5 Surprising Reasons You Should Care about Your Shower Drain
Updated March 24, 2019
I bet money you’ve heard the saying, “You’re a pain in the drain.” If the truth be told, shower drains aren’t associated with anything good. If you Google articles about this product the first 10 entries are going to be ‘how to unclog your drain.’ Not exactly sexy and fun reading!
So, you might think I was smoking something wacky, or had a few too many, if I told you a shower drain can actually be important, exciting (OK – maybe a bit dramatic here) and beneficial to you in the following 5 ways:
- Paying attention to your shower drain before starting your remodel will help the project get done quicker, reduce coordination and aggravation, and give you a nicer finished bathroom.
- Drains can make your bathroom more stylish (you’re probably thinking right now, that’s a stretch!).
- Choosing the right type of drain will reduce the time you spend on your hands and knees cleaning a tile shower floor pan.
- A drain can create a clean, minimalist look.
- A thoughtful drain location can cut down the frustration of standing in a pool of dirty water.
Do I have your attention now that it can be worth a few minutes of your time to not treat the drain as the red-haired-stepchild (no offense to red-haired stepchildren here – I need to keep things P.C.) of your next bath remodeling project?
If so, buckle up and get ready for me to serve up 5 surprising reasons strategizing your shower drain can make your next shower remodel more cost effective, add to your design and keep you off your hands and knees cleaning the shower pan (and who exactly wants to spend time doing that?).
Reason #1 to care about your shower drain – It can help you get your job done quicker, and result in a nicer finished project
You think you’ve made the best buy of the century. You pick out a 60” x 32” bone-colored acrylic shower pan from the big-box store from the people in the Orange smocks (note as an independent wholesaler I’m not allowed to say _______ Depot). It’s not the most exciting pan, but at least it was cheap.
Your handyman/remodeler can finally come out and demo your mold-infested, ugly tile shower pan put in by the original home builder eons ago.
The big demo day arrives. Your guy start beating the crap out of the old shower. Dust is flying everywhere. Yah! He gets the old shower out, sweeps up and sets the new pan in its place. Then he comes downstairs to tell you, “Houston (insert your name here), we have a problem!”
The drain hole in the standard acrylic base is smack dab in the middle of a floor joist. He’s not exactly sure how to relocate your pipes (OK – if we’re being honest he’s clueless), but he’s got a plan. He’ll call his plumber buddy, Billy-Ray-Bob Buttcrack (yes – that’s a funny name for a plumber and a bit ironic as well) to figure this situation out.
After telling you about his $150 initial service fee Billy-Ray-Bob ‘squeezes’ you in – 10 DAYS FROM NOW (oh, boy!). After you experience the glorious ‘view’ (sarcasm intended) of Billy Ray-Bob (he wasn’t born with this funny last name for nothing!), he tells you it will be another $375 bucks, but he can get the pipes situated to work with your standard pan. He can come out to install in a week and a half. You bend over (metaphorically speaking) and agree to his terms (what better plan do you have at this point?).
Now your ‘cheap’ shower pan has a total cost of $825. Your spouse is mad at you because the bathroom project has been going nowhere for 3 weeks.
With hindsight being 20/20 (and BTW is hindsight ever not 20/20? – just sayin’) the question was, did you have a better choice before this fiasco began? The answer is emphatically – yes!
You could have chosen a preformed custom shower base with a custom drain location and eliminated extra costs for a cheap pan which caused time delays. While there are a number of choices of custom showers the two I like (because they are waterproof and not subject to ‘on-site installation errors’) are a ready for tile shower pan and a custom solid surface pan.
Both these pans can be made in virtually any shape – with any drain location so you don’t have to move plumbing. Plus, it’s nice to know they are waterproofed right out of the box (after all a leaking shower base is a disaster you’ve got to do without).
Reason #2 to care about your shower drain – It will make your shower more stylish and become the ‘cherry on the bottom.’
Think shower drains only are round and boring? Think again. Just like fancy tiles, cool grout free shower wall panels, fabulous rain heads, and stylish niches, shower drains can notch up the look of your shower. They can be a ‘cherry on the bottom.’ Here’s how:
- You can get fun designs – like an octopus grate if you’re a sea lover.
- You can add LED lighting inside the grate to make it easier for Mom to see where she’s going in her dark shower.
- You can use a contemporary square grate in bronze or brushed gold which is not only simpler to tile around but will match your fixtures.
In today’s day and age, the shower drain isn’t destined for a life of ugliness (unless you leave it up to your contractor to slap in the cheapest one he/she gets at your local store).
Check out cool options at Designer Drains and Infinity Drains.
Reason #3 to care about your shower drain – Who in their right mind wants to spend one more second cleaning tile grout joints?
