Roll-in shower or Barrier Free shower?
People are sometimes confused by the terminology when talking about what type of shower they need in their home when mobility becomes a problem. Although both a roll-in shower and a barrier free shower are very similar there is a few distinct differences between the two.
For those that are not restricted to a wheelchair a Barrier free shower typically has a curb that retains the water that is usually between four and nine inches tall. This allows people with limited mobility to be able to step over the curb and enter the shower without help. These are sometimes converted bathtubs that have a piece cut out of them and a liner is installed to help dress up the cut and make it safe. These cuts usually drop the height of the tub from 19 inches to 9 inches and are a very economical way of providing a barrier free shower as opposed to ripping out the existing tub and plumbing and having a new tub and plumbing installed. The image on our website under Handicap Bathrooms shows what a tub cut is.
a Roll-in shower on the other hand has a minimal curb so that a wheelchair can freely roll in and out of the shower without restriction, hence why it’s called a roll-in shower. A roll-in shower threshold can either be built into the shower pan itself or it may be a small ramp that is added to the outside of the shower to allow easy roll in access. This also can increase the footprint of the shower pan and sometimes makes it difficult to install in a small bathroom due to the necessary floor space.. A collapsible water dam that helps to retain the water and keep it from splashing out onto the floor is a very popular option and is often installed with a roll-in shower . It is also very common for the roll-in shower to have a weighted shower curtain that rests against the collapsible water dam to help keep the water inside the shower.
Although both a roll-in shower and barrier free shower serve a specific purpose they both usually have a few items in common such as anti scald tempering valves to prevent the person from being burned and these valves are usually equipped with lever controls as opposed to knob handles to ease in their use.
They both may or may not be equipped with grab bars, but typically the person using a roll-in shower is confined to a wheelchair and grab bars are of no use to them and are aren’t usually installed. Another item typical to both is the handheld shower and slidebar which allows much more flexibility as to the shower head location. Many handheld showers come with a small easy to use valve added right onto the handheld shower head that allows the flow of water to be started and stopped with the push of a button.
Many variations are available regardless of what type of shower you desire. On the economy end showers are typically acrylic panels that can be cut to fit any configuration. Also available are pre built units from quality manufacturers such as Lasco and Koehler that are either fiberglass or acrylic and may be either single piece ( if there is enough room to bring them into the bathroom) or multipiece that come into the bathroom in sections and are assembled in place. On the high end showers that are custom made from beautiful tile are very common and all will provide years of use.
One of the most important things to remember is that there is no “typical or standard” location in regards to valves and shower heads that need to be strictly adhered to. A roll-in shower or barrier free shower are typically being custom built with one particular end user in mind so if that person wants that valve high/ low or left/right because that is what works best for them and is most accessible, then your contractor should do whatever is necessary to accomodate them.
Hopefully this article has helped you learn the difference between a roll-in shower and a barrier free shower. If you’re looking to build either a roll-in shower or barrier free shower in your New Hampshire home then consider giving Mason Bros. Construction a call.
We Can Build a Roll-In Shower or Barrier Free Shower