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How to Choose a Shower Drain Cover & Strainer

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Square drain cover

Square drain cover

Linear trench drain cover
Linear trench drain cover

If you’re looking to convert a tub into a shower enclosure or want to replace an ugly existing shower stall with something nicer you don’t want to forget about your shower drain cover (also known as a strainer or grate). In this article you’ll learn the definition of a strainer (or cover), the 3 strainer shapes, and 6 questions to consider when choosing the best cover or grate for your project.

Definition – The shower drain grate (cover/strainer) is the visible part of the drain assembly. The shower pan/base is sloped to the strainer which has small holes to allow water to run through but to minimize hair, soap and other materials that could go down the drain and cause it to clog.

3 Types of Strainer Shapes – The 3 most common strainer shapes are round, square and long rectangular units (also known as trough or trench drains).

6 Questions to Consider in Choosing Drain Covers

Question 1 – Are you purchasing a standard base or making a custom shower base? – Most standard bases (which are usually made out of fiberglass, acrylic and cultured marble) will only accommodate round and square strainer covers). If you’re making a custom tile or solid surface base (made of mortar, expanded or extruded polystyrene, Corian etc.) you can design in the use of any of the 3 drain cover types mentioned above.

Question 2 – Is your shower enclosure large or small? – Small showers will most commonly use round or square strainers because the longer linear trench drains won’t fit.

Question 3 – Are you on a tight budget or can you afford a more stylish design? – The round strainer is the least expensive, followed closely by the square strainer. The linear (long, rectangular) trench drains are the most expensive and come in many contemporary and stylized designs. Drain covers are available in many finishes including brass, stainless steel, polished brass, oil rubbed bronze, copper and polished nickel.   

Question 4 – Are you designing an ADA shower, barrier free entry shower or a wet room? – For increased durability the trench or trough drains covers come in higher gauges of stainless steel for improved strengths for wheelchairs to roll over them making them a popular choice for universal shower designs.

Question 5 – Where do you want the drain positioned? – The linear trench drain offers more flexibility because they can be put at the threshold, near any wall of the shower enclosure or in the middle.

Question 6 – Where are you using the drain (for a home, hospitality industry, healthcare facility or educational municipal facilities)? Most residential showers use the square or round strainers to keep costs down – although linear drains are gaining popularity in custom shower designs for both their looks, durability and ability to drain the water quickly. The trench drains are very popular in commercial applications because of their durability, ability to move a good amount of water quickly, and the desire to create fewer shower drain holes.    

Do you have any experience or questions about using shower drain covers or strainers for a shower remodeling project? Please comment below.


Learn more about bathroom or shower remodeling projects by visiting Cleveland Design & Remodeling (216-531-6085), Columbus Design and Remodeling (614-252-7294) and The Bath Doctor (513-742-6679) or Cincinnati and Dayton web sites.

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Mike Foti

President of Innovate Building Solutions a nationwide supplier and regional (Cleveland and Columbus) remodeling contractors. Some of our product lines include glass counters, floors, backsplashes, glass blocks and grout free shower and tub wall panels

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