Shower Enclosures: The Ultimate Buying Guide
When you’re renovating your bathroom, choosing the right shower enclosure couldn’t be more important. With so many different options on the market, though, finding the right one to suit your space and meet your preferences may not be as easy as you hoped. With that in mind, we’ve put together a helpful buying guide for shower enclosures that will make it simpler to select a shower enclosure that works perfectly in your stylish new bathroom.
What is a Shower Enclosure
Before we can get started on how to choose the right shower enclosure for you, you’re going to need to know, first, what a shower enclosure actually is. Often, shower enclosures are called shower cubicles, and they are supplied with one or multiple glass panels that enclose the shower area, hence their name. The idea of a shower enclosure is to protect your bathroom from splashes and damage that water can cause.
Often, a shower enclosure will come with a door that may pivot, slide, fold, or swing open, but others have a walk-in design that requires no door for even easier access. There are many different sizes and shapes of shower enclosure on the market today, and they may be sold without or with a matching shower tray, so let’s move on to the various options you can pick from, and where they may work best.
The different types of Shower Enclosure
These days there is more than one type of shower enclosure for you to choose from, and the sheer wealth of options can prove confusing for any homeowner who is renovating their space. Here is an overview of some of the most common types of shower enclosure on the market today.
Square shower enclosures offer both style and practicality when it comes to renovating your bathroom. Designed to use corner spaces especially effectively, a square enclosure is also suitable for use with a variety of different styles of shower door for extra versatility and flexibility.
As rectangular shower enclosures have one side that is longer than the other, they can often be used to replace a regular bath. Rectangular enclosures come in both large and small sizes, but they offer a little more shower space and luxurious comfort than a square version, making it an ideal choice for a larger bathroom.
Quadrant shower enclosures have a similar shape to a slice of pizza, helping you to save more space in a compact room by using its corner effectively. Although this shape of enclosure is especially popular with people who have small bathrooms or ensuites, it can also be used to great effect in larger spaces thanks to its contemporary good looks. With their curved front, they have a modern aesthetic that never fails to impress, and when paired with sliding doors, these enclosures offer maximum space-saving benefits.
Offset Quadrant enclosures
Offset quadrant shower enclosures are similar in design to quadrant enclosures, but they are longer. Also fitting neatly into the bathroom’s corner, offset quadrants offer space saving benefits, but also allow for a more comfortable showering experience.
If your bathroom’s shape won’t allow you to use a regular corner unit, you’ll find a pentagonal shower enclosure a good choice. When fitted with either a pivoting or bi-folding door, this style of enclosure can often fit into awkwardly-shaped bathrooms where other styles of shower enclosure won’t work. As you’d imagine from the name, this style of enclosure has five sides and rather than a curved door entry, it has a straight one to save on floor space effectively.
D shape enclosures
With a similar shape to a standard quadrant enclosure, a D-shaped model comes with a different back Flat to allow flush sitting against one of the straight bathroom walls, a D-shaped enclosure offers convenience and practicality alongside the extra space and style offered by the curving design. You can place a D-shaped enclosure in a corner or in the centre of a wall to suit your needs or preferences.
Walk In enclosures
A walk-in shower represents a wonderful way of maximising your available space. Although this style of enclosure uses a tray, just like a standard shower, it gives the user far more space for a more luxurious and comfortable showering experience. With their practical design and contemporary good looks, walk-in shower enclosures are rapidly becoming one of the more popular options on the market today.
Perfect for adding minimalistic, sleek style to any space, walk-in showers paired with low profile shower trays enable a wetroom look to be created without having to tank the floor and walls. Featuring a slimline tray and a glass panel, walk-in shower cubicles have one end that has been left open to allow immediate, easy access.
Offering the benefit of a low maintenance design, walk in showers are also perfect for people with reduced mobility since there is no need to close or open a door. They are, therefore, an ideal alternative for spaces in which a wet room isn’t a possibility. Walk in enclosures are also a popular choice for replacing a bath since they come in many different sizes.
Another shower enclosure option is the recessed enclosure. This type of shower is found between two walls, requiring just a simple door and tray to turn a recess into a handy shower. It’s a perfect option if you have a very compact or awkwardly shaped bathroom that would otherwise not allow you to have a shower cubicle installed.
How Much Space Do I Need for a Shower Enclosure?
Essentially, it’s possible to fit a shower enclosure into almost any space. The smallest available enclosures measure just 700 x 700, meaning that you can fit one into virtually any ensuite or bathroom. As for the largest size of shower enclosure – you can create a complete wet room that is the size of an entire room, meaning that you can create a shower as large as you like!
