There are many advantages to fiberglass one-piece shower units, from ease of installation and cleaning to price point and customization. However, the five common problems listed below can frustrate installers, owners, and residents alike. Be careful to evaluate your manufacturer’s products for these flaws before committing to a purchase:
The floor is the most common failure point in one-piece shower units. Many manufacturers take shortcuts and support the floor with foam, a mortar bed, or even legs made of wood or PVC. These complicate installation and do not supply the proper support for stability, strength, and long-term durability.
EverFab’s bottom plate is our biggest selling point and differentiator. Pre-leveled and diamond cut on a custom machine at our factory, the EverFab reinforced shower bottom uses the same high-strength fiberglass composite that makes up the body of all our one-piece shower units. Since it’s laminated directly onto the unit, it does a superior job of preventing breaks, bending, sagging, or cracks while lasting for the long haul.
A strong, reinforced unit is important to surviving the shipping and installation process, but also for standing up to years of regular use. However, reinforced shower backing is also critical for the installation of ADA compliant accessories such as grab bars, shower seats, and more. Many one-piece shower units do not have a reinforced back and require manual installation of reinforcement in order to accommodate accessories that will meet strength thresholds for compliance. Others have reinforcement, but only in certain areas and perhaps not where you’d like to have accessories installed. It’s also common to see one-piece shower units that are wood or cardboard-backed. Such materials are labor efficient and cheap but can swell, distort, or peel over time.
EverFab made it a top priority to move to full-height reinforcement on every shower we make. With a complete, top to bottom backing made from our proprietary core material, there’s no longer any question of where accessories will work.
Too many one-piece shower units actually show up in multiple pieces. Cracks, chips, and other damage during delivery are a major red flag about the quality of the unit, but also very common in the industry.
One mistake made by many shower manufacturers is to confuse a heavy design with a durable design. EverFab’s proprietary formula uses more glass and less calcium sulfate, which actually creates a lighter, stronger design that can be installed easier and faster than heavier alternatives. With no heavy plywood — all of our backing and floor support is also fiberglass — weight stays at a minimum even while our shower material strength exceeds the competition.
The worst feeling to invoke in tenants or residents is that your one-piece shower units seem “institutional” or “clinical.” Unfortunately, many commercial shower units do and it’s hard for the average person to pinpoint why. One element that is typically missing from ADA-compliant commercial showers, but very common in home showers, is a convenient shelf for bottles, soaps, and other personal items.
This is why we developed several unit designs, such as our ADA 5’ roll-in shower with a shelf, that incorporate this familiar and comfortable feature into fully compliant one-piece shower units. You can help your residents feel at ease with a familiar shower experience like the one they’ve always had at home.
Cracks in the shower floor aren’t the only common problem with the bottoms of one-piece shower units. One developer in particular was at wit's end with the rate at which he came across showers with structural flaws that led to water draining out the front of the unit. Improper slope or threshold design on an accessible shower can create real trouble with drainage. Consistency and safety — with no risk of a wet floor — are just as important as a low-slope design in an accessible shower unit. Unfortunately, it’s often hard to identify and troubleshoot this issue until the unit is installed. Post-installation fixes, meanwhile, are both costly and complex.
EverFab knows what it takes to ensure a reliable shower floor that respects ADA shower floor slope requirements while also keeping water inside the shower. There’s no reason to settle for one-piece shower units with any of the five above flaws when you can invest in quality units from a manufacturer that has seen the common problems firsthand and taken purposeful steps to eliminate every one of them.
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