December 2014
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Here are some facts to know about the three types of options for walk-in shower bases as you plan your project.

David H. Adams, President
Design Builders and Remodeling, Inc. • 203.431.9104
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"If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you will never change the outcome.” 

- Michael Jordan

3 Options for Walk-in Shower Bases

A walk-in shower with a slip-resistant custom tile floor.
Selecting a shower pan or base is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make if you’re considering adding a walk-in shower to your home. Bases come in standard sizes or can be customized. There are also threshold and surface options to choose from. Here are some facts to know about the three types of options for walk-in shower bases as you plan your project.

1.  Standard and Custom Base Options

All shower bases should be slip-resistant, have an adequate slope and a watertight seal. In standard bases you will find either a center drain hole or an offset drain hole. The drain hole in the base should be matched to the existing drain or framing if possible. If you are using a custom base you will be able to adjust the drain location for the existing drain line, framing and shower shape.
  • Standard bases. Standard square or rectangular shower base pans range in size from 32-by-32 inches to 60-by-42 inches. There are also standard neo-angle base pans for corner showers that range from 36 inches to 60 inches in diameter.
  • Custom bases. Custom bases are cast to order or are built-in-place.  They are commonly constructed with either a solid surface material such as Onyx or tile laid over a mortar base (mudset) with a waterproof membrane such as Schluter
A walk-in shower with a tiled floor and glass enclosure

2.  Threshold Options

Shower base manufacturers offer several threshold options. While a shower threshold can serve as a dam for water, it can also present a tripping hazard or barrier for some users. In planning your project here are four threshold options to consider:
  • Standard full-height thresholds. A standard threshold for a walk-in shower pan is approximately 4 inches in height.
  • Lowered thresholds. The height of standard and custom lowered threshold bases ranges from 1¼ inches to 2½ inches depending on the size of the shower. The base is typically sloped ¼ inch per foot of area toward the drain hole to allow for water drainage.
  • Ramped threshold. Ramped thresholds are designed for people who use a wheelchair. A ramped threshold can be integrated with a shower base or it can be a separate removable piece when used with a base that has a lowered threshold. The slope of a ramp base can increase from zero to 1½ inches or from zero to 2¼ inches depending on the length of the ramp.
  • Zero threshold. Proponents of “Universal Design” recommend a level entry for a shower. Zero threshold entries are commonly used with walk-in showers with or without doors for easy access and safety. If you’re remodeling an existing bathroom, and like this feature, you’ll want to discuss installation with your contractor to assure that there is an adequate floor structure for drainage.


This doorless walk-in shower features a lowered threshold solid surface Onyx base with a ramped threshold.

3.  Surface Options


Material used for manufactured shower bases includes solid surfaces materials such as ONYX products, fiberglass, cultured marble and acrylic. These bases come in a range of colors, designs and prices. Most bases that are built-in-place use slip-resistant tile for shower flooring. The numerous selections of tile choices allow for a wide range of design and price options for these bases.

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Beg, Borrow or Steal Light

The current preference for large, light-filled, open spaces has inspired many people to remodel and reconfigure their older homes. Have you been considering this as well?  In the core area of your home, the plan will usually involve removing the walls that divide the space into small rooms, such as a wall that separates your dining room from the kitchen. This opening-up process increases the amount of light that can reach into all the previously dark recesses. It often creates larger expanses of wall space that provide the opportunity to install more and larger windows.

When the secondary areas of your home feel closed off, a different strategy will be needed. Opening up the space by removing the interior walls could pose a problem if you value privacy in, say, your office or your laundry room. On the other hand, those solid walls and doors can form a barrier that cannot be penetrated by light from the rest of your home. You may find yourself having to turn on the electric lights during the daytime, which wastes energy. One option for bringing more natural light into these secondary areas is to install exterior windows, roof windows, skylights or light tubes, where feasible.

Another way to add light to the remote corners of your home is through the use of interior windows, glass partitions and glass doors. These products provide a way to borrow light from other rooms, allowing the light to reach deeper into the house. A strategically placed glass interior opening can almost double the illumination received by your master bath as it shares light with the master bedroom. This is also a good option for helping to illuminate a hallway.

If a clear glass interior opening does not provide enough privacy, the glass may be frosted, etched or obscured with texture-also providing an opportunity for artistic expression that enhance's the look of the space. Transom windows that are installed high on a wall or over a door will transfer light from one space to another, yet maintain privacy due to their location. Multiple transom windows are often grouped together, creating a unique architectural detail.

Besides dispersing more light into an otherwise dim room, glass interior openings can also establish a visual connection between separate rooms. Such an opening can allow you to work in your home office while keeping an eye on your children playing in the adjacent family room. The glass opening may also be designed to capture an attractive view of the next room within its frame, while making both rooms feel more spacious.




904 Ethan Allen Highway
Ridgefield, CT 06877

tel: 203.431.9104
fax: 203.431.5798
tel: 203.431.9104
fax: 203.431.5798

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tel: 203.438.7747
fax: 203.431.5798

Visit our Website
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203.431.9104 | 904 Ethan Allen Highway | Ridgefield, CT 06877

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