Italian showers combine practicality, clean looks and advanced technology
Whether you’re looking at a new construction for your next home or condo or a renovation of your actual living place, the bathroom is usually at the top of the list of the project at hand. The kitchen will share top billing as well, but one thing is for sure: both represent the greatest technical challenges since you have to deal with plumbing, electricity, ventilation and coverings for floors and walls that you want tough and easy to maintain. In that regard, ceramic tiles do a very fine job.
Let’s get back to our bathroom and jump right in the shower! Nowadays, we want that space to be strong on aesthetics and the trend goes to pretty large sizes. We want to be able to turn around without having elbows or knees meeting walls or faucets. And who says that you’ll be by yourself?
It may be that your bathroom isn’t very large, but skimping on the shower area will be a choice that you’ll come to regret long after the job is done. It is best to give it as much space as feasible as it doesn’t have any real impact on the final price since work costs stay basically the same one way or the other.
The positive aspect here is that some fine solutions are offered to offset space limitations. This is where the option of having a shower area that is on the same level as the rest of the bathroom gets interesting. You’ll sometimes hear the term “walk-in” shower”, but it really is used to describe a large size plastic or fiberglass cabin. We are talking here about an authentic Italian style shower using ceramic tiles and built from scratch. We are in the world of custom made showers with all the benefits they offer. More than one home decoration magazine has had in the past year features claiming “Italian style showers lead the way!”
As we said, this type of shower is level with the main floor of the bathroom, but you’ll also see slightly elevated shower floors in some cases. One of the benefits of this concept is that the shower area is not limited to a corner or an extremity of the room. Anywhere along a wall will work and this is where you can create a visual impression that will benefit a relatively small room by opening up the space. This will be even more striking with the use of glass partitions. As far as making things leak-proof, for the floor especially, you should not worry since there are highly efficient technological solutions addressing precisely that.
Another challenge is becoming a thing of the past. We are talking about the new linear floor drains. They are a neat replacement solution to the central drain and its four sided or conical slope. Linear drains lend themselves to various design configurations where it becomes possible to have it centered or on one side or another of the shower floor. There is more. “Because of this, you can use large tiles and they can even be the same for the whole room, shower included”, points out Mathieu Bourduas of La Tuilerie. “This will also be a benefit in the visual sense, making the bathroom appear larger since visual barriers that usually work against that impression will disappear”.
As a matter of fact, the traditional approach to making a ceramic shower floor was to use small square tiles to accommodate the multisided slope required for the water to go to the evacuation drain. This is work that is demanding in time and precision as you’re aiming for a leak-proof and aesthetic result. In that regard, working with large tiles is not only a positive on the visual aspect of things but also on the money front. You save on time and material, according to Mathieu Bourduas. “There are less grout joints to be made on one hand and it will make maintaining that floor a lot easier on the other hand”, explains Mathieu.
Schluter, advanced technologies from Germany
You’re looking closely into an Italian style shower project? And the way things stand as far as your bathroom is concerned, the sooner the better! A whole refit including a ceramic tiled shower can be a little intimidating for some owners wishing to do it themselves. The good news is that there are some revolutionary products that make such a project a lot easier. We recommend a line of products that are part of a comprehensive system created by a German company called Schluter. These products are state of the art technologically and they can be used as a fully integrated system for a complete renovation project for the bathroom or as stand-alone products as you see fit.
Let’s take for example the Schluter Kerdi-Board composite panels. These are multifunctional substrate and building panels which can be used for creating bonded waterproofing assemblies for tile coverings. You can use them on floors and walls on new or existing supports. Better yet, these panels are light and can be cut with a simple precision cutter. No more heavy and dirty cement panels to deal with! The Kerdi-Sower system for its part offers four models of shower trays also called receptors incorporating the required slope and that are ready for installation. One of its advantages is significant. “Speaking from experience, creating a drain slope from scratch in the traditional manner is quite a challenge!” emphasizes Mathieu Bourduas. “Giving you the possibility to drop in place a tray with the proper slope is simply brilliant”.
Then there is the Kerdi-Line which is a linear drain line providing a number of installation options. As the name indicates, a linear drain is rectangular and narrow and it can be installed in the center of the shower floor as well as on the sides. It is an elegant and efficient solution made possible by the fact that the slope can be adapted to all these configurations.
A more detailed look at the Kerdi-Line drain
This Schluter product is a low profile linear floor drain specifically designed for bonded waterproofing assemblies and can be installed adjacent to walls or at intermediate locations not only in showers but in any room that require waterproofing and drainage. This linear drain consists of a formed stainless steel channel body and a grate assembly that can be seamlessly adjusted to the thickness of a ceramic tile or stone covering from 1/8″ to 1″ (3 mm to 25 mm).
The grate assembly consists of a brushed stainless steel frame and three design options: a closed-design, brushed stainless steel grate; a brushed stainless grate with square perforations; a frameless stainless steel pan for setting tile inserts up to 3/8″ (10 mm) thick. “This last option which is unique on the market is especially interesting since the drain assembly disappears into the floor with only the tile covering showing for a very slick overall design”, explains Mathieu. Using less metal parts, this type of drain is also less costly.
Schluter says that their products are resistant to mold and fungi and require no special maintenance. You may remove the grate to clean the channel and the drainpipe from time to time.
The products you need, the support you’re entitled to
Taking on the Schluter product line was a natural an easy choice for La Tuilerie. The business philosophy of that company has been since its inception 30 years ago “to improve the day to day trade of all involved in tile covering installations”. Another benefit to our clients who buy Schluter products is their excellent and extensive documentation in both French and English in print and video. Installation instructions are detailed and to the point for all products and related projects.
You can also have professional advice in store at all times on Italian style showers and Schluter products. As a matter of fact, most of our crew have followed a two-days training seminar given by Schluter. If you are looking into an Italian style shower project, there is no lack of quality tiles and really well designed products to make it a success. By success, we mean a top of the line project at a reasonable cost, as always at La Tuilerie.