Many house builders while planning the construction of their house, dream of adding a nice bathtub to the master bathroom and enjoy a long bath at leisure in it. At the same time, many house builders, fascinated by the attractive advertisements by bath fittings companies plan to add shower cubicles to the bathrooms of their house. Let’s have a look at the usefulness of these two items to make a better choice:
Bathtubs: Bathtubs of many shapes and sizes are available these days. These include rectangular, square, round, oval and triangular shaped bathtubs. Rectangular shape is most preferred and used. Bathtub material is mostly extruded acrylic as it is durable, doesn’t absorb much heat, doesn’t discolour with time, is easy to clean, scratch resistant and hygienic. Obviously, size and shape of bathtub to be chosen depend on the size of bathroom and planning of other fixtures in it.
To choose or not: It has been often noticed that even if someone has fondly provided a bathtub in the bathroom, it is seldom put to use. Initially, a house builder may use it for some days but slowly he switches over to the shower bath only. Mostly, the bath is taken in a hurried manner and there is no time to keep lying in the tub. Not only that, the quantity of water consumed is much more than that used in a shower or bucket bath. This also needs to be avoided in the present times of ‘save water awareness’.
A shower bath is more hygienic than a bathtub bath. Then, the space occupied by a bathtub is significant and little space is left to stuff other provisions. Finally, a house owner switches to taking a bath under the shower by standing inside the bathtub which is very inconvenient. Therefore, to satisfy one’s crave to have a leisure tub-bath, one can always visit the health club or spa and enjoy the Jacuzzi there. Keeping all aspects in view, it is better to avoid having a bathtub in your bathroom.
Shower Cubicles: Shower cubicles are always created in a corner and are mostly rectangular in shape. Otherwise, two right angled sides of the corner are enclosed by a third side which is round or trapezoidal in shape. The sizes of shower cubicles vary depending upon the space available for them in the bathroom. The minimum size of a shower cubicle is 3 feet x 3 feet as a lesser size will not allow free bathing and one will keep striking the cubicle walls. 4 feet x 4 feet and 6 feet x 3 feet are some popular sizes of shower cubicles.
To choose or not: Biggest advantage of having a shower cubicle in the bathroom is that it helps in keeping the balance floor space dry. After taking your bath, you can step out on a rug kept near the cubicle and dry yourself before the mirror. Further, the mirror installed above the wash basin doesn’t get fogged during winter when hot water is used for bathing. Otherwise, in winters, it becomes impossible to use the mirror as steam condenses on it. However, a shower cubicle demands right choice of its glass and materials to reduce its maintenance to minimum. As good quality glass and fittings are available these days, choosing a shower cubicle for your bathroom is a decision worth endorsing.
Glass choice for cubicle: To avoid constant maintenance of shower cubicles, it is extremely important to choose good quality glass for its walls. The glass to be used in shower cubicles has to be of right thickness and of such quality that can withstand extreme heat and moisture conditions. The thickness of glass should therefore be minimum 8 mm or more. It should be an easy to clean glass that resists deposits of dissolved impurities in water on it. The glass should be highly durable, scratchproof, toughened or tempered. These days, reputed glass manufacturers conduct heat soak test on the glass manufactured for shower cubicles. This quality should be checked while buying glass.
Other fittings: A shower cubicle should be fitted with a shower head with the diverter in the wall to adjust supply of right mix of hot and cold water. In addition there should be corner soap and shampoo tray, a towel rail or rack at suitable dry location and possibly some hooks to hang some clothes. The floor should have proper drainage trap with suitable slope towards it. The shower can be overhead shower with body shower or hydro massage shower as an addition.
Create or order: A shower cubicle can be created at site or ordered readymade as per size requirement. There were times when one had to essentially create it. These days, reputed companies provide it as per size requirement in water tight condition, fitted with door of choice and hinges and fit these in the bathroom by keeping safety standards in view. In order to create it, exact sizes of glass panels should be taken, got toughened, erected over sills created in the bathroom and fitted with door, hinges, door handle and edge seals. It should be ensured that door hinges don’t get loose with time. While ordering ready to made cubicle, ensure installation of site, door, chrome plated brass hinges, door handle and seals included in it along with a warranty of few years. In both cases, test the cubicle to be noise free, corrosion free, leakage free and vibration free.
Be extra careful about the choice of hinges. The door, unless sliding type, is always heavy. Poor quality hinges may let the door come off and fall on you or on the floor. Look for self-closing, double acting hinges that have been certified as tested by the manufacturer. Check their maximum weight tag and see that door weight on hinges is within their capacity.
Variety in glass: Fully transparent or translucent or extra clear glass can be chosen for the shower cubicle. Even mirror finish glass can be chosen to feel the cubicle as more spacious. Extra clear glass also gives feeling of extra space but in this case, watch against hitting the glass as its extra clarity will make it almost invisible.
Door choice: Shower cubicle door can be openable or sliding type. In case of openable doors, only one door should be provided along with fixed glass panel. However, in case of sliding doors, two sliding doors meeting at a corner can be provided with each door sliding towards a fixed panel. Top of the shower cubicle should always be kept open.
(The writer is former HOD and Engineer-in-Chief, Civil Engineering Department in a Punjab PSU)