Shower pan vs tub

crl_November 29, 2012

We are beginning to plan a bathroom remodel in our new home. I will be posting for help with the layout and finshes soon, I am sure. But one thing I am having a bit of trouble deciding is shower pan vs tub.

We will be annexing a bit of closet space, but this will still be a very small master bath--about 6 1/2 x 8. We will either be able to fit a shower pan in or a bathtub with shower in it. Not both. In either case, we would likely be going with a 60 x 30 size.

Neither of us takes baths and my first inclination was to go with a cast iron shower pan. The other bathroom in the house is a full bathroom with tub so there would still be a tub in the house.

But the other bathroom is also bigger and so if we ever wanted to make a bathroom more accessible for mobility issues (we are planning to stay in the house for the long haul), that bathroom would be more feasible for that purpose. And then that would likely knock out the tub in that bathroom. This would most likely be many years down the road though, if ever, as we are in our early 40s.

Also, I do not want shower doors. I want a shower curtain. I am wondering if a shower curtain with a cast iron shower pan will result in too much splashing outside the shower area? And so maybe a tub would be better for that reason? Although this is for a master bath so no kid use.

Given the layout constraints, a tub will likely present the problem of the unfinished short side. I'm not thrilled with the looks of a pony wall for that purpose plus it would chew up a few more inches in an already tight space. Wish they still made those old style tubs, are they called J tubs? The ones with a long and a short side finished.

Any thoughts on how to balance these considerations? Or on anything else I should be considering in making the decision?

Thank you!

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We're almost finished remodeling our only upstairs bath, with a room size of 7.5 x 8.5' - so not too different from yours. We decided not to do a tub, because the entire family prefers a walk-in shower. Easy to get into, easy to clean, opens up the room. I don't think we'll miss the tub at all, and there's a tub in the basement bath in case anyone breaks a leg or something. Layout is basically a 3 deep by 4 wide shower, then a toilet on the right wall, and a 60" vanity + 24" linen cabinet on the left. The room feels more spacious than I could have imagined.

The Kohler cast iron shower pan is lovely. But I have no idea if it would keep in all the water with just a shower curtain. Probably, as long as there are magnets at the bottom of the curtain.

There's one bathroom design that I love, which I will link to below. It has a large shower at one of the skinny ends of a rectangular room, with just a panel of glass and an open doorway. Toilet on right, vanity on left as you walk in. This particular room is larger than yours, but it seems like you might be able to do something similar - if you want a really WOW kind of shower. I think it's very cool, and would have done it if I hadn't had a vintage window in the way.

Here is a link that might be useful: Velvet and Linen blog

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 11:50AM
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the debate. And thank your for the link. Pool plaster for the walls is something I never would have thought of!


    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 10:20AM
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"This would most likely be many years down the road though, if ever, as we are in our early 40s."

I'd do what would be best for you now. Do you like stepping over the tub edge to take a shower? That's something I really hated - tho, I do have some limitations (I'm in my 60s). Just the same, if you don't like climbing over that edge I'd turn it into just a shower. Make it comfortable for you now. That might be all the accessibility you'll ever need. Do put in bracing for grab bars now (or even go ahead and put the bars in).

If down the road you do need more space for access then change the other one and don't worry about it. Any one who buys it after that will most likely want to redo the bathrooms and can put a tub back in.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 2:11AM
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We replaced out tub with a walk in shower, and I just wish we had done it before.

Yes I use a shower curtain and it is not a problem.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 2:09PM
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Thank you! Particularly good to hear the shower curtain works with a shower pan.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:22PM
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I use a shower pan with curtain at work and there are just minor splashes outside it.

I would make the bathroom work for you, but make the shower the size of a standard tub so it's easy for a future owner to swap out the shower for a tub if they want.

If you did do a tub, I assume you mean tub/shower combo? If so, you don't want the short side to be open, you want a wall there to contain the shower spray.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 8:20AM
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As an aside. We had one of those old J style tubs (is that the right word?) with a shower over it in our first house. They make shower curtain rods to curve around. No problems with splash out. Leaves a small bathroom much bigger looking than having to build in that extra wall. Too bad no one makes them anymore at a reasonable cost.

And my plan is to leave the short side of the cast iron shower pan open as well--wonder if that's an issue with how that side is finished? I was assuming it could be tiled like the long side, but maybe not?

And we are looking at a 30 x 90 size either way here, so a good point that it would be somewhat easier to swap out a tub into the space in the future.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 8:35AM
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I've seen some excellent condition J-tubs at salvage shops (like Habitat stores).

Before you design around a cast iron shower pan, you should know that at least the 3x4 models have a single threshold on the long side, so you do have to put a wall of some sort on the other 3 sides. I think that might be true of the longer receptors too. Easy to check at, because that's the only company that makes cast iron receptors.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 12:43PM
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Ah, sadly the shower pan is designed for three walls. Sigh. Wonder if a very narrow flush with the top of the shower pan "wall" could work?

Or maybe we will be scouring salvage yards for j tubs. My only concern with that is whether refinishing will last. I guess it might be possible to find one that doesn't need refinishing?


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 8:38PM
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