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Choosing the right shower base

A shower base acts as a watertight floor inside the shower. It is often premade and ready to install. It can be installed on the subfloor, meaning you do not need to put in a sloped mortar bed and tiles. However, a shower base can also refer to a tiled shower floor built from wet cement, sand mix or another type of mortar. Tile shower bases are more challenging to install and remove than other types. Keep reading this guide for information to assist you in your search.

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  • How to choose the right shower base

    There are several points to consider when searching for the right shower base, such as the installation, the shape, the material it’s made from and other options. In this guide, we will particularly focus on materials as this is the most important category to consider. 

    • Installations
    • Evacuations
    • Shape
    • Materials
  • How can shower bases be installed?

    Shower bases can be installed in different ways. The most common are raised, recessed, ready-to-tile bases. Your project type may also guide the installation you choose. Certain installations are done for shower bases made from a specific material. 

    • Raised: Quick and easy, this installation is placed directly onto the floor surface and creates a step of at least 5 cm. It requires a built-in vertical evacuation.
    • Recessed: Walk-in shower access, no step. Ideally suited for new construction or a complete bathroom renovation, it requires the installation of a vertical recessed siphon.
    • Ready-to-tile: Walk-in shower access, good for the elderly and people with reduced mobility. The shower base is designed to be covered in tiles. It has an integrated slope for the shower evacuation. Using the same tiles as the bathroom floor, it will only reveal the shower drain grill. It requires the layout of the floor to fit a drain with a bung of at least 90 mm; a 50 mm drain pipe and a pipe slope of at least 2%; as well as the installation of anti-slip and preferably small tiles.

     

     

    raised-shower-base-by-CATALANO

    recessed-shower-base-by-wedi

    recessed-shower-base-by-wedi

    Read-to-tile-shower-tile-shower-base-by-Villeroy-Boch

    Ready-to-tile-shower-tile-shower-base-by-Villeroy-Boch

  • What are the different types of evacuation for your shower base?

    An evacuation system consisting of pipes, a siphon and an extra-flat drain is necessary for the proper drainage of wastewater. The evacuation system will be one of two types: a vertical drain when space is available under the base or a horizontal drain when the tray is raised or simply when space is limited.

  • What are the different shapes of a shower base?

    Shower bases can come in a number of different shapes but the most common are rectangular, square and corner. Other shapes include round, semicircle, pentagon and oval. Round is currently trending. Manufacturers are creative and you should look into the variations to find the perfect base to match your needs. Keep in mind, though, that the shape of the base must match the shower enclosure; any gaps will result in water leakages.

    • Square: A versatile choice that fits a number of door styles such as bifolding doors. This is perfect for small bathrooms.
    • Rectangular: Offers the comfort of a spacious shower
    • Corner: This option is the perfect compromise between comfort and saving space.
    square shower base by Disenia

    square shower base by Disenia

    rectangular-shower-base-by-GLASS-1989

    rectangular-shower-base-by-GLASS-1989

    corner shower base by Bette

    corner shower base by Bette

  • What should I know about the materials for a shower base?

    The most common materials used are plastic, composite and ceramic. There are many materials to choose from so be sure to browse them all. Keep in mind that many shower bases have an acrylic coating, a durable finish which can maintain its quality for years while offering a non-slippery surface when wet. Wood, concrete and cement are less common so we will not discuss them in this guide. However, know that they are customizable and design-friendly. Wood can offer a natural ambiance.   

    Most common materials:

     

     

  • What should I know about a ceramic shower base?

    This material combines natural clay mixed with water and, sometimes, other organic materials. It’s shaped and decorated, often glazed and hardened by heat. Therefore, it is a broad category that includes pottery, earthenware, terracotta, stoneware, porcelain, etc.

    It can be used to make a smooth surface or tiles. It is scratch resistant, but hard impacts will cause chipping and its smooth surface makes it rather slippery. 

    • PRO: Scratch resistant 
    • PRO:  Easy to clean
    • CON: Hard impacts cause chipping
    • CON: Can be expensive
  • What are the various composites for a shower base?

    Composites such as fiberglass and resin are common materials for shower bases. Many brands use their own special composites, such as Corian®, Pietraluce® and KRION®.

