Start with the Finish
Hardware ties a bathroom together, so selection of the new shower enclosure, doors and other shower parts and pieces should be made with the bathroom’s finished elements in mind. "The door colors, shower hardware and hinges should complement the faucets in the bathroom," says Linda Garman, Director of Marketing for Basco Shower Enclosures. The frame of the shower door, the floor and wall tiles, and even the artwork in a bathroom can all be inspired by, and play off of, the choice of finish. Brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze are two very popular finishes, Garman says, and silver remains a staple finish that is interchangeable with the chrome commonly found in bathrooms.
More than a Door
Framed doors are becoming less popular for shower enclosures. "People are moving away from the metal look," adds Garman. The frameless alternative requires a thicker glass and sturdier hinges and may or may not include a header, which runs across the top of the enclosure to add stability and support to the glass. The thicker glass might be 3/8 to 1/2-inch thick, which results in a more expensive product. Classic door configurations like single-swing or sliding are possibilities while newer designs redefine the shower enclosure door like Basco’s Infinity 1722 Clear Glass enclosure that features two French-style swinging doors.
Glass choice is an important consideration to make when selecting a shower door. A few factors can come into play that might encourage a homeowner to choose from the obscured or patterned variety. Privacy is one consideration. An obscured glass covers up the shower occupant more, something aging couples in particular seek. Within the patterned glass family there are nearly countless styles, including fluted, beveled and etched patterns. Patterned glass styles—and their accompanying names—are as numerous as the companies that manufacture them and can add flair and artistry to a room’s overall aesthetic. Clear glass remains the most popular choice for doors, and it suits the shower or bathroom remodel that will include stylish tile, fixtures and shower accessories worth showing off and making visible.
Glass treatment is another consideration when selecting the shower enclosure. Shower glass has a reputation for deteriorating over time and being difficult to clean. Factory-applied treatments like Basco’s AquaGlide protect the glass from accumulating grime, making it easier to clean.
Within the shower enclosure, adding a bench or a seat is an ideal way to make up for the lack of a tub. This small feature adds significant comfort to the shower. For the disabled or physically challenged, it can be a virtual necessity.
The shower’s water delivery system should not be overlooked. In addition to playing a significant role in the comfort and luxury of your shower, the showerhead (or heads) or jets can have an impact on aesthetics as well as the heat and water bills. Again, the finish of the heads, knobs and jets should be taken into consideration.
Fixed showerheads attach to the wall or ceiling and can be replaced easily to update the shower look without invasive renovation. Options can include multi-function showerheads that offer a range of delivery methods from a rain-like effect to pulsating, hydro-massage spray. Removable handheld showerheads are useful and convenient, allowing the user to easily spray and rinse hard-to-reach areas on the body as well as easier washing of long hair, children and even pets. It also allows for easier washing of all areas of the shower.
The vertical shower spa rests at the luxury end of the water delivery options. In a typical system, multiple jets lining the shower stall wall shoot water horizontally while an overhead showerhead cascades water down on the user. Ultra-luxury systems like the Toto NEOREST Shower Tower incorporate all of the delivery methods: the overheard showerhead, a handheld showerhead and multiple body spray jets. Homeowners in the market for such a system will want to consider the accompanying heat or hot water bill as vertical shower spas will increase these utility costs.
Water-efficient showerheads and delivery systems are gaining ground as conservation and environmental concerns continue to drive consumer decision-making. The industry standard showerhead delivers 2.5 gallons per minute, but newer designs can cut that by up to 30 percent. Moen’s new Water Saving showerheads deliver 1.75 gallons per minute and rely on an innovative design to concentrate the flow of water, ensuring a quality shower experience. "The challenge is to have a product that uses lower water volume accomplish the expected shower tasks without requiring more usage time," says Lenora Campos, Public Relations Manager for TOTO USA. Consumers can expect more manufacturers to start offering more water-efficient products, which are crucial to the new home looking for LEED-H certification.
For additional reading on shower systems, read "Power Showers."
With big decisions like the enclosure and showerhead made, it’s time to accessorize. Towel holders, handles to aid entrance and exit from the shower, and additional knobs and hooks can improve upon the shower’s look of luxury. Accessories should match or complement the finished faucets, frames and showerhead elsewhere in the bathroom. "Homeowners add additional shower accessories to make use of the space in the shower," says Garman. An easy way to complement a chosen water delivery system’s showerhead and valve trim is to select accessories within the same company and product line. Many shower product manufacturers will offer "suites" or lines of products that are meant to work well together from a design and aesthetic perspective. "Families today are tremendously busy and don’t have the time to shop around a great deal," says Campos. "A designed ‘set’ of products will coordinate together and will save consumers time and stress."
When evaluating the shower space for a potential remodel, it is wise to spend quality time examining all the options. The right investment can enhance the shower experience, tie the room together and create the warm and unique shower that everyone is looking for.
Credit: Renovate with Tommy Mac