View Full Version : curbless shower

10-24-2004, 05:38 PM
My folks are wanting to make their home more accessible for my eleven year old niece who is confined to a wheelchair. We're beginning an expansion of their masterbath that will help significantly. Part of the new bath will be a large walk-in shower. They would like to incorporate a curbless design so the floor of the shower will be flush with the floor of the bathroom. The main question is whether this will be possible to do. I know in new construction they make the slab lower than the slab in the rest of the house in order to accomodate the shower pan. Any resources on how this can be accomplished with existing construction would be greatly appreciated. Water and drain lines are beinging moved so some cutting of the foundation is already being planned. Let me know ya'll's thoughts on this.


10-24-2004, 05:46 PM
Showers with a driveable ramp instead of a curb are available. You can find it on the net or from a good supplier. You will need to work with your local inspectors as far as requirements on the drain, and what they want for the floor outside the shower, due to the potential overflow.

10-24-2004, 08:01 PM
I just love remodeling homes into ADA bathrooms. Sometimes taking part of a bedroom. This can be so nice for her. Think about hands free lavatory faucet and look in the assisted living magazines.
On the subject I agree with Jim on the curbs. I use vinyl flooring without problems but every jurisdiction is different. Jim is in California where they are more protective of their citizens than other parts of the country. My plumbers that work there and in Kansas say one of our $100,000. homes would be worth $800,000. out there. Probably won't want to hurt one of them babies.

05-10-2006, 08:58 AM
We are remodeling our two bathrooms into a combination of something... The smaller bath is 5x8 now and we will be changing it to 6x7'. Quite small to have have a vanity, toilet and shower. We think we want tiled walls and floor (waterproof right?) and the shower to be a 3x4' area with no stall - only gently sloping floor to the drain with a shower curtain ring from the ceiling. (Something like a locker room shower.) Gently sloping so no one will lose balance etc. This bathroom is for guests but also the daily morning shower for my husband and I since "our" bath will have a large Sanijet tub we don't want to dirty with daily showers.

Our contractor has said "sure" "good idea" for the space etc, but I wonder... what should we watch out for? :o

Bob NH
05-10-2006, 09:08 AM
I once stayed in a hotel room set up for wheelchair access. The shower had a rubber strip dam about 1/8" thick and 1.5" high that the wheel chair could simply roll over.

05-10-2006, 09:40 AM
You need to build this properly, and there are a lot of people that don't have a clue. Suggest you visit www.johnbridge.com (http://www.johnbridge.com) where they can help you out using the nationally approved methods that work. People tend to think that tile and grout is waterproof - it is not, nor is cement board (cbu). Waterproofing something like this is critical. There are several methods. Check out that website and you'll be guided to them.

07-20-2009, 07:14 AM
There are many things to watch for if your contractor is offering up a curbless showers (No-Dam Shower). Many curbless designs fail for different reasons. Here are a few key points I have found in building successful curbless showers....

Find a contractor expeirenced in this type of installation
Make sure the floor's framing is designed to support larger format tile - L/720 deflection etc.
Fit the right drain to the design. Many times a linear drain is better, many more times a regular drain works fine.

http://i839.photobucket.com/albums/zz314/jfrwhipple/ACO%20Shower%20Drains%20Linear%20and%20Square/DivotStyleNoCurbPre-SlopePlanningGuide_zps44e984eb.jpg (http://s839.photobucket.com/user/jfrwhipple/media/ACO%20Shower%20Drains%20Linear%20and%20Square/DivotStyleNoCurbPre-SlopePlanningGuide_zps44e984eb.jpg.html)

A grading example of a current Shower Build here in Vancouver (November 2013).

07-20-2009, 07:48 AM
I once stayed at a hotel where the entire large bathroom was a wet room. No shower curtains, tile from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. Very nice room. This was in Pattya Beach, and as for the rest of the details about what went on, I am sworn to secrecy!

07-21-2009, 10:47 PM
Grading the dry and wet zones is important in a no curb shower

07-22-2009, 06:10 AM
Since a curbless shower CANNOT fill with water, a pan is redundant. But the floor does have to be cut so the tile can slope to the drain.

07-22-2009, 09:47 AM
Since a curbless shower CANNOT fill with water, a pan is redundant. But the floor does have to be cut so the tile can slope to the drain.

