Shaun Hunt explains how to settle on the best shower system for installation in your workplace.
05 March 2018 | Shaun Hunt
1. Choose the right showering solution for your location
The design of an inclusive shower room can vary greatly to cater for the needs of a variety of users, including those with diverse levels of mobility. Shower installations and refurbishments are now considered with the idea of future-proofing in mind, incorporating flexibility into the design and keeping the outward appearance modern.
Establishing the right shower solution combines budgetary requirements with immediate fitting timescales, maintenance needs and location.
From pre-assembled modular shower enclosures to level-access wet rooms, accessible shower facilities are possible, regardless of location.
2. Make wet rooms accessible
An accessible wet room is an open-plan, level-access showering area with built-in drainage. It should maximise available floor area to facilitate wheelchair entry or assisted showering. The whole room is waterproofed and includes a drainage gradient, creating a spacious, easy-access showering area that's functional and hardwearing.
- Wet room flooring choices:
A preformed wet room floor-former is designed to replace floorboarding and can be fitted quickly and easily on to structural joists, creating an instant drainage gradient of 1:40. An adaptable wet room floor former with rotating drain-plate guarantees easy installation. This style of wet room floor former avoids joists or pipework without under-boarding - saving time and maximising budget.
- If used on a ground floor, concrete flooring can be chiselled away and the floor former can be placed in new wet concrete. A floor former that incorporates a honeycomb structure on the underside will grip well to the concrete.
- Another choice if installing on to concrete is a matrix screed template, allowing creation of the drainage gradient by hand-screeding. A 'click-together' template is filled with a concrete mixture, then the profile is smoothed to create the required gradient.
Once the chosen floor former is in place, slip-resistant vinyl flooring can be laid.
3. Low-level showering options with a shower tray
If level-access is not needed or cannot be achieved because of the location, shower trays can address the needs of less-mobile users and create a safe and efficient showering area.
Low-level trays negate the need for wheelchair ramps and users may benefit from a slip-resistance surface. More robust trays are available with the benefit of built-in waste systems, easily accessible for maintenance purposes.
The specified tray should be compatible with wheelchair ramps and well matched with a half-height door or shower curtain if needed. It should also be suitable for the flow-rate of the shower to avoid flooding.
4. Accommodate the needs of all users
Most accessible showering space requires vertical, angled or horizontal support-rails for maximum safety and security.
A support rail, often called a grab rail, comes in a variety of styles and types. Choices vary from polished stainless-steel support rails, ideal for a design-conscious adaptation to sturdy options that offer greater support and have adjustable angles for ease of use. A colour-contrasting grab rail is easier to find for partially sighted users and those with dementia.
Shower seats are also important. Consider the strength of the seat, ease of operation, hygiene, ease of transfer from a wheelchair, whether the seat is warm to the touch, risk of injury, what the seat looks like. In smaller spaces, make sure the seat stows away when unused.
Wall-mounted seating is a practical choice with modern slim folding seats offering load-bearing of up to 300kg.
5. Establish reliable supply and after-sales care
Choose a supplier that offers specialist product knowledge. Look out for dedicated literature to guide you through the specification process. On-site surveys and 'tool-box talks' are also useful. Some manufacturers even offer tailored CPD sessions focusing on the technical aspects of wet room planning and installation. Finally, choose a supplier who offers excellent after-sales care, technical help and continuing support.
Shaun Hunt is technical manager at Impey