Walk in showers aren’t new in themselves, but their designs have evolved considerably in the last 20 years, so that many models are unrecognizable from conventional shower solutions. In some modern bathrooms, the shower head is the only fixture to indicate that the room actually contains a shower. Some homeowners install a walk in showers for purely pragmatic reasons, while other do so because it’s fashionable—their popularity in Europe has made its way to the United States.
There are three primary types of walk in showers. The first is a standard walk in shower. This is a fairly commonplace enclosure—with a low ledge and a door or curtain—that stand apart from a bathtub. Some have more contemporary designs with frameless shower doors. The second type is a doorless walk in shower. The design can be as simple as a standard model, but simply lacking the door or curtain; or it can have a freestanding shower screen partition.
The third type is a wet room—perhaps the most radical of the three. This is the kind with no framework, screens or ledges. The shower floor is only distinguishable by the gradient used for proper drainage; otherwise the shower space looks like an extension of the entire bathroom space, and vice versa.
Like walk in closets, walk in shower enclosures evoke an aura of luxury; but while this is often true with models over $1000, there are many homeowners whose only purpose is to allow greater accessibility for family members who are infirm or disabled. For less able-bodied users, lifting legs over the steep ledge of a bathtub can be difficult or impossible. Even the lower ledges of conventional walk in enclosures can be a trip hazard for users with impaired vision or motor skills. Fortunately, walk in units made of acrylic or fiberglass start at $300. Walk in showers don’t have to be luxury items.