What Is A Zero Entry (Curbless) Shower? | Everything Explained

Do you ache at the end of a busy day and struggle to climb into the shower? Isn’t there a way to have a shower that requires no climbing on your part? A zero entry shower may be just what you or your aging relative needs for a safer and truly relaxing bathing experience.

In this post, I’ll explain what a zero entry shower is, how it works, its pros and cons as well as answer some other common questions around the topic.

Let’s dive in!

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What Is A Zero-Entry Shower?

A zero-entry shower is a shower enclosure that has no or very little lip for you to step over. Also known as a walk-in, curbless, or low-threshold shower.

It is becoming a more popular feature in many home bathrooms. If you use a wheelchair, have difficulty stepping into a tub, or just love the clean look, this design delivers function in a sleek contemporary way.

You can have a zero-entry shower custom-made using luxury tile for the wall and floors or purchase a low-threshold shower enclosure. It can be crafted for use with a sliding or swing door or in a wet-room design without any door.

The zero-entry feature has no effect on the type of taps or showers that you can use. Opt for a rain shower, hand-held shower head, or multiple jets. You can also design it to include multiple grab handles and a non-slip floor.

You may wish to have shelves for shampoo and toiletries built into the walls. Some zero-entry showers include a bench seat, which is more comfortable for people who need support while in the shower.

When thinking about adding a zero-entry shower to your bathroom renovation, you can focus on all of its potential benefits as it has very few drawbacks.

However, there are some disadvantages. You can’t take a deep soak, and it is more likely to get the floor wet outside of the shower area.

Zero Entry Curbless shower bathroom

How Does A Zero-Entry (Curbless) Shower Work?

The shower pan or floor of the shower is gently sloped toward the drain, so it directs all water produced by the showerhead down the waste. Some pre-fabbed shower pan formers are installed into the floor to produce a seamless entry. Others are sold as a surface mount enclosure that leaves a step of just a centimetre or two creating a low threshold shower. 

After the pan is set, you can decide if this will be a glass enclosure, tiled half-wall, or use acrylic wall panels to provide privacy and restrict water spray. A wet-room design will tile all the walls in the shower area and will not require any door or curtain.

The shower pan will feature a non-slip surface or be intended to be covered using non-slip tiles. Shower mats are not suggested as they can create a trip hazard.

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Advantages Of A Zero-Entry Shower

  • Provides safe access for the mobility challenged
  • Seamless contemporary design
  • No high step needed to get in and out of the shower
  • Budget-friendly pre-fab enclosures make it an affordable option
  • No-slip surface and/or bench further support shower safety
  • No speciality taps required
  • Use with or without a door

Disadvantages Of A Zero-Entry Shower

  • More likely to create water damage
  • Leaves no option for having a bath
  • Requires some plumbing work to make the waste work with a new enclosure
  • Can be an expensive addition to an upscale bathroom project

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Is A Zero-Entry Shower More Expensive?

A zero-entry shower can be a very affordable upgrade if you opt for a pre-fabbed walk-in shower enclosure. You can source a budget-friendly version for around £250. There will be some minor plumbing needed to adjust the height of the floor drain.

The shower should be able to be connected to the same supply that is existing for your shower/tub enclosure. The enclosure needs only a small selection of basic tools to be screwed and sealed into place. A quick installation by a skilled handyman can run as low as £200 for labour and be completed in a single afternoon.

Now, you can demolish the entire bathing area and opt for a luxury zero-entry shower area finished out in marble for around £5,000. So, yes, it can be more expensive if you desire an opulent feature in an upscale home.

How Do You Keep Water In A Curbless Shower?

The simple answer is gravity. The shower head is aimed to direct water into the enclosure, not at the door or open areas. The floor is sloped to catch any water and direct it down the drain. As long as your waste is clear, there should be no standing water in the shower.

There may be a low lip surrounding the shower area, only one or two centimetres high, that will prevent any minor puddles from spreading out into the bathroom. If you opt for a wet-room design, the floor of the entire bathroom will be sloped to drain towards the shower. This eliminates any worries about water damaging your flooring or vanity.

How Small Can A Zero-Entry Shower Be?

Not all zero-entry showers have to be able to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. You can add a low threshold shower sized just 700mm x 700mm, the same size as a standard shower enclosure. Of course, if you want to go big, you can find formers as long as 2000mm and 1000mm wide.

A custom bathroom contractor can craft one in any size that you desire. The most popular size for a walk-in shower measures 1400 x 900mm.

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Can You have A Curbless Shower Upstairs?

Your installation technician will need to take extra precautions when installing the shower tray, but the curbless shower will be completely waterproofed when it is done. A special membrane is applied over the shower pan, floor, and up the walls to prevent any water from leaking onto your kitchen ceiling.

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Final Thoughts…

There you have it. Everything you need to know about zero entry (curbless or low threshold) showers.

While they can cost a bit more than a standard shower, you can find plenty of zero entry shower options on the market that don’t break the bank. Perfect for that sleek, modern bathroom look, or accessible friendly design. A zero-entry shower could be just the thing you’re looking for.

So what do you think, will you go zero entry (or curbless) with your new bathroom shower?


Michael R

Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.