Shower Trays

A shower tray is a water proof base on to which a shower enclosure is mounted creating a watertight showering area within a bathroom. Shower trays are still the most common and cost effective way of creating a separate shower within a bathroom although wet rooms are becoming an increasingly popular alternative.

Simplicity and choice are the main reason for the success of the shower tray, available in a huge range of shapes, sizes and finishes. Traditionally shower trays were constructed from a stone resin mixture poured into moulds and capped with either enamel or acrylic. Due to the huge variety of sizes offered by shower enclosure manufacturers and advances in materials modern shower trays are thinner, lighter and available in variety of designs to suite almost every conceivable application.

Shapes sizes and colours

Square, rectangular, curved and pentagon shower trays are available in many sizes to cater for the vast range of shower enclosures now available. Some shower enclosure manufacturers also produce shower trays to suit specific products within their ranges. This is more commonly associated with curved and walk-in shower enclosures; it is worth considering that you may wish to replace the shower enclosure in the future but not the shower tray. Pentagon shower trays are becoming less common due to the increasing popularity of curved shower enclosures. They are still available but a little more research may be required to find a suitable product.

Curved or quadrant shower trays have become increasingly popular. A curved quadrant shower enclosure is a stylish alternative to a square shower tray and can help to save space in a bathroom while still providing the same size of showering area within the tray. Due to their increased popularity offset quadrant shower trays are also available as an alternative to a rectangular shower tray.

Most curved quadrant shower trays are manufactured with a curve radius of 550mm to suit the variety of curved quadrant shower enclosures available. The standardisation of quadrant trays has happened gradually over the last few years, early curved shower trays were often manufactured to different radii and this is worth considering if you have an existing quadrant shower tray and are considering changing the shower door. The radius of early curved quadrant shower trays varied from 450mm to 550mm.

Although the choice of products is every increasing small shower trays that were traditionally available in sizes such as 600mm x 600mm are no longer available. The demise of the smaller shower tray is directly related to the change in attitude towards showering. Gone are the days when a shower enclosure was an addition squeezed into a bathroom, many are the focal point of an additional bathroom or indeed a replacement for a bath. A 700mm square shower tray is the smallest size produced by main stream brands.

The demand for larger shower trays has been created by the change in attitude towards the way we use bathrooms and by the space created when a bath is removed. Shower trays of 1700 and even 1800mm in length are available although they do tend to be quite narrow being only 700 or 750mm in width, similar to the foot print of a bath. Greater width is available with shower trays up to 1600mm in length, 800 and 900mm widths are common and offer a very generous showering space. Many walk-in shower enclosures will require a shower tray with a minimum length of 1400mm although 1600mm is more suitable as only  a proportion of the shower tray is for showering with a drying area by the entry point.

Bathroom products have come a long way since the days of the Avocado bathroom suit that seemed to be the defining feature of 70’s bathroom chic. Sanitary ware is now predominately white, although colours and a variety of finishes are now becoming popular once again with advances in materials and manufacturing processes. 

Made to measure shower trays

The growing popularity of showering has created a market for made to measure shower enclosures and the same is true for shower trays. Bespoke shower trays can be manufactured from solid surface polymers such as Hi-macs by LG or the Dupont product Corian.

Solid surface materials are a mixture of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), natural stone pigments and the natural mineral aluminium hydroxide (ATH) which is extracted from bauxite an aluminium ore. The product is produced in sheets of varying thickness and a vast range of colours including stone and volcanic finishes. Sheets can be heated and vacuum formed over moulds to form complex and intricate shapes. Increasingly this type of product is being used in domestic bathrooms, kitchens and a variety of commercial, healthcare and hygiene related applications.

The material is impervious to water, hard wearing, resistant to most stains and compatible with most domestic cleaning chemicals. Popular applications include basins, kitchen work surfaces, shower trays and wall cladding. Solid surface materials can be drilled, machined to accept fittings and bonded to further sheets with epoxy resin and polished producing a seamless join. It can even be repaired if damaged, the possibilities are almost limitless. Solid surface materials are now used in the production of premium standard shower trays which include a choice of colours.

A 900mm square bespoke shower tray in solid colour will cost between £1000 and £1500. Standard solid surface shower trays start at around £350 and will usually include a high flow waste.

The subject of made to measure shower trays is covered in more detail in the ‘Bespoke’ section of the Shower Advisor website.

Low profile shower trays

The current trend is for low profile or slim shower trays offering modern design with light weight but strong construction. This type of shower tray is only 40 to 50mm in height and requires a different type of waste capable of clearing large volumes of water away from the surface quickly. The advent of pumped and pressurised water systems has also made this a necessity as showers become more powerful. A high flow shower waste is typically twice as wide as a traditional waste and capable of clearing between 35 and 50 litres of water per minute from the shower.

Weight is another reason for the popularity of low profile shower trays. Health and safety regulations determine that under manual handling guidelines a weight of no more than 25 kilograms should be lifted by one person. Most slim shower trays are below this weight which is of benefit to trades men especially when working on construction sites where health and safety regulations are rigorously enforced. The reduction in weight only requires a single person to carry and fit the shower tray rather than two or even three people that would be required to lift a traditional shower tray and in turn reduces the cost to the contractor.

The minimal appearance of a low profile shower tray perfectly complements the current trend for shower enclosures with little or no frame work. A further benefit of this design is the reduce height of the step into the shower tray. Often it is not possible to sit the shower tray straight onto the bathroom floor due to the waste pipe work. If the waste water pipes cannot be concealed between the floor joists or in the floor the shower tray must be raised up to allow space.

Easy plumb shower trays

Most types of modern shower trays are available with an easy plumb option. Easy plumb shower trays are raised up off the floor by the addition of adjustable legs which typically allow between 90 and 115mm between the floor and shower tray to accommodate waste water pipework. The shower tray is still low profile with a modern flat surface and high flow waste, the gap below the tray is hidden by acrylic cover panels which match the tray finish and included as part of an easy plumb shower tray kit. The combination of a low profile shower tray and easy plumb kit to raise the tray up may seem like a contradiction but it will still be substantially lower than a traditional stone resin shower tray mount in the same way. In fact it will be no higher or even slightly lower than a traditional shower tray mounted straight onto the floor.

Cleaning and caring for shower trays

Acrylic is used to cover the surface of most modern shower trays. Acrylic and solid surface materials are durable, easy to clean and resistant to mould and bacteria. Cracked acrylic cannot be easily repaired although there are specialists who will repair chipped and scratched shower trays and baths. Costs vary depending upon the damage, although it is often substantially cheaper than replacing the shower tray and the associated labour costs for removing the shower. The subject of shower tray repairs is covered in further detail in the ‘Shower Problems’ section of the Shower Advisor website.

Most shower trays can be cleaned with bathroom cleaning products although abrasive cleaning chemicals and scouring cloths should be avoided and bleach should not be left in contact with the tray for any period of time. You should always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding suitable products and cleaning methods. Cleaning guidelines will often accompany the product or should be available from the manufacturer’s web site.