Linear Shower Drains
Recently, the use of linear shower drains (sometimes referred to as trench drains or trough drains) and their technology has increased substantially for use in residential applications. We would like to share our experience of linear shower drains and explore the pros and cons of using them.
We won’t try to hide the fact that Turning Point Designer Renovations LLC enjoys using linear shower drains in our walk-in tiled showers. The benefits far exceed any downfalls, and whenever possible we will always specify the use of a linear shower drain in our projects.
First, let’s look at traditional shower drains for residential applications. For decades showers drain types and design, have been unchanged. Typically a shower drain is constructed in such a manner that a four inch center drain outlet is placed at (or near) the center of the shower floor which has a compound slope. The shower pan slopes from all directions with the highest points along the walls and curb sloping towards the lowest point at the center shower drain. There is not a practical design flaw in using a drain in this fashion, but it poses limitations in the tile design possible in walk-in showers.
Perhaps the biggest limitation is your are forced to use a smaller sized tiles on the shower floor which was accomplished with tile sizes usually 4 inches or less in size. While there is nothing wrong with 4 inch or smaller tiles for some projects, this construction method presents a few drawbacks.
First; and most noticeable, is that all shower floors looked similar with small square tiles haphazardly cut and shaped around a circular drain. The limited color choices that are available in those small tile sizes then limit your design capabilities with choosing a wall tile that matches and looks good with those tiny tiles. By using a center drains this limits the overall design potential of your walk-in tiled showers and does not allow for creativity in tile designs.
Additionally, with four inch or smaller tiles; that were the standard of the past, creates a plethora of grout lines to maintain and keep clean. Also, with those smaller tiles and many grout you increase the opportunity for grout cracking out and the more grout lines you have the better the chance one of them could end up leaking and eventually cause water damage to the rest of your home.
The Linear Shower Drain! A product adapted from commercial use in restaurants and school locker room showers, to the hot new trend in bathroom remodels and custom walk-in showers for residential applications. The benefits of a linear shower drain are so great that we prefer to not install those other drains anymore.
Linear shower drains are exactly what you would imagine, a long straight drain that can be used in too many different ways to mention. A linear shower drain can be as short as 24 inches and as long as you want them to be, and can be placed in countless locations within (or even outside of) your custom walk-in tiled shower. These drains can be on side walls, front or back walls, next to a bench or curb, and even used in such a fashion that no curb is needed. This feature alone makes a linear shower drain the perfect choice for handicapped accessible shower designs.
When installing a linear shower drain, the construction method of the shower pan is where the main difference is present. For a shower pan that will include a linear shower drain, the pan is typically sloped in a single direction only versus a compound slope with a traditional drain that slopes in every direction. This one difference completely changes how we think about and designs showers today.
Imagine being able to use any size and shape of tile on the market for your shower floor! You are no longer limited in the choice of tiles for the shower floor; we can now use any tile size available by using a single sloped shower pan with a linear shower drain. There is no more small tiles with the traditional shower pan when implementing a linear shower drain with single directional.
Another benefit of linear shower drains is that they are better suited to use the latest technology in shower waterproofing. Today’s sheet membranes for shower waterproofing are far superior to the waterproofing methods of the past. With a linear shower drain and single directional sloped shower pan it is easier and more efficient to utilize a sheet membrane product for waterproofing that creates a continuous protection layer from the drain to the ceiling. This method does not rely on the tile and grout to create the waterproofing protection in today’s shower systems.
With linear shower drains, the location and adaptability in their placement allows for endless possibilities in the shower design and layout. Perhaps the most beneficial aspect as mentioned earlier is the opportunity to create a true “curbless” shower that can allow for easy access when handicapped accessibility is required. The linear shower drain can be placed in such a location that no curb or step is needed to contain the water when showering.
Additionally, the flexibility in the placement allows for you to place the linear shower drain anywhere within the shower that may be required. This can help keep plumbing costs and required structural modifications to a minimum when working in spaces that have limited access or obstacles to contend with. Linear shower drains can also be connected together in straight lines to obtain longer spans as well as placed around the entire perimeter of a shower by connecting them in the corners of the shower walls.
The designs of linear shower drains are also what make them a great choice to create a higher end look and feel. The grate style of the drain is no longer limited to just a plain grid pattern. There are linear shower drains with many different grate designs to give your shower that high end custom look and feel. Some manufactures also offer linear shower drains that can have tile placed in the grate so the drain itself disappears and blends into the tile design, they can be illuminated with color changing LED’s, and have design features that allow for quick and easy cleaning of the drain.
The downfalls of linear shower drains are limited. One downfall of the linear shower drain is cost. Where a traditional standard shower drain costs approximately $50, a linear shower drain starts at about $200 and can be as much as $1000. This cost disparity is offset though by the easier installation and lower labor cost of installing a single sloped shower pan. For example, we have found that when replacing a tub with a 30 inch by 60 inch walk in shower, the cost difference between a shower pan with a standard drain and linear drain is under $150.
Also linear showers drains only come in stock sizes. While there are many sizes available for the most common shower sizes, and they can be joined to achieve longer sizes, your shower should be designed and sized around the size availability of the drains . This size issue can be resolved with not having the drain span the entire width of the shower, and having a small space on each end of the drain.
Turning Point Designer Renovations LLC are strong advocates of the linear shower drain, and we believe that we have created better looking and performing showers when using them. We would love to discuss how we can bring the practical and stylish linear shower drain into your project.
If you have any questions about linear shower drains, we invite you to call us today at 414-813-0644 for your free estimate and consultation, additionally you can visit the Contact Us page or Ask Us A Question and we would be happy to assist you.