Shower Enclosures Buying Guide
A shower is a key cornerstone feature of a bathroom that can be a major influence on the design and usability of your room space.
To take a step further, and away from it being located over a bathtub, you need a shower enclosure. But where do you start? If you have only just started looking for a shower enclosure, you may be a bit overwhelmed by the names and selection on offer.
This is why Plumbworld is here to help explain everything there is to know about shower enclosures. We’ll guide you through as much information as possible, such as the types, cost and feature to make choosing the right shower enclosure easy and simple.
Read on to find out more about shower enclosures with our complete guide…
What is a shower enclosure?
Shower enclosures can come in many designs and sizes, so you will have no problem finding one to suit your bathroom.
They can sometimes be referred to as ‘shower cubicles’, and can be positioned almost anywhere in your bathroom so long as the plumbing allows for it. The corner is the most common position for an enclosure, but you can fit one between two walls to save space.
What are the types of shower enclosures?
As you may have noticed when looking online, in-store or in a catalogue, there are lots of different designs of shower enclosures. We’ve listed the most common and popular types below before going into more detail about each one:
Quadrant Shower Enclosures
The most popular type of shower enclosure in the UK, because bathrooms throughout the UK are often smaller on average. Where space is at a premium, a quadrant shower enclosure is a great choice, slotting into a corner and ensuring that you can still own a shower even if space is tight.
Offset quadrant shower enclosures
Similar to quadrant shower enclosures, however, these have one wall longer than the other - an extended version of the quadrant enclosure. An offset enclosure is ideal when you want a larger shower area but still have your shower in a corner. You need to choose left or right-hand options, which refers to the side of the shorter length when you stand in front of it.
Square shower enclosures
The square shower enclosure offers practicality and style, using the space of your bathroom corners well and can have a variety of shower doors fitted to it. For example, it can be fitted with pivot or bi-folding doors for a generous entrance size. A bi-fold door folds in on itself to make space for users to enter and exit the shower with ease.
Rectangular shower enclosures
Much like the offset enclosure and the quadrant, the rectangular enclosure is an extended version of the square shower enclosure. A rectangular shower enclosure allows it to use similar floor space to a standard bath. It also offers a great deal of showering space and is perfect for larger rooms where there is an abundance of space.
Walk-In shower enclosures
If you want something to make a statement, then a walk-in shower enclosure is the ultimate fitting. They come in a variety of shapes but are mostly made up of two separate panels and a shower tray. They do generally require quite a lot of space as the showering area needs to be large enough for the screen to prevent water from splashing into the bathroom.
Recessed shower enclosures
All you need for a recessed shower enclosure is a shower door. It’s the perfect option for when you have an alcove in the bathroom. It uses the existing walls to create the shower, rather than taking up extra space elsewhere in the bathroom. You could construct your own alcove if you really want a recessed enclosure, although you’ll have to weigh up the cost to do so.
Keep reading to learn about the different door types you can get...
Hinged shower door
Hinged shower doors are the classic choice, as they simply swing out into your bathroom to give you a generous entry area to get in and out of your shower comfortably. Though they give you a great entry space, they may not suit a smaller bathroom where space is a premium due to the large door protruding into your bathroom when open.
Pivot shower door
The majority of pivot shower doors swing outwards from the shower enclosure, saving space in the showering area. Because they open outwards you have to be aware of anything around your shower enclosure and ensure that there's enough space for the door to swing freely without hitting anything. Pivot doors can be right, left or centre pivoted.
Sliding shower door
If you don't want to sacrifice any external or internal space then a sliding shower door is your best bet. The sliding shower door is usually reserved for larger shower enclosures, and the smooth sliding action makes it a breeze to open and close at will.
Bifold shower door
Bifold shower doors open into the showering area with a folding action. Because the door folds there is no chance of the door encroaching into your external bathroom space, plus they retain ease of access thanks to a smooth and quick opening manoeuvre.
What to consider when buying a shower enclosure
When you come round to buying a shower enclosure, there is more to consider than simply the cost and style. We’ve picked some out below before going into more detail.
- Do you have space?
- Where will it go?
- Do you want a shower tray?
- What do you want on your walls?
It may seem obvious, but the first thing you will need to consider is whether you can actually fit a shower enclosure into your bathroom.
If you are making a like-for-like change with an old enclosure or swapping a bath for a shower, this should make it more straightforward. However, if you are fitting an enclosure into a space for the very first time, you will need to consider the dimensions of your room.
Read more: How to Fit a Shower Enclosure
You should also consider the type of room you are looking to create a shower enclosure for. Is it for your main bathroom? Alternatively, is it for an ensuite or separate shower room? This may influence the type of shower enclosure that is right for your needs. Proper planning makes it possible to fit a shower into a tight area.
