Choosing the right shower for your new home or bathroom remodel can be a daunting task. When budget is restricted the job becomes much more difficult, limiting material and design to a specific group. Fiberglass stand-alone shower units and shower tub combos are most commonly used, and are less expensive than glass, tile and natural stone. Steam showers are the new kid on the block and carry a hefty price tag. Fixtures also dictate a good percentage of the bottom line, and most commonly come in nickel, gold, or bronze finish.
Fiberglass stand-alone shower units work great in bathrooms that have the space to install them, and they are easy to clean. The popularity of these units has created a wide price range with quality varying from functional to luxurious. Shower bathtub combos work well for families with children and where smaller spaces are concerned. Quality units are very durable and easily maintained. Steam showers are becoming popular in upscale residences and offer a sauna style experience. The cost difference in showers is vast, ranging from a low end fiberglass unit at near $487 to a high end steam shower that can cost over $1342.
Shower Purchased by Pro or Homeowner
Most homeowners believe they will save money by purchasing the shower unit themselves from a big box store, instead of through the plumbing contractor. This isn’t always true. Sizable plumbing companies often deal in volume, and that can save you money on the product. They also carry all the supplies that coordinate with the brand of product they use, and that saves time on labor installation. However if your professional tradesman does only a limited amount of work, he may not have volume access and the cost could be higher than a self-purchase. The best rule of thumb is to compare, and ask your contractor how much his mark up is on the unit. By doing so you can save anywhere from $142 to $318 depending on the cost of the shower unit.
The three main considerations in shower materials are; cost, appearance, and maintenance. Fiberglass and glass shower units are the most common, and carry products on the lower end of the price scale. Tile is middle of the road as far as cost is concerned, and natural stone is at the top of the heap. Fiberglass and glass units can be purchased for as little as $447. Natural stone will cost little more, but is much more labor intensive. Tile holds the same rule, and material for a complete shower can run from $634 to $2093. The appearance is a simple matter of taste and style. No matter what look you are searching for, each material has a wide variety, and you are sure to find one to please. As far as maintenance goes, fiberglass and tile are by far the easiest to clean; just wipe and go. Glass can get residue buildup and takes a little more time. Natural stone is porous and for this reason is the most difficult to keep sanitized. A soft brush and bleach mixed with water is a good way to keep stone fresh and clean.
Fixture Finish Type
The most common shower fixture materials are nickel, Gold, and bronze. Any of the three can be purchased in a price range that varies from $156 to over $517. The old adage “you get what you pay for” rings true when it comes to fixtures. The cheapest ones are manufactured with low grade material and have very thin surface coating. These fixtures can rust in a matter of months, and rarely stand the test of time. That is not to say you have to buy the most expensive fixtures to get quality ones, but stepping up a notch or two from the bottom will save money in the long run and give a lot more satisfaction.
Fixtures Purchased by Pro or Homeowner
Picking out the correct fixtures for a new shower unit can be complicated. Considerations like; cost-size-quality-and type of piping, all make a difference. It can be difficult for a homeowner to choose the right one. Your professional knows which fixture is right, and makes the process a whole lot easier. He may even save you 10 to 20% on price, not to mention the labor charge he will have to apply if he has to drive to the store and exchange the one you bought.
The bottom line is, when it’s time to install your shower, before you purchase. It will make the job go smooth, and you will keep from getting frustrated.