Volume 36, Issue 9, September 2001

       The Luxurious Bath Phenomenon is Causing Manufacturers to Vary the Options they Offer in the Bath

by Ray Adams

Over the last decade there has been a surge in the launch of different types of shower enclosures. Elements that are boosting the shower enclosure to new heights include a menu of options, from the use of clear glass to unusual finishes. More people are choosing either clear glass or textured designs over the more traditional obscure glass. Glass enclosures enhance tile, marble or other solid surface finishes, while giving the space a more open appearance. 

Customers also can now choose a framed or frameless option. For example, our company recently introduced a new frameless design. It is durable with water-tight construction and the look of a heavy-glass unit at a fraction of the cost. The frameless bath-enclosure system minimizes the amount of metal used to hold the panel doors in place, but offers maximum support from a technologically advanced magnetic latching mechanism. Providing a spacious feel, the frameless shower is a popular design element, which can be used to set the tone in many baths. Additionally, without frames around the glass panels, there’s less to clutter the view.

Reflecting on Color
Consumers also can choose from a broader palette of colors and finishes for framework and hardware accessories such as silver, gold, white and brushed nickel. Now homeowners are able to create looks, which complement faucets, door handles and the trim around their mirrors.

Brushed nickel has a dramatic, sophisticated look, and is an enduring trend because it works well with granite, stone, solid surface or tile for a natural or retro design. It also offers an exciting look with chrome accents. It’s easy to maintain and versatile, with soft, muted tones that help hide water spots and scratches, while complementing other accessories. 

Consumers can make a bold statement with more selection in pattern and color. Our customers have more color options because of powder-surface coatings. Powder coat is a technique for applying paint to aluminum shower door frames. The finish is first electrically charged and then heated onto the metal, which causes the powder to melt and harden into a tough, colorful finish. Powder coatings offer a bold surface coating in nontraditional and custom-matched hues. Textured designs, such as etched patterns, are also available to reinforce privacy while adding character to the room.

magnetic closures Magnetic closures are only one of numerous options for shower closures.

Finishing the Look
Another hot trend is the custom enclosure, which was born from the luxury-bath phenomenon. People are transforming their showers into luxurious sanctuaries. Baths have become roomier and more expansive, ceilings have been raised to a standard 12 feet, while the shower is undergoing a high-tech transformation with a pampering plethora of sprays, power jets, showerheads and steam units. Now showers are designed to accommodate the latest accessories, offering variations in height and width, frameless corners with mitered glass edges and overhead transom panels. Tall enclosures not only offer visual impact, but accommodate homeowners of all shapes and sizes who want to relax and spend time in the shower.

shower enclosure finishes Shower enclosure finishes come in a variety of styles and colors, making it easy to match other bathroom hardware such as faucets.

The current shower trends have transformed our product mix and our inventory. We are now re-evaluating our inventory with respect to the length of our metal to fit a variety of dimensions. People want luxurious quality, and we address this by offering more options in hardware and door pulls. Ultimately, people judge the quality of enclosures just like they would a car: Does the door feel structurally solid and strong as it’s opened and closed? I believe we have answered that question successfully. 

Brush Up on Your Enclosure Vocabulary
    Bi-Fold: Door that folds in the middle, usually having one end in a fixed position while the other runs on a track.
    Bypass: Door with two or more panels that run in parallel tracks.
    Continuous Hinge Door: Shower door with a full-length continuous metal hinge on its side.
    Fixed Panels: Glass or plastic panels of an enclosure that do not move.
    Framed: Bath enclosure that mounts all panels in a metal frame.
    Frameless: Bath enclosure system that minimizes the amount of metal used to hold system panels and doors in place.
    Hinge Door: Door that has a jointed metal hinge on the side.
    In-Line Panels: Fixed panels that are aligned with the shower door.
    Magnetic Latch: Latch that holds door closed using magnets.
    Obscure Glass: Glass that lets light through, but is not totally transparent.
    Pivot Door: Shower door that rotates two metal pivots on top and bottom of the door.
    Tempered Glass: Glass that has been annealed or strengthened by a process of gradually heating and cooling. Once glass has
        been tempered it cannot be cut. By code, all glass shower doors must use tempered glass.

Planning Ahead
Whether you’re renovating an existing bathroom or building a new one, the Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association (BEMA®) suggests you ask your customers the following when planning to install an enclosure:

• Where are the plumbing fixtures in relationship to the door of your enclosure?
• Do you want clear or opaque glass?
• Do you want the option of a steam bath?
• What color do you want for your metal frame?
• Is there a place to hang a towel within 12 inches of your shower?
• Is your tub or shower floor-level?
• Are your walls and base straight and plumb?
• Looking from the outside of your enclosure, which way will it open, hinge right or hinge left?

What to Measure
When installing an enclosure there are some key measurements to take. Measure all dimensions and draw a sketch of the bathroom. Be sure to allow at least 24 inches of floor space in front of the enclosure. For more involved designs, BEMA strongly recommends a professional installation.

Ray Adams serves as vice president of marketing for Coastal Industries, based in Jacksonville, Fla.


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