In Part 1 of our blog, we examined toilet and sink types. Let’s go on to the other two major fixtures, tubs and showers.
Showers basically fall into one of two categories – stand-alone and over-the-tub types. But within these two broad classifications, there is an almost infinite number of choices in terms of materials, size, configuration and features.
The over-the-tub showers, also called “tub-shower combos”, are a familiar feature in many homes and are certainly a space-saver if your bathroom isn’t big enough to accommodate separate fixtures. The walls around the shower area, called the enclosure or the tub wall, are conventionally either tile or prefabricated acrylic or fiberglass panels. Tile offers much more flexibility in terms of colors and patterns.
Freestanding showers can be built in a number of different sizes and configurations. There are square showers, rectangular showers, angled showers, curved showers, and (my personal favorite) snail showers. Square and rectangular showers can be built to just about any size while angled and curved showers are often used to make the most of nooks and corners. Snail showers are, as the name implies, built in the shape of a snail. They are a highly accessible type of shower but do take up a certain amount of room.
Your choice is probably going to depend on personal taste, budget, and the amount of room available. But once you’ve decided on the size and type, you’re not done. There are also a number of features to consider.
Gone are the days where you have to fiddle with the taps like a safecracker to get just the right temperature, and then hope that nobody flushes a toilet or runs hot water while you’re in the shower. You can still do that, of course, but there are other options now.
For anyone who thinks that a constant temperature is not a luxury, and especially for those who worry about children or elderly getting scalded, there are thermostatic showers. The water temperature is thermostat-controlled, and the water is delivered at a constant temperature. Some thermostatic showers have a digital control panel and are generally referred to as “digital showers”. You can also achieve constant temperature with a pressure-balanced valve. These valves compensate for drops in either the hot or cold water supply.
Then there are electric showers. These have a built-in heating unit through which cold water flows and heats up, so you don’t even have to have a hot water supply to the shower.
Power showers are ideal for those who have low water pressure. Power showers do not heat the water, but they do have pumps that deliver the water with greater force. An electric pumped shower will both pressurize and heat the water.
There are eco showers now, too, that claim to use between 70 and 90 percent less water without reducing the amount of time spent in the shower. They work on a closed-loop system that takes the water you’ve just used from the drain, purifies it, and cycles it back into the inflow tank. This reduces the demand on the water supply. These showers also claim to save energy consumption as the water doesn’t have to be reheated.
But what about bathtubs? Like the other bathroom fixtures, there is an array of types of bathtubs, made of various materials such as fiberglass, porcelain, acrylic, ceramic, stone resin, porcelain-covered cast iron and others.
Most of us are familiar with the conventional apron type of tub. The apron runs across the length of the rectangular tub on the exposed side while the other three sides are enclosed by the alcove walls to which the tub is anchored. They are most often made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, acrylic, or porcelain on steel or cast iron. Most are 60 inches long, but you can get longer or shorter tubs to suit your space requirement.
Soaker tubs are most often freestanding which means to say that they are not mounted to a wall and are finished on all sides. There are a number of styles available but the common feature of soaker tubs is that the depth of the tub is such to allow enough water for you to submerge yourself and have a nice, relaxing soak!
Walk-in tubs are high-sided tubs that have a door that allow access from a level surface, rather than having to step over the edge to get in. They are especially popular with seniors and with physically challenged individuals who require easy access. The door to the tub is sealed and contains the water while the tub is filling or draining. These tubs can include features such as handrails, seating, and bubble jets. The user must be in the tub with the door shut before turning the water on and must wait for the tub to drain before opening the door to exit. A number of manufacturers have added features such as fast-filling faucets and fast-moving drains to make this a bit more convenient.
Whirlpool tubs have jets fitted on the inside walls of the tub that propel water for a lovely massaging effect and some people have found that using them helps to relieve aching muscles. Aaaahhhh. But you’ll need the room to install these large, bulky tubs and your floor may or may not have to be reinforced to be sure it can hold the weight of the filled tub, particularly if you choose a double or larger capacity tub. Some people have found them a bit on the noisy side as they necessarily have motors and pumps.
But don’t think having to make choices is over – there are still different floor and wall tiles, cabinets and other storage, heating, lighting, and venting to consider. And then there’s the accessories! Please join us to look at all of those and more in later blogs.
Thinking of renovating your bathroom? Think Sunshine Sunrooms for the best in design and workmanship. Call us at (972) 243-5390 and let our designer help you plan your dream bathroom.