Roll-in Showers, Barrier-free Bathing
Roll-in Shower Features and Maintenance
Roll-in showers are designed for people to directly roll into the shower using a shower wheelchair. The shower should be large enough for the wheelchair to maneuver within the stall. Most roll-in showers have bevelled thresholds about 0.5″ high to allow the wheelchair to roll over. Many roll-in showers can be retrofitted into exiting bathtub areas.
Most roll-in showers are made from fiberglass with polyester gelcoat or acrylic that cover the walls and tub. Polyester gelcoats are sprayed onto a mold and cured creating very uniform and consistent thickness throughout the shower. Acrylic sheets are heated and vacuum-formed to a mold. Material gets thinner where the acrylic is stretched out more, and may also lose shape due to heat. Roll-in showers usually come with full plywood backing so no dry wall is required behind the shower, and accessories may be installed where the user needs them, and not just where the wall studs are.
Roll-in showers come in one, three or five pieces. There are no seams in one-piece roll-in showers but they must be able to fit inside the home for installation. Three or five piece showers are easier to handle, and the pieces fit together to make the shower leak-proof.
Roll-In Showers Features
Grab bars—Grab bars in most roll-in showers are installed horizontally on every wall, but they can also be installed vertically or at an angle to aid the user.
Shower heads—Shower heads mounted on vertical bars are height adjustable and can accommodate people in wheelchairs as well as able-bodied people using the shower. Shower heads in roll-in showers should also be handheld with a long enough hose for easy use.
Threshold—Thresholds are sills that help keep water in the shower. The threshold should be about 0.5″ high with the edges bevelled. Thresholds up to 0.25″ do not need to be bevelled.
Shower seats—Shower seats or benches may be attached to the wall for users who occasionally transfer into the shower or have members in their household who prefer to take showers sitting down. Shower seats or benches attached to the wall can fold up or down (depending on the model) when not in use. Free-standing shower seats can be removed and stored elsewhere.
Roll-In Shower Maintenance
Read the owner’s manual carefully for maintenance and cleaning instructions.
Cleaning—Do not use abrasive cleaners, they may scratch or dull the surface. Clean the shower using regular liquid cleaners but be sure to test it first in an inconspicuous location. Refer to the owner’s manual cleaning instructions specific to the model.
How much does a Roll-In Shower cost?
Pre-fabricated roll-in showers that can be retrofitted into an existing bathtub area are usually sold as kits that include walls and a shower pan. Prices for shower walls and shower pan kits start around $1,200 (installation and other materials are extra). Roll-in shower kits that include grab bars and a shower bench start around $2,800 (installation and other materials are extra).