Guide written by:
Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff
Shower trays are an essential part of bathroom design. Walk in or low profile trays are enclosed by a shower screen and/or door and equipped with a shower head, hose and riser rail kit. By contrast, wet room trays are installed with an overhead shower head and form the base of a walk in shower. Ceramic, acrylic...
- Walk in or low profile
- Wet room
- Acrylic or resin
- Glazed fireclay and ceramic
- Corner or quadrant
Shower tray types
Choosing a shower tray depends, in most cases, on the drainage system in place and how much work is required for its installation. In short, the more flush the shower tray is, the stricter the technical requirements of its installation will be. There are four different types of shower tray to choose from.
The easiest and fastest type to install, raised trays are fitted with a horizontal waste trap and, if necessary, a set of shower legs or any other type of base frame (brick, breeze block, aerated concrete).They are accessed via a step measuring over 5 cm in height.
Low profile trays
Quick and easy to fit, low profile trays require a level surface (breeze block, polystyrene support, etc.) and floor-flush vertical drainage. They can be installed directly onto the ground and feature a step up measuring less than 5 cm in height.
Walk in tray
Walk in trays offer level access to the shower. In order to fit this type of tray, a floor-flush vertical waste must first be installed. Given their installation requirements, walking trays are ideally suited to new buildings or full bathroom renovation works.
Wet room trays
Wet room trays offer walk-in access to showers and provide the framework for a wet room. Blending in with the bathroom tiles, the only part of the tray on show is the drain grate or drainage channel. Installing this type of tray provides easy access for elderly people or those with reduced mobility.
A quick guide to wet rooms
Wet room trays are generally made from extruded polystyrene foam or polypropylene reinforced with waterproof glass-fibre mesh. These materials are:
- fully leak-proof and rot-proof;
- light and robust;
- easy to trim;
- supplied with drainage slopes.
Some wet room trays are coated with a sealant on their upper side. Furthermore, the density of the foam inside wet room trays is reinforced to withstand flattening, thermal shock and impacts.Installation requirements:
- a floor design that can incorporate a waste with a drain plug of at least 90 mm;
- a 50 mm drainage pipe and a drainage slope of at least 2%;
- non-slip tiles which, ideally, should be small in size.
Recommended shower tray materials
Shower trays are primarily made from ceramic, acrylic or resin. However, their growing popularity in bathrooms has resulted in many variations, particularly with regards to resin trays.
Glazed fireclay, or ceramic, is most commonly used in showers thanks to its affordability and wide range of colours. These trays are also favoured for their shock-resistance and strength. This material does not stain easily, meaning it could not be easier to maintain. Negative points: can be slippery, due to a lack of non-slip coating, and heavy with a weight of 30 to 45 kg (not suitable for all floor types).
Natural stone, most commonly slate or graphite, is pleasant to the touch but is also heavy. Its main benefits:
- 100% waterproof.
Nowadays, acrylic presents a perfectly competitive alternative to ceramic in terms of price. Its non-slip surface and low weight make it suitable for any floor type. Watch out for scratches, however, and make sure it is taken care of – acrylic is an easy material to maintain but it is sensitive.
Resin, or synthetic concrete, is often used for low profile trays thanks to its high-resistance, durability and easy maintenance. Some trays also feature through-body colouring which allows them to be trimmed and feature edges of the same colour.The mineral-based composition of these trays provides a neat aesthetic (Neoquartz, for example) and a number of desirable characteristics (anti-scratch, unbreakable, non-slip).
Different resin types for shower trays
The most common resin and treatment types:
- biotec: a material made from natural wood fibres mixed with environmentally friendly synthetic materials. Resistant, good acoustic and thermal insulation, bacteriostatic effect;
- luxtone: resistant, high mineral content, resistant to wear and thermal shock;
- acrystone: innovative material, polyester resin and minerals combined for a high degree of strength. Often combined with a Gelcoat coating;
- ABS: most commonly mixed with glass fibres to increase its strength. More fragile than the other materials, ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) offers a shiny, glossy look.
Teak is the material of choice in Zen or Feng Shui-style bathrooms thanks to its warm appearance. A rot-proof exotic wood, this material is still not widely used. An exotic wood oil treatment is required for its maintenance.
Tray surface treatment
Gelcoat is an anti-scratch surface treatment made from thermosetting resins. It is abrasion-resistant, anti-bacterial and features a high-quality finish. It lends the shower tray strength and gives it an attractive appearance.
Shower tray shapes
In order to achieve the best middle ground between comfort and space efficiency, the dimensions of the shower must match the layout of your bathroom. When it comes to your shower tray, you have the choice between a square, rectangular or quadrant shape.
Square shower trays
Square-shaped trays are most commonly used as they are practical and take up little room. Ranging from 70 x 70 cm up to 120 x 120 cm in size, these trays can fit into any bathroom, small or large. If you have the space, aim high and think big by choosing a large shower tray for greater comfort. The larger the tray, the more design options you will have – which is especially important for people with reduced mobility.
Rectangular shower trays
Rectangular trays are ideal if you have a large showering area. With formats ranging from 70 x 90 cm to 180 x 90 cm, rectangular shower trays offer the comfort of a large shower, while still making efficient use of your space.
Quadrant shower trays
Corner or quadrant trays are perfect if you have a smaller space to fill. Taking up little room, quadrant trays provide the perfect combination of space efficiency and shower comfort. Their sides range from 80 to 110 cm in size.
Efficient use of your space
Shower trays are often installed in combination with a shower enclosure. A drainage system, comprising pipes, a waster trap and a low profile drain plug, is necessary for the proper drainage of waste water. There are two types of drainage system:
- awaste trap with a vertical outlet is used when there is adequate room beneath the tray. The tendency is, nevertheless, to use a low profile waste;
- a waste trap with a horizontal outlet is used when the tray is raised, placed on a base or simply when there is limited space available.
Low profile waste
The purpose of shower legs
To complete the installation of your shower tray, you will need shower tray legs. Shower legs allow you to adjust the level of your tray. Each leg has a load-bearing capacity of up to 250 kg. Generally, shower tray legs range from 90 to 125 mm in height. In order to maintain balance – particularly on uneven floors – the number of legs should be tailored to the size of the tray.The weight distribution of the shower tray must be equal on each leg. By adjusting their settings, you can achieve a level surface or a slope in order to aid water drainage. The shower tray legs are concealed by a plinth (which surrounds the tray).
Shower tray legs
The use of a wet room tray sealing kit
Retailers offer sealing kits for the installation of wet room trays combining various products used during fitting to eliminate any water leakage under the tray.
Sealing kits for wet room trays include:
- a 10-metre roll of special non-woven waterproofing tape which is resilient, flexible and vapour-resistant (suitable for waterproofing all wall/floor joints);
- two internal corner seals;
- a waterproof sealing compound, consisting of a powder and a liquid to be mixed, which is used to stick on the sealing strips and corner seals.
Wet room trays
Our bathroom guides
For any DIYers in full bathroom renovation mode, or if you're just curious, follow our editors' advice and discover their other Guides:
Guide written by:
Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff, 22 guides
First of all, my studies have nothing to do with decoration or DIY as I was specialised in management. My passion in DIY started 5 years ago (very recently!) Everything started when we bought a house to renovate from floor to ceiling. As I’m a self-taught person, I started working on different house project both inside and outside. My husband helped me but the student soon overtook the teacher! And as there are a lot of green spaces in Creuse, gardening tools have no secrets for me. My friends and family often come to me for advice when it comes to DIY. Today, I want to share this with you!