Here’s 3 things you might like better than cleaning dirt and mold infested grout joints in your mosaic tile shower:
- Hearing nails screeching over a chalkboard
- Being subjected to a whining child when you’re at a nice restaurant for a quiet romantic dinner.
- Shutting off your spouse’s alarm clock for the 3rd time, even though you don’t have to ‘get up’ for another 2 hours.
OK – some of these items might be better than cleaning grout joints – but not by much.
The reality is cleaning tiny mosaic tile grout joints from a sloped shower pan is nobody’s idea of a good time. However, you may not be aware your choice of a shower drain can make this job simpler. Here’s how.
If you use a linear shower drain, you’ll be able to ditch tiny shower tiles for modern and stylish large format tiles. This will not only help update your look but will allow you to throw a retirement party for your scrub brush.
If you really want to blow up that tile scrub brush another fun (and smart) idea is to use laminated faux tile shower wall panels. They’ll mimic the look of tile, while eliminating your joints in the shower walls. This may be one reason these panels are called ‘The No Tile, Tile Shower.’
Reason #4 to care about your shower drain – Your bathroom can evolve into a spa-like clean, minimalist experience
In a world filled with complexity, you and I are seeking simplicity. One way to achieve simplicity is through effective design.
This design truth certainly applies to shower drains. The more they are designed to ‘just do their job’ (a reference to my favorite movie, A Few Good Men line said by Private Louden Downey) and move the water away without a lot of fanfare, the better for off you’ll be.
The challenge becomes how can a drain do its job (moving water efficiently) without drawing attention to itself –helping you achieve a clean, minimalist look?
The most direct way is not by using a ‘concealed weapon’ and threatening the drain (some people might think you need to be committed if you go there). A better approach is to use a concealed drain cover. The cover can use the same material as the shower pan floor (options include acrylic, tile or stone to name a few). You end up with a drain which ‘does its job’ without drawing attention to itself.
Reason #5 to care about your drain – With a little design thought you won’t end up standing in a pool of dirty shower water – yuck!
I have to ‘fess up’. I sometimes hate my 4’ x 3’ tile shower installed by my builder. It’s not because they did a bad job. What I don’t like is the fact the drain is located right underneath my feet (it’s a center drain design).
In most days this isn’t a big deal (although I’d rather not be standing on the drain – thank you very much). However, when the drain gets clogged (my wife and daughter also use this shower have quite a bit more hair than I), I end up standing in a pool of dirty shower water.
In most cases the location of the drain is not something you think about – until you live with it – and it gets clogged.
My recommendation with shower drains is to make sure you’re not standing in the middle of them. In general (assuming there’s not a joist or obstruction below) I’d recommend putting the drain either 12” from the wall with your shower head or sloping your shower to the side or edge with a linear drain.
The right drain placement makes for a better showering experience (and cuts down the chance of standing in a pool of yucky water).
If you’ve got to the bottom (bad shower drain pun intended) and are still reading this article on shower drains I applaud you! I know drains aren’t the sexiest part of the shower – but they matter more than most people think.
With a more thoughtful approach to your shower drain you can reduce the time it takes to get your remodel completed, can have a simpler and/or more stylish shower, can cut your maintenance time and have a better showering experience.
Don’t allow your shower to be a ‘pain in your drain.’ Pay attention to this small, but mighty element. You’ll be glad you did.
If you’re struggling with the design of your shower system (whether it’s the drain, shower walls or bathroom design in general) please call me or a member of my team or click for a Free Consultation.
How can I (or a member of my team) help you?
For assistance and factory-direct product supply of grout free shower wall panels, custom solid surface shower pans, ready for tile shower bases or wet room systems nationwide contact Innovate Building Solutions at 877-668-5888. For a bathroom remodeling project in Northeast Ohio call Cleveland Design and Remodeling at 216-658-1270 or The Bath Doctor in Columbus at 614-252-3242.
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Homer – we can certainly help you with a niche for soap and shampoo – and we do also have decorative grab bars (we try to make sure they DO NOT look like ‘old folks’ grab bars – ha! ha!). I’ll give you a call and we’ll go over what you need – Mike
homer jones jr
Mike. After reading one of your posts, I decided I need a ‘nitch’ for my soap and shampoo. Can I add one, plus an ‘old folks’ grab bar to my shower wall panels. Suggestions???
Mac – thanks for your confidence! I’m looking forward to working with you on your shower remodel! Mike
About 6 months ago I received some samples of shower wall panels from your company. I’m ready to get moving on this shower remodel but would like to talk to you about it. I would also like to send photos and measurements to get the correct items. I only want to do this once and do it correctly.
Stratton “Mac” Jamison