Shower curbs often get overlooked. They're small for one thing, and stylistically, there really isn't a reason to draw attention to them. It's very possible that you've never paid attention to what your own curb looks like -- unless, of course, you're the one who cleans it! But whether you realize it or not, traditional tiled shower curbs have a lot of room for improvement, & we would be remiss not to share what we know.
What is a Curb, Anyway?
When we talk about a shower's curb appeal, we don't mean voyeurism. We're talking about the little 6" threshold, or curb, that separates your shower from the rest of the bathroom. In the image above, it's the low, horizontal surface on which the glass is mounted. In addition to keeping water inside the shower, curbs serve to accommodate the height difference between the finished floor of the bathroom and the shower floor.
Because shower floors are sloped toward the drain, the outer edges of a shower floor are often higher than the floor outside the shower.
Why We're Over Bullnosed Curbs
Traditionally, the top of your shower curb gets tiled with bullnose pieces. The bullnosed edge serves the purpose of neatly covering the cut tile edges on the corners, resulting in a finished and polished appearance. However, one drawback of this approach is that it can lead to the presence of numerous grout lines on the shower curb.
These grout lines can accumulate dirt, mold, and mildew over time, making the cleaning and maintenance of the curb more challenging. Additionally, excessive grout lines can interrupt the visual continuity of the tile design, impacting the overall aesthetics of the shower area.
As a result, many homeowners and designers are exploring alternative ways to style shower curbs that minimize grout lines and provide a clean, refined look. Some popular options include using Schluter (metal trim pieces), using custom top pieces made from the countertop materials, and using prefabricated quartz saddles. These options create a more streamlined and elegant appearance for the shower curb.
Better Ways to Style Your Curb
Schluter Trim: Metal edge pieces hide the cut edges of your tile & offer durable protection against moisture & damage while delivering a clean and polished look to the edges of the shower curb. These are suitable for modern & contemporary aesthetics as well as commercial applications.
While the name Schluter is often said to mean the metal trims used in lieu of bullnose, Schluter is really a brand which produces a wide variety of tile accoutrements including mortar, heated flooring elements, waterproofing systems, et cetera. For more information, click here.
Countertop Material: Using a solid surface slab like granite or quartz to finish your shower curb makes for an elegant transition, and matching the vanity countertop creates a cohesive design. This choice not only ensures durability but also adds a luxurious touch to the overall aesthetic.
Quartz Saddles: Opting for a prefabricated quartz piece designed specifically for shower curbs offers convenience and cost-effectiveness, eliminating the need for custom fabrication. These ready-made solutions maintain design harmony & a luxurious aesthetic while simplifying installation. Lately, this has been the most popular option among our clients & designers alike.
Curbless "Zero Entry" Showers
If you pay attention to the trends, you have probably seen zero entry showers quite often. They have risen in popularity due to their sleek & modern design, as well as the accessibility benefits they offer. A curbless or zero entry shower is one that eliminates the traditional raised curb, creating a seamless transition from the bathroom floor into the shower area.
Advantages of Curbless Showers
Accessibility: Curbless showers are perfect for individuals with mobility issues, seniors, or anyone who prefers a more accessible showering experience. Without the need to step over a threshold, it becomes easier to enter and exit the shower safely.
Aesthetic Appeal: These showers have a clean and contemporary look that can make a bathroom feel more spacious and open. They offer a seamless and uninterrupted flow from the rest of the bathroom to the shower area, creating a sense of continuity.
Easy Maintenance: With no curb to clean around, maintaining a curbless shower is often simpler and more straightforward. There are fewer nooks and crannies for grime and soap scum to accumulate.
Versatility: Curbless showers can be designed with various materials and styles, including tile, natural stone, or even engineered materials. This versatility allows homeowners to create a customized and stylish shower that matches their overall bathroom design.
Aging in Place: Curbless showers are an excellent feature for homeowners planning to age in place. They provide a safer and more comfortable showering experience as mobility needs change over time.
Before You Go Curbless...
It's essential to note that curbless showers require careful planning and installation. Proper waterproofing and sloping of the shower floor are crucial to prevent water from leaking into other areas of the bathroom. Consulting with a professional contractor experienced in installing curbless showers is vital for a successful and leak-free installation.
Shower curbs, though often overlooked, can have a significant impact on the overall design and functionality of a bathroom. And although traditional tiled curbs with bullnose edges have been the industry standard for quite some time, many people are now opting to trim them differently or remove them altogether. Embracing these new options allows you to personalize the bathroom and elevate its aesthetic appeal while ensuring practicality and ease of use for all occupants.
Still unsure which curb option is right for your space? Click here to come see us!