Designing the bathroom is as exciting as it is hard – all the different features, niches and solutions can make our heads spin. However, it’s crucial that amidst all the chaos we don’t forget about the shower drain – it’s what makes or breaks your bathroom.
Choosing the best possible shower drain is not something that you should be taking lightly. After all, your shower is not only about the aesthetics and the visual aspect of your bathroom, but also impacts the sanitary conditions in your bathroom. Additionally, a proper shower drain will make your bathroom easier to maintain, and that’s always a plus.
If you’d like to know all the different things you should consider before you decide for or against a specific shower drain, stay with me. I’ll try to cover everything there is to know about different shower drains, show you examples of them and explain their shortcomings and advantages over other types.
The traditional, most popular drain is called a grate drain, although it called differently in different regions – some call it also a clamping ring drain, a regular drain, or a standard drain. Well, I’ll show you what we’re talking about – check out the photo attached.
Okay, as you can see, there is nothing complicated about the traditional drain – it is what it is. It serves its purpose, and it serves it well. Additionally, you can design it any way you want, as basically, it doesn’t have much of a design to begin with – your choice of tiles and finish is what determines the final result, so be creative.
Another thing worth mentioning are the building codes – which actually applies to all of the drains. There are specific conditions about the drain line size, depending on the place you live in. You can either check them out, or just go with a bit bigger of a choice, and you won’t have to worry about anything. The reason for which I’m talking about it right now when talking about the traditional sink is because you can get more than one without hurting the design much, so if you’re worried about the water flow in your drain, you can install two traditional drains.
Keep in mind that despite the standard drain usually consists of a pretty boring grate, there are plenty of different kinds of them around to be found and discovered, so don’t just settle for any grate – find one that’s cohesive with the rest of your bathrooms design. However, if you happen to have an industrial house, the standard grate might fit just right.
They are not all that popular, but it’s hard to say why – they are just great. Maybe it’s because people don’t know all that much about them yet? Well, I’ll try to change that. Not only is a linear drain just glamorous, fitting every design you could possibly imagine, it’s also very practical, making cleaning your shower easy and pleasurable.
The thing is, this drain can be both visible and almost unnoticeable, depending on what look are you trying to achieve. I’d personally go with the unnoticeable design myself because it makes your shower outstandingly modern and original – minimalism is always the way to go, and when your guests can’t even notice where is all the water going, it’s hard to beat such minimalism.
One crucial thing to remember is the fact that this drain is especially dependent on the tiles you choose, so it can truly shine. Because of that you really must have your tiles carefully selected with the drain in mind. It’s not only the design of your tiles but also their thickness that impact the way your linear drain will present itself. Wait till you have the tiles selected until you install the drain – people do not always do that, but when we’re talking linear drain, that’s a must.
If you like the idea of a linear drain, wait till you hear this – you can install them in a tile-top option, which makes your tile… a slim drain, somewhere near your wall. Now this is taking subtlety, elegance and minimalism a whole division further. If any of your guests doesn’t appreciate such a tile-top linear drain, you can call me a liar in the comments, but I don’t think I should be overly worried about that happening. They are just the best.
Remember that the linear drain needs to still be either wide or long enough, not to disrupt the water flow in your shower – it’s best if you ask the producer about the correct size of it, because it can vary depending on the type of your tiles, the shape of your shower and the output of your shower.
Cleaning a shower with such a drain is really easy, because you just clean it from the opposite side of your drain, and the water flow works in your favor – simple sweeping will do, but remember that hairs or anything similar can easily block it, so clean it regularly and take out anything that falls into your drain.
Linear drain works great if the rest of your bathroom floor is seamless, which makes the entirety look as if don’t actually have a dedicated shower area, turning your bathroom into a spa-like interior. After all, when there is no drain visible, and any seams visible, it does not resemble an ordinary shower – and don’t we all love to be original?
Ready shower bases
Another solution for those of you who’re looking for a drain to buy is buying a ready-made shower base. While this solution is not as impressive and usually doesn’t offer as much freedom when it comes to the design, it’s relatively inexpensive and pretty convenient.