In the main, your shower enclosure size will be determined by how much space you have in your bathroom and the layout of its floor plan. If your bathroom is large, you have lots of options when it comes to the space you use for your shower cubicle, however if your room is more compact, you may need to opt for one of the smallest models on the market.
Make sure that you measure your available bathroom space accurately before you go shopping though, as making a measurement error could be very expensive!
Standard (Most Popular) Shower Enclosure Sizes
There are several different enclosure sizes for you to choose from, but there are some that are more common than others. The most frequently seen include:
- 800 x 800
- 900 x 900
- 1000 x 800
- 1200 x 800
- 1700 x 700
- 1700 x 750 these are known as bath replacement trays
What Thickness Glass Should I Choose
When you’re choosing your shower enclosure, it’s worth bearing in mind that the glass comes in different thicknesses. In general, you’ll find that thicker glass will be more robust and better quality, but really the true signs of high quality come in the components and parts such as the hinges and wheels.
The budget option is glass that measures 5mm or 4mm in thickness. These shower enclosures tend to have lower-quality hinges and lighter wheels.
Most modern shower enclosures today have 8mm or 6mm thick glass, which indicates high to mid quality.
If you’ll be selecting a frameless enclosure, the glass thickness will be 10mm as standard. However, although frameless enclosures are modern, minimalistic, and stylish, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is the highest end choice and you’ll need to take the glass’s weight into consideration if you decide to go with this option.
When it comes to rigidity, glass that measures 8mm in thickness is equally as good as glass measuring 10mm and it will be less heavy. Remember that the thicker the glass you choose for your shower enclosure the most expensive it will probably be and the more support it is likely to need due to the extra weight. With these considerations in mind, it’s probably best for most people to opt for a 6mm thickness glass enclosure which will typically suit their needs.
Easy Clean Glass or Not?
When you’re selecting a glass shower enclosure, one consideration to keep in mind is whether or not to pay a little extra for easy clean glass. This is a popular option and while it isn’t essential, many people find it a good choice since they would prefer not to spend hours scrubbing shower enclosure glass!
Easy clean glass has been designed specifically to reduce the build-up of limescale, soap and grime that can spoil the appearance of your stylish new shower and lead to you having to spend longer on maintaining its good looks.
Framed or Frameless Shower Enclosures
Modern shower enclosures are typically framed since they are more reliable and rigid overall. Nevertheless, frameless enclosures continue to be popular thanks to their contemporary elegance. If you want to choose a frameless model you need to be sure of its quality.
Although they have a stylish, minimalistic, designer look, frameless enclosures can flex with time if they are poor quality, and that can lead to unwanted leaks.
Shower Enclosure Finishes
Choosing a finish for your shower enclosure will depend largely on the rest of your bathroom décor. The most popular options today include:
- Matt Black
- Brushed Brass
When choosing the right finish for your enclosure, make sure that it matches the taps and shower that you’ve already chosen to achieve a cohesive and streamlined look.
What’s the difference between Shower Doors and Shower Enclosures
Essentially, shower enclosures and shower doors are often the same thing. Often, a shower enclosure is simply a side panel and shower door that are sold together as a package. However, you can buy a separate shower door if you wish, for example for use in a recess enclosure where no side panel is required.
Walk In Enclosures
A walk-in shower enclosure is made up of a glass panel paired with a shower tray. You can opt for either a standard shower tray or a wetroom former tray. A walk in enclosure creates a minimalistic, designer style that is perfect for contemporary bathrooms, but while it will be very practical in terms of cleaning and access, bear in mind that there’ll be more splashes on your walls and floor.
Why are enclosures generally 10-20mm narrower than the enclosure width?
Shower enclosures are generally 10mm to 20mm narrower than the width of the enclosure to allow for tiles to be used. Since you tile downwards onto the shower tray the gap must always be narrower.
Do Shower Enclosures have fitting Adjustment
In many properties, the walls are not true, so having a fitting adjustment is essential for the majority of shower enclosures., Fortunately, most models do have a fitting adjustment of around 20mm to each side. It’s also possible to get an extension profile for most shower doors of 10mm, 20mm, or 30mm on each side. You should always check the product specifications, however, to make sure you are aware of the adjustment limits.
What Else Do I Need To Consider
When you’re choosing the right shower enclosure for your family bathroom, ensuite, or guest bathroom, there are many things that you need to consider before making your final purchasing decisions. Here is an overview of the most important factors to keep in mind before coming to a final decision.
