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Fiberglass, Acrylic and Cultured Marble Shower Base Guide

Monday, May 17th, 2010

American Standard, Kohler and Swanstone shower bases; practical corner bases, receptors and base pans for shower stalls; how to choose custom shower bases; where to shop and how much to pay – at Home Walk In Showers we know what you need and where to get the products to make your wetroom or shower enclosure project become a reality within your budget.

The Best Acrylic Shower Bases On The Market

The newest American Standard bases are made from AcryLUX, a durable acrylic product that is reinforced with fiberglass. This reinforcement of normal acrylic shower bases makes the product not only strong and durable for use in the home, but offers a toughness that makes handling of the item on a construction site easier, less likely to shatter or scratch, which is a problem often encountered during installation. The other plus of the AcryLUX bases is their surface qualities. They have a sheen that is not just aesthetically pleasing but also offers a surface that is cleaned easily and will resist daily wear and tear and not suffer scratches. It is also a surface that is simple to repair should there ever be a problem with scuffing. All this is due to the high gloss capped acrylic and the reinforcing through fiberglass that many other models, especially cheap bases, do not have.

Where To Shop and How much To Pay

You can get good deals on the American Standard shower stall bases when shopping online at places like eFaucets, who carry the 59-7/8″ x 31-1/8″ x 5-1/8″ left hand drain models for about $200. These units have bottoms that have been pre-leveled. They also have 3 raised sides that act to retain water. These elevated sides are called a “flange”. Installation can be done without the use of caulking; rubber gaskets are used to protect the seams in the corners. By the way, if you have limited space and need a small base, American Standard also offers a 47-7/8″ x 33-1/4″ x 5-1/8″ model that retails for under $150. To create a walk in shower without much more expense, you can opt to tile or protect the walls with a water-proof sealant and paint and leave the area open, or add a glass panel to isolate the area.

Alternatively, you may want to totally enclose the space and this can be done quite affordably with an American Standard shower enclosure. They start at just under $300 and go up to $1,000 or more, but a good basic unit that includes the base can be had for about $280. This is a cost efficient option especially if you choose something like the complete shower wall set, also crafted from AcryLUX and measures 32″ x 32″ x 70″.

Swanstone

If you’re wanting a marble shower base but can’t afford natural stone, an affordable solution is to go with something like the Swanstone shower bases, which somewhat resemble stone with a pebbled-looking surface. We recommend the Veritek single threshold design for just over $120 sold through eFaucets, as a good choice because it’s a practical 36″ X 36″ size and offers a slip proof surface that is also mildew resistant and requires no grout to install.

If you’re looking for neo angle shower bases then you’ll find good choices in the Swanstone collections as well. The Swanstone neo angle shower floor also comes in granite-like colors that are solid and will not scratch-off on the surface; they are mould resistant, have an easy clean surface and require no grout. A 38″ x 38″ design with a drain molded into the base, factory installed, will cost just under $350 and is available online through Plumber Surplus.

The neo angle design is also referred to as a corner shower base. One affordable, and high quality, model is made by Kohler. Kohler shower bases tend to be more expensive than some of the other brands, but the quality is often worth the extra cost. For example the Devonshire neo-angle model, also called a shower receptor, is a single molded unit with a rear drain, measuring 41-1/8″L x 41-1/8″W x 5-5/8″H, and is available through Décor Island for just under $300.

Kohler Memoirs Shower Receptor

A slightly more expensive Kohler model is the Memoirs shower receptor, also with a rear drain, and a total measurement of 38-5/8″ x 38-5/8″, also a neo-angle design, and retails through Plumber Surplus for just over $440. It’s one of the acrylic models in the Kohler corner shower bases Memoirs Suite collections that offers a built-in molded floor concept easy to install, clean and virtually maintenance free.

Marble

The marble shower base designs that you can choose that are made from genuine marble are one of the more expensive flooring options, however, they are one of the best choices when it comes to creating unique walk in shower spaces or wetrooms that will be open. Although you can buy standard marble sized, most projects will require custom shower bases to be cut in marble and shaped to the specifications of the area. Since marble is heavy and custom fitting and sizing will require an onsite visit from a contractor or marble dealer, it’s recommended that you use a local company. One in the US is called Heritage Marble. Another is Roma Marble. Both companies offer standard sizes and custom options and a variety of marble textures, colors and finishes. It’s difficult for us to quote exact prices because there are so many variables when working with genuine stone and custom sizes.

Cultured Marble

The most reasonably priced products in stone will be the cultured marble shower base designs, like the ones sold through companies like Accent Custom Marble.

But first, what exactly is cultured marble? Is it really marble?

Yes it’s marble but no it’s not natural cut stone. In fact, it’s a composite of polyester resin and marble dust crafted to look like stone and finished similarly. Cultured marble is considered, in some ways, better than natural stone due to its flexibility. It’s great for bathrooms because of a gel coating that’s applied, which is not only smooth and natural looking but inhibits staining and bacterial growth.

Cultured marble is manufactured by several US companies, however it is good to note that the top producers will be members of the American Composites Manufacturers Association, which monitors the quality control of cultured stone products amongst other things.

Choosing Cultured Marble Patterns and Colors

When selecting cultured marble shower bases and walls, you can choose from some of the classic styles like:

  1. antique cultured marble, which has white and creamy-beige swirls and textures
  2. cultured granite, which is porous-looking and granular, sometimes grey or a mix of mottled darker and lighter shades and looks naturally more rustic
  3. white onyx, which is grayish-white and smooth with a delicate vein pattern that resembles fine Italian marble.

However, Verona Marble Company has some unusual cultured marble colors and patterns that are ideal for creating faux tile shower base designs or custom wetrooms that are rustic or antique in style. Choose some of the most stunning combinations in the Portofino Collection. These are modeled after the top Italian marble styles, although they are in fact “created” using the resin and marble dust as described above. When you see the stone, it’s often very difficult to tell the Portofino marble designs from real cut marble. By the way, if you choose to order through Verona Marble Company, you can request custom colors to suite your décor. Naturally you will have to budget accordingly, however a cultured marble shower base may still end up being more affordable than a cut stone design, and it will be easier for the installers to work with.

Simple Or Luxurious

If you need a simple and affordable corner shower base for a small flat or apartment, or if you need complete shower bases and walls for luxurious wetroom areas or walkin showers, both are available online. We recommend eFaucet and Plumbing Surplus for the American Standard and Kohler product lines or even for the faux marble Swanstone bases.

Bathroom Planning Advice and Tips

If you require more information regarding building or buying enclosures, showerheads, power showers, electric shower units, shower panel devices for massage and rainfall, or wallboards and faux tile and mosaic wall coverings; or if you’re looking to add unique stone or glass or copper vessel sinks to your bathroom; or if you’re looking to upgrade your bathroom storage, please select a related article for lots of advice and tips on where to buy the best bathroom renovating and decorating products online.