The Curbless Shower: Trendy and Accessible Bathroom Design

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Do you remember when sidewalk cutouts were hardly anywhere, and now they're almost everywhere? Yes, I'm talking about the ramps, usually with a textured rubber mat, eliminating the need to take a step to enter the street. Over the last 30 years, curb cutouts have become the new norm, for good reason.

What makes it easier for everyone to get around your community also makes it easier to get around your own bathroom. A curbless shower elevates the safety and function of the shower to a whole new level, no matter your age or ability. It's also a trendy and stylish option. Let's dive deeper into why you should consider adding a curbless shower to your bathroom renovations!

Curbless shower design with tile floor

What is a Curbless Shower?

Let's face it: most bathtubs are severely under-used today. Most people rush to jump in and out of a shower as they head off to their next activity or bed, not lingering in a relaxing bathtub soak. The mere thought of the uncomfortable position against a hard surface while in the bath and cleaning the tub afterward makes taking a bath rather unappealing.

For practicality and comfort, a shower, specifically curbless, fits most people's needs much better than showering in a bathtub shower combination. Notice that I said curbless shower and not just a walk-in shower.

So what's the difference? A curbless shower is a specific type of walk-in shower with no step or lip at the shower entrance. The shower floor is continuous with the rest of the bathroom floor. As you can imagine, getting in and out is much easier when there's no barrier in your path.

Curbless shower construction is more complicated than installing traditional walk-in showers with a lip. Still, it's a good investment for most bathrooms. Here's why.

Investing in a Curbless Shower

A versatile shower design is crucial unless you plan on frequent bathroom renovations. With the cost of an average bathroom remodel at almost $12,000, according to home improvement site Angi, you'll want to ensure the structural bones of the shower are good. This will help to reduce or eliminate the cost of future renovations.

If done right, a curbless shower can save you a lot of money in the long run. This type of shower can grow with you, providing greater independence even if showering becomes challenging with age, injury, or illness. An accessible shower not only makes it easier to assist someone but can also reduce or eliminate the need for bathing assistance from a paid or family caregiver.

There are few disadvantages to a step-free shower design besides the obvious lack of a bathtub. But I have a solution for that, so keep reading.

Curbless Shower in a Small Bathroom

One of the biggest benefits of a curb-free shower is the bathroom design flexibility that improves with the absence of a shower curb. In many homes, especially older houses, bathrooms are small spaces. The idea of huge bathrooms has been a more recent trend in the last few decades.

When there is no physical separation between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom, accessibility improves and makes the whole space feel larger and brighter. The absence of a shower curb allows the bathroom and shower floors to be tiled seamlessly, creating a more cohesive space that appears larger than its actual size.

In the case of a wetroom bathroom design, room areas can be shared, such as the space surrounding the toilet and part of the shower area.

Wetroom bathroom with curbless shower design

Curbless Showers Have Multi-Generational Appeal

The curbless shower design is timeless and works well for the needs of multiple generations and stages of life. Since a curbless shower can evolve as needs change, it's an essential feature for a forever home and for aging in place.

For example, you can add a shower bench to allow someone to sit while bathing. Or you could add a new showerhead system with multiple streams of water to create a more spa-like shower experience. Grab bars can be installed for additional safety and stability of residents and guests.

Curbless showers can have a shower door, partial wall, curtain, or no partition at all. Whatever your needs, there's a cover to accomplish your goals.

Curbless Showers are Safer

What don't you need when you've got soap, water, and slick surfaces? obstacle to maneuver. The magic of a curbless shower is its lack of a curb or step!

We've all caught a toe or two on a bathtub edge, resulting in a fall or near accident. I don't care how old you are. It's a very real possibility. But as we age, the chances of this happening and the challenges of stepping over the side of a bathtub, shower ledge, or lip increase significantly.

Removing the obstacle separating you from the shower immediately boosts bathroom safety for everyone. Those with mobility issues will be incredibly grateful for easier navigation and safer transfers into and out of the shower.

Curbless Showers are Accessible

Bathroom accessibility is a growing trend, and for good reason. Home spaces that are useable by everyone, regardless of age or ability, are necessary for a home that functions well and adapts to changing needs over time.

Whether for homeowners or visitors, an accessible shower is a versatile, universal design feature that can grow with you and your family. Curbless showers are sometimes called roll-in showers since a wheelchair or wheeled walker can roll right in without navigating a step or lip.

Woman in wheelchair next to freestanding bathtub

Curbless Showers are Easier to Clean

Cleaning a shower is one of my most dreaded housekeeping duties. Perhaps it's because I ended up in the emergency room with a shower-cleaning injury years ago (a story for another day). It's not easy to bend over the side of the tub and reach all of the places where grime forms - and we all know there are many, many places.

Without a step, a curbless shower has fewer corners for grime to accumulate and grow. Air flow is better throughout the shower, helping to reduce the formation of mold and mildew in the first place. A bonus is improved air quality too.

Bathtub or Shower Dilemma

Ideally, every home would have at least one curbless or barrier-free shower. And if you ask a real estate agent, they would tell you that every home should have at least one traditional bathtub.

Suppose you're lucky enough to have a home with a curbless shower and a traditional bathtub. In that case, you've got ultimate flexibility for any needs that may arise.

If you have the space, consider creating a wetroom shower area or full wetroom bathroom with both an accessible shower and a freestanding bathtub for the best of both worlds. The two features share space and keep water more confined in the bathroom.

Large bathroom with curbless shower and accessible tub

Final Thoughts About Curbless Showers

Adding a curbless shower to a bathroom renovation is a decision that can significantly enhance both the functionality and aesthetics of the space. Not only does this barrier-free shower provide a seamless and modern look, but it also offers numerous practical benefits.

Since they cater to the needs of individuals of all ages and abilities, curbless showers are usually a wise investment. Whether for personal convenience or to accommodate loved ones with mobility issues, the benefits of a curbless shower make it a compelling choice for anyone looking to upgrade their bathroom.

About the Author

As a home health Physical Therapist for over 20 years, I help clients solve home dilemmas so they can live their best life.

I'm here to use that same problem-solving expertise and training as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist to help you create an optimized home that's forward-thinking and future-ready to support you and your loved ones well for a lifetime.

Ready to discover your Golden Girl strategy for a retirement-ready home?