Once upon a time, the options for premade shower bases largely included vinyl or fiberglass, but times have changed. The shower pan options of today offer cutting-edge materials and sleeker looks.
When they appeared, premade shower bases were seen as a huge benefit to installers because it meant they didn’t have to do a mud job. Mud jobs used to be the primary method for prepping a shower for tile and required a skilled individual to set a copper pan or heavy gauge poly and to slope a dry-pack mortar mix to the drain. Though mud jobs perform well, they require more time before they are ready for tile and cost more to install. They are also heavy.
Made of Corian, 00 is a shower tray that comes in various sizes and offers an ultrathin profile. The product’s surface gently slopes toward the drain and offers a soft and velvety feel. It comes with a right or left drain with a siphon top.
Premade shower pans solve those problems. They are typically lightweight, come pre sloped to the drain, and are pretty much waterproof if installed correctly. One of the biggest benefit is that the pre-made shower pan systems are easier than a mud job and can be installed by a less skilled worker on the job site. Tiling on some premade bases can be done on the same day, while some products don’t even need tiles.
Composite shower bases have become popular because they offer feature solid construction compared the hollow feeling of fiberglass and vinyl. One Company, Wetstyle, recently introduced a high-density stone and resin composite shower base collection—Feel—that the company says realistically replicates the textures of concrete and slate.
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Bellwether 60-inch shower base made from enameled cast iron construction for durability and ease of maintenance and an offset drain for use in new construction or for tub replacement in remodeling situations. Pros may even specify a removable cover for the recessed drain to the installation a finished look. The brand says the rim size is optimized for water containment and aesthetics.
“Newly refined manufacturing techniques have filled in the gap between previously uninspiring pre-cast shower bases and expensive, complicated tiled-in solutions,” says Mark Wolinsky, president of Canadian bath brand. “The ability to custom-cut the pre-cast bases also makes them compatible with odd-sized or unique spaces, where tiled-in shower bases were previously the only available option.”
And more manufacturers developing composite materials for shower bases. Blu Bathworks, for example, offers a collection of ultra-low profile shower receptor made from eco-friendly blu∙stone material featuring quartzite. The material is “visually luminous and soft—almost warm—to the touch,” the company says, and “exceptionally durable.” Bases are available in a range of textured colors. And other European brands use a variety proprietary composites or even solid surface for their products.
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Amuleto is an outdoor shower tray that is made from Petit Granit marble and come complete with syphon cover plate for the drain. It measures 51 3/16 inches in diameter and a little more than 1½ inches.
Acrylic shower base are still pretty popular, though, and even metal is an option. Kohler offers a series of products made from enameled cast iron for what the company calls “unmatched durability and ease of maintenance.” The company’s bases also can be dressed up with a removable cover for its recessed drain.
The market also is shifting away from traditional shower bases that sometimes measure up to 5 inches tall toward more streamlined bases that are more low profile. In some cases, bases measure a mere 1½ inch, giving homeowners an almost barrier-free shower installation that is easier for wheelchairs and result in a more modern look
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The H3 line of showers trays are made from a Ceramilux composite material consisting of natural mineral content and mixed polyester resins. It is then coated with a polyester-based gelcoat. Non absorbent material and highly scratch and abrasion resistant, the product comes in a smooth matte finish or with a textured surface. It comes in matte white, matte black and Ceramilux stone finishings.
Regardless of the material, though, all shower bases come with drawbacks and benefits. Acrylic, for instance, is very affordable, lightweight, and easy to install, but some are susceptible to staining, discoloring, and scratches. Composites are durable and highly resistant to scratches and offer the look of stone, but they are expensive and requires regular cleaning.
Fiberglass is another affordable option and, like acrylic, is lightweight and easy to install. But it can be brittle and prone to cracking. Over time, cleaning products also may affect the finish.
Either way, it’s important to investigate all options for each project and determine what performance characteristic is acceptable and what’s not.
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Part of the manufacturer’s Complements Collection, the Alias shower base is a minimal design product that is made from Cristalplant, a composite material that is pleasant to the touch, durable, and easy to keep clean. The middle section is set on silicon supports and hides the drain. It can be removed easily for cleaning.
Constructed from a premium blend of natural and man-made materials, the 60-inch-by-32-inch Randolph Morris shower base is highly resistant to scratches and impacts, the company says, and is anti-slip for safety while showering. It’s antibacterial, which prevents fungus and bacteria growth, and it is resistant to chemical agents.
Feel is a new collection of textured, precast shower bases offering single-slab construction and customizable configurations. The company says the collection represents the leading edge of shower base design and installation by leveraging refined moulding techniques that enable textures to be replicated on shower base surfaces. It comes in various sizes, three colors—white, grey, and black—and drain covers matched in texture and color.