With the hectic pace of modern technological American, people are in desperate need of stress management. To the list of aerobics, group therapy, yoga, massage therapy, Tai Chi, aroma therapy and free weights, add the newest stress reducer: extraordinary creature comfort. To help cope with their dizzying lifestyles, Americans today are finding their solace – both physical and emotional – in the bathroom! Is it time to consider changing your tub into a shower?
“Spacious, feature-loaded showers have become one of the most sought-after requests for today’s homeowners,” says Chet Basher, Certified Kitchen and Bathroom Designer owner of Sparta Trades Kitchens and Baths. “More and more people are recognizing the very real need to take time for themselves, to relax and reduce stress by pampering their bodies in a spacious, modern, convenient shower. Just one-half hour of total self-indulgence in a feature-laden shower can make up for any number of grueling hours in an unfriendly, competitive workplace.
“Though once considered luxury features, multiple shower heads, scald-free water controls, shower seats, skylights, grab bars, leg-shaving shelves, room for two, music and much more have become necessities for increasing numbers of homeowners who understand just how important it is to experience the relaxation and even sensuous experience of a well-planned shower.
“A steam shower, for example, loosens the muscles, opens the pores and relaxes the mind, providing maximum effect for a relatively minor investment,” continues Basher, who has installed dozens in existing and new bathrooms. “The steam unit itself is small and can be hidden in a closet or vanity without compromising much storage space. About the only other requirement is a shower door, as opposed to a curtain, so the steam can be contained more effectively,” he explains.
Scald-free showers have become a reality now that pressure-balanced shower valves have been designed to compensate for changes in water pressure and temperature. The installer or homeowner simply sets a stop-a ring or adjustment screw-at the maximum desired temperature, usually about 110 degrees.
Showers today come in a variety of sizes and shapes: square, rectangular, corner, neo-angle, circular and even freeform, any of which can be custom-sized to fit the most irregular of bathrooms. A variety of accessories – a shower seat, his and hers toiletry shelves, multiple shower heads with sprays aimed at all the right places, and grab bars can all be added to your personal space.
Installation of grab bars is an especially good idea, adding to safety for young and old, the healthy, the handicapped and the in-between (which might include weekend tennis players, bikers or gardeners with strained elbows, knees or backs).
“Grab bars can be located vertically, horizontally or on a 45 degree angle, but should always be mounted on a 2″ x 6″ piece of plywood, recessed between studs in the wall. Improperly mounted, they will eventually pull away from the wall with the weight of use,” emphasized Basher. “Grab bars are not meant to be an afterthought, but should be carefully planned and located, then installed by a knowledgeable craftsman.”
Another welcome change for the homeowner is the variety of shower doors now available. Made of clear, opaque, striped and even etched glass, they can be trimmed in brass, chrome or colors. But the biggest single advancement is the trackless shower door which, together with the one-piece shower base, has eliminated the drudgery of cleaning showers forever. Heavy thick glass adds a feeling of jewelry to the shower.
Planning is the key. Visiting a professional, a specialist who has a strong background in bathroom design and installation, is an absolute must when redoing a room as complicated as a bathroom. Experienced – insured – professional craftsmen are a must to complete your remodel project, including changing your tub into a shower.
“A professional Certified Bathroom Designer knows all the details of electrical codes (such as ground fault interrupters), plumbing codes, and construction codes (such as waterproof sheetrock), so he or she can coordinate every aspect of the job. And based on experience, the professional can cite the advantages and disadvantages of any given product, such as ceramic tile, granite, marble, porcelain. Give yourself the advantage of a professional designer’s knowledge,” Basher advises. “It’s the best investment you can make!
“Redoing the bath in a well-designed, well-thought-out manner, as opposed to changing just the floor or the countertop,” he continues, “yields a far higher return to the homeowner, both personally and financially.”