When planning a major bathroom remodel, there are a lot of things to think about, and a lot of decisions to make – some of them fun, and some of them practical. The fun decisions are easy to make – this jacuzzi tub or that steam bath and so on. But unless you have some personal experience on the subject, some of the practical decisions can be harder to make. Take a custom shower for example: you might not have any trouble choosing your favorite rainfall showerhead, but might not know much about what to do when it comes to shower floors.
You might think that shower floors are waterproofed either by the tile and grout or the solid construction of pre-made shower floors, but you’d be wrong on both counts. A whole lot of construction goes into building a long-lasting, leak-proof shower, including not only a graded concrete or mortar slab, but also a thick, durable, waterproof lining underneath it. That layer guides any water that leaks through cracks in your shower directly to the drain, preventing the kind of catastrophic damage that can occur when even a little bit of water is leaking over a long period of time unnoticed.
Anyone who tells you you don’t need one or the other is selling you a whole lot of trouble you don’t want or need. That said, once you get the foundation of your shower installed, you still have to decide between a few different types of shower floors. For a huge, whole-scale custom shower, many people choose to do custom tiling head to toe, including the shower floor. But often premade acrylic or fiberglass shower floors can be a much less expensive alternative. What’s the big difference?
Price: Tile shower floors can be a little expensive, primarily because you’re not only paying for the tile, but also for the tile to be installed and any underlying construction to be done. Pre-made shower floors, on the other hand, tend to be less expensive to buy, and often come in a single piece that you can potentially install yourself. Very well installed tile can last longer, but a good tiling job isn’t cheap by any means, and it’s easier to replace standard-sized pre made shower floors than it is to try to accommodate a new floor to a custom shape.
Appearance: The biggest pro of tiled shower floors is that you can create a pristine, seamless tiled look throughout your bathroom. Whether that means continuing your tiles from the wall all the way onto the floor, extending your floor tiles into your shower, or simply having a coordinated over-all tiled look, tiled shower floors have a much more finished look. That said, if it’s a matter of a limited budget, a low-sitting pre-made shower floor will still allow you to have fully tiled walls while saving on the expense of doing the floors. If it’s a matter of convenience, you can find pre-made shower floors that are “tile ready” or that can be tiled over, but they tend to be a little more expensive than conventional models.
Maintenance: On the other hand, pre made shower floors definitely win in terms of easy maintenance, not only because they don’t have any grout to scrub, but also because many of them are made of easy to clean, mold and stain resistant materials. Overall, premade shower floors present a rather easy-to-clean surface, though you should be aware that many acrylics should not be cleaned with harsh chemicals. Tile shower floors not only have to be routinely scrubbed, but also periodically re-sealed to keep the grout from leaking or cracking.
User Experience: Depending on the type of tile you use and the pre-made shower floor material, the experience of standing on your shower floor can be quite different – warm to the touch or cold, slippery or rough or slip-proof, or otherwise. But pre made shower floors can offer a little more functionality than your standard tile floor. Many come with built in seating that requires no extra installation to create, and provides a smooth, comfortable surface to sit on without any awkwardly angled tiling. Taller (totally tile-free) shower walls often even have built in shelves that would require complicated installation in a tiled shower, but without the beauty or customizability of your own hand picked tile.
Scope Of Your Project: This is partially related to price, but not completely. If you’re going to install a brand new custom tiled shower, depending on the size of the shower and who you hire to do the tiling, it could take a while to complete, and is definitely going to bump into the category of big budget, major renovation. And depending on what else you’re doing to your bathroom at the time, it can be difficult (or expensive) to make all parts of your project (especially different types of tile) blend seamlessly. Plopping in pre made shower floors is relatively fast, easy, and inexpensive, and can alleviate a lot of problems with matching up tile borders while still allowing you to have customizable shower walls.
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