How to measure for a shower enclosure
When measuring for a shower enclosure, you will need the height, width and depth of the space where the enclosure will be installed. Always double-check these measurements.
If the enclosure is going to be fitted between two walls, you will need to take three measurements, each at different heights, because the distance between the walls is unlikely to be the same all the way up. If your enclosure is going to be fitted into a corner, you will need to measure from the outside of the shower tray to the wall on each side.
It is important that you think about where you want to place your shower enclosure because it can have an impact on other issues.
Will it be in the corner, like many enclosures, or in a separate enclosed area, such as an alcove? You could even have it against a single wall if you have a large space. This will all impact the type of shower enclosure and enclosure door you need. As we’ve said, if you are fitting in a recessed enclosure, you may only need a door, rather than a full enclosure.
Also, if you are replacing an old shower enclosure or swapping a bathtub for an enclosure, place your new shower in the same position as your old one, if you can. This will then require a lot less plumbing work, potentially saving money, as your water pipes and drainage will already be in the correct place.
Determine your budget
An important one is considering what budget do you have? Thankfully you've got the advantage of a huge variety of shower enclosures on the market today, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a shower enclosure that will fit both your budget and style tastes. However, the important thing to remember is that the quality may suffer if you're getting one dirt cheap. It's not always the case, of course, bathroom retailers are constantly engaged in slashing prices to attract new customers, so finding a bargain doesn't automatically mean the shower enclosure will fall apart within a matter of months.
Aside from the quality, you should always make sure what exactly you're getting for your money before you pay a penny. Look at everything the product offers; hinges, bearings, handles, quick release wheels and more may not mean much to you if this is your first ever shower enclosure or home fitting, but they're all important in the process of making sure you can enjoy a quality – and even a low priced – shower enclosure for years to come.
While browsing, you may have found a range of shower enclosures that come with or without shower trays.
If you are looking for an all-in-one solution, buying with a tray is a better option. This is because the tray will be designed specifically to fit that precise shower enclosure, which reduces the chances of leakage or installation problems. Buying an enclosure and tray together means you don't have to think about tray size.
Read more: How to Fit a Shower Tray
Some showers can come without the need for a shower tray, such as some walk-in showers, where there is altered flooring with plumbing straight into the tiles. It offers a seamless transition into the shower and a luxurious, hotel feel. You can, however, have shower trays for these types of enclosures sunk into the floor, too.
The interior walls of your shower enclosure will need added protection from water, like with bath-shower combinations, and this can be done using wall panels or tiles.
If your bathroom walls are already tiled, great, that will do the job brilliantly. However, if there is only paint on your bathroom walls, you will need to make a decision. Shower wall panels are fast becoming a popular alternative to tiles, due to their benefits. They are quick and easy to install, cost-effective, have a large range of designs and simple to maintain.
Read more: How To Fit Bathroom Wall Panels
Wall tiles are always a popular choice, due to their stylish appearance and durability. When tiling the walls in your shower area, there are some points to consider. Think of how the use of tiles will impact the size you have available, especially for an alcove.
How much do shower enclosures cost?
Shower enclosures can come in a range of styles and designs, which impacts their overall cost. At Plumbworld, our shower enclosures start at reasonable prices. We’ve put the starting price for each type of enclosure below (based on February 2021 prices):
- Quadrant: £179.97
- Offset Quadrant: £179.98
- Square: £184.99
- Rectangular: £189.00
- Walk-in: £239.00
What affects the cost of a shower enclosure?
Whether you want to keep costs low or have a large budget, there is a shower enclosure for everyone and all bathrooms, but there are factors that can increase the price.
The thickness of the glass for an enclosure is one area that can increase the cost. Enclosures are made from toughened, tempered safety glass and come in various thicknesses, from 3mm to over 10mm. The thicker the glass the more durable it is, but this will mean the price will also increase.
Just like the thickness of glass, the larger the shower enclosure, the more expensive it will be. The bigger your choice of enclosure the more material is required to make it. A bespoke, custom-made size will increase the cost as a specialist may have to build it for you.
The other major factor that can increase costs is the style of the shower enclosure. The style of your enclosure shouldn't alter the price too much, and while most styles start at a reasonable price, some are more expensive than others. This will often be down to factors such as size and material change that increase the price.
There are a few more features you should look out for when you're looking for the perfect enclosure. First off, take a look a look at the glass thickness and whether or not it's toughened safety glass to avoid any nasty accidents. The vast majority of shower panels today are, but it's best to make sure.
If you can't find the right size of panel or shower tray for your enclosure then make sure to check if it's adjustable. Many allow a slight adjustment to compensate for out of true walls, or if you haven't got your measurements exact.
If you're looking for more information on shower enclosures and shower screens take a look at the following posts - Wet Room and Walk-in Shower Enclosure Ideas - Bath Shower Screen Buying Guide - How to Clean a Shower Enclosure.
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