, have at least one threshold.
What exactly does that mean, though? What is a threshold in a shower?
A shower threshold, which is also known as a shower-pan threshold, simply refers to the front edge that runs along the floor of the shower..
You know, the front edge that you need to walk over to get into the typical walk-in shower so you can wash off the day’s stresses? That edge.
A shower space can have a single threshold or double threshold shower.
A single-threshold shower has three enclosed sides such as an alcove or another set of permanent walls.
The fourth side of the shower is where the plastic, fiberglass, or glass shower door is installed.
Double-threshold showers, although a lot less common, are another bathroom design choice.
This type of shower enclosure would have two permanent walls and then two plastic, fiberglass, or glass walls that are installed perpendicularly to the other walls.
Does A Shower Need A Threshold?
Thresholds in showers might be a frequent addition, but are they truly needed?
Not at all!
Curbless showers, when they’re installed correctly, feature a slope along the floor that measures approximately 1 ½ to two inches.
This slope is designed to direct the water flow from the location of the high point of the floor down to the center drain.
Another benefit of having a proper slope is that it prevents water from leaking all over your floor whenever you bathe in a zero-threshold shower.
That’s usually the duty of a typical threshold as well, but omitting it doesn’t leave your bathroom a sopping mess!
Why Have A Curbless Shower?
Are curbless showers truly all that advantageous? We think so for the following reasons.
No More Tripping Hazards
Let’s be real, a shower threshold is indeed a tripping hazard, both on your way into and out of the shower.
If you’re in a rush because you’re late for work, you’re groggy and half-awake in the morning because you haven’t yet had your coffee, or you simply aren’t paying attention, it’s easy to take a tumble on a shower threshold.
Also, once the threshold is wet, your rate of slips and falls can increase.
Even if you’re a healthy, able-bodied adult, you don’t want to take a hard fall from a shower threshold.
You’ll come tumbling down on the tiled floor, which is unforgiving. You could end up with bruises or perhaps even a fracture or a broken bone if you hit the floor just right.
Seniors (who should be considering using a shower chair for safety) can end up even more hurt, as they have less mobility and more fragile bones at their age. The rate of a broken bone from a shower threshold trip is a lot higher.
A curbless shower stall would eliminate (or greatly reduce) those risks.
Modernizes Any Bathroom
Shower thresholds just look kind of dated, don’t you think? Nowadays, an open concept bathroom is more popular.
A zero-entry shower has more visual appeal, so your bathroom looks fresher, newer, brighter, and a lot more modern. Your home’s curb appeal could shoot right up.
Creates The Illusion Of More Space
Even if you have a moderately large bathroom already, anyone would want their bathroom to look larger still.
That’s exactly what a zero-threshold shower does. Without the shower curb, the shower size naturally looks larger.
Some homeowners even opt for no definable shower enclosure, eschewing a glass wall.
This will create the greatest illusion of a bigger bathroom with more open spaces but isn’t necessary to enjoy the feeling of roominess that a zero-threshold shower delivers.
We already talked about the tripping risks that a threshold poses in a shower.
Once that threshold is eliminated, it’s a lot easier for family members of all ages to get into a curbless shower.
There is a far reduced tripping hazard risk, as mentioned.
The slight slope of an accessible shower is so natural that it too won’t leave anyone stumbling or falling down, even when there is a wet area on the slope.
Now the whole family – from children to grandparents – can use the shower without worry. Your peace of mind will be a lot better too.
Easy To Clean
You’ll also find that it’s a lot easier to clean a curb-less shower than it is an enclosed shower.
You can enjoy a full range of motion as you clean so you don’t feel penned in.
How Do No Threshold Showers Work?
Now let’s talk a little bit more about how no-threshold showers work.
You’re already aware that a curbless shower has no thresholds and that a curbless shower pan features a slight slope that allows water to drain while preventing pools of water from spreading across the bathroom.
There are a few more basics to be aware of though.
For instance, a no-threshold shower can be added to an existing bathroom, so there’s no need to disqualify this shower option if your bathroom is already completed.
- The smallest possible size for a curbless shower is three feet by three feet. Anything bigger would be even better.
- To install a zero-threshold shower with proper drainage, the floor of your bathroom might have to be professionally lowered through special modifications.
- Remember, a curbless shower is supposed to be a flush, seamless design that blends with your bathroom floor, so if it isn’t, that must change.
What about the drain that a curbless shower uses? Well, traditional bath or shower drains are just fine. What some homeowners opt for is a linear drain.
Also known as a trench drain, a linear drain is a lot narrower than your average drain. It’s long and rectangular as well.
Linear drains offer more customization options than a standard shower drain, as yours can go in the middle of the shower floor, along a wall, or right near the entrance of the shower.
You don’t have to have a linear drain in your zero-threshold shower, and we again want to make that clear. It just happens to be a nice complement to the shower style.
Walk-in Shower Costs – How Much More Expensive Is A Curbless Shower?
You may be interested in a curbless shower for your home for a variety of reasons, such as the look of a larger bathroom, the accessibility for older members of your family, or simply because your bathroom desperately needs a remodel.
Just like how walk in tubs are pricier than traditional tubs, curbless showers are more expensive than traditional showers, but by how much? Let’s compare some prices.
According to Angi, the average cost of a shower is between $2,400 and $8,800.
If yours is a walk-in tiled shower, the price is $4,200 to $8,500. If you add a tub to your shower, that’s usually costly too, with the standard price for the combo being $4,200.
Angi, in a separate article, notes that going curbless increases the price of a shower by $500 to $700 more.
Then, there are the optional accessories, such as a rain shower head, that you might want to add…
For some homeowners, however, that might not be that much larger of a sum to pay than what you’d spend on a traditional curbed shower.
Drawbacks Of A Zero-Threshold Shower
Others might have a harder time justifying the cost of a zero-threshold shower.
After all, as much as we’ve touted the benefits of a curbless shower, these showers are not perfect.
If you cut corners on the installation to save a couple of bucks and the installers don’t do a good job, you might not get the correct slope. And then, the water in your zero-threshold shower might not drain properly.
It will leak all over the rest of the bathroom. You’ll be distressed if you have to keep sopping up a watery mess from half of the bathroom floor each time someone takes a shower.
Curbless showers do not get as warm as an enclosed shower, so during the winter, you will be wide awake if you prefer to start your mornings with a shower. Your bathroom will be cold!
This also applies if you live in a consistently chilly climate. You might not be the best candidate for a zero-threshold shower unless you like a good military shower.
The lack of privacy might also deter some!
Zero-threshold showers, which are also popularly referred to as curbless showers, cut out the shower threshold(s) for easy shower entry and exiting.
They are more expensive than your average shower and have some other downsides as well, but the benefits of a zero-threshold shower outweigh the negatives according to many people.
Now that you have all this info, you can decide whether a curbless shower is right for you!