Are Barrier-Free Showers The Wave of The Future?

Or a flash in the pan?

Is the population on the whole growing older? Yes. Are people looking for improved overall safety, senior living independence and convenience? Duh. Do people also want to see elegance, beauty and sophistication in the design of their bathrooms? For many, same answer. For those that don’t care what their bathroom looks like, well, you can stop reading this blog post. You are more likely to find what you’re looking for at For the rest the question remains—can you get all of the above in a barrier-free shower design and application? Oh, yes.

Murphy Bros. Linwood home remodel shows combination of traditional tub/spa integrated with barrier-free shower.

This trend has been growing for years now. Just do a quick search on for instance and you’ll find a ton of examples of barrier-free showers with a lot of design aesthetics. While doing your search you might also use key words like curbless or zero threshold showers, but to be correct, that actually refers to the entry point of a shower. A true barrier-free shower, as in the example above, takes into account the entire space and functionality, from built-in seating and inset shelves/niches, heated floors, low profile linear drains, steam showers and more.

This could have been a curbless, barrier-free shower but for the entry threshold

A curbless shower pan means there is not a lip (or curb)

to step over to get into the space.

2012 Murphy Bros. Barrier-free shower

Linear shower drain courtesy schluter shower systems.

From an aesthetic perspective, a barrier-free shower has a clean, spacious, open and seamless appearance, where tile sizes, textures, opacity and colors can create stunning outcomes.

While traditional showers have the drain in the center and are sloped in four directions toward the drain, barrier-free showers can opt for a single-slope drainage system that can create a shower floor area that can hold more water and a drain that is less likely to get blocked. pitched towards the drain.

Schluter Linear shower drain system

More importantly, it is also easier to clean. Really? How is that? Throw little Bobby in there after playing all day in his worm farm and there’s still going to be nasty stuff all over that shower, right?

Right, but with fewer surfaces, joints, and seams there are fewer places where mold, mildew, and grime can take up residence. Even with a glass partition or door, cleaning is still much faster because you have greater direct access.

TrueDeck linear drain system from ARC inc. showing decorative possibilities.

If you are faced with a smaller bathroom space, a barrier-free shower application can actually make your shower appear larger than it actually is due to the increased amount of open space. It’s analogous to graphic designers who use more white space on a page layout to give the page a more open and spacious feel.

The Americans with Disabilities Act minimum guidelines for a barrier-free shower space is 36-inches by 36-inches. Let’s be honest here, that’s not a lot bigger than a telephone booth. But you make that a barrier-free shower and it can look/feel and operates like a conference room. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the picture.

With a barrier-free design, the showerhead might be strategically placed so that no shower curtain or glass door is needed. Of course you can add either for additional privacy if desired or needed, but the whole point of a barrier-free shower is the elimination of anything that stands between you and that fantastic hot, engulfing, transforming, can’t wait shower experience.

Curbless shower — 2017 Murphy Bros. remodelers showcase home

Whether you are a new-be homeowner, a growing family with youngsters, retired seniors planning on aging-in-place, everyone can benefit immediately from a barrier-free shower remodel. This is so because of a well-established concept called

Universal Design—the idea that functionality and accessibility can be designed for all regardless of age, physical characteristics and handicaps. And for those thinking about the numbers of cost vs. value, why wouldn’t you design your next bath remodel to appeal to and enhance the lives of everyone?

Talk to us

Call (763) 780-3262 or talk with a professional remodeler about your project.

Schedule a Consultation