    Resin includes rotomoulded polymer and  polyester resin. Rotomolded polymer has a pleasant texture, while polyester resin has a highly resistant reinforced coating (fiberglass + gelcoat). Resin looks like stone but isn’t as heavy or as expensive.

    • PRO: Durable, highly resistant to scratches and chipping 
    • PRO: Easy to clean 
    • PRO: Not as heavy as stone or steel, but has the look of stone
    • CON: Requires regular cleaning; sandpaper and polishing compound is recommended.
    • CON: On the pricey side 

     

    Fiberglass, a variety of reinforced acrylic, is easy to install and inexpensive. 

    • PRO: Affordable 
    • PRO: Lightweight, easy to install 
    • PRO: Damages are easily repaired
    • CON: Possibly the most brittle material on the market 
    • CON: Porous, absorbs water and tends to crack.  
    • CON: Color and finish deteriorate with time from cleaning

     

    Corian® is an exclusive solid-surface material newly used in the bathroom. It is easy to clean and is nonporous so stains do not penetrate the surface. If properly cleaned, it can resist the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. It also resists scratching, stains, chips and cracks. 

    • PRO: Durable and easily repaired
    • PRO: A non-porous material, easy to clean
    • PRO: Retains water temperature 
    • CON: Somewhat heavy and relatively expensive

    Pietraluce® is an exclusive shiny, water-proof, antibacterial material which is easy to maintain. Scratches and stains can be removed with a normal polishing paste. It’s too early to note disadvantages.

    KRION® is an exclusive new generation antibacterial solid surface material developed by Krion, a company that belongs to the PORCELANOSA Group. It has sound insulation and a high mineral content and is 100% recyclable. It’s too early to note disadvantages.

  • What are the various plastics for a shower base?

    Some commonly used plastics are PMMA, polystyrene, ABS and Cristalplant®.
    It can be confusing to understand the differences between each, so we’ve listed them here.

     

    PMMA: This material is a synthetic resin produced from the polymerization of methyl methacrylate. It is a transparent, lightweight and rigid plastic with shatter-resistant properties, making a decent substitute for glass. It is also known as acrylic, acrylic glass or plexiglass.

    • PRO: Low maintenance
    • PRO: Strong with high heat resistance
    • PRO: Cost-effective
    • PRO: Easy to install
    • PRO: Unlimited coloring options
    • CON: Not easy to customize, apart from the color

     

    Polystyrene: This material is a synthetic hydrocarbon polymer made from the monomer styrene. It can be solid or foamed. It is usually clear, hard and rather brittle but is an inexpensive option.

    • PRO: Inexpensive
    • PRO: Strong with high heat resistance
    • CON: Requires frequent cleaning
    • CON: Low resistance to cracking and scratching

     

    ABS: This material is easy to fabricate, lightweight compared to glass and strong. It can be recycled and has good thermoforming properties. 

    • PRO: Highest impact resistance (against scratching, chipping)
    • PRO: Recyclable
    • CON: Weak UV resistance unless protected
    • CON: Easily worn out

     

    Cristalplant®, an exclusive solid material that is 100% made in Italy. It boasts of being the first sustainable solid material with 50% minerals and 30% bioresin.

    • PRO: 100% recyclable
    • PRO: Hygienic and durable
    • CON: Subject to surface wear, but easily fixed using a Scotch Brite® pad with normal detergent
    • CON: Requires frequent cleaning
  • What about stone and metals for a shower base?

    Natural stone and metals have their share of advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of stone used are slate and graphite, but marble, travertine, quartzite and quartz are also available. All stone is very heavy; however, it contains antibacterial and non-slip properties and also benefits from being 100% waterproof.  Variations of metal are cast iron, stainless steel, vitrified steel, steel, aluminum and copper. Enamelled cast iron is very heavy but extremely resistant. Steel is very resistant and easy to maintain. Steel is much lighter than cast iron. 

    Stone

    • PRO: Antibacterial
    • PRO: Non-slip
    • PRO: Waterproof
    • CON: Heavy
    • CON: Expensive

     

    Metal

    • PRO: Durable, highly resistant to scratches and chipping
    • PRO: Easy to clean
    • CON: Heavy
    • CON: Expensive
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