How to Choose a Shower Tray
About to buy a new base for your shower? Check out this professional advice on shower tray options
Professional advice from: Roxanne Voskuijl of BathroomsByDesign; Nick Glendinning of NG Bathrooms; Lukas Kedden of QURES Bathrooms
More in this series: How to Choose a… Shower; Shower Head; Shower Enclosure; Bath Material; Basin Tap; Vanity Unit
Starting your bathroom project? Read How to Plan for a Bathroom Renovation
There are two main designs: low-profile and raised shower trays.
“Low-profile versions are aesthetically more appealing and less of a trip hazard,” Roxanne Voskuijl says. “But if the pipework can’t be set into the floor, a raised shower tray would be the better solution, as they’re designed to allow for raised pipework.
“Raised shower trays can also be used with adjustable legs, which can be useful for installing them on uneven surfaces,” she adds.
Low-profile trays usually come in thicknesses of between 3cm and 4cm, with some being as slim as 2cm. “These can be laid above the floor tiles, creating a micro step with the thickness of the tray,” Lukas Kedden says, “or they can be laid flush with the tiles, creating a seamless floor and an easier entrance into the shower.”
More: Key Dimensions to Know for the Perfect Bathroom Layout
Square and rectangular trays Most shower trays are square or rectangular. They can be as small as 70cm sq and as large as 200cm x 100cm and beyond.
“Unless you’re creating a walk-in shower using fixed pieces of wetroom glass [as shown here], the enclosure will sit over the tray exactly,” Nick says. This is to ensure a watertight fit.
“The majority of rectangular and square shower trays will be compatible with almost any shower enclosure, panel, screen or door,” Lukas adds.
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The tray has to have the same radius of rounded corner as the enclosure. “Look for shower enclosure manufacturers that also offer matching shower trays to guarantee compatibility,” he says.
Pentagon trays The pentagon is also for corners. As its name suggests, rather than a curve, it has five straight edges that can be of varying lengths (see photo below).
Scale and proportion are two crucial elements of bathroom design, according to Roxanne. “It’s key to choose the appropriate size and shape of shower to make sure it looks and feels right in the space,” she says.
“In a smaller bathroom, a square corner shower or a quadrant or pentagon-shaped design may be best. In bigger rooms, you may want to opt for a large rectangular shower.”
The position of the shower will also be determined by the particularities of the space and where the utilities are sited.
“Sometimes, you may have to run the pipe through the beam and drilling may be necessary,” he continues. “However, we would advise against drilling every beam under the floor just to run the waste pipe; it might be better to reposition the shower.”
If the floor construction is solid, keep in mind the distance from the shower tray to the vertical soil pipe, he says. “The horizontal waste running from the tray has to be at a certain angle. The further the tray is from the soil pipe, the deeper the floor has to be drilled.”
Remember that if none of the standard shower tray shapes and sizes are suitable for an awkward or tricky space, there is an alternative. “Most manufacturers also offer bespoke options,” Lukas says, “but be aware that bespoke shower trays may also require bespoke glass.”
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“The most common materials are acrylic and stone resin,” Roxanne says.
The consensus among our experts is to go for a stone resin tray. “Acrylic trays are lightweight, while stone resin designs offer a more solid compound mix, which makes them more durable and resistant,” Roxanne explains.
“[A stone resin tray] is a heavy, solid-core tray capped in plastic that, once installed correctly, isn’t going to move and is less likely to leak due to its rigidity,” Nick agrees.
For Lukas, because acrylic shower trays only tend to be available in a gloss white finish, they lack a bespoke option. “By comparison, stone resin comes in various colours and textured finishes, such as slate, providing more options,” he says.
Nick doesn’t tend to recommend fully plastic trays, as they can flex. “This can create issues such as cracked grouting on the surrounding tiles and possible leaks,” he says.
They’re also very customisable in terms of colours, shapes and sizes. “Our clients usually opt for enamelled titanium steel, even though it’s usually the pricier option,” Lukas says. “That’s because it comes with a lifelong guarantee and it’s possible to match the tray colours with the shower enclosures themselves.”
The main factor when choosing a tray depends on who’s using the shower, Nick advises. “When the customer is older, it’s important to consider trip hazards, so a riser or raised tray is out of the question,” he says.
Roxanne agrees and suggests that, for those who may be more prone to slipping, now or in the future, it can be worth looking at anti-slip options.
“Shower trays don’t only encounter lots of water, but also mixtures of shower gels and shampoos, which increase the risk of slipping,” she says.
However, she says, anti-slip shower trays may require more cleaning, as dirt tends to get stuck on the rougher surface more easily.
Using an expert installer is key, our experts agree. “When installing a shower tray, the first step is to make sure the subfloor under the tray is solid,” Nick says. “Floorboards will have to be lifted and fixed back securely once the pipework is ready for the new tray. The tray should be installed onto plywood, not directly onto floorboards.
“Before installing the tray, we use a flexible upstand, which is a large rubber seal that adheres to the sides of the tray that sit next to a wall,” he continues. “This is then siliconed to the wall after installation to create a waterproof seal.”
Lukas recommends installers steer clear of ‘water-resistant’ plasterboards. “They should opt for fibre-reinforced polystyrene construction boards for walls and floors instead,” he says. “Also, if the shower tray manufacturer offers an additional corner and edge sealing kit for their trays, it’s always worth purchasing it for extra protection.”
Have you found this advice useful? If you’ve already done your bathroom, how did you choose your shower tray? Share your thoughts in the Comments.