A no-threshold shower offers a sleek, modern look while providing increased accessibility and safety. Removing the barrier of a raised threshold allows for easier entry and exit for those with mobility challenges. But a no-threshold shower can work for any homeowner looking for a cleaner, more minimalist aesthetic. When designed thoughtfully, the no-threshold shower seamlessly blends form and function.
Benefits of the No-Threshold Shower
Easier Access. The primary benefit of the no-threshold shower is the lack of a raised threshold to step over. This allows for easier movement in and out of the shower for those with disabilities or limited mobility. Removing this barrier helps prevent slips and falls.
Smoother Transitions. With no metal or vinyl threshold to transition over, the experience of entering and exiting a no-threshold shower is more fluid. The open entryway creates a seamless feel as you move from the bathroom floor into the shower area.
Modern, Clean Look. Today’s showers are moving towards a more contemporary, minimalist look. The lack of a threshold complements the clean lines of modern bathrooms. Creating a curbless entry to the shower space maintains an open, airy aesthetic.
Increased Space. Removing the threshold adds a feeling of increased space in the shower area. The absence of a bulky threshold maximizes the usable area of the shower floor.
Customization. No-threshold showers allow for significant customization options. Walk-in showers can be designed and constructed to suit your exact space and needs.
Improved Hygiene. With no threshold or lip, a no-threshold shower eliminates an area where mold, mildew, and bacteria could grow. This creates a more hygienic shower environment.
Design Considerations for the No-Threshold Shower
Installing a no-threshold shower takes careful planning and design. Here are some key considerations:
Proper waterproofing is critical to prevent leaks and moisture damage. The entire shower area needs to be waterproofed, including the walls and floor. This usually involves using a waterproof membrane or coating such as RedGard®, Kerdi®, or Laticrete Hydro Ban®. Flashing and sealants around the perimeter and drainage areas help guard against water escaping.
Drainage needs extra attention in a curbless shower design. Without a threshold to retain water, the floor should slope gently down towards the drain. A linear drain can help maximize drainage across a larger surface area. The drain must have a flange that extends under the flooring substrate to direct any moisture into the drain pipe.
The shower flooring material needs a textured finish to prevent slips and falls when wet. Tile, stone, and grout provide traction, as do textured vinyl floors. Small mosaic tiles or river rocks make attractive anti-slip shower floors.
Grab bars, benches, and anti-slip mats enhance accessibility and safety. Adjustable shower heads and hand-held shower wands improve ease of use. Curtains or doors should slide or swing out of the way without obstructing the entry.
Some no-threshold showers incorporate small barrier curbs or bumps. Just an inch or two high, these help contain water while still allowing low-profile access. They are useful for retrofits of existing showers.
Constructing a No-Threshold Shower
Building a no-threshold shower takes precision craftsmanship. Here is an overview of typical construction steps:
Frame and Prep the Space
The framing should allow for sloped floors down to the centered drain. Waterproof backerboard is installed on walls and floors up to the desired finished height. Edges are taped and sealed to create the waterproof shell.
After the first waterproofing coat has dried, a fabric reinforcement layer is embedded to strengthen the membrane. A final coat of waterproofing is applied over it. Flashing seals corners, joints, and the drain.
Mortar Bed and Slope
A mortar bed reinforced with metal lathe provides the sloped shower pan. It is sloped 1⁄4 inch per foot towards the drain. The mortar fully covers the drain flange.
The drain assembly gets set into the mortar bed. The clamps secure it firmly in place. Mortar seals any gaps below the flange so water flows into the drain.
Tile and Grout
Tile is applied to walls and floor as desired with thinset mortar. Grout fills the joints, completing the water-tight shell. Caulking seals tile edges. The floor receives an anti-slip treatment.
With the tile set, plumbing fixtures like the shower head, controls, and grab bars can be installed. The shower is now ready for water testing before final use.
Design Ideas for a No-Threshold Shower
Here are some stylish ways to incorporate a no-threshold shower into your bathroom:
Transform your shower into a relaxing spa with a bench, rain showerhead, and decorative stone or tile. Keep colors neutral for a calming vibe. Add water features like body sprays for a luxurious feel.
Modern and Sleek
Use rectangular or square tile in contrasting colors and patterns to create a contemporary shower look. Add in a hand-held shower wand, recessed niches, and linear drain. Choose chrome or matte black fixtures.
Mosaic Accent Wall
Make one wall a stunning focal point. Use tiny mosaic, marble, or glass tiles to craft a decorative accent wall or niche. Keep the rest clean and simple. Add warmth with neutral earthy tones.
