Bespoke shower enclosures

It is possible to manufacture a shower enclosure to suit virtually any application and simple changes in height or width in both framed and semi-frameless designs are available from many manufacturers.  Some take this a stage further by accommodating non-standard angles such as under a sloping ceiling.  Frameless and semi-frameless shower doors and enclosures are best suited to accommodating angles due to the minimal framework and whilst this may be described as a bespoke service, it is only achieved by remanufacturing a standard product.  Importantly, the layout and way in which the framed and semi-frameless shower enclosures work cannot be altered by this process.

Shower enclosures are manufactured using toughened safety glass, which must comply with the European safety standard EN12150, designed to shatter into small pieces of around 5mm to minimise the danger from shards of glass.  However, it is not possible to cut toughened safety glass and if is not possible to accommodate a standard production shower enclosure in the space available, a bespoke unit will be required.

Fully frameless shower enclosures can provide a truly bespoke solution to shower requirements.  Although there are some rules and constraints which must be considered when planning the shower, layouts can be changed, panels added or removed and importantly, shapes and angles can be accommodated.  Smaller specialist manufacturers may also be able to offer a choice of hardware styles and finishes in addition to the usual handle options.  Coloured and sandblasted glass with anti-lime scale protection may also available upon request. 

Specialist frameless shower manufacturers often offer complimentary services such as glass balustrades and balconies, glass partitions and glass internal doors.  A glass partition between a master bedroom and en-suite bathroom can create a stunning contemporary feature.  Steam enclosures can also be designed and constructed using a frameless glass system.






Curved Quadrant shower enclosures

Curved quadrant shower enclosures are now very popular but their manufacture in toughened safety glass makes them very difficult to modify.  High production costs and lengthy manufacturing times prohibit most manufacturers from offering a bespoke service but one or two brands do offer reduced height doors for use in non-standard applications.  However, if a made-to-measure curved quadrant shower enclosure is being considered, a manufacturing lead time of up to 3 – 4 months should be anticipated. 

Planning

It is important to consider all aspects and identify potential issues relating to your shower project at an early stage.  If there are potential issues with height or a sloping ceiling, talk to the manufacturers of the products under consideration to establish exactly what is and what is not possible.  The information and advice gained will often prevent costly mistakes later in the project and ensure that the best use of the available space is achieved.   Never start by assuming that someone will be able to provide you with your own bespoke showering solution.

A major consideration is the time taken to manufacture your shower enclosure and typically, this can take from as little as two weeks or as much as three months depending upon the product and manufacturer.  Ordering a bespoke shower enclosure requires accurate measurements to be been taken and this generally requires that the surrounding area is completed including the shower tray or wet room floor, wall tiles and grouting or other wall finishes.  If possible, finish the tiling in the showering area first so that the bespoke enclosure can be ordered as early as possible. 

When opting for a fully bespoke service including measuring, manufacture and installation, it is important to complete all necessary works to the manufacturer’s requirements prior to the site survey.  If any element of the construction is not finished on the day of the survey and measurements cannot be taken, the company may charge for both aborted time and a subsequent second visit.  The same is true for the installation; plan ahead and check that all requirements have been met.

Site Survey

A site survey can take from as little as an hour to half a day depending on the type of shower enclosure required.  Not all manufacturers offer a measuring and installation service but this is not a problem with simple framed shower enclosures where only the height and the overall width of the space are required. 



The process becomes far more complicated when accommodating irregular angles or where a fully frameless enclosure has been specified.  Precise measurements will be documented including the overall size of the shower enclosure and any run out in the walls and floor and angles will be calculated using specialist measuring equipment.  Hardboard templates of the glass may be cut and shaped on site for more complex installations.

Designing and manufacturing a bespoke shower enclosure

With projects based on standard framed shower enclosures, the manufacture will increase or decrease the standard measurements to suit.  If a pivot shower door is specified 30mm shorter than standard height the manufacturer will normally work with a standard width and cut down the vertical aluminium framework as required.  New glass to fit will be ordered, but this can take up to two weeks to manufacture and will delay the subsequent re-assembly of the door.
Semi-frameless enclosures can also be quite simple to modify where only the height or width are being adjusted and the process and manufacturing times are broadly similar to those of a framed enclosure.  Angled requirements may take longer due to the addition of a site survey and the process of designing the shower when the measurements have been taken.

Complex shower enclosures such as frameless or semi-frameless with angled requirements will often be designed using sophisticated shower design software.  These CAD systems include databases of component and hardware options and calculate the correct panel sizes for openings and the weight that components can safely support.  CAD systems are capable of producing a variety of layouts and will often generate three-dimensional images allowing details, layouts and finishes to be visualised and confirmed prior to manufacture.

Installation

Manufacturers of fully frameless bespoke shower enclosures commonly offer installation as part of the design and manufacture service and a small number of specialist companies offer supply and fit services for mainstream products.  None of the volume manufacturers of shower enclosures offer supply and fit services because of the vast number of products supplied each year, although they may be able to assist with large-scale supply and fit for projects such as a housing development.  Installation for framed and semi-frameless shower enclosures, both standard and made to measure, will normally be carried out by a plumber.  Expect the installation to take between half a day and a day. 



Installation of a fully frameless shower enclosure frequently takes a full day to complete by specialist installers with detailed product knowledge.  Setting up the glass panels and attention to details such as applying silicone sealant, adjusting components and shaping individual seals are all crucial to the successful installation of a fully frameless shower enclosure or wet room shower screen.  Whilst frameless shower screens and even whole enclosures can be purchased directly on the internet, the key to a good frameless shower enclosure is the initial survey and the quality of the installation.

Prices

Made to measure shower enclosures do not have to be prohibitively expensive although they will be more expensive than standard products.  Most of the increase in cost is associated with the glass with each piece ordered individually to meet specific requirements.  Bespoke items such as glass cannot be bought in bulk and this is reflected in higher costs.  Framed and semi-frameless offerings from the larger brands will be made on a separate production line or by interrupting production of standard shower enclosures.  Waste is also a contributory factor; aluminium extrusions are purchased in lengths that allow standard products to be made with little or no waste but bespoke products will produce raw materials that cannot be reused.  All of these factors contribute to the increased cost of a bespoke shower door or enclosure.

A framed pivot door modified to a specific width and height will usually cost 40% – 50% more than a standard product.  Semi-frameless shower enclosures from recognised brands will follow the same increase in cost although some may charge more for angles.  Allow anything from two weeks to three months depending upon the product and manufacturer.  Most manufacturers’ brochures will provide details of bespoke and made to measure services they offer or alternatively, discuss individual requirements directly with the manufacturer.  Most will be willing to offer advice and assistance in selecting the most appropriate shower enclosure.

Fully frameless shower enclosures should be regarded as a bespoke design, manufacture and installation service with costs reflecting this.  A small number of shower enclosure manufacturers do offer frameless ranges but these may involve the use of aluminium channel where the glass meets walls.  Fully frameless products tend to be offered by specialists who are often better placed to meet individual requirements and tight deadlines.
A site survey will cost from £125 with prices increasing if large wooden templates are required for angled panels.  An 800mm wide wall hinged glass door in 10mm thick glass will cost in the region of £950 with installation costing from £250 - £300.