I wouldn't put it quite that way...depending on use and rest time, there will always be some moisture that makes its way underneath the tile and grout. WIthout a sloped liner to the drain, that moisture can accumulate and so can some nasty stuff. The pH of concrete ends up getting modified over the years if moisture and contaminants are introduced, so it may not support growths for a number of years. And, if it can dry out in between (climate makes a difference - say AZ verses FL) you may never experience problems. But wood in the walls is subject to degradation if there's no liner or other protection.

The TCNA guidelines always require a liner, regardless of the location. This could be a surface or subsurface, depending on the contruction technique used.

02-07-2010, 08:48 AM
A great source for online pictures is at www.houzz.com

Lots of examples of curbless design (http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/24257/list/Curbless-Showers--Wet-Rooms--Level-Access-Bathroom-Renovations).

08-01-2010, 10:53 AM
There are some great options out there right now in the way of Linear Shower Drains, Slot Drains, Line Drains, Channel Drains or trench. These will look great in a new curbless shower.

ACO makes the best drains in my opinion. Easiest to clean. Easiest to install.

I have decided to only sell the ACO linear drains (http://no-curb.blogspot.ca/2012/07/grill-styles-from-aco-quartz-by-aco.html) going forward. (Feb 2012 Update).

What I love about the ACO drain (http://no-curb.blogspot.ca/2012/07/grill-styles-from-aco-quartz-by-aco.html) is that it installs over any type of waterproofing system (ANSI 118.10) and a clamping drain.

I build my showers most times like a divot style. This is not covered in any online install page.

Send me a note or post on this thread if you would like help with these new channel drains as I have worked with and touched all four. Here in Vancouver I can bring the ones I inventory by your office or home.

Every home is unique and the skill set of your trades and local city rules will dictate which drain you purchase and plan for.

I would recommend a second drain with a curbless installation. This has become my opinion over the past few months and the more Australian and European examples I see of this the more good sense it makes. I had not done this at my rough in phase but now will re visit my work. A second back up drain needs to stay wet so how can you keep it that way? What would you pro plumbers suggest for a typical bathroom layout. In my home I plan to use my vanity sinks waste line to keep the second back up drain full of water. I have never heard any good things about auto primers. Have my guys not run across a good product or are they troublesome? I can conceal the p Trap in the floor cavity and have ease access from the vanities cabinet.


07-03-2011, 08:46 AM
I was up in Whistler last week measuring up for a few linear shower drains. These where in some pretty fancy homes and the building team had prepared for me a drop in each bathroom.

I have uploaded all my installs to my Photobucket and Houzz account.

07-26-2011, 06:15 AM
I'm building another curbless shower feature out in Burnaby here in Vancouver BC. I was called out when the first attempt (not mine) to build this curbless shower failed flood testing. When the inspector arrived the client had a temporary dam installed and the the shower's wet zone partially filled with water. The inspector told the client to fill up more of the shower pan and they did. The next morning when the inspector came back the shower pan was leaking.

This is exactly why you need to flood test these barrier free showers. Depending on the design you may or may not need to build a temporary dam to do so.

I have been getting a few requests lately as to how I build my dams. The simple answer is very simply and with what ever is on site most times.

I've change my temporary dam build after my last Mapei Aqua defence dam blistered in the summer!

07-26-2011, 06:25 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

07-26-2011, 06:30 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

07-26-2011, 06:36 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

07-26-2011, 06:45 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

07-27-2011, 06:27 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

08-04-2011, 09:04 PM
Wow that is a great deal of work. It looks like John has done this before and has covered all of the steps. Great info Thanks.....

08-25-2011, 08:28 PM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

08-30-2011, 09:03 PM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

09-25-2011, 06:04 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

09-25-2011, 06:32 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

Wren Thomos
11-30-2011, 09:57 PM
Does anyone have any input on the pros and cons of floor-level or "curbless" showers? Of course the American Disabilities Act (ADA) showers allow wheelchair access into the shower for the disabled, and is a really sharp, contemporary, cutting-edge look, but under normal circumstances, are they likely to leak out into the room if the gentle slope to the drain is not effective enough? Under abnormal circumstances, has anyone ever heard of devastating problems caused by sewage backup and there was no "curb" to catch the overflow? Please help, I must decide soon.

11-30-2011, 10:18 PM
Regardless of curb or not, the shower area requires at least a 1/4"/foot slope to the drain. If you position things properly, you should not get any water out of the room. If your sewer backed up, a curb may not help at all, so I'm not sure I'd consider that a problem or not.

