A Guide To Walk In Showers Level Access Showers & Roll In Showers
A walk in shower, level access shower or roll in shower are all terms used to describe the same principle used within a wet room, that of a showering area that is the same level as the rest of the floor, i.e. there is no tray to step up into, as is normally found with a white plastic shower tray for example.
The absence of any 'step in' tray creates a flush flooring environment for showering which eliminates any trip hazard or barrier to entry, in addition to being much more aesthetically pleasing.
A walk in shower / level access shower is the ideal showering environment for most people, however its lack of a 'step in' makes it particularly suitable for young children, the elderly and those with disabilities or mobility problems.
As a walk in shower offers no barrier to entry, it is perfect for 'roll in showering' where the user needs to transfer from a wheelchair to a seat, or shower in a shower chair, often on wheels. If being designed for 'roll in showering' it is essential that the correct type of wet room tray former is used, as not all wet room trays are suitable for use with wheelchairs / shower chairs.
A walk in wetroom can be created with either a wet room former tray, such as the WetBase or Contour ShowerDec, which are designed to sit under the finished flooring, or a low-profile shower tray that can be recessed into the floor.
If using a wet room former tray (such as the WetBase or Contour ShowerDec), as they are installed at the same level as the existing floor, they can be finished with the same floor finishing (tiles or in the case of the ShowerDec tiles or vinyl) thus giving a uniform and unbroken look to the room. A low-profile tray is the finished item and will not need tiling or a vinyl covering. Some low-profile shower trays have the option of an anti slip coating to enhance safety.
Like a roll in shower, it is essential that the correct type of wet room tray former is used, as not all wet room trays are suitable for vinyl flooring as a special clamping mechanism is required for the drain.
For further guidance on choosing the correct wet room tray former for your needs, please see the following: A guide to choosing the correct tray for your wet room.
A walk in shower area can be installed on a wooden floor or concrete floor. For the creation of a walk in / level access wet room the installer will need to be able to remove sections of the floor boards, or in the case of a concrete floor excavate an area of the floor to sink the wet room tray into.
If these options are not possible, a level access floor can still be created by building up the surrounding floor (using tile backer board) to the same level as the wet room former / low-profile tray. However, in this scenario careful consideration needs to be given to the overall floor height after installation, especially at thresholds like doorways, which would result in a step up.
A walk in shower enclosure can be used, however please be aware that these are usually not suitable if disabled / roll in access is required. If disabled access is required into the walk in shower it is best to consider one or two individual wet room panels (depending on available space), to make a bespoke 'walk in enclosure' allowing the access space and manoeuvrability required for the user.
In summary a walk in, level access shower provides easy access and a safer showering environment due to the removal of the trip hazard on entry and exit to the showering area, it also allows unhindered access to the shower for those needing to utilise a 'roll in' wheel / shower chair, whilst creating a more aesthetically pleasing room.