Tray Or No Tray? That Is The Question…

Nick Graville, Sales & Marketing Director at UK manufacturer Kudos Shower Products, updates us on product developments leading to increased choice for the installer to fit in today’s showering spaces.

We are all aware that many of the products fitted in the bathroom are hidden, especially the components within a wetroom and that makes the functionality and reliability of them all the more important. No one wants a product to fail when it’s behind finished tiling, floor boards or wall panels. I believe that the suppliers to this market have really stepped up to not only solve some of the early teething problems associated with wet rooms but to offer a plethora of choice, filled with innovation, for the installer to offer their customers.

When first introduced, consumers were sold the dream of a wet room where you could shower with no screens, no broken lines on the floor or walls, to make what is often a small room, look infinitely larger. This was before the days of effective low voltage under floor heating and the result in a UK bathroom, that wouldn’t dry naturally with warm weather, could be very wet socks for the next visitor to the bathroom! Seriously though, mildew in British weather can quickly form when a room is left wet and also early membranes did not offer guaranteed long-term protection. The whole installation process was very expensive as materials had to be cured and left to dry which took time and cost money.

Roll forward to today and most bathrooms whether completely or partly tiled on the floor, display a glass screen to stop the whole floor and other bathroom products becoming wet and incorporate under floor heating to dry the room much quicker and prevent the need for large radiators. Quite often the result is now a pleasant mix of continuous wet room floors with clear glass screens that affix securely to the wall or a very low-level shower tray that is almost continuous in level to the remaining floor area but offers a different zone in the room as a type of ‘broken plan’ design. This has all happened by product designers and manufacturers talking to installers and working hard together to offer more effective solutions.

We all remember the shower trays that stood on adjustable legs with clip on plinths, raising the tray so that the waste could fit underneath and be easily accessed. The trend for a wet room ‘look’ has driven tray and waste manufacturers to work harder together to now offer an impressive alternative to a total wet room. This has only been possible due to innovations that have created shallow wastes that take away larger volumes of water, include more effective filters to minimise blockages and allow top waste access for regular cleaning.

“Innovative low-profile shower wastes have resulted in slimline trays that are almost continuous in level to the remaining floor.”

These tried and tested new wastes then allowed shower tray manufacturers to develop low profile trays standing as low as 35mm high which can be part-sunk too into the floor. At the same time new shower tray materials and colour options have come to market and are growing in popularity. If your customer wants the bathroom flooring to run seamlessly into the showering area, then a wet room tray can be used. An in-floor galvanised steel tray that fits at floor level and provides support for a high flow waste to be installed with panels that are ready for tiling with no waiting times for curing or drying. A product like Aqua4Ma from Kudos or others on the market can offer part or full wet room protection in the bathroom and it’s important to select a system where broken tiles can be easily replaced without compromising the wet room system.

“Many bathrooms now can look like full wet rooms but the water proof system is only installed within the showering space.”

All showering enclosure manufacturers today offer both enclosures and a range of pure glass screens, the latter becoming the fastest growing and largest part of the market. Both options have grown in height over the last few years to cater for low profile trays and floor fixing options, so are now on average around 2m high. They are supplied as toughened glass of between 6-10mm in thickness and usually come with a glass coating protection for easy cleaning. Enclosures are still a very popular option and come in a range of sizes with sliding, bi-fold or pivot door options and it’s these mechanisms that make them a more expensive alternative to a simple glass screen which come purely with wall profile fixings. The current trend in enclosures and screens is for a minimal profile with hidden fixings and profiles/wall posts are largely chrome or the latest matt black finish.

If your customer is considering a fully tiled bathroom floor with no shower tray, make sure in your plan to provide1200mm of protected showering space, they need at least 1700mm of space allocated in the bathroom so that the bather has plenty of access. For a fully tiled floor there is also the issue of grout lines and discolouration and cleaning issues compared to a traditional shower tray. The tile size will often determine the suitability of creating an attractive tiled floor in the showering area without excessive angled tile cuts and grout lines. Small tiles and mosaic make it easier for the tiles to follow the shape of the shower deck but this results in lots of grout lines to clean. Large tiles can be difficult to cut to follow the falls built into the shower deck. Shower trays on the other hand are easy to clean, quick and therefore less expensive to install and provide a certain protective area for showering.

Whatever your customer decides rest assured that suppliers in the enclosures, trays and wet room market have worked hard to develop innovative and reliable products, stocked by your merchant suppliers, that you can install with confidence, allowing you to get creative in the showering space.

Kudos Aqua4Ma is a range of wet room bases, wall and floor panels, easy to fit, no waiting for drying and totally watertight.
A low-level shower tray, like Kstone from Kudos offers a distinct showering area.