12-01-2011, 07:30 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

12-01-2011, 07:44 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

12-01-2011, 12:50 PM
The key to any slope to direct water flow is it should be fairly consistent without birdbaths or humps. When you are manually making the floor, it's best to aim for the 1/4" per foot. On a manufacturered pan, since its slope is tightly controlled during the manufacturering process, you can get by with less since it is very consistent. WHen using Kerdi, you have the choice of using their preformed pan, which may not meet your exact size considerations, or building a traditional preslope in any shape you want with any slope to fit your exact needs. This is less expensive, since the shipping of a large piece gets costly, and deck mud is so cheap. But, if you are looking for speed, and a reliable surface to tile for a DIY'er, their pans have some advantages. You can set it, cover with the membrane and be tiling all the same day.

One thing to consider on any shower floor is how slippery the tile is when wet. There can be significant differences between tile. Also, the grout lines tend to offer additional grip, regardless of the tile (unless you happen to choose epoxy grout, at least some of them). So, while you can use larger tile for a linear drain type of install, you may want to temper that with the specific tile and their size.

12-01-2011, 06:13 PM

Not being a person in the business or done a linear drain before, can you point out what is the problem with the shower?

12-01-2011, 07:40 PM
You want the water to drain into the drain! It appears that water would tend to pool between the wall and the drain, assuming the slope is from the main area into the drain. It could get there by splashes or directly from the showerhead. You'd either need to reverse the slope on the wall side to the drain, or move the drain next to the wall. Then, it's best if the drain is the full width, as you might get the same pooling at either end.

12-02-2011, 05:43 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

12-02-2011, 05:13 PM
Nice to see the 2lb. spray foam in a few of your pictures John.

Does evaporation ever become a concern with this coin trick?

12-02-2011, 07:09 PM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

04-23-2012, 08:05 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

12-13-2012, 02:17 PM
John, Another gorgeous shower. We are looking into the very same setup for our ensuite reno. Corner glass walled curbless shower and freestanding tub exactly as you show it. Am struggling as to how to make this possible. I've attached a picture of the half torn out bathroom. 18205

Can this be done without a curb and without cutting the joists? I'm in Ontario if that helps.


12-13-2012, 02:57 PM
Unless you can raise the entire floor, to construct the shower pan, it MUST slope from the entrance to the drain, and since that needs some thickness, it has to come from somewhere.

12-13-2012, 04:13 PM
Assuming that I dropped the floor down the thickness of the floor which is 5/8" OSB and then added the drain and 3/8" for slope change ( 3' x 3' shower, drain in center). So say top of lowered floor to top of drain would be 1.25". Then add 3/8" for slope and you are at 1 5/8" from lowered floor or 1" above the floor of the remainder of the bathroom. This would be for no curbs at all.

Alternatively, I guess I could put a full 3' linear drain at the front of the shower at the door at the level of the finished bathroom flooring and slope the shower up 3/4" (3' x 1/4") to the back of the shower and add a curb to the left side of the shower. Would then have a curbless "entry" at least.

Do you think these 2 approaches would work and do my numbers seem correct?
Just looking at what each option would require in terms of changes to current bathroom and comprises. Current bathroom tile has all been taken up so that's not a deciding factor. Current bathroom had 1/4" plwood

12-13-2012, 04:22 PM
Deleted Post

12-15-2012, 02:47 PM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

12-29-2012, 08:02 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

12-29-2012, 08:14 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

01-01-2013, 11:56 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

01-03-2013, 07:18 PM
Well finally back from NYC, totally enjoy that city. Now back to this bathroom reno. As I have not done one of these linear drains before, I've having a hard time figuring out the amount of space I need from the lowered floor to the top of the linear drain. None of the websites that I've looked at show that dimension. They do show some support below the drain but usually it is something supplied but no dimension on it. Can anyone give me some idea on thicknesses of items, so that I can best determine how and if I can make this work? I know there is paper (1/16"), wire mesh (1/8"), mortar#1 (??"), membrane (40 mil), mortar#2 (??"), thinset (1/8"), tile (1/4"). I assume mortar #1 and mortar#2 has a minimum thickness based on drain requirements but have no idea what that would be. Just looking for some guidance.

As an option, would less space be needed if I went with a standard center drain in shower rather than the linear drain?

We've got most of the fixtures and tub finalized so this is the last portion before we select tile.

