Walk-in showers have steadily gained in popularity, and it's easy to understand why. First of all, showering is the preferred way to get clean these days, and most people prefer the convenience and roominess of a walk-in shower over a combination tub/shower unit. Walk-in showers are also popular because of our aging population. Certain types of walk-in showers are designed for easy access by people with physical handicaps.
Walk-in showers (also referred to as walk-in shower stalls) all share a common feature: a low threshold that makes it easy to step into the shower. But walk-in showers are available (or can be built) in different sizes. There are also a number of other features that distinguish different types of walk-in shower stalls. Here's a brief overview:
Factory-made walk-in showers or shower stalls. Most of the walk-in shower stalls in use today are manufactured units made from reinforced fiberglass or acrylic material. One-piece factory-made units are installed in new construction. For remodeling, it's usually necessary to install a multi-piece walk-in shower stall whose parts interlock. Seats, shelves and cubbyholes are frequently cast into the walls of factory-made walk-in showers. A shiny, gel-coated finish resists staining and makes the stall surfaces easy to clean. Manufactured walk-in shower units come in different sizes and colors, with different wall design features.
Custom-made walk-in showers. The opposite of a factory-made walk-in shower is a walk-in shower made on site. With this type of walk-in shower, the contractor frames the walls and floor of the shower and installs masonry backing or base material along with a drain and waterproof membranes. Then the contractor finishes the shower walls and floor with tile. Because of the labor involved, this type of walk-in shower is usually more expensive to install than a factory-made unit.
Accessible showers. While any walk-in shower could be described as "accessible," some units have special features designed to accommodate individuals with physical disabilities. For this reason, this type of walk-in shower is sometimes referred to as "barrier-free," "handicap-accessible," or "ADA-compliant." (ADA stands for American Disabilities Act.)
Glass-enclosed walk-in showers. An accessible walk-in shower is most likely to have a shower curtain that can be pulled aside to provide easy access to the shower. Other walk-in showers (especially custom-made showers) are fitted with sleek, frameless glass doors that keep water inside the shower stall. Still other walk-in showers may not require doors at all because of their configuration or because of the bathroom's design.
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