If you don’t want to hack off any tiles just to change the way your drain works, or don’t feel like thinking about all the different designs and styles of the drains out there, the producer offer you plenty of ready-made shower bases – usually made from fiberglass or cultured marble.
While it’s unlikely that such a shower base will make a great focal point of your bathroom, there are certain advantages to them – mainly, the convenience and price. If you don’t have the time nor the will to master the art of design, you can just buy a ready unit and move on. Certainly, that’s plenty of time saved, and it doesn’t have to look bad.
Again, one important thing to do, even if your shower base was ready-made and should be perfect, don’t take the producer’s word for it. Flood test it to make sure everything is alright.
By the way, such shower bases are usually easier to maintain than their more complicated counterparts – strong detergents, cleaning agents and other alike are fine to be used, as the fiberglass base won’t stain and shouldn’t scratch. And if anything happens to it, you can always just replace it – no need for a complete bathroom remodel, just throw it away and buy yourself a new one. Such a procedure will take hours, instead of days or weeks, as if it was in the case of a complete bathroom overhaul.
One flaw with the ready-made shower bases I can think of is the fact that they all vary in quality – which means you can never be sure what is it that you’re actually buying unless you try it out.
Of course, it’s not like you can go and get a shower at the producers house, but you can go to the shop and try standing on the shower base, to check its flexibility and how stable it is. That’s actually crucial, because if the shower base is too flexible, this can lead to potential leaks at the drain and water line connection. Make sure it’s okay, or else it will need additional support under the base.
Building codes and the technical aspect
As I’ve already told you, different places have different building codes, also about the drains.
Building codes – according to the building codes in most of the places I know about, your drain and waste line should be at least 3-inch. Of course, this might not be the case for you, but still, it’s better to check it. If that, however, is the case, then you have to consider a larger drain, so make sure you know these codes before the plumbers and tilers come to do their job.
The pitch – another important thing is the fact that three-piece and linear drains need a pitch below them. Such a pitch should be at least 1/4 inch for every foot to the drain The reason for this pitch is that the water that gets under your drain has to have an escape route, or else it will stay there – and you don’t want it to stay there, or else you will soon have plenty of water amassing under your tiles, and water under your tiles mean ruined, wet tiles. We don’t want that, do we?
Slope – grading your shower floor to create a slope is crucial. That’s how you make the water travel towards the drain, so it has to be done properly. Chances are, your plumber will know what to do with the drain itself – it also should be a bit lower than your shower floor. Then, when you tile the shower floor, it is also here where you need to create an additional slope.
Obviously, drains are susceptible to all sorts of problems, and they tend to block. One most common thing that blocks the drains around the world are hairs, and if there are any women reading this, I’m sure they are well aware of this already.
Removing hair and whatnot from the drain is not only crucial to your hygiene and the aesthetics of your bathroom but also because if it’s blocked, you’re running a risk of flooding your bathroom. If for some reason you just can’t remove whatever it is that blocked your drain, there are special strong dissolvers that you can buy, which will dissolve all the hairs and other things in your drain, instantly improving the water flow.
However, keep in mind that these cleaning agents are extremely toxic, so always wear safety gloves and glasses when using them, and don’t breathe them – read the manual attached, and follow it closely.
Whichever drain type seems more appealing to you, they all differ when talking about their price.
The linear drain is usually the most expensive, especially if you’re going with the tile-top option. Mainly because it includes changes to the layout of your tiles, but also because for some weird reason things that look more modern tend to cost more. Don’t ask me why.
The standard drain is below the linear drain, but because it also means meddling with your tiles and your floor, it’s not very cheap. Still, not as bad as the linear drain.
The cheapest of them is obviously the ready-made shower base because there is nothing to do here, no changes to the tiles whatsoever. However, it also affects the quality of your shower.
Okay, this sums up my guide to choosing the best drain for your shower – I hope you found something that helped you make up your mind. Good luck with making your bathroom as pretty as it can be, whichever option it is that you chose!