01-04-2013, 07:58 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

01-05-2013, 06:52 PM
Sorry John, Just getting back to it now. Thanks for the offer. I may call you this week if needed. Looks like if I remove the floor in the shower and lower it down to being flush with the joists and double up on the 5/8" thickness then I'll have a good solid floor to build up on. Looks like Schluter linear drain is about 1 1/8" to top of drain / kerdi weatherproofing point meaning I would start tiling from that height above the joist top.

If I add 3/8" plywood on top of the 5/8" osb that is currently on the rest of the floor then floor heating and Ditra then I should be about 1 3/8" above top of floor joists when I start to tile in the bathroom. So with about a 1' of slope from bathroom floor to drain then I'd make up the 1/4" difference in height.

Does this seem to make sense to you? I assume all other linear drains are similar in dimension and mud requirements.

Finished floor height would then be 1.75" above joists. When I redo bedroom floor to hardwood then it would be about 1.5" about floor joists. That should be good for mating with new bathroom floor easily.

01-12-2013, 07:44 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

02-04-2014, 12:59 AM
I know this is an old thread, but I'm considering having a currently useless bathroom converted to a wet room. Because of space constraints (and the size of the person who will be using the shower), we were thinking of having a curbless shower put in.

Most of the pictures in this thread no longer seem to work for me so I can't see what they were. I see mention of tile as the flooring in these installations but I'm wondering if anyone has tried this with another type of flooring. I live with my disabled mother and for some reason she really hates tile.

Would vinyl plank work in a wet room? I don't know if it has any wood in it.

Another option I was thinking about was I saw some product called Altro Aquarius that is designed for wet areas and has a non-slip surface. It looks like its a commercial product and I'm not sure on the pricing/availability in the US.

Has anyone used that?

Also, if one were to order the ACO drains, what are all of the pieces that would be needed?
So far I've seen shower channel bodies, shower channel grates, and various types of couplings.

I see there are many fancy designs for the grates, but are there any drawbacks to some of the designs? Do things fall into some of them more easily? Do some require cleaning more frequently?

Any tips on waterproofing a window from the inside so it won't get damaged from being in a wet room or getting sprayed by a shower?

Do wetrooms have to be designed differently in climates with high humidity?

I hope this is the right place for these questions.

02-04-2014, 06:37 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

02-05-2014, 06:58 AM
Thanks, John.

Any hints on what search parameters to use? I tried to search for "wet room" and "wetroom" and ended up with a ton of threads that didn't have the exact wording and didn't answer my questions.
My internet decided to go out partway through the search (I have satellite internet because its all I could get out here in the woods).

No problem on the pictures. I understand how that goes.

I'll have to find out more about the wet rooms to figure out what sort of drain I would need.

Any links to threads that have already answered my questions would be greatly appreciated.

02-05-2014, 07:03 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

02-07-2014, 12:40 AM
There is a lot of chit chat to a shower build. I find I need a good hour with my clients on the phone to just cover the drain selection process.

Maybe ask Jim or go see John Bridge's boys for help... (that was a joke) Or call me and I will try and sell you a drain and give you one hour of design. Have you read any of my blog posts? Have you signed up to view my private photo albums? Maybe this will help.

Your question in the first post would take me 2 hours to answer my friend - and I do not do that much work for free.

If you read all my post here over the years you will find most every question you have has all ready been answered. it just takes a lot of time to read every post. I have over 2,000 of them.

Heading out to buy a new kerdi Board Niche this morning. If you ring me in 20 minutes I'll give you a free 30 minute call.

Thank you, John. Sorry I didn't answer sooner. For some reason I'm not getting e-mail alerts for subscribed threads.
We are still in theoretical planning stages right now and have a lot of things we need to consider before we start making purchases and really commit to anything. Right now there are other projects ahead of this and we are still debating whether or not to even go forward with this one and which space we will use for it. Hopefully once we get more things straightened out we'll be able to give you a call and talk to you. I was just trying to get a better idea of what we would be in for if we were going to try a wet room. It's difficult to find anything locally since we live out in the middle of the woods where we can't get mail delivery.
I completely understand not wanting to spend a lot of time explaining something to someone who is not paying-- especially when the info is already on the site and I just need to go through it. I'll take some time and read through the threads and see what I can learn from those.

