5 Ways to Contain Water in a Roll-in Shower

One of the biggest concerns with individuals looking at roll-in showers is how to contain water inside of the shower.  Barrier-free showers or low barrier showers allow for greater safety with eliminating the obstacle of a threshold which is unmanageable with roll in shower chairs or would pose as a trip hazard for someone who walks to get around.

(1) Achieve a sufficient slope of the floor towards the drain

Roll-in showers should slope sufficiently for containing water into the drain.  This can be achieved with tiling with fabricated tiling pan systems, or mud set bases that experienced contractors may be able to manage.  The recommended sloping for a roll-in shower is ½ inches of rise per 12” of run.  Fiberglass shower bases with beveled edges, are designed for roll-in showers and are sloped towards the drain at a standardized slope

(2) Direct the water towards the drain

A simple method for containing water is an appropriate direction of water flow.  Careful attention to water flow will help to contain water in a direction that does not cause the water to flow towards the edges of the shower curtain.  This can be facilitated with the use of a hand-held shower spray that allows you direct water appropriately.  Having a handheld spray-head with a “trickle/pause” setting (note that you still need to shut the water off from the mixer valve when you’re done bathing), can help to contain water when you’re soaping up, before rinsing or finishing.  Also using a handheld spray holder which can be attached to the grab bar, may assist as well for containing water.

(3) Use partial walling sections of the shower to avoid gaping on the edges

Designing showers with partial wall edging can assist with containing water at the edges of the curtains, and keep water safely in the shower area.  This can easily be done with barrier-free showers and can be integrated aesthetically, while also maintaining an adequate opening for easy maneuverability and open access.

(4) Use a heavy weighted shower curtain

Use of a lower/longer and heavier than standard shower curtain can help with maintaining water within the shower area.  Shower curtains are still the preferable option for containing water, as opposed to shower doors which block the pathway and typically create an issue with doorswing within the bathroom making the space less maneuverable.  Some people will maintain a low height for the shower curtain, or utilize a specialized heavy weighted shower curtain that is designed for roll-in showers.

(5) Incorporate a linear drain or flexible water dam

Linear drain’s or “trench drains” provide an extra strip drain that can be located at the edge of the shower area while allowing the floor to remain flush without a threshold.  We often use a trench drain in addition to a standard center drain for help in limiting splash and water from the edges of the shower.  Linear or trench drains can also be used in lieu of a center drain either on the outer or inner edge of the shower and can provide a more even slope of the floor from one side to another (rather than the uneven contour from 4 edges to a center drain).  Linear/trench drains are more costly due to the fixture, and extra cost for the plumbing required.  A less costly alternative to a trench drain is a collapsible water dam which provides a barrier to water from flowing out, but easily collapses down to allow someone to step over, or roll- over in a roll-in shower chair.

Roll-in Shower Options:

Consider the different options for roll-in showers which include custom tile showers with “barrier-free” and truly non-threshold access to roll-in.  Or consider a prefabricated roll-in shower made of acrylic, fiberglass, or other polymer shower surround system with integrated wall backing for grab bar placement.  Acrylic style shower surrounds can be roll-in with a graded pan and rounded edge to use a roll-in shower chair, or as a walk-in surround with a threshold which helps to contain water.  See our portfolio for examples of roll-in and accessible showers that we have provided for our clients.  Contact us today for your accessibility needs!

BILD – Bridgeway Independent Living Designs, is a nationally acclaimed accessibility company that combines the expertise of physical and occupational therapists (who teach accessibility nationally), and interior design expertise – to incorporate the importance of aesthetics with accessible design.  We are a Milwaukee, WI-based company and provide accessibility solutions in the Wisconsin and Chicago regions with integrated interior design services with project management.  Contact us today for your accessibility needs!