Walk-in showers can provide safe, accessible bathing options for those with reduced mobility while remaining a usable and efficient option for more ambulatory individuals in the household. But before you purchase your walk-in shower, it’s essential to understand the various options and customizations available to you. Here are a few things you might want to consider before buying one of these showers.
Walk-in showers can vary widely in style, and the enclosure largely impacts that style for the shower. Depending on the space you have available to you for installing your new shower, you may have only a few enclosure options, or you could have dozens. Sliding glass doors and shower curtains are both trendy and everyday choices. They’re affordable and easy to navigate for those with reduced mobility.
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If you have a slightly larger space for your walk-in shower, you might be able to forego any enclosure altogether. With the right design, you can install the shower head at an angle that prevents any water from spraying out while giving you an obstacle-free way to get in and out of the stall.
If you’re looking at walk-in showers, it’s likely for accessibility reasons, which means the height of the entry step is an incredibly important consideration. Some shower stalls can be built without any lip or step for getting in and out. These showers are typically the kind that doesn’t have any door either, so they’re most commonly seen in bathrooms with slightly more space for a large shower stall.
If you don’t have the space for such a shower, be sure to look at the measurements for the walk-in shower you’re considering. They should clearly state the step height in the product description, so make sure it’s low enough for you to use. Generally, 3 inches is an ideal step height for a walk-in model.
A standard shower stall doesn’t usually have a seat, but a walk-in model should. This feature is incredibly important for those with reduced mobility, who often lack the muscle endurance to stand and balance for long periods. So, for starters, make sure that the model you’re considering does have an accessible seat (somewhere in the realm of 17 to 19 inches high). Then, make sure it’s a seat you’ll be comfortable in.
Seats can be padded or unpadded, have armrests or not, and be stationary or foldable. Most of these options come down to personal preference, but if you’re sharing a shower, make sure to consider your partner’s needs as well. A chair that can fold up against the wall gives them the space they need to shower as well. For larger shower users, bigger shower seats are sometimes available on certain models, so make sure to ask about this if you need one.
What kind of storage is built into the walk-in shower you’re considering? Is there any at all? And if so, is it accessible to you? If you’re someone who isn’t comfortable standing up and stepping across the shower stall to grab your shampoo when you need it, then you should ensure that any storage shelves are within easy reach of the shower chair. Of course, storage issues could be remedied by a free-standing storage unit set in the corner of your shower stall, but it’s simply better if the storage is already available to you.
One way walk-in showers differ from standard shower stalls is the addition of grab bars or safety handles. A shower built for accessibility should have these built-in supports already mounted on the wall, in a location that helps you get into and out of the shower seat. If the shower you’re looking at doesn’t have one, then it’s not truly an accessible shower at all.
The Bathing Option
Finally, ask yourself if a walk-in shower alone will genuinely meet your personal needs. Will you be happy with just showering from here on out, or would you prefer to have the option to bathe as well? If you’re someone who enjoys a nice, hot bath now and then, then you should be looking at shower-tub combos.
In case you didn’t know, they do make these combination models in a walk-in version as well. The main structure of this version mimics a walk-in tub with a high wall and an inward-swinging door with a low entry step. But they also include a walk-in shower set with an overhead shower to allow for showering in addition to bathing. If you want options, a combo model will likely be the better choice for you.
Now that you know the main options and customizations available in a walk-in shower, you can continue shopping knowing that you can find precisely the shower you need.