02-07-2014, 06:42 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

02-07-2014, 07:59 AM
If you're even considering a tile installation, do yourself a favor and check out johnbridge.com. The folks there are seasoned professionals, who are respectful and friendly and walk folks through many complicated tile installs every day.

These guys and gals don't just play internet contractor, they are dedicated tile professionals. :)


02-07-2014, 08:07 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

02-07-2014, 08:11 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

02-08-2014, 11:54 AM
Thanks again, John!
I was entertaining the idea of trying to do as much of the labor as possible myself, but I think I'll take your advice and leave it to a pro-- at least on the installation part. I can do some of the demolition and removal myself. The walls are thin paneling nailed to the studs with no insulation, no moisture barriers, etc.
I'd prefer to not use tile.
I love the pictures! The glass brick walls from your work look pretty neat. That's actually something I was considering for the bathroom if we had space. I'm trying to convince the mother unit to swap the bathroom and laundry room because the laundry would be more accessible and then there would be more space for a shower so we would still fit a shower in the bathroom and not have the toilet crammed into a 23-inch alcove (which I know is not to code). My brother's shoulders are wider than that. It's useless because none of us can fit on that toilet and the shower is so small that we don't really have room to move inside of it.
I wish Houzz was easily pinnable on Pinterest. I find its a pretty good way to find some stuff because you can click the link to get to the source and find items for sale, or blogs where people post things.
That is a lovely clawfoot tub but I imagine it would be a pain to clean around. The spout for the tub doesn't seem to match the style though. It just looks so out of place. Yikes on those cracked tiles. That's one of the reasons I don't want tile. I know they should be hard to crack if installed properly, but the Doofusaurus in the family has a knack for breaking things that shouldn't break.
If I was going to go with tile, I saw some Moroccan tile from Overstock that looked pretty neat.
Again, thank you for the replies and the pictures!

02-08-2014, 12:27 PM
Yikes on those cracked tiles. That's one of the reasons I don't want tile. I know they should be hard to crack if installed properly, but the Doofusaurus in the family has a knack for breaking things that shouldn't break.

If I understand it correctly , Those '' cracks '' are not present . This is how slate tiles -- lots of high and lows areas on the surface -- look like .

02-09-2014, 04:25 AM
If I understand it correctly , Those '' cracks '' are not present . This is how slate tiles -- lots of high and lows areas on the surface -- look like .

Ohh! I thought they were cracked and had chunks missing. LOL. Just goes to show that type of tile is not for me. I guess that is what the homeowner wanted though. Hope I didn't offend anyone with my critique. I still like the glass brick thing though.

When I do see tile work that I like, it tends to be larger tiles on the floor and smaller tiles used as backsplashes.

Here is an example I found of a wetroom with a non-tile floor.

The floor is something called Altro Cascade. I like the wave pattern on the wall. Must have taken quite a bit of work to get that done.

Here's another example. It looks sort of like a hospital room to me.

The floor was referred to as Altro safety flooring, but I think it might be the Altro Aquarius in either "dragonfly" or "penguin" color.

I imagine getting a good seal around all of the edges-- particularly at the drain-- would be extremely important for this type of flooring.

02-09-2014, 05:29 AM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

02-10-2014, 02:04 AM
Ohh! So *that* is what they mean by "clamping drain". I wasn't quite sure what was being clamped. I imagine it might puncture some of the moisture barrier sheets-- hence the rule about not using Kerdi (was it kerdi?) so close to a clamping drain. I don't know enough about the mechanics of how it all works though.

I found those pictures on some UK sites. There are a ton of sites about the flooring options and wet rooms that are from the UK. I think I read from you that the UK is ahead of the US in that area. I do not envy the tile person who had to cut those wave tiles. I bet that pattern would look pretty neat with the wave pattern linear drain-- maybe with different color tiles though. Not sure if those ACO Quartz drains can be used with that flooring though.

I love your Houzz by the way. I actually started using Houzz after seeing some of your stuff there awhile back. I'd never heard of it before. You've probably seen some of my posts. I just got back home so I haven't loaded Houzz to see if anyone replied or not.

I can't believe that one guy thought that it was more acceptable to leave an unprotected wire vertical in a wall than to have to go through the trouble of possibly drilling a hole. I imagined if someone had done a tap test on his head about that time it would have sounded hollow. :P
I've gotten zapped by a low current before and it is not fun at all (it was from equipment that a satellite installer didn't ground properly and something that I should have been able to touch was "hot").

I'm off to check Houzz.