4 Expert Tips To Choose Shower Bases And Pans

When it comes to remodeling your stand-alone shower, one of the most crucial decisions you'll make is the type of shower base or pan to opt for. 

If you're looking to buy a ready-to-install unit, there are a variety of choices available. Here we will cover some of the more common ones to help you in selecting the perfect shower base or pan to meet your requirements.

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What shape shower base or pan should I choose?

Firstly it's important to note that the key different between a shower base and a shower pan. The former is when materials such as tiles or cement is applied directly to the floor of the shower, the latter is a single-piece unit fitted into the shower after construction.

Shower pans come in many different shapes, but the most readily available ones are rectangle, square, neo-angle, and round. 

Your decision here will be influenced by personal taste, the location of the plumbing, how much room you need in the shower, and how much space you have in the bathroom. 

  • Want a good all-rounder? 

A square pan is probably the most versatile option of them all. It looks great in bathrooms of all sizes. It can be used in conjunction with a variety of different doors from double open-out ones for ease of getting in and out of the shower, to bifold doors that work well in smaller spaces.

  • Have a smaller-sized bathroom? 

Neo-angle and semi-round pans are good for saving space in a small room. Their quartered-out design means that they can fit snuggly into the corner. The neo-angle ones allow for a little more space in the room and the round ones for a bit more room in the shower itself.

  • Got a little more room to work with? 

Rectangle trays are suitable for use in a larger bathroom, giving your shower a more spacious and luxurious feel. Some of them come with an integral seat, which is perfect for relaxing while in the shower.

Square Single Threshold Shower Base
Almond Neo Angle Shower Base
Neo Angle Wood Acrylic Shower Base
Bermuda Sand Square Shower Base
Alaskan Ivory Rectangle Shower Base
Rectangle Shower Base With Integral Seat

Which color shower base or pan should I opt for?

When it comes to colors, the number of options open to you will greatly depend on the material that you select for your shower base or pan. Although each one does offer some scope for personalization. 

  • Whichever color you choose, you're going to want it to match the aesthetics of your bathroom. A good way of doing this is to coordinate the base or pan with your wall tile or color. You don't necessarily need it to be the exact same color, but it's good to work with shades of the same hue. 

  • Avoid mixing and matching warm and cool colors. If your bathroom is warm, good colors to go for are shades of bronze, biscuit, or almond, and if your bathroom is cool, grey, silver, and nickel will work best. 

  • White is, of course, the most common choice - this looks naturally elegant and will complement most bathrooms. Choosing a white base or pan also makes things easier when you are looking to redecorate the room - it won't limit your options.

  • Black is another possibility here, but this really works best in more modern feeling chromatic bathrooms.

Black Metal Center Drain Shower Base
White Right Hand Drain Shower Base
Brushed Nickel Shower Base With Bench
Thunder Gray Metal Shower Base
Biscuit Shower Base With Removable Cover
Barley Neo Angle Solid Surface Shower Base

How do I work out the size of the shower base or pan I need?

A shower pan serves as the foundation of the shower -- keeping the water away from your floorboards. Making the wrong decision here could lead to problems in the future with leaking, damp, and rot. 

If you are replacing your current shower tray, then the easiest thing to do is measure the dimensions of this one before disposing of it. For a square or rectangular pan, this is quite straightforward, for a quadrant base (neo-angle and semi-round), you will also need to know the radius measurement. 

If not, then measure the inside length and width dimensions of the shower floor and then the same from the wall studs to the drain hole. Don't forget to take into account the position of the drain when selecting a suitable pan. 

You are also going to want to think about your preferred threshold for the shower base or pan.

  • Barrier-free shower pans allow you to step right in, without the risk of trips or falls.
  • Beveled thresholds are slightly sloped down allowing for wheelchair access.
  • Curbed thresholds are the more traditional kinds. They prevent water from leaking out of the shower base. These are available from ½ inch to 6 inches in height.
  • Temporary thresholds enable you to either have or remove the threshold depending on the needs of the person using the shower.
White Plastic Rectangle Shower Base
Shower Base With Side Hidden Drain
Soft White Plastic Shower Base
Full Slip Resistant Surface Shower Base
White Single Threshold Shower Base
White Acrylic Neo Angle Shower Base

What is a good material for a shower base or pan?

The material is another key consideration when making your selection. There are several options open to you here, all with different characteristics, appearances, and prices. 

Looking for something durable and easy to maintain? => Acrylic

Acrylic pans are molded pieces of plastic. They are a lightweight and cost-effective option and offer the most extensive range of both size and color options of all the materials listed here. They are definitely one of the more popular choices. 

These types of pans are easy to install and to look after. Unlike with other materials, the color goes a long way through the material. This makes any scratches less noticeable, and it's even possible to buff light ones out with polish. 

One potential disadvantage of this type for some people is these pans have a little give to them, meaning that they can feel a bit flimsy - for some, this is equated with cheapness.

Cashmere Acrylic Rectangle Shower Base
White Chrome Acrylic Rectangle Shower Base
Ice Gray Acrylic Shower Base
White Wood Acrylic Shower Base
Acrylic Shower Base With Center Drain
Square Wood Acrylic Shower Base

Looking for a low-cost option that is simple to repair? => Fiberglass

Fiberglass bases are another incredibly popular choice. As with acrylic, they are molded around a form. The difference here is that they are then given an outer coating of gel. 

This material is inexpensive, and the pans are quick and easy to install. They also have an attractive gloss finish that many people like. A strength over the acrylic ones is that they have a more solid feel; however, they are not available in quite as many sizes and colors. 

You also have to be quite careful in maintaining this type of material. The color only runs as deep as the gel finish, this means that deep scratches are going to be very noticeable. Also, they have a tendency to stain.

Beaumont Fiberglass Rectangle Shower Base
White Fiberglass Floor Mounted Shower Base
White Rectangle Fiberglass Shower Base
Mexican Sand Fiberglass Shower Base
Fiberglass Single Threshold Shower Base
Dune Fiberglass Double Threshold Shower Base

Looking for something stylish that is going to last a very long time? => Stone 

Cultured stone shower pans are often made from a mixture of real ground stone and resin. The stone is usually limestone, granite, or marble. These are more durable than either of the above materials but are also heavier, and so are harder to install. 

Stone bases typically look like a piece of real stone, and an attractive appearance is one of its significant features, but it is also resistant to mold and mildew, meaning it is built to last. 

These types of pans, however, are usually far more expensive than either of the other two, but with the right care and maintenance are likely to outlast both.

Tundra Swanstone Square Shower Base
Swanstone Triple Threshold Shower Base
Night Sky Swanstone Shower Base
Mountain Haze Swanstone Shower Base
Gray Granite Swanstone Shower Base
Golden Steppe Swanstone Shower Base

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.