River Rock Floor
For natural rustic texture, use small river rocks on the shower floor. Round pebbles provide drainage channels while preventing slips. Enhance the nature theme with wood-inspired porcelain planks on walls.
Glistening glass tile in bold, vibrant hues energizes the shower space. The sleek tiles have a luminosity that makes small baths feel more expansive. Use blue-green for tranquility, or orange and lime for a tropical punch.
Bring the essence of the outdoors in. Stacked stone or textured porcelain tiles replicate layered rock formations. Wood-look planks add organic contrast. Incorporate plant motifs with floral-etched glass, shower curtain, or tiles.
Maintaining and Caring for a No-Threshold Shower
A no-threshold shower requires some special care to keep it looking fresh and prevent water issues:
- Wipe down shower walls and floor after each use to prevent soap scum buildup and mildew growth.
- Clean the drain strainer regularly so it doesn’t get clogged by hair and debris.
- Use a long-handled brush to periodically scrub the corners and crevices of the tile joints.
- Check caulk seals around the base of the shower and replace if cracked or missing to prevent leaks.
- Make sure bathroom has proper ventilation to avoid moisture and humidity buildup from the open shower design.
- Install shower curtain correctly so it contains all water spray within the shower area and doesn’t overflow onto bathroom floor.
- Test waterproofing annually by flooding the shower pan to ensure it still effectively prevents leaks.
No-Threshold Shower Safety Tips
While providing easier access, no-threshold showers present some potential safety considerations:
- Use textured, anti-slip tiles or flooring material to prevent falls on wet surfaces.
- Install grab bars properly to provide stability entering and exiting the shower.
- Ensure floor has proper sloped drainage so water doesn’t pool at shower entry.
- Allow extra room for wheelchair access and transfers if needed.
- Provide shower seat or bench for those needing seated showering capability.
- Use contrasting colors between floor and walls to assist visually impaired users.
- Install a hand-held shower wand within reach from seat for ease of bathing.
- Keep shower area well-lit. Consider adding recessed lighting.
- Use a non-slip rubber bath mat at entry as an extra precaution.
No-Threshold Shower Costs
Converting to a curbless shower requires full renovation. Here are typical costs:
- Plumber: $200-$400 to remove old and install new drain
- Waterproofing Materials: $4-$8 per sq. ft.
- Tile and Stone: $10-$50 per sq. ft. installed
- Glass Tile or Mosaic: $15-$100 per sq. ft. installed
- Labor: $60-$100 per hour
A 5×5 curbless, tiled shower generally runs $4,000-$8,000. Higher-end materials, specialty designs, or larger sizes increase costs. The investment can add equity and appeal if selling the home.
Is a No-Threshold Shower Right for You?
If considering a no-threshold shower design, ask yourself:
- Do I want easier, safer shower access for myself or others?
- Do I prioritize a clean, contemporary look in my home?
- Am I willing to pay more upfront for this custom shower?
- Is my existing bathroom layout suitable for this remodel?
- Can I maintain sufficient ventilation to prevent moisture issues?
If you answer yes, a curbless shower can help turn your bathroom into a luxurious, accessible oasis!
Frequently Asked Questions About No-Threshold Showers
Can I install a no-threshold shower in my existing bathroom?
In some cases, yes. If your current shower area and drainage allow for it, a curbless entryway can potentially be added by removing the existing threshold and re-tiling the floor. However, full gut renovations usually provide the ideal conditions for constructing no-threshold showers.
Do I still need doors on a no-threshold shower?
Doors or curtains are highly recommended to prevent water from escaping and flooding your bathroom. Frameless glass doors, tension rod curtains that pull closed magnetically, or swinging doors that latch open are ideal options.
What are the best tiles for a no-threshold shower floor?
Small mosaic tiles, textured porcelain, pebble floors, and grout provide grip and traction. Avoid large, smooth tiles on the shower floor. Glass and marble can be very slippery. Mosaic tiles come in sheets for easier installation.
Can I have benches, niches, and seats in my no-threshold shower?
Absolutely. Curbless showers are highly customizable. Build in recessed shelves, corner benches, or standalone seats as desired. Just make sure to waterproof properly behind units.
How difficult is cleaning and maintenance on a no-threshold shower?
Expect to wipe down shower walls and floor after each use to keep free of residue, soap, and mildew. Pay special attention to keeping the drain clear. Occasional re-caulking and testing for leaks will also be needed.
A no-threshold shower blends form and function for the modern home. The curbless entryway maximizes accessibility while delivering a clean, sophisticated look. Careful waterproofing, drainage, and slip-resistant materials help make this a safe, durable addition to the home when properly constructed. With the right design choices, you can create a no-threshold shower that is both accessible and aesthetically appealing.