When embarking on social housing bathroom refurbishment projects there are various considerations to take into account. Ann Boardman from Saniflo UK offers advice to councils and housing associations on retrofitting showers.
When working on shower retrofit projects, key considerations include cost, disruption to residents, product longevity and ensuring the shower chosen is suitable for all ages and physical abilities. The first thing to do is carefully consider the choice of product. My advice is to opt for shower cubicles rather than shower enclosures.
Some shower cubicle models can be up and running in less than a day with minimal disruption to the bathroom and residents, as there’s no need for tiling, grout or silicone, and for refurbishment projects there are models that simply slot into the place where the old bath was. Many shower cubicles are inclusively designed, which means they are safe and easy for everyone to use, with certain models featuring grab rails, seats and thermostatic showers, catering for less mobile individuals.
Installers of shower cubicles report that they are quick and easy to fit, especially after receiving an onsite training session. Choosing units that are watertight without the need for any silicone and can be operational on the same day is a real benefit for councils and housing associations.
Contemporary shower cubicles are not only aesthetically pleasing, but are highly durable and need minimal maintenance. With no grout to discolour or unsightly silicone to maintain, the cubicles remain pristine for years.
Timber frame construction
Shower cubicles also tick the box for being compatible with timber frame buildings, which require special considerations, especially when it comes to the bathrooms, and in particular the showers. Timber changes naturally over time and it can shift and warp, causing movement to the building. Traditional shower enclosures with their tiles, grout and silicone gel could be more prone to leaking in timber frame buildings, as if and when the buildings warps, the tiles of the shower enclosure would be more likely to crack, meaning the enclosure is no longer watertight and prone to leaking.
If any water finds its way into a building’s timber frame and causes rot, this rot can jeopardise the building’s structural integrity. A traditional shower enclosure in a timber frame building could be a costly accident waiting to happen.
For timber frame buildings, shower cubicles might actually be essential. As no tiles or grouting is necessary, there’s no danger of cracks forming when the house warps over time. This means no leaks, so no risk of rotting, so, no danger to a timber frame building’s structural integrity. For existing timber frame buildings with traditional shower enclosures, aside from repairing the shower enclosure periodically, the other option is to replace the shower enclosure — or even the bath — with a shower cubicle, sometimes in less than day. There’s no mess, and no need to worry about a bathroom being off-limits for weeks, ensuring residents have a clean, stylish, future-proof bathroom in no time at all. Local authorities with multiple timber frame homes can even choose a cost-effective contract shower cubicle to future-proof their entire portfolio.
It is important to ensure that all glass panels and doors specified meet the European standard EN12150 for toughened safety glass. Some cubicles have the option for specifiers to choose specific shower fittings, and others feature an integrated thermostatic control.
Look for cubicles that do not require silicone. In the humid environment of the bathroom, silicone will deteriorate and discolour without constant maintenance. Generally speaking, if no silicone is required, the wall panels of the product are cleverly designed to fit snugly within the shower tray.
Also choose cubicles with a leak free promise. Water should simply run down the inside of the shower with no chance of escape. And as there’s no need for tiling or grouting, your shower will stay looking as pristine as the day it was installed.
Look for cubicles that use Cristal Plus Glass. Cristal Plus is a permanent, anti-limescale coating that minimises the build-up of calcium deposits and dirt on glass, reducing the need to clean. This transparent chemical treatment is resistant to hot water and UV rays, encouraging water to run off the glass without leaving streaks or watermarks. Installing a shower cubicle is straightforward, simply a process of assembling, bolting together and connecting to waste and water and add the doors.
As with fitting any shower there are three main considerations: floor construction, waterproofing, and drainage. The quality and reliability of the products used are essential. The rest is down to choosing a quality manufacturer. The Saniflo range of Kinedo shower cubicles offers a comprehensive range of complete showering solutions for all applications.