The top consideration for many people is the size of the space they have available for a shower enclosure in their bathroom. Many modern bathrooms are very compact, especially if they are in a guest bathroom or ensuite, so you’ll probably be restricted to only small shower enclosures.
On the other hand, if you have room for a large enclosure, you have lots of options when it comes to sizes and styles of shower enclosure. Of course, it may turn out that you don’t have enough room for a shower enclosure at all! Although this is quite rare these days since the smallest enclosures are very compact indeed.
Which Room Is It For?
Of course, your shower enclosure is going to be for a bathroom, but it’s important to know which bathroom it’ll be for, and who will be using it. Is it for a family bathroom? An ensuite? A guest shower room? The amount of use that the shower will receive may have a role to play in determining which enclosure is best for your space.
For example, in a family bathroom which is used by many people, you’ll probably want to choose the most durable and robust shower cubicle possible as well as one that allows enough space for comfortable showering. Nobody wants to be jammed into a tiny cubicle day in day out if they can avoid it! On the other hand, if you’re fitting a shower in a rarely used guest room, a small quadrant cubicle will probably be perfectly adequate.
In a large bathroom, positioning of your shower enclosure may not be of too much concern as you’ll have many options. However, if your bathroom is very small, narrow, or awkwardly shaped, you may have to get creative. A recessed shower will work in a room that has two walls close to each other, while a D-shaped or quadrant shower may make the best use of a corner and allow you to fit a shower into a room that would otherwise lack sufficient floor space.
Don’t forget, too, that the position of your shower enclosure will also potentially have an impact on the style of door you pair with it. It’s no good pairing a hinged door with a shower cubicle that is positioned in such a way that you won’t be able to open it fully. Sliding doors and bifold doors are often perfect for cubicles that are positioned in a corner or where space-saving is paramount.
If you’re opting for a pivoting or hinged door, you’ll also need to bear in mind whether you need a left opening or right opening door to fit in your available space. If you choose a bifold or sliding door, that won’t be an issue.
Once you know the amount of space that you have available, your next consideration will usually be style. Since there are many different styles of shower enclosure on the market, you may be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing one for your home.
Of course, not only will you need to keep the size and shape of your bathroom in mind when choosing a shower tray, but you’ll also need to consider your chosen décor and theming. You can then choose a design and finish that works best with your selected aesthetic.
Accessibility may not be too much of an issue for some homeowners, but for others it is a vital factor to consider when choosing a shower enclosure. If someone with mobility problems will be using the shower, or if older adults who may be more at risk will use the facility, you will need to consider choosing a low profile enclosure, a walk in enclosure, or even a complete wetroom design. You’ll also need to consider factors such as anti-slip surfaces that will keep those who are showering as safe as possible from slips and accidental falls.
The pipework in your bathroom is one more factor to bear in mind when choosing the right shower enclosure for you. If you’ll be replacing a bath, for example, you’ll need to choose a tray that fits into the available space while also using the existing pipework.
You’ll also need to consider whether the pipework can be fitted under the floor or whether a raised tray will be needed due to a solid floor not allowing the pipework to be placed beneath it. The walls of your bathroom may also present a fitting dilemma as if they aren’t true you’ll need to choose an enclosure that allows for fitting adjustment.
Of course, most people who are renovating their bathroom have a budget to work within. Whether yours is high or low, it’s important to have realistic expectations when shopping for a shower enclosure. It goes without saying that some models are more costly than others, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may need to narrow down your search and determine the best quality that you can get for your money. There are a number of factors that will impact on the overall cost of your shower enclosure including:
- The thickness of glass that you choose – thicker glass will be more durable but will also be more costly.
- The size of the enclosure – a larger enclosure will use more materials in its construction and so the price will be higher.
- The style of the enclosure – some enclosure styles are more expensive than others, although this factor shouldn’t add too much to the cost of your enclosure.
- The brand of the enclosure – some brands will cost more than others.
- Accessories – if you’re opting for accessories alongside your enclosure, this will increase the cost. For example, adding shower wastes and handles will add more onto the overall price of your enclosure.
Once you’ve weighed up all of the above factors, you should be well-positioned to choose a shower enclosure that works for you, in terms of your budget, your aesthetic, and your bathroom’s size and shape.
Since there are so many options on the market today, it isn’t always easy to select the ideal shower enclosure, but armed with this useful buyer’s guide you’ll have all the information you require to get started with making your final purchasing decision. You’re sure to find a cubicle that works perfectly in your home and that helps you create the stylish bathroom that you’ve always dreamed of.