The Need For Independence, By Ron Wickman


My own experience with the design and construction of the curbless shower area began in the early 1990’s. This typically meant a renovation to a bathroom in a single-family detached home. Most homes were older and floors were framed with dimensional lumber (2 x 10’s and 2 x 12’s). In these cases, we were able to trim the floor system to allow for the curbless shower area. Today, floor systems are framed with engineered joists; these joists cannot be trimmed down, therefore making the curbless shower retrofit much more difficult. This is why it is best to construct a curbless shower area in every new single-family detached home. Renovations are getting more and more expensive and difficult.

My own experiences also confirm that curbless shower areas were once thought of as only used by persons with disabilities, especially those individuals who use wheelchairs. We once spoke of roll-in showers, implying showers for the use of individual in wheelchairs only. Today, the term curbless shower better defines that this type of shower is better for everyone. The curbless shower promotes safety, independence, and flexibility. One can shower while standing, sitting on a shower seat or even sitting in a wheelchair; and there is no curb to trip over. When the bathroom is designed and constructed to be one big wetroom, the shower area can be large enough to accommodate any future use; even if someone who is disabled needs a caregiver in the shower area too. When designed right, this type of wetroom will never need to be renovated.

Today, when I am the Architect of a residential project, I design the bathroom to be a large wet room; and it is easy to convince my clients that this is the best way to go, whether they are in a wheelchair or not. I also prefer to custom build the curbless shower area as opposed to a pre-built unit. The custom built shower area can be as big as we want to make it, can take on any look that we want, and frankly look much